Friday, May 3, 2013

Wining in Sierra Pelona Valley...

The First Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival, hosted by Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce, having been postponed to April 20th after being rained out in February, inaugurated their brand-new event on a sunny, warm, breezy day in a practically perfect location - the middle of a vineyard!

Featuring Agua Dulce Winery, Alonso Family Vineyards, Bob Cat Winery, Coruce Vineyards, Golden Star Vineyards, Harris Wine Biz, High Desert Cellars, Two Hearts Vineyards, Malagon Vinedos, Mascari Vineyard, Reyes Winery, Pulchella Winery, San Antonio Winery, Stephen Hemmert Vineyards, along with lots of local food purveyors including Cheers at All Corked Up, Mickey's Mommas BBQ, Mi Dolce Vita Cupcakery, Truffles n Toffee, Red Haute, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, Porto's Bakery and Cafe, it was quite a party.

The Goddess and faithful acolyte, JD, took a leisurely drive northeast to Agua Dulce, winding through the back roads past the famous Vasquez Rocks - where almost every western and/or scifi movie or TV show has been filmed - through the rural town of Sweetwater, and out to Sierra Highway and the event.

View from the west
Hobbyists and commercial wineries poured their wines, while food purveyors offered food from the sublime (bacon jam from Red Haute!) to the not-quite-what-I-would-pair-with-wine-on-a-warm-day (extremely spicy tamales and salsa).

What worked:
  • Gorgeous setting, beautiful day, friendly folks.
  • Gracious hosting by Robert Reyes and his staff, along with the event volunteers and other locals.
  • Interesting and unusual wines.
What didn't work:
  • Wineries not from the Sierra Pelona Valley AVA. The majority of wines being poured were from Paso Robles and other areas, including the Guadalupe Valley in Baja California.
  • There was no signage indicating the VIP area - so JD and I never got to taste the food provided or take advantage of the shaded seating. And I only heard about the VIP winery tour after the event was over - from another blogger.
  • A surprising number of hobbyist winemakers - all very nice people, who are clearly passionate about wine, but just making wine for fun, so the whole point of them pouring at a public tasting was kind of lost on me.
Highlights of the tasting portion:
  • Bob Cat Winery Syrah - Hobbyist Tomas buys this fruit from Saarloos in Santa Barbara County and makes a yummy full-bodied Syrah.
  • Coruce Vineyards - Newly commercial winery is growing their own fruit and looks to be releasing some interesting wines in the future. Also into lavendar-farming.
  • Harris Wine Biz - Poured a well-made Petite Sirah, big and bold. I'm not sure if they're commercial or not.
  • Two Hearts Vineyards - Local hobbyists purchasing fruit and growing some of their own.
  • Malagon Vinedos - Among my faves of the day! Delightful wines from the Guadalupe Valley. Sold commercial in the US - I'll be looking to purchase some soon.
  • Pulchella Winery - I've known these excellent winemakers for a few years and really like their wines. Their fruit is from Paso Robles, their winemaking facility and custom crush pad is in Newhall.
There were lots of cool and fun life-style vendors there as well, as well as some spirits (Tequila!) and several local artists, so there was something for everyone.

All in all, it was a well-done first effort. Congratulations to all who participated and organized it. I look forward to next year's festival!


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