Monthly Archives: May 2009

California Wine Festivals in June, July, August and Beyond

This is an update of what is going on in the California wine
regions.  I’m not going to post what the individual wineries or wine
shops are doing, but I will post the wine festivals that I’m aware of. 
If I’ve missed anything, please inform me at, so I
can add it to the list.  Some future events are listed down below.


          Current California Wine Events June – August ’09

June 6th & 7th, 11-5pm – Santa Cruz Mtns. (western side) June 13th & 14th Santa Cruz Mtns. (eastern side) Santa Cruz Vintners Festival

June 6th, 1pm-4pm – Two Harbors, Avalon 8th Annual Wine Festival, Catalina Island

June 13th, 3pm-7pm – Historic Escalle Winery, Larkspur – 5th Annual Marin County Pinot Noir Celebration

June 24th-28 – San Francisco San Francisco Pinot Days 2009

June 26-28th, 11-5pm – MurphysCalaveras Passport Weekend 

June 28th – San Francisco Pino Days, Grand Festival Wine Tasting

July 9, 5:30-9pm – Sacramento California’s Grape and Gourmet

July 23, – 6pm-9pm – Livermore Taste of Terroir

July 26th, – 1-6:30pm – NapaJewish Vintners Wine Trail

July 26th,  1-4 pm – Camarillo22nd Annual Wine Food Festival

August 8th, 6pm-9pm – Paso Robles Winemakers Cookoff

August 8th, 12-3:30pm – Monterey 17th Annual Winemakers Celebration

August 14-16th – Sonoma County14th Annual Russian River Valley Wine Growers “Grape to Glass” Weekend

August 16th, 2-5pm – MoragaSaint Mary’s College Wine Festival

August 29, 10am-6pm, August 30th -10am 5pm – Bodega Bay Bodega Seafood Art and Wine Festival

August 23, 3-6pm – San Francisco – Family Winemakers of California

     Belly Dancers at Mounts Winery – 2009 Dry Creek Passport Weekend –   Live band at Martorana Winery

                                   Future Wine Events

September 4th – 6th,  Healdsburg – Sonoma Wine Country Weekend which includes TASTE of Sonoma

September 6th & 7th, 12-5 each day – Livermore – 28th Annual Harvest Wine Celebration

September 11 & 12, 11-5 each day – Fort Bragg, – 25th Annual Winesong!

September 27, 12pm-6pm – LodiTaste of Lodi

October 25th – Russian River, Sonoma County 6th Annual Pinot on the River

November 18-22 – San Diego  –The 6th Annual San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival

June 12th, 2010Russian River Passport Weekend – Sonoma County

Oprah and Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Taste Wine on Skype

Wow!  Who would have ever thought that you could toast, swirl, sip, smile and drink wine with a friend while he or she is thousands of miles away?  Computer technology is getting very advanced and everyone is starting to take advantage of it.  Last week Oprah had a segment on her show all about Skype.  Skype is a way that you can talk and have the choice to see or just hear the person you are talking to while on the computer for free.  Yes, for FREE!  You just need to download Skype onto your computer and have either, a built in video, or a portable one that you install on top of your computer.  Once you have that installed you can talk with anyone around the world!

What Oprah did last week was she had a Skype conference call  during her show with a couple flying on Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Randall Grahm owner of Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz California.  The three parties sampled three Bonnie Doon wines all at the same time, and were able to see each other, discuss the wine with each other, and laugh in amazement at this new technology. 

If you’re not familiar with Bonny Doon Vineyard, well you’ve been missing out!  Their first release was back in 1986.  They are especially known for their good value wines and being on the forefront of screw tops and biodynamic farming.  You will notice right away when you go to their website that there is a definate artsy-quirky style.  Randall is a firm believer of making sure you as the consumer, understands and feels the love for each of his wines as he does by writing fantastic descriptions of each one. 

Randall poured a Bonny Doon 2008 ca’ del Solo Albarino described as; bright aromas of lemon blossom, white ginger and sage remind one of the pilgrim journeys along the winding paths leading to Santiago de Compostela
in Galicia. Citrus rind, wild herbs and green almond flavors continue
this Spanish interlude as the ‘08 vintage finishes long, crisp and
briny. Pairs beautifully with fresh oysters camarón en cazuela or any fresh bloomy rind goat or sheep’s milk cheese. 

Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo Brand Labels

After they enjoyed that wine they
then poured Bonny Doon’s signature wine Le Cigare Volant described as; an earthier style of Cigare than previous editions,
the 2005 shows a deep ruby robe with bright purple highlights. Aromas
of spiced meat, kirsch, mushrooms, a soupçon of truffle and
dark chocolate make for a richly perfumed red wine. Flavors of earthy
red fruit, cocoa beans and sweet spice, balanced with moderate acidity,
slightly crunchy tannins and a generous, even voluptuous texture with a
long, savory finish. This wine has the structure to age well and shows
more French oak than is normal for us. Quite delicious, yet clearly
serious and stylistically, very Old World. Ages until kids are out of
the house.  The last wine they poured was a dessert wine.  Oprah made mention that she isn’t a big dessert wine fan, she usually sticks to the red wine. 
They poured a Bonny Doon 2007 Le Vol des Anges (Sweet Wine of the Earth) described as; Botrytis, when it is good, is very, very good i.e., it imparts a rather
distinctive quality to sweet wine – incredibly rich, unctuous, honeyed,
savory mouthfeel with great persistence on the palate. This wine has a
wonderfully decadent, autumnal quality and one is mostly reminded of
pome fruit – pears and quince, but also sweet suggestions of white
nectarine, apricot and even a hint of blood orange. In one of those odd
synchronicities that seem to be the warp and woof of the Bonny Doon
experience, there is also an unmistakable and extremely attractive
fragrance of beeswax.
  Everyone enjoyed everything; Oprah especially enjoyed Le Cigare, as she is a fan of red wines.

          Jacob and Brittany enjoying wine tasting at Bonny Doon

Larry and I had the opportunity to go to Bonny Doon Vineyard and check out their new tasting room this past February with our son Jacob and his girlfriend Brittany.  They are open Mon/Tue 12-5:30 and Wed-Sun 12-9.  You can spend a long time in the tasting room as they offer a number of different wines to sample, they have great educational posters to read around the room, they have a nice gift shop and beautiful architecture throughout.  They recently opened up a cafe in the tasting room called the Cellar Door.  The Cellar Door Cafe is open Wed-Sun 12-9.  The executive chef is Charlie Parker who was at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos for three years bringing it up to a Michelin two-starred restaurant.  If you go, let me know what your thoughts were.

Being a Kid Again at the Jelly Belly Factory!

Yesterday I went to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA.  It’s about a 60-minute drive from San Francisco and 45 minutes from Sacramento.  They offer FREE tours daily every 15 minutes that last about 45 minutes.  I went with my mom Pearl and stepfather Bob,
and cousins Karen and Rod who were visiting from the L.A. area.  I had been there before, but each time is a different experience because
of the different people I’ve gone with.  I think the more in your group
the more fun it can be   We all acted like little 10 year-olds.  We
acted mature enough to behave during the tour, we kept quiet and were
respectful, but we were a bit obnoxious in the gift shop.  We all spent
way too much money on sugar!

  Pearl, Bob, Rod and Karen on the Jelly Belly Tour!

Besides the factory in Fairfield, CA the only other one in the USA is in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.  There they have a 30 minutes train tour of the warehouse and factory.  We learned a lot of very interesting history.  It all started in 1869 when the Goelitz brothers arrived from Germany with a desire to have their American Dream.  They landed in Belleville, IL and bought an ice cream and candy store.  The Goelitz second generation developed a candy they called “Butter creams” which included the likes of Candy Corn.  This helped them to survive during the depression and two World Wars!  Today, the great-grandsons of Gustav Goelitz, the fourth generation, are still
carrying on the tradition of making candy.  The
jelly candy inspired by Turkish delight was shaped into a bean and given a soft
shell using a French process called “panning”.  The first jelly bean was created
by an American candy maker whose name has since been lost in time.  Although the penny candy boom waned a bit when America fell in love with
chocolate in the early 1900’s, there was a real chocolate shortage when most
chocolate went to overseas troops during World War II.  So, patriotic Americans
once again discovered their urge for non-chocolate sweet treats like the common
candy store jellybeans.  Back in 1976, a Los Angeles candy distributor had an idea for a jellybean made
with natural flavorings.  He called up the candy makers at Jelly Belly
(formerly known as Herman Goelitz Candy Co.) who had a reputation for making the
very best candies.  In 1976
the first eight Jelly Belly flavors were born: Very Cherry, Lemon, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple,
Root Beer, Grape and Licorice.  Funny enough they are still some of the most
popular flavors made.  Jelly
Belly became the favorite candy of Ronald Reagan, who eventually made the beans a
staple in the Oval Office and on Air Force One after he was elected president.  President Reagan’s passion for
jellybeans inspired Blueberry flavor, which was cooked up so he could serve
red, white, and blue beans at his inaugural parties.  Diplomats and world
leaders clamored to have Jelly Belly beans.  Jelly Belly was also
the first jellybean in outer space.  Free floating, weightless Jelly Belly beans
were sent on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.  Today the company still makes Candy
Corn and more than 100 mouthwatering candies, including such delights as
chocolates, gummies, sour candies and confections for all the major seasons.  Did you know… that there are about 4 calories per Jelly Belly bean?  One batch takes two weeks from beginning to packaging?  It can take up to two years to develop a Jelly Belly flavor?

                              Me and Mr. Jelly Belly at the factory

Speaking of flavors.  They offer over 50 different flavored beans, including new pomegranate, dark chocolate and soda flavors like 7-up, Orange and Grape Crush, Root Beer, Ginger ale, and Dr. Pepper to name a few.  Get ready for this…they have a grouping of flavors called Bean Boozeled.  Some of the flavors in this grouping are vomit, pencil shavings, booger, baby wipes, skunk spray, moldy cheese, rotten egg, black pepper and earwax!  They are mixed in with some nice flavors such as peach, coconut, plum, pear, buttered popcorn, licorice.  This way when you are eating the package you don’t know which flavor is going in your mouth!  I can only presume that the kids between 6-14 will like those and dare their frineds to tasting them.  Can be a fun game or spoof.  Bob tried vomit and said it tasted horrible!  What was he thinking?  Some of the other new items are Sport Bean, Smoothie Blends and Cold Stone flavors.

This was a perfect way to start out my Memorial Day holiday weekend.  It is very worthwhile going on this tour; you get to see and understand a lot of what goes on in an American candy factory.