End of the World Ventura County Wine Events + A Twitter Tasting!

December kicks off with a bang in Ventura County with the Third Annual Winter Wine Walk in downtown Ventura. The rainy night and a friend’s party kept me away this year, but you can read my thoughts about the 2011 and the 2010 Winter Wine Walks. I know one friend who had his car hit by a drunk driver tonight; I hope the damage this year is minimal because I like the idea of the event and I’d like to see it be successful. Until someone pays for a stronger enforcement present like that required at the beer festival, I fear that people will continue to take advantage of the “wild west” atmosphere that prevails and drink to excess.

Both Saturday Dec. 1 and Sunday Dec. 2 join a Holiday Open House from noon – 5:00 p.m. at the Camarillo Custom Crush Winery
300 South Lewis, Unit C. For a cost of  $20, you can get a taste of what Ventura County winemakers are up as winemakers will pour their juice. Check out the local wine gifts for the holidays, too.

You can also help celebrate the holidays at Vino V‘s Annual Open House Continue reading

Live Twitter Tasting Focuses on California Cabernet Sauvs Thurs. February 11

Rick Bakas has organized a tasting of California Cabernet Sauv’s using 140 character comments on twitter for Thursday February 11. From 5-5:30pm, participants will taste and tweet first about cab wines from the southern  portion of the state (Paso Robles and down) from 5-5:30pm, taste and tweet about cabs from the middle region of the state from 5:30-6pm, then taste and tweet about cabs from the northern reaches from 6-7pm.

He encourages us to live it up and open, taste and tweet about wines from each region. I’m not sure whether I will do that; I do know that I will tasting and tweeting about wines made by Michael Meagher, winemaker for Vino V and Old Creek Road Winery. I wish I could make it to the Old Creek Ranch Winery,  and do this tasting with him,  but I’ll be here doing it at home. Next time!

Will you be joining in the fun? If so, use the hashtag #CaliCabs. You might also want to do a search and column on that hashtag so you can see what everyone else is tasting and saying.

Greening Valentine’s Day with organic treats, homemade gifts & local, sustainable, organic, biodynamic wines of course!

Even though Valentine’s Day screams RED: red roses, red foil chocolates, red sweaters, red hearts, and RED ink in your checking account, GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN this year! Turn your Valenfree trade chocolatestine’s Day GREEN with some of these tips from LIVE Earth: Save a Little Love for the Planet on Valentine’s Day (photo by LA Green Girl). Wine Predator’s additional tips and commentary are in bold and italics.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! February 14th is Saturday and you want to be prepared, but while you’re at it why not show some love for the planet too. It doesn’t take much to green your Valentine’s gifts and festivities. You will be surprised at how much love you can spread around the world. Here are some great tips you can use to show your loved one you care about them, and the planet.

1. So you’ll want a card to go with the wine. Buy valentine cards from local artists who make greeting cards out of recycled material.

artlifekissessm2Most art galleries feature a selection of cards by local artists: around here, I find my favorites at Farmer and the Cook in Meiners Oaks by a local cycling activist artist or at Buenaventura Art Gallery on Fir by the Post Office. Or download my kisses poem and send me a donation; you could also send your loved one a link to my Kisses poem (and show me a little link love too while you’re at it by linking to Kisses on your site!)

2. Make your own valentine cards with recycled items and things from nature such as dried flowers, satin ribbons, fabric hearts.

Try going to the beach or the snow and handwriting your message! Photo the message and send it to your loved one! Or print it out!

3. If you like to enjoy your wine by candlelight, use eco-friendly fragrance free candles. Beeswax or vegetable based candles that are biodegradable and smoke-free are a good choice.

Beeswax candles also clean and clear the air of pollutants and they smell wonderfully while they burn. I find mine at our local farmers markets; I keep them near sunlight so as they warm during the day, they exhale a rich sweet scent.

4. Choose wine or champagne that’s  organic, biodynamic, or sustainably produced. If there is a vineyard near,  buy from there. You will be supporting a local business, cutting down the use of packaging for shipping and probably saving some money too.

images-2Organic isn’t the only GREEN wine around–look for biodynamic wine or wines produced from sustainable vineyards, wineries and businesses.

One “green” red  I enjoyed recently over New Years weekend in Joshua Tree is RN13 Vin de pique-nique which indeed is perfect for a Valentine’s Day picnic! Made from 40% cabernet, 40% syrah, and 25% grenache (and sometimes mourverde)  grown organically in the south of France (Languedoc-Roussillon), the blend brings out the best of all three–it’s a spicy, silky,  full bodied,  full of fruit, full of fun!

I found the wine in Joshua Tree for $15 at a funky little cool cafe and shop on the corner across the street from the strip mall in Joshua Tree where you’ll find a thrift store and a natural foods market. We enjoyed it during a cloudy, wind whipped sunset in Joshua Tree and with a dinner of bolognese, salad, and stuffed portabellas. If you’re not in the neighborhood of Joshua Tree NP, try a Whole Foods Market.

The unusual way it’s bottled makes it easy to reuse as well! And each time you reuse the bottle, you will remember your special “picnic”!11ojai

Yesterday at a Santa Lucia Highland’s tasting in LA I tasted dozens of wonderful wines–mostly chardonnays like Bernardus full of character and pinots like Belle Glos with its lipstick red dripping cork seal and amazing nose plus a few intense syrahs like Wrath or Novy’s 2006. I also discovered Hahn’s sustainably grown wines. Unfortunately,  by the time I made it to their table, they were packing up. They did give me some seeds which they use as a cover crop and we will plant for Valentine’s Day!

You’d be surprised how many biodynamic, organic and sustainable wines that are being made in the US these days and beyond! Go here to learn about biodynamic wines from Quivira in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma.

You’d also be surprised at the number of wineries scattered across the country; I know I am! I’m lucky since in my backyard I have world-class wine and winemakers like Manfred Frankl of Sine Qua Non and the up and coming Michael Meagher at Vino V, and long-time local winemaking guru Adam Tolmach at Ojai producing wine from grapes typically sourced within 50 miles of my house.

5. For dessert, buy Organic or fair trade chocolates treats, (if you can buy from companies whose profits go to helping endangered species) or make your own chocolate treats with organic chocolates, nuts and fruits.

chocolate-strawberriesMaking your own customized chocolate treats like chocolate dipped strawberries with pecans really is easy! Finding organic strawberries this time of year is simple also since now is when they are really coming in season. While my favorites “Harry’s Berries” aren’t certified organic, the family follows sustainable and organic practices. You can find a recipe here.