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Friday, April 11, 2014

Wining in Solvang with the Garagistes...

The Goddess of Wine was happy to attend the second annual Garagiste Festival's Southern Exposure event in Solvang at the end of March. Was that only 2 weeks ago? An easy drive on a beautiful Saturday morning got me to that charming Danish town early enough to grab some breakfast at a local eatery that shall remain nameless because the food was truly bad. How you can mess up breakfast, I don't know, but...anyway, on to the Garagistes!

As defined by the Garagistes themselves: GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. Who’s laughing now, Francois? Syn: Rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks, driven by passion.

Wineaux of the Goddess - April Meeting - Austria!

The Goddess of Wine and JD hosted the monthly meeting of the Wineaux of the Goddess. Present were Shawn Halahmy, Barbara Barrielle, Michelle McCue, Rico Mandel, JD, and me! This month's subject: the wines of Austria.

In researching Austrian wines, I was fascinated to discover the astonishing history of wine in that region. There is archaeological evidence of wine being made in Austria for over 4000 years. The Romans encouraged viticulture, the Danube became one of the greatest wine trade routes, and things were pretty good for a long time. Then during the 19th century, crop diseases such as powdery mildew and downy mildew and, of course, the deadly phylloxera took their toll on Austrian vineyards. Although the wine producers were hard-pressed to reinvigorate the wine trade, the viticultural disruption allowed lower quality grapes to be replaced with better varieties, particularly Grüner Veltliner. After World War I, Austria was the third biggest wine producer in the world,much being exported in bulk for blending with wine from Germany and other countries.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wining by Proxy...Tasting Terroir at République...

Once again JD fills in for the Goddess of Wine, this time at the Return to Terroir Portfolio tasting at République, the former Campanile.

About this event:
This was stated as “the only comprehensive portfolio tasting of the year to sample producers and regions spanning our entire portfolio.“

About the company:
Return to Terroir, owned by Raphael Knapp

Their Mission:
- To import sustainably produced wines that are the precise expression of their terroir.
- To help preserve the history of native grapes and traditional winemaking regions and methods.
- To educate the trade and consumers by sharing our wines and the stories of our winemakers.

“Raphael visits France and Italy every 3 months in search of wines that are the precise expression of their terroir. Some are organic and/or biodynamic but all are 100% estate produced by (smaller) family-owned wineries. They tend to share similar characteristics: minimal use of oak, a restrained style, and focus on minerality and acidity. We feel lucky to work with all of our producers and to be able to share their hard work, history and traditions with you.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wining in Santa Barbara...World of Pinot Noir...

The Goddess of Wine was very happy to be able to attend the annual World of Pinot Noir, held this year for the first time at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara. WOPN has been considered the crème de la crème of single varietal events for several years, and I have always wanted to go. Some background from the website:

"Our mission is to bring Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California's beautiful Central Coast.

Our annual event takes place at the beginning of March and includes two days of in-depth Tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, a Burgundy seminar and tasting and gourmet, locally-influenced lunches and dinners. These extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas will be hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from across the U.S.

The World of Pinot Noir was established in 2001 by a small but dedicated group of winemakers from California’s South Central Coast. We are a non-profit 501 (c) (6) trade organization."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - March Meeting - Campania!

The Goddess of Wine and her merry band of Wineaux met to taste the wines of Campania. Tasters included Barbara B., Debra B., Shawn H., Rico M., Marya G., Xochitl M., JD, and me.

Some background from
Campania is the ‘shin' of Italy's boot, anchored by its capital, Naples. Its name comes from Campania felix, a Latin phrase roughly meaning 'happy land'. The region has strong historical links to wine and vine, dating back to the 12th century BC, and is one of Italy's very oldest wine regions. The influence of ancient empires, including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, means some of this area's varieties have historical legends attached. The area is also famous for producing Falerno (Falernum), one of the most ancient wines in Italy. Campania, like many Italian regions, is home to an impressive array of grape varieties, some of which are found almost nowhere else on earth. Its most important variety is arguably Aglianico, the grape behind the region's two most famous and respected red wines: Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno. Aglianico was introduced to the area by the Greeks and later cultivated by the Romans. Also vital to Campania's vineyards are the white-wine varieties Fiano and Greco, which are championed by the region's most respected white wines, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend!

Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend Lures Food Fans with Three Exclusive “Signature” Wine Pairing Dinner Events, during April Wine Festival

 -- Event Production Company, Relevé Unlimited, and Santa Barbara Vintners Announce Details of Signature Wine Pairing Dinners: April 10 at Hot New Wine Country Eatery, Industrial Eats; April 11 at Santa Barbara Ocean View Resort, The Fess Parker Doubletree; April 12 among the Vines at Private Winery Estate, Grassini Family Vineyards --

March 25, 2014 – Buellton, CA – The Santa Barbara Vintners (SBV; #SBVintnersFest) and Santa Barbara- and Solvang-based event production firm, Relevé Unlimited, have enhanced the gourmand element of this year’s “Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend”, with the addition of three separate, “Signature” wine pairing dinners to be held during the wine festival weekend of April 10-13, 2014.

The first culinary event is a Thursday, April 10 Sta. Rita Hills AVA wine pairing dinner at Buellton’s newest restaurant destination, Industrial Eats (6:30 PM to 9:30 PM). The event will open with a Clos Pepe Vineyards sparkling wine reception, followed by a multi-course menu to include the likes of a Dry Cured Ham Tasting, Sea Urchin Crostini, Raw and Cooked Oyster options, Pizza with Duck Prosciutto, Roasted Rabbit, and Confit Duck Leg, paired with wines – and some of the people behind each label – from Sta. Rita Hills wineries including Wes Hagen and Steve Pepe of Clos Pepe Vineyards, Auggie Rodriguez and Laura Roach of Sanford Winery, Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines, and Jeff Connick of Dierberg Estate Vineyard. Tickets for the April 10 Industrial Eats dinner are $175.00 per person, and may be purchased at

Saturday, March 22, 2014

2014 Chardonnay Pismo Beach!

Wine Enthusiast Moderator & Panelists Announced By The
5th Annual Chardonnay Symposium

March 27, 2014 (Pismo Beach, CA): The 5th Annual Chardonnay Symposium (TCS) hosted by Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Pismo Beach, from May 16-18, 2014, today announced their newly appointed panel moderator as Matt Kettmann, contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast, and 2014 TCS Seminar Discussion Panel of notable industry experts to include Brian Talley of Talley Vineyards, Larry Brooks of Tolosa Winery, AJ Fairbanks of Hyde de Villaine, and Chris Hammel of Bien Nacido. 
Matt Kettmann, replaces Steve Heimoff, as a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, reviewing and reporting on wines from the Central and South Coasts of California.

"Throughout the industry, Kettman is considered to be quite skillful, confident, vocal and thoughtful,” says Katie Bottrell, Director of The Chardonnay Symposium.  “He is just as well suited for an esoteric audience of winemakers as he is for an audience of Chardonnay enthusiasts, so, we are very happy to have him as TCS moderator this year. Add that to the spectrum of experience and area of expertise on this panel, and it’ going to be a very interesting discussion this year."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wine with the Goddess on March 16th!

It's Wine 101 with the Goddess on March 16th!

Does wine jargon confuse you? Do sommeliers intimidate you?
Does reading a wine list make you sweat?

The Goddess can help!

Goddess of Wine Denise Lowe will take the mystery out of enjoying wine!
Join her at her Introduction to Wine class and relax!
Luna Vine Wine Bar
3206 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank
March 16th at Noon!
You’ll learn:
* HOW to taste wine
* HOW to pair wines with food
* HOW to purchase and store wine
* HOW to lose the confusion and have fun!

About the Goddess of Wine:
Denise is certified in wine education thru the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the Wine Academy of Spain, LearnAboutWine, and is a Professional Member of the Society of Wine Educators. Her blog, Goddess of Wine, details her adventures in the wine world, accompanied by her faithful acolyte, husband John Dickey.

Join the Goddess for a fun and educational experience!
Only $25 per person!

For more information, email or call 818-903-6397.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure...


Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure Expands – Over Fifty SBC/SYV "Garagiste" Winemakers to Pour March 29th and 30th in Solvang

Tickets now on sale for two days of events and seminars featuring hard-to-find, high-quality, small-production winemakers from Santa Barbara County and Santa Ynez Valley; 50% are new festival discoveries; one in four pouring first vintage, 80% have no tasting room.

Paso Robles, CA – February 10, 2014 - Garagiste Events today announced that tickets are now on sale at for its expanded Santa Ynez Valley-based “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure,” which will feature fifty-six of Santa Ynez Valley’s and Santa Barbara County’s high-quality, limited-production commercial “garagiste**” winemakers. The second annual festival will take place on March 29th and 30th, and returns to the beautiful, Mission-style Veterans Memorial Hall in the heart of Solvang, California. Proceeds benefit Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program.

Last year’s one-day event sold out and, in response to both consumer and winemaker demand, the non-profit event has expanded to two days.  Like all Garagiste Events festivals, each day will incorporate the festival’s signature tasting seminars, low-crowd experience, high-quality wines, first-time and ‘soon-to-break-out’ discoveries, personal winemaker interaction, diverse varietals (over 20) and renegade spirit. And, with almost fifty percent of the winemakers pouring at the event for the first time - thirteen pouring their first vintage, and over 75% lacking a tasting room - Southern Exposure offers a truly one-time-only opportunity for consumers to discover some of the hottest, yet-to-be-discovered wines, in one of the country’s most up and coming wine regions -- all in person and under one roof.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - February Edition - Alsace

The Goddess of Wine and her merry band of Wineaux met, as always, on the second Wednesday of the month. Hostess with the Mostess, Xochitl Maiman, put together snacks and dinner designed to go with the wines of the month from the currently French region of Alsace. Tasters included Barbara Barrielle, Debra Bizek, Shawn Shai Halahmy, Rico Mandel, Michelle McCue. All the wines were purchased from K & L Wines in Hollywood.

Some background on Alsace: Almost all Alsatian wine is produced under one of the region's three AOC designations - Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru and Crémant d'Alsace. Unlike most other French wine regions, there is no Vin de pays designation for Alsace. This means that wines that do not qualify for AOC status have to be sold as simple Vin de table de France. This happens in some instances when producers wish to use other grape varieties in their wine, like Domaine Zind-Humbrecht which sells its cuvée Zind, a blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Auxerrois.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2nd Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association Wine Festival

Discover a Heavenly Oasis Just Outside of Downtown
Los Angeles of Decadent Wine+Food+Music at the 2nd Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners 
Wine & Jazz Festival

Los Angeles County (March 27, 2014) - The Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association  2nd Annual Vintners Festival & Jazz In the Vineyard Event on Saturday, April 26, from 11am-4pm, at Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce, just 45 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles, features an unparalleled mix of great locally-produced wine and food, paired with illustrious live jazz music performed in a breathtakingly beautiful vineyard setting. 

“You might say we’ve created a kind of ‘holy trinity’ for voluptuaries of decadent wine+food+music in a heavenly oasis right outside of Downtown Los Angeles,” says Cyndee Donato of Donato Family Vineyard and Antelope Valley Winery, a Winemaker and member of the Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association. “And, the beauty of it is, almost no one knows we’re here, so our guests get to be the first to discover this burgeoning, wine frontier.”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wining in Lompoc...with LaMontagne...

Back in September 2013, JD and I were happy to meet LaMontagne Winery owner and winemaker, Kimberly Smith. I wrote a short blurb about her delicious wines, and hoped that we would find ourselves tasting them again soon. We were able to make that happen during a short trip to the Central Coast in December. We headed into the Lompoc Wine Ghetto on a surprisingly warm December day, where Kimberly opened her tasting room exclusively for us!

The first thing you need to know about Kimberly is that she is driven to make things happen. When she wondered why she loved Pinot Noir so much, she went back to college to find out what it was about that grape that made her happy. The class changed her life. That was the night she met winemaker, teacher, writer, activist, and all-around Renaissance man, Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe Estate.

She knew right away that he was the guy who had the answers. She asked him to mentor her, and the next morning she was in the vineyard!

Monday, February 3, 2014


The American Riviera hosting the World of Pinot Noir
Pinot-philes converge to taste and learn about wines from the world’s most important regions

Santa Barbara, Ca. - The 14th annual World of Pinot Noir, a 2-day event celebrating that alluring winegrape, will be held February 28-March 1, 2014 at the Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara California. The new venue is not only a luxurious feast for the senses, but also recognizes Santa Barbara County’s wine country as a place that introduced many to Pinot Noir, as 2014 will be the tenth anniversary of the iconic movie Sideways. “It's hard to believe it has been a decade since Sideways came out", muses Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars and this year's World of Pinot Noir President. "Having our event at the Bacara Resort and recognizing the effect of the movie is exciting! We look forward to welcoming those who join us each year, as well as newcomers to our 14th celebration of Pinot Noir."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - January 2014 Meeting - Bubbles!

Yikes, it's February and I'm just writing up our first Wineaux of the Goddess of 2014! Well, January was quite a month. That's all I'm saying at the moment.

To start off the year, we all brought sparkling wine from all over the world. We tasted in the order of JD pulling the bottles out of the chiller and opening them.

Wine #1 - NV Deligeroy Cremant de Loire, France. Sparkling Cabernet Franc! Who knew? Pale salmon in color with a small, persistent mousse. Yeast and strawberries on the nose, bright green apple on the palate with a slightly bitter, not unpleasant finish. 12.5% alcohol. $14 from K&L.

Wine #2 - 2009 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, Calistoga, California. 87% Pinot Noir/13% Chardonnay. Clear, pale gold with small bubbles. Not much on the nose, but yeasty apple, a little oak, and an interesting sour cherry finish. We all liked it with the Delice Bourgogne Brie. I must have been enjoying myself - I didn't write the price or vendor. 13% alcohol.