LA Wine Fest

LA Wine Fest

Marking its tenth anniversary, the 2015 LA Wine Fest housed at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, Calif., served up fifty different, primarily California-based wineries. Also included: more than ten beer and cider purveyors – including well-known names like Stella Artois and Sierra Nevada, along with craft breweries such as Fireman’s Brew and the King Harbor Brewing Company. Like Limoncello? Ventura Limoncello Company was on hand to introduce tasters to a variety of different flavors. And there were cheese, chocolate, bread, and ice cream booths as well, offering up samples and purchases to go.

Souvenir wine glasses and an unlimited supply of bottled water and La Brea Bakery-crafted fresh baguettes supported the main attraction of wine and beer tasting on a bright and sunny afternoon
with attendees treated to wines from Cabernet to Chardonnay.

Along with the tasting, oenophiles were voting: attendees were able to vote for their favorite wines by using Quini, a wine tasting app, on their smart phones. Awards were granted based on the app’s algorithm that combined the eye, nose, mouth, and finish to uncover the winners in three major categories: white, red, and dessert wines.

Among the white categories, the Riesling winner offered by Wollersheim Winery was outstanding – sweet, but crisp, redolent of apricots and peaches with floral notes. Wollersheim itself is located in Wisconsin, but recently took “Small Winery of the Year” at the Riverside, Calif. International Wine Competition. Also impressive was the Sauvignon Blanc served up by South Coast Winery, a California winery located in Temecula, near San Diego, Calif. Judged as Best Winery in the State of California for several years running, South Coast Winery was founded in 2003, and crafts four separate wine collections from its Southern California vineyards under the guidance of owner/vintner Jim Carter. The Sauvignon Blanc is fermented in stainless steel and has both floral and spice notes with hints of lime, pear, and passion fruit. The note of lime is particularly refreshing.

Highlights in the red categories include the Pinot Noir from Vinemark Cellars. Vinemark approaches winemaking by using varietals from many different California vineyards. Winemaker Mark Wasserman crafts from vineyards in Santa Ynez, Paso Robles, Monterey and Napa Valley to create fruity, complex wines, of which the Pinot Noir is one. Plan B Wine Cellars is located on the Central Coast and makes a fresh, nuanced Syrah featuring black fruit with hints of warm spices.

The winner of the dessert category was Ascension Cellars, another Central Coast winery located in Paso Robles, with their late harvest Viognier. Dubbed “The Evangelist,” this delightful, sweet but not heavy port-like wine tastes of peach, pear, and honey.

Impressive tastes also came from Napa’s Bottlerock Wines, Santa Maria’s Cambria Estate Winery, and the well-known Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino, among many others. While California wines predominated from Paso Robles to Napa/Sonoma, Temecula, and the Anderson Valley, wineries such as Thirsty Owl from the Finger Lakes region in New York and L.A. Cetto from Mexico, added to the variety of samples. Stella Rosa contributed a nice hybrid of Italian wine and California style. It’s crafted in Italy and imported by Los Angeles’ own San Antonio Winery which has been located in downtown LA since 1917.

Whether wine lovers voted on favorites or simply enjoyed sipping the wines and beers on hand, the LA Wine Fest offered a stellar roster of beverages to start off the summer.

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