SUMMER BESTS! Wine Fests, Art Tours, Warm Nights Pulling Corks

Batterieberg Vineyard in the Mosel

She FINALLY got here. Like the panting crowd waiting for the always-late movie star to arrive we expect a very good show. Along with summer come the wine festivals, music festivals, art studio tours, golf tournaments (SO to my NRCC homies struggling for glory in the sunshine) and plenty…I said plenty…of warm evenings with friends and fellow wine lovers. We already hit the first wine & food festival, Casa Pacifica in Camarillo. The Topanga Art Studio Tour is this weekend then LAs’ BEST outdoor party the Playboy Jazz Festival is Fathers Day weekend.

Here is the report on the Casa Pacifica Food & Wine Festival followed by some corks we pulled at home.

The Casa Pacifica festival raises money for an 80 bed temporary shelter for children going through a hard time in life. This is the 16th year the festival has been going. They sell out at ~4,000 tickets. So this a very successful endeavor for a well-established community resource. The Casa Pacifica Festival is a four hour affair held at the newest California State University named Channel Islands. The campus is the former state hospital so it is isolated; tucked into a hollow up against Potrero Ranch east and downhill from Newbury Park along the fertile Camarillo farm belt. It has to be tough to be a student there since it is in the middle of nowhere. However, it is a great site for a SOLD OUT annual party with a live music bandstand and what must be 100 stalls pouring wine and microbrews and serving BBQ beef, chili and all manner of delectable foods. Ate a strawberry half as big as an apple. The Silent Auction gets plenty of action. This was our second year. We get the feeling this was once a much smaller event but not any more. A lot of these festivals can be duds. Not this one. Here is what we tasted that we loved.

Anacapa Brewing Company‘s Jason Coudray is the head brewer. He is 25 y.o. and confirmed he has been surfing for 21 of those years. He surfs Hollister Ranch which requires ownership or Top Secret clearance (Vanderberg AFB launch pad adjacent) for access. Jason poured his Pissy Pelican Pale Ale which showed clean bitter and slightly citric flavors. The 5.7% brew uses Galena and Centennial hops which will mean something to the brew geeks. Delicious and refreshing. Jason attended St Lawrence U in upstate New York on a full scholarship majoring in Environmental Science. Just the facts folks. Jason and crew toil on Main Street in Ventura where we will be stopping for food and grog next time we are up there.

Santa Ynez most famous – arguably – winemaking team, Frank Ostini and Gray Hartley, were que-ing up beef strips [ed. Ostini in background] and pouring their wines. Frankly (Grayly?), we were pleasantly surprised to see them here. Hartley & Ostini bottle the Hitching Post label named after their movie-famous Santa Ynez restaurant. These guys ONLY bottle wines from local sources. They apparently are not the least bit concerned about having too many labels, varietals or blends because they bottle more than every kind of wine I can imagine. We tasted a handful and found it hard to spit but we forced ourselves to because we knew more work just was a few feet away. I asked Hartley if he gets pretty much his pick of any vineyard he wants. “After 32 years doing this…yes. Pretty much.” Kudos to Hartley-Ostini. We would wish them continued success but that would be like wishing Jay Z good luck in his next business.


Pear Valley Vineyards has 115 acres of planted vineyard in Paso Robles “unfashionable” Eastside. We almost always refer to Paso’s Eastside as unfashionable because the Westside is so fashionable. Terrains are remarkably different. The Westside is lovely to drive through with the woodsy pockets, wild turkeys and deer wandering all over, while the Eastside has rolling hills. Nuff said. BUT…this does not mean Eastside vineyards cannot make great wine or that plonk does not come out of the Westside. Kathleen and Tom Maas of Pear Valley are producing some really nice wines. The winemaker is Jareed Lee who is another young winemaker out of the CSU SLO Oenology program where fellow Paso 3rd Generation winemaker Shannon Gustafson attended. Pear Valley produces 550 cases and the Maases handle the distribution on their own. They bottle quite a few (24 grape types growing here and they source too) different varietals. Here is what we tasted and liked.

2010 Pear Valley Sauvignon Blanc $13: New release. Fermented in stainless steel, Loire style, no grassiness. Loire style means it is fresh, fruity, slightly citric. A very nice effort. The ideal summer sipper. And the price is at the winery or online. Super U20. 14.1%

2009 Pear Valley Grenache
$16: Strawberry nose and flavors, light cherry red color, served cold. U20 deal. Take that World Plus/Cost World whoever you are. 14.8%

That wraps the festival tastings. Here are a couple of home pulls.

2009 Fort Ross Fort Ross Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $25: Dark color, solid nose of corn beef, bacon and coriander. Tastes more like a Chateauneuf du Pape! The New World Syrah side of Pinot. Middle weight not heavy. Easily handles the pan fried chicken with herbs. Could do pork too. Very drinkable. Good job. Very good price for premium California Pinot. Still have a few Fort Ross wines to report on. Stay thirsty. 14.1%

2010 Saar Riesling Barrel X
$20: What a treat. Purchased this through Kris-B who thankfully is obsessed with Rieslings from Germany and often includes me in his most recent finds. Here is a grateful purchase. Screw top mouthful of grapefruit fruit juicy ZING. Limestoney, zesty. Even some orange peel. The P-E-R-F-E-C-T summer gulping wine for watching the Thunder tear through the old fart teams that cannot keep up with the fleet racy zig-zag runners. Like this wine. goes in the Summer Lineup which will include Viñho Verde, Verdejo and Albarino. More competitive than the NBA Finals will be. 10%

Postscript: What is it about Riesling from the Mösel that makes such unique wines? Here is an example. The image at top is a ground level view of the Batterieberg vineyard in the Mösel. Forget that the estate dates to the 5th century. Take a look at what the vines grow in…on?

…….Soil is a big part of vineyard success. We posted on the unique nature of Paso calcareous soil and how it was the difference maker for Tablas Creek to locate there. Compare the photo of the chalky Paso soil with the blue-grey slate in the Mösel. Amazing. It’s in the wine. Tinkaboudid.


  1. Wavatar
    Kris-B says:

    You forgot the best part: the Batterieberg vineyard was blasted with gunpowder explosives in the late 19th century out of a hillside of solid slate by crazy Karl Immich

    • Wavatar
      Bacchus says:

      Thanks for the reminder! I got focused on the importance of soil, the radical kinds of soils vines grown in. The story is impressive. The label is a hoot! Here is the link to the Mosel Wine Merchant who imports the wines which is the same in the post.

      • Wavatar
        mouse says:

        Germans? Gunpowder? I’m in disbelief…
        Seriously, tho, wifey and I spent 1988 honeymoon in Mosel. Magical please. Off the beaten track. How anyone tends to grapes at such inclines alludes me.
        For da record, some really good stuff, for under $15, comes from the Finger Lakes,which is easily the best source for this glorious varietal in the Western hemisphere.
        Riesling rules, with roussanne – his beautiful, voluptuous queen.

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