Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thinking about future wining...

Been trying to figure out why I've been so down this month. Mercury has been retrograde for the last 3 weeks. That could be part of it. Coming up on the third anniversary of my mom's death, and I miss her more than ever, so that's part of it, too.

It's also my birthday week, and I'm hitting a big milestone this year. I've had mixed feelings about it. In this weird world of Los Angeles/Hollywood, so many people are freaked out about getting older, but I've always embraced it. Until this birthday.

OK, just have to say it. I'm turning 60 on the 14th.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Random thoughts...

Time goes by so quickly. I'm always surprised that another week or two or more has elapsed since I sat down to write a post. I really admire writers who crank out post after post, article after article, and never seem to run out of topics or energy. Of course, those writers are probably getting paid for their work, which is a real incentive to make it happen!

Dinner at the Joust
Since Thanksgiving, I've just been kind of stalled. Got a big birthday coming up, and it's taken me by surprise. We'll be celebrating with my posse of wineaux, of course. Should be fairly silly. Going to Medieval Times. Never been there - I know you're surprised knowing that JD and I are longtime Ren geeks, but there you have it. Plus, I can't actually remember the last time I was in Buena Park. Stay tuned for pix and reviews. What ho!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wining thankfully...

Yep, it's that time of year again. Articles abound - what wine to pair with turkey, what recipes to use, what we're thankful for. Christmas music fills the air...etc.

I'm thankful, too. Thankful that I get to play in the wine biz - tasting great wines and delicious foods, hanging with winemakers and writers and enthusiasts, dreaming of the day I can put the day job aside and focus 100% on wine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guerrilla wining...

One of the perks of being the Goddess of Wine is that people send me wine! A few weeks ago, winemaker Bruce Patch of Wine Guerrilla sent me a box of wine to taste. Well, not a box of wine - a box with 3 bottles of wine! I couldn't get to it right away due to a head cold (hard to smell and taste with a code in by dose), but when I could smell again, I pulled together a tasting with the team: Debra B (multiple certifications in wine education), winemaker Shawn Shai Halahmy (Shai Cellars), wild child Marya G (a great palate and lots of wine experience), First Acolyte JD (always coming from a slightly different place), and yours truly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wine Camping with the Goddess at LearnAboutWine...

Yes, indeedy! The Goddess returns to LearnAboutWine's Wine Camp on Saturday, November 5th and Sunday, November 6th! This is your chance to:
  1. Learn about wine in a fun, safe environment while tasting terrific wines and delicious snacks!
  2. Meet me - the Goddess of Wine herself! And JD, too!

Here's the scoop from LearnAboutWine- hope you can join us!

Learn the wine basics from A - Z!

Taste seven great wines and acquire the skills to evaluate what you smell and taste. 
LA’s #1 wine class with over 35,000 students since 1995!  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sneak peeking at Paso Garagiste...

Photo by Xochitl Maiman
Made a last minute decision to hit the road to visit The Cellar in Santa Clarita last Thursday (10/13). Why? Because there was a special ‘sneak peek’ at a few wineries who will be participating in the upcoming Paso Garagiste festival on November 12th.

As I’m a big fan of Paso wines, and will be heading to the event next month, I thought I’d get a head start. I hadn’t been there in quite a while, so it was nice to catch up with owner DiMaggio Washington and his talented crew. The event was perfect – small enough to give me a chance to really visit with the winemakers (or their reps), and large enough to taste a bunch of wines!

Monday, October 24, 2011

And the winners of the "Harvest Passport" Giveaway are...


Congratulations to Sherry Lynn, Cheryl Antonelli Dellepiane and Paula Higdon - they are each receiving one pair of "Harvest Passport" tickets for November! They get to wine their way through 6 artisan wineries in Ventura County! 

Thanks to all who participated. I hope you all will go ahead and purchase tickets and enjoy the fruits of these wonderful wineries' labors.

Cheers to all!

Special Ticket Giveaway - Wine your way thru Ventura County!

OK, all you wineaux out there! Here's the giveaway: The Goddess has 3 pairs of "Harvest Passport" tickets that will let the recipients wine their way thru Ventura County during the month of November!!

The 5th, 10th and 15th person to message me thru Facebook will receive one pair of tickets each!! This is a $70 value. The winners will pick up the tickets at one of six Ventura County Winery Association participating wineries!

Check out my blog http://goddessofvino.blogspot.com/2011/10/wining-in-ventura-county-all-november.html for details!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wining in Ventura County - all November long!

“Harvest Passport” Entices Ventura County Wine Lovers to Celebrate the Season

The Ventura County Winery Association 
is holding a passport tasting event 
throughout November, inviting guests to enjoy a 
five-wine tasting flight at each of six local wineries

VENTURA, CA; (September 20, 2011) – This November, the six urban wineries that comprise the Ventura County Winery Association are inviting locals and visitors to celebrate the season’s bountiful wine grape harvest with a month-long “Harvest Passport” event. Conveniently located just one hour’s drive from Los Angeles, Ventura County’s “urban wine trail” is an ideal weekend getaway or day-trip for out-of-towners.

For just $35, guests can receive a tasting flight of five wines at each of the six member wineries. Passport holders will also receive 10% off wine purchases on the day of their visit. In addition, Passport holders will be entered into a drawing to win one of two prize packages, each consisting of a two-night stay at Marriott Courtyard Camarillo and a Ventura County Winery Association Gift Package, comprised of one bottle from each of the six wineries. The Harvest Passport is valid through the entire month of November, so guests are welcome to visit each winery at their leisure, while taking in Ventura County’s breathtaking ocean views and lush scenery.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cooking for Love...rocked!

Just a quick note as I am too tired to think clearly at the moment...

I was proud to be the Event Sommelier for Cooking for Love, a spectacular event to benefit Break the Cycle. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you to all the wineries who participated!

It was an extraordinary evening, and I am honored to say that I have been asked to return next year in the same capacity. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hang in Paso with the Goddess in November...

November 12th - It's the Paso Garagiste Festival! The Goddess and various friends will be there. Will you?

Here's the scoop:

Artisan Wine Trend Gains Momentum at Paso Garagiste Festival
Forty Emerging Winemakers Sign On to Pour at November Event; Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program to Benefit; Limited Tickets Available 

Paso Robles, Ca – September 14, 2011  Paso Garagiste today announced that forty of California’s most cutting-edge artisan ‘garagiste’* winemakers are now set to pour at the first annual Paso Garagiste Festival: Celebrating the Artisan Winemaker to be held November 11 – 12 at Paso Robles’ Windfall Farms. A limited number of tickets for the festival, which will raise funds for the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program, are now on sale to the public at pasogaragiste.com.

Much Wining to take place...

Want a chance to meeting the Goddess and JD?

October 9th - Cooking for Love - a huge charity event to benefit Break the Cycle! I'm the Event Sommelier and have assembled almost a dozen wineries to go with the tasty offerings from all of the great restaurants in Los Angeles! Come and taste Shai Cellars, Martian Vineyards, Patel Winery, Chamisal, Roadhouse Winery, The Naked Grape, Bedford Winery, Collier Falls, plus great silent auction items donated by Tablas Creek, Dark Star Cellars and Brian Benson! It'll be great!
Here's more info:

Cooking for Love - Savor the Season
Sunday, October 9, 2011
5:30 PM VIP early admission, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM General Admission
Global Cuisine by Gary Arabia at The Lot Studios
1041 N. Formosa Ave - West Hollywood, CA
Now in its seventh year, Break the Cycle's Cooking for Love has become one of the most talked about and well-attended events in town. In fact, BizBash Magazine regularly names us one of the top ten food and wine events in Southern California.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Random wining...as usual...

The quarterly wine dinner extravaganza took place at FAB's Corner Cucina on the 21st. Manager and wine aficionado Amelia and Chef Ian once again put together an interesting and delicious meal with brilliant wine pairings:

Lamb chop perfection!
2005 Domaine Terlato-Chapoutier, Australian blend of Shiraz and Viognier paired with a perfect lamb chop sitting on diced butternut squash and complemented with a mint yogurt sauce. A spicy Shiraz from the vineyards of Central Victoria brightened with a boost of Viognier for aroma and balance, as often practiced in the Côte Rôtie. The grapes grown in this Austrialian vineyard were planted on 19th century French rootstocks, another nod to the French tradition & influence in this new world wine. This wine is a collaborative effort between two renowned wine families; Chapoutier from the Rhône Valley in France, and Terlato family of Napa Valley in California. Delightful!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wining by proxy...Austria Uncorked & Drink Ribera, Drink Spain...

A few months ago, the Goddess' First Acolyte, JD, ventured to the SLS Hotel for concurrent tastings - Austrian wines and Spanish wines from Ribera del Duero. It took him a while to report, but here it is!

As is often the case, the events were at a hotel in a busy, hard to reach area with no real parking other than the valet at the hotel. I turned over the truck. A person in front said that while the Austrian group was not validating parking, the Spanish group was. Since Austria closed first, I went in the direction the person indicated for that. Spain (and validation?) would come later.

I was not too knowledgeable on Austrian wines so this was going to be almost entirely new ground.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Random wining...

Every time I complain that I don't have enough time to write about all my wine adventures, it just sounds like bragging...but JD and I have been all over the place!

8/20 - Showed some support for SSH at a small tasting of mostly local wines at J. Hamilton Wines (actually at The Plug Nickel) in Westlake Village, about whom there will be a separate post. Got to spend a bit of quality time chatting with noted winemaker, Norm Stafford, whose 2006 Humaliwo Ventureno blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc was full of chocolate and spice. Norm was the winemaker/consultant for several of the wineries there that day, and it was interesting to see how he dealt with different grapes and styles of wine.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Exciting news from Four Brix Winery!

So exciting! My friends at Four Brix are having their Grand Opening on September 17th and 18th! You should go!

Four Brix Winery, part of the Ventura County Winery Association, celebrates the Grand Opening of its urban winery and tasting room.

Ventura County wine lovers have an excuse to sip and celebrate California Wine Month this September with the opening of Ventura's only full-fledged winery and tasting room. After two years at the Wine Yard in Thousand Oaks, Four Brix Winery is celebrating the Grand Opening of its new winemaking and tasting facility the weekend of September 17th.

Four Brix Winery Grand Opening Weekend
Saturday & Sunday, September 17-18 from 12 noon to 5pm
2290 Eastman Ave. #109, Ventura, CA 93003
Open to the public Wine Tastings $10

Guests will have the opportunity to join Four Brix Winery's wine club at the "Founders Club" level, which affords members the ability to self-select each wine for their wine club shipment. "Founders Club" membership will only be open through Grand Opening Weekend future wine club members will receive standard shipments of newly released wines and will not have the ability to change the wines in their shipments.

Local art displayed throughout Grand Opening weekend. Light hors d'oeuvres, cheese plates, and charcuterie available for purchase. No reservations required. More information email the winery.

Cheers and congratulations! The Goddess and JD will be there celebrating, too!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Tasting Room...

I was feeling like we've been going non-stop. Then I took a look at my calendar and realized there was a reason for that: We've been going non-stop! Geez, no wonder we're tired!

7/20 - Kickoff lunch for Break the Cycle - Cooking for Love - How do I convince small production, artisan winemakers to donate wine for me to pour at this event? Suggestions? Better yet: Donations? Anyone? Anyone?


Friday, July 22, 2011

A lot of wining in a very short time...

Panini @ VWC - Yum!
Headed up to the Valencia Wine Company for the monthly meeting of the Grape of the Night back on the 11th. This month's grape was Cabernet Franc, and we had 7 wines to sample, ranging from inexpensive 'supermarket' wine to seriously overpriced.

Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone, as in the Loire's Chinon. Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine and contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, and cassis, sometimes even violets. Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century; it was planted in Loire long before that. DNA analysis indicates Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cross between it and Sauvignon Blanc.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wining and whiling away the time...

Time goes by so fast. Fortunately, we're doing a lot of wine tasting while it's going by!

Shai @Santa Barbara
6/25 - Santa Barbara Wine Festival at the Natural History Museum - At the very last minute, Shawn Shai Halahmy pinged me to ask if we could help him pour his wines in Santa Barbara. We said 'Sure!' and headed North. We weren't familiar with this particular festival, but it was huge! More than 70 wineries - most of whom I knew - lots of fun food, a gorgeous setting, and a really enthusiastic crowd. Shawn was pouring his 2008 Shai Cellars Adome, plus doing a sneak preview of his just-bottled 2009 Adome and 2009 Grenache. With all the great wines being shown, a significant number of guests came back to us to tell us how much they like Shai! What's not to like? Oh, and the photo of Shai is courtesy of Bob Dickey, a great photog and wine lover in Santa Barbara. No relation to JD.  Just a fortunate name.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WHining and wining...

Pre LAWineFest
The Goddess and JD are TIRED. We are just beat. Between the 6th Annual LAWineFest, the Arte in Junio event at the Beauty Lounge, wine events and winemaker dinners, and moving the parental units to a new location, we are tired. We have been up and down the coast between home and Morro Bay several times this month, with more to come as we clear out the old place and determine what stays and what goes. In between has been wine. And thank the universe for that!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wining and adventures in Pasadena...

We set off early Saturday - breakfast with the usual gang at Lancers, plus a couple of Pete's nieces (new friends we now adore). Over to the Beauty Lounge in Pasadena, where Gina made us look shiny and new, and on to more adventures in wine.

Tasting @ Heritage
It was too early for most of the wine bars in Pasadena to be open, so we walked over to Heritage Wine and Spirits. We hadn't been there since the new owners had taken over, so we didn't know what to expect. Christian poured a glass of the 2008 Jana Rosé of Grenache for me (light, fresh, crisp), a glass of the 2009 Maipe Torrontes (a great aperitif) for JD, and we started off an adventurous afternoon! We sampled a fun sparkling Rosé, Fresita, a unique blend of Chilean sparkling wine (a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel) infused with fresh, handpicked strawberries from Patagonia. A little sweet for my taste, but Christian says he has trouble keeping it in stock. I believe it!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Still wining...really!

Yeah, yeah...I know...haven't written recently. But I've been busy!!

Been getting my somm's and pourers in place for the upcoming LAWineFest 2011! There's still time for you to let me know if you want to help.
  • There will be over 500 wines and spirits to taste, plus great food from local restaurants and food trucks.
  • There will be special programs - Wine, Scotch and Sake tasting, plus wine and cheese pairing with Barrie Lynn and George Rosenthal, winemakers and winery owners panels, and a special appearance by Chef Cyndy Schwanke, College of the Canyons -ICE making some glorious desserts to pair with dessert wines!
You should attend, even if you can't volunteer. Discounted tix are still available, but the discounts disappear the closer we get to the event. Don't wait!

But that's not all I've been doing...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So much wining...so little time to write!

I was trying to figure out why I haven't written in the last month, and I realized it's because JD and I have been running all over the place tasting wines, eating great food, and just generally having a good time, except for the broken nose. But that's another story. 
Here's what's been going on in the last month or so. And it doesn't include various dinners with friends and meetings about the upcoming LA WineFest!

3/14 - The Flask Studio City - Fog Crest from Sebastopol (wines were OK, nothing to write home about)/Shai Cellars from Santa Ynez (Of course, a personal favorite. And winemaker Shawn Halahmy was donating part of the proceeds of any of his sales to help Japan.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wining by proxy...A guest post from the First Acolyte himself...

So many wine events, so little time! Back on March 15th, the Family Winemakers of California came to town, but the Goddess couldn't get there...sob! So I sent my First Acolyte, JD, to cover the event. Here is his report:

Popping up from parking at the convention center I found myself in the conference building. Discovered the Exhibit Hall is on the other side of the Center grounds. I planned on mostly hitting wineries I was unfamiliar with, which would unfortunately mean skipping many known great tastes.

The doors opened and I headed for the end of the alphabet and started with William James Cellars, who had called the Goddess asking to be sure to taste their wines. Started with the “Simply Gorgeous” Grenache Rose, had good cran- & other berry spice, light, a nice start which led to the regular Grenache “Smoke Rings”, a slightly heavier version. “Persuasive” Pinot Noir had some nice earth in it. I found the Cabernet Sauvignon was a little hot on the nose, but would probably quiet down given a little time to swirl. Sampled a couple others too, but was getting a little anxious to move on- so many wineries in this huge room!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wining at Noir...

Dining room at Noir
JD and I were lucky enough to be able to get tickets to a special winemaker dinner at Noir Food and Wine in Pasadena. By special, I mean special. Richard Sanford, the man behind the Sanford & Benedict vineyard, the original Sanford Winery, the current award-winning Alma Rosa Winery, and the inspiration for a generation of winemakers, was bringing his lovely wines to be paired with dishes created by Pasadena's most celebrated chef, Claud Beltran.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wining, wining, wining...the wining never stops!

Grape of the Night @ VWC
Attended an intimate Grape of the Night at the Valencia Wine Companylast Monday, the 7th. Ringmaster Eve Bushman put out the call, per Rusty Dale Sly's command, for Bordeaux wines. You know, from France. JD & I showed up with a chilled 2008 Chateau Tertre de Launay from the Entre Deux Mers region, setting the bar pretty high, if I say so myself. A couple of attendees, who said they never drink white Bordeaux, had to admit it was pretty tasty (technical term, of course); a crisp, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend that had a soft, honeyed finish. Yum!

Other hits of the night were the 2003 Chateau Franc, a lush blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc, and the 2006 Chateau Tour Pauillac Cru Bourgeois, a 70/30 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. I do love Bordeaux! Next month, GOTN will feature Petit Sirah, that deceptively named grape that is anything but small.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rhoning in Paso...

JD & I had the opportunity to head up to Paso Robles a couple of weeks ago for the annual Rhone Rangers Experience - Paso Robles chapter - seminar and tasting. We sweet-talked our cousins in Los Osos to put us up for a couple of nights, and headed up the coast.

Saturday morning, got on the road early, stopping in Solvang to break our fast at Paula's Pancake House. This time we had contacted our friend Lee Tomkow, a brilliant photographer and videographer, to meet us. Over breakfast, we chatted about wines and wineries. On hearing that we were headed to the RR, he suggested that we look up Ambyth Estate and try the wines there. He couldn't say enough about them - biodynamic, organic farming, great location at a high elevation in Templeton. I said we'd keep it in mind, time permitting.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wining all around town...

Can't believe we're at the end of February already. How did that happen? And there have been so many wine events already, and so many more coming up. It's hard to choose when there are so many opportunities to meet like-minded folks and taste great wines. So far this year, there have been a couple of Grape of the Nights at Valencia Wine Company, the 1st Annual SCV WineFest (pictured right), several LearnAboutWine events, not to mention my own series of Introduction to Wine With the Goddess classes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

In Memoriam...

I took a break for a few weeks - from writing, that is - because I needed to rethink what I was doing on this blog. I don't want this to just be shameless self-promotion; I really do want to talk about the things that are important to me, and things happen that put priorities into perspective.

A long-time friend died today. She was an elegant, old-fashioned LADY. In the best sense of that word. She was dignified, but had a wicked sense of humor and timing. She had an undeniable self-possession, a noble bearing and the ability to handle any situation or person with patience and kindness, no matter how angry or upset or amused she was. She comforted me during the period of my mother's descent into Alzheimer's; she always knew what to say. She had strong beliefs, but never pushed them on anyone - because that just wasn't done. She doted on her husband, but knew that she needed her own space and made sure he had his, too. Over the last year, she became very frail and stopped coming to our Saturday breakfasts, but she was always with us. Rest in peace, dear Flo. We are all better for having known you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wine along with the Goddess...

Just a quick note while prepping the next post. We've got some fun events coming up, and would love you to share them with us.

On Sunday, February 6th, if you're not into football - or even if you are - come on down to Loft 218 and join me as I teach Wine Camp for LearnAboutWine. It's fun! It's a great way to discover new wines and make new friends with common interests. Click thru on the icon with a wine bottle in a tent - Wine Camp, get it? - and buy your tickets for a terrific Sunday afternoon with no football to get in the way. I'm just saying...

Then, on Tuesday, February 8th, join JD and me at Total Wine & More in Northridge as we taste and talk about romantic wines to buy for Valentine's Day! Oh, and there WILL be chocolate! Click thru on the Local Wine Events icon to buy your tickets. This is a great way to learn about wine in the San Fernando Valley. Did I mention there will be chocolate?

Almost forgot! The team that brings you the LA Wine Fest is now bringing you the Santa Clarita Valley Wine Fest on Saturday, February 12th! The Goddess and JD will be pouring wine there to support their friends, wine aficionado Dr. Joel Fisher, blogger extraordinaire Eve Hammond Bushman and many others!

Don't miss these great events! Cheers!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jumping into the new year, wining as we go...

2010 ended with a bang and a whole lotta Champagne. 2011 started quietly while we rehydrated. But JD and I are back in full swing now!

We started at the monthly Monday night meeting of Grape of the Night at the Valencia Wine Company. January's topic was Rhone-variety blends from anywhere. We had a nice crowd including Four Brix owner/winemakers Steve and Lora Simonsgaard. We had met the Simonsgaards a few times before, but this time we got a chance to really visit with them, especially as they poured their 2008 Rhondezvous, a delightful blend of 43% Syrah, 29% Mourvedre, 18% Grenache, 10% Counoise, aged for 16 months in French oak barrels. There were some other interesting blends that night, lots of lively conversation and plans for upcoming events. Another big hit of the night was 2007 Pulchella, another local winery sourcing their grapes from the Paso Robles region.