Browsing articles tagged with " wine festivals"
Apr 23, 2014
Terri Judson

It’s Festival Season in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State

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The Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival will occur June 4 – 8, 2014, drawing more than 45 talented artists from across the nation.

We’re very proud of where we live and we love to share the amazing features of our region with visitors by showing off everything we have at our festivals.

Canandaigua, NY (PRWEB) April 23, 2014

It’s festival season in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. Just about every weekend from spring through fall there is a great time to be had for visitors and locals alike. Whether it be beer, wine, food or the outdoors, it’s here to explore.

“We like to consider the Finger Lakes to be the festival capital of the world,” said AJ Shear, Communications Manager for Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “We’re very proud of where we live and we love to share the amazing features of our region with visitors by showing off everything we have at our festivals. Grape and wine festivals, Native American festivals and art festivals are all a part of cultural abundance that exists in the Finger Lakes.”

Here is a sampling of upcoming events in the Finger Lakes:

Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival

June 4 – 8, 2014

Canandaigua, NY

http://www.fingerlakespleinair.com

The Plein Air Festival is the first of its kind in New York State. The event will feature as many as forty-five talented artists from across the country to paint the beauty of Canandaigua and the Finger Lakes, and will bring in art lovers and collectors.

Artists will work in various painting media on location in and around Canandaigua throughout the weekend painting scenes and vistas, city streets, historic structures, farm and vineyard vistas. While the artists are busy painting there will be family events, live music, food, art exhibits and educational programs on Saturday. Young and old alike can transform the downtown sidewalks into works of art using colored chalks in the Chalk It Up…Downtown Event. Judging, exhibition, awards and sale of artists’ work will take place on Sunday.

Sonnenberg Gardens Roses and Rosés

June 9, 2014

Canandaigua, NY

http://www.sonnenberg.org

This elegant wine and food pairing event showcases over thirty wineries and restaurants of the Finger Lakes Region and kicks off Rose Week at the historic Sonnenberg Gardens. Guests are invited to stroll through the historic Mansion, Belvedere, and Rose Garden where over 2,500 roses are in bloom during the garden’s peak.

Finger Lakes Brew Festival

June 21, 2014

Geneva, NY

http://www.visitgenevany.com

There are few things better than a summer evening by a beautiful lake. Add to that, the opportunity to taste beer and mingling with other beer lovers, and you have a great way to celebrate the summer solstice. Held alongside Seneca Lake on the first day of summer, the Finger Lakes Brew Festival will feature local music, breweries, tastings and vendors. The festival is hosted by the Geneva Y and will take place in the new Geneva Lakefront Events Center at the Lakefront Park along the northern shore of Seneca Lake.

Cosequin Stuart Horse Trials

July 11 – 13, 2014

Victor, NY

http://www.stuarthorsetrials.org

Agility, endurance, and bravery are on display in three disciplines (dressage, cross country, and show jumping, known collectively as “eventing”) with the added excitement of an often-unpredictable relationship between horse and rider. The “extreme triathlon of equestrian sports” moniker is no understatement. More than 250 riders from across the United States and overseas will compete at this family-friendly event.

Native American Dance Music Festival

July 26 – 27, 2014

Victor, NY

http://www.ganondagan.org

The Native American Dance Music Festival is Ganondagan’s annual summer event that features a wide range of Native American traditional dancers, musicians, storytellers, and artists sharing their cultural heritage, crafts and arts with festival goers.

This event also features the ever popular children and adult workshops such as cornhusk doll making, native foods such as fry-bread, interpreted programs in the Visitor’s Center and Bark Longhouse, guided trail walks, and the family drum jam.

Finger Lakes Riesling Festival

Aug. 9 – 10, 2014

Canandaigua, NY

http://www.rieslingfestival.com

Beautiful lakes. Nature’s bounty. The friendliest people. In one weekend, we celebrate it all. Join us as wineries, breweries, restaurants, cheese makers, artists, craftsmen and musicians gather to bring everything that makes our region special together in one place. It’s a festival to celebrate summer, families, fun … and the good times when it all comes together.

Finger Lakes HopFest

Aug. 9 – 10, 2014

Bloomfield, NY

http://www.nedlohbrewing.com

Nedloh Brewing Co. is proud to host the first ever Finger Lakes HopFest, a new festival that will bring together brewers and enthusiasts to celebrate, sample and learn about hops and craft beer. Hopsfest will feature educational seminars with tips on crafting great beers, growing hops, home brewing and pairing beer with foods. Beer lovers will be able sample craft brews from Nedloh Brewing Co. and different breweries from across Upstate New York. In addition to a food truck rodeo, there will be a Big Green Egg Grill chef cook-off.

Naples Grape Festival

Sept. 27 – 28, 2014

Naples, NY

http://www.naplesgrapefest.org

Since 1961, the grape festival has been held every September to celebrate the area’s grape harvest, talented artisans, wine makers, local and regional music and cuisine in the Naples valley. Bake a pie for the World’s Greatest Grape Pie Contest and sample everything “grape” that the Finger Lakes has to offer. Taste Finger Lakes wines in the wine tent and explore arts and crafts for every taste and budget. Throughout the 2-day festival you can enjoy area musicians performing rock, blues, jazz and original music to get your feet tapping and your heart singing.

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Apr 23, 2014
Terri Judson

Okanagan Spring Wine Festival kicks off

What started two decades ago as a one-day event with 16 wineries has grown to an Okanagan-wide 10-day celebration with 119 wineries.

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is kick-starting the wine season with the best in food and wine from May 1 to 11 with over 70 culinary and wine events, a Best of Varietal competition and uniquely Okanagan experiences.

“The wine culture of the Okanagan offers something for everyone from the foodie to the oenophile to the budding enthusiast,” said Lori-Pike Raffan, public relations director for the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. “From farm to table winery dinners, barbecues and picnics in stunning settings, the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival brings visitors face to face with the chefs, winemakers and growers that have not only built our wine and culinary industry but those poised on the leading edge of change. With the Okanagan Valley really coming of age on the world stage it’s time to visit and see how we’ve hit our stride.”

Over 7,500 people are expected to participate in the 10 days of activities that include ticketed soirees to complimentary events.

Celebrate a tasting of the best of varietal wines in B.C. for 2014 on May 1 at the Penticton Ramada Inn from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Awards will be presented in over 20 different varietal categories. Be the first to taste the Best of Varietal winning wines and sample fresh tapas from the Kettle Valley Station Pub as you mingle with the winemakers and winery owners. A record 32 wine varietal categories will be judged by 15 B.C. sommeliers and wine experts. Tickets are $50.

Follow that up with the Bacchanalia Food and Wine Festival at the Penticton Lakeside Resort on May 3. Experience over 200 wines from 50 different winners and executive Chef Chris Remington’s culinary masterpieces. Tickets are on sale now for $75 at the Penticton Lakeside resort front desk, or by phone at 250-493-8221. Black tie and cocktail attire is strongly encouraged.

“That is one of the neat things about this event. It is an opportunity for people to get dressed up to the nines either with their significant other or a group of friends,” said Brannigan Boyd, director of regional sales and marketing at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. “We still have tickets left, but they do go very quickly at this time of year and it is always a sell out event”

Some delectable new festivities this year include the Comforts of Grilled Cheese and Wine presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada, apprentice chefs competing in the cheesiest sweet and savoury competition, a Bubbly Bootcamp and grand openings of the newest architecturally distinctive tasting rooms.

Celebrate food and wine at Covert Farms Pig Out with 29 wineries from the Oliver/Osoyoos Wine Country. This is a outdoor, tented affair set at Covert Farms with the latest releases and fan favourites from the area. Interact with local chefs who will impress with their pig roasting skills while local musicians entertain throughout the afternoon. Tickets are $55 and include admission, entertainment, souvenir wine glass, food and wine. They can be purchased at www.oliverosoyoos.com/Tickets/Pig-Out.

The Blind Wine and Cheese Soiree By Valley First on May 10 at the Ramada Inn in Penticton is one of the unique signature events testing your pallet. Conspire and connive your way to guessing which wine is in the bag and try your hand at identifying some of the best cheeses from Dairy Farmers of Canada. This is a Get Home Safe event, sponsored by B.C. Liquor Stores and Valley First Insurance.

Tickets for all events are available at valleyfirsttix.com or by phone at 1-877-763-2849. For a list of all events visit www.thewinefestivals.com.

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Apr 23, 2014
Terri Judson

Dalmacija Wine Expo 2014: Interview with organiser Zoran Paunovic Special


Enough already! Insects found in Brazil have sex up to 70 hours

Dalmacija Wine Expo 2014: Interview with organiser Zoran Paunovic Special

Split -
As Croatian wine continues to make impressive strides on the international scene, so too are its winemakers getting more organised, with this year’s Dalmacija Wine Expo moving to a more central stage. Digital Journal went to meet Zoran Paunovic, one of the event organisers, on April 22, 2014.

The main part of Dalmacija Wine Expo will this year take part in Split on April 24-26, before reconvening at its original home in Makarska on May 1.

The new organic Plavac Mali vineyards of Andro Tomic on Hvar  voted the best in Central Dalmatia for...

1. Dalmacija Wine Expo is coming to Split for the first time, an exciting development. Tell us more.

After a very successful start in Makarska, we decided to split the festival this year, in order to enhance business engagement. As the capital of Dalmatia, Split is a bigger destination, and there is bigger demand foe wine here. Unlike most other wine festivals, we have divided the business time from the general public, and the expo will be open only to business contacts from 11:00 – 15:00, with the doors opening for the general public from 15:00.

We will continue our excellent relationship with Makarska by hosting a more fun event on May 1, where there will be 22-25 winemakers present, selling their wines directly on an evening of fun, which will include concerts and an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records by organising the longest line of people clinking glasses and saying ‘Cheers’ – the current record is about 1300 people.

Steep terraced vineyards are typical in Dalmatia.

2. The expo is now regarded as one of the most important in the region. How did it come about?

Dalmatia is a region with a fine wine tradition and rich potential, but when we started in 2010, there was no serious wine festival in the region, and so we decided to start on a road to develop Dalmatia’s wine potential, to realise our vision and to develop and evolve the wine industry. There is much to do, but we have made a solid start.

3. Croatian wines are attracting increasing attention on the international scene. What makes Croatian wine stand out from the rest in your opinion?

Croatia is a small territory with huge variation in terms of its vineyards and terroir. It also has an astonishing number of indigenous grape varieties, many of which are not known outside the country. Strong reds from Dalmatia are contrasted with more acidic wines in continental Croatia.

In addition to this, many international varieties are now being planted in Croatia, whose combination with the terroir is producing great results. The potential for Croatian wines is huge, but we need more marketing.

The sandy vineyards of Lumbarda on Korcula  where Grk is produced.

4. EU entry supposedly brought new opportunities and markets to Croatia’s winemakers. What is the situation now?

EU entry has brought opportunities and threats. Many winemakers were not ready for the changes and enjoyed previous state protection, whereas now there is competition from cheap New World wines. Winemakers in Croatia tend to have smaller plots, and so competitiveness is a problem. High quality producers will survive, which is why it is essential to invest in quality.

Croatian wines are increasingly finding their way to top international destinations  such as New Yor...

5. Croatia has an astonishing array of indigenous grape varieties, which are unfamiliar to many wine connoisseurs. Tell us about 3-4 varieties to look out for and why.

It is indeed a country rich in indigenous varieties, many of exceptional quality. Not so many people know that the origins of Zinfandel, for example, are in Dalmatia.

Varieties to look out for include the pride of Dalmatian reds and a Zinfandel relative, Plavac Mali; Posip, a white wine whose most famous vineyards are on the island of Korcula, as is Grk, whose small quantities are grown on sandy soil. Other interesting varieties include Kujundjusa from the Imotski region and Dobricic from Solta. A very large mix.

Steep terraced vineyards are typical in Dalmatia.

6. Dalmatia has huge potential as a gastro destination to rival Italy and Spain, and yet there is currently no Wine Road of Dalmatia. Are there any plans for this?

It is true that things go slower here in Dalmatia. It is due to the mentality of the people, who can be very stubborn. I can say this because I am Dalmatian. Being stubborn is good and bad. Everything will come in time, slowly (or ‘polako’ as we say here), and I would expect the emergence of wine roads in the near future – perhaps one to three years – certainly on Peljesac, but also maybe on islands such as Hvar and Brac.

Dalmacija Wine Expo opens on April 24 at Hotel Radisson Blu in Split. To see the full programme, click here.

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Apr 23, 2014
Terri Judson

Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair Kicks Off this Week

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155071949(SUGAR LAND, TX) — What’s being called the largest wine and food festival in Texas kicks off this week in Sugar Land.

With more than 8,000 visitors each year, the Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair continues to be a hit. It’s one of the few wine festivals that start before the weekend. The party begins Wednesday and goes through Sunday.

It’s not your typical wine event.

“There’s everything from wine and food, but we also have specialty beers and cocktails,” Krystal Peay, director of the Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair, said.

The event provides opportunity for hands-on learning experiences for college students.

“We also have a hands-on experiential course where 15 select students can help prepare and plan the event,” Peay told us.

For those who have never been to the festival, it might be best for Mom and Dad to leave the kiddos at home.

“It is more a couple’s night out event. You can go out with your girlfriends, leave the kids at home and get away for a fun event,” Peay said.

For more information, you can visit www.sugarlandwineandfoodaffair.com.

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Apr 23, 2014
Terri Judson

Garagiste Festival: Sell-Out in Solvang – LA, Paso Dates Announced

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Paso Robles, CA (PRWEB) April 23, 2014

Garagiste Events, producers of The Garagiste Festivals, today announced the dates for the first-ever Los Angeles Garagiste Festival on July 12th, 2014 and the fourth annual Paso Robles Garagiste Festival November 6th – 9th, 2014. The announcements come on the heels of another sell-out in Solvang, where the second annual Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure hosted hundreds of passionate wine consumers and over 60 SYV/SB artisan winemakers — and was dubbed “a wildly exuberant and fun wine event” by the LA Times[1].

“Following a big success in Solvang for these remarkable garagiste winemakers, who continue to find an audience of passionate new fans through our events, we could not be more excited to announce the date of our first Los Angeles festival this summer (with more details to come soon), and for our fourth annual festival this fall in Paso Robles,” said Garagiste Festival Co-founder Doug Minnick. “Consumers flock to our festivals because there is nowhere else where they can taste so many ‘garagiste’ wines under the same roof – and these are the real deal: true garagistes who pay close, hands-on attention to every wine they make.”

The non-profit Garagiste Festivals are the only events that exclusively showcase high-quality, cutting-edge, small-production commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,500 cases a year, and have emerged as among the most unique and influential wine events in the US. Named one of the ‘Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations’ in the world by ABC News and a ‘not to miss’ event by the LA Times, the festivals have introduced hundreds of outstanding artisan winemakers to thousands of passionate wine consumers, members of the trade and media, elevating the profiles of many of the winemakers nationally for the first time, and raising thousands of dollars for the education of future winemakers.

“The Garagiste Festivals continue to grow because they are completely unique among wine events – always held in interesting venues, with a relaxed, intimate, fun and ‘no- snobs-allowed’ atmosphere,” said Garagiste Festival co-founder Stewart McLennan “Starting with our first festival in 2011, we have always sold out — evidence that there is a hunger in the wine world for innovative wine making by artisans crafting with passion, a healthy respect for tradition, and an even healthier respect for breaking the rules – and that the Garagiste Festivals are the best way to discover them.”

This March’s Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, which doubled in size from the previous year, included two days of tasting and a kick off pizza pairing event. The festival has already set the dates for the 2015 Southern Exposure festival, March 28th 29th, again at Veteran’s Hall in Solvang.

The Los Angeles Garagiste Festival event will be held on July 12th, 2014 and the fourth annual Paso Robles Garagiste Festival will be held on November 6th – 9th, 2014 in Paso Robles.

To preserve an intimate experience for consumers with one-on-one interaction with winemakers, tickets are always very limited for the Garagiste Festivals. To be alerted when tickets go on sale for Los Angeles and Paso Robles, for special discounts and for breaking news about all Garagiste events, sign up for The Dirt at http://garagistefestival.com/sign-up/, or follow us on Twitter (@GaragisteFest) or Facebook (http://on.fb.me/1rgBC80).

The non-profit Garagiste Festivals benefit the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program.

For sponsorship info, email info(at)garagistefestival(dot)com.

**Garagistes (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world. The Garagiste Festivals were the first to shine a light on the American garagiste winemaker in 2011. Since then, the festival has helped consumers discover the remarkable wines of hundreds of true garagistes, who handcraft under 1,500 cases a year and pay close, hands-on attention to every wine they make.

About The Garagiste Festivals

The Garagiste Festivals (http://www.garagistefestival.com) are the first and only wine festivals dedicated to the undiscovered and under-recognized artisan ‘garagiste’ producers who are making some of the best, most exciting, handcrafted small-lot production wines in the world. Founded by fellow garagistes Stewart McLennan and Douglas Minnick, the Garagiste Festivals are committed to discovering the best and most innovative limited-production winemakers and promoting and showcasing them to a broad audience of discerning wine consumers. In addition to its flagship annual festival in Paso Robles, CA, the Garagiste Festival line-up includes Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, featuring Santa Ynez Valley garagistes; garagiste mini-tastings presented from So Cal to Tahoe; winemaker dinners, a newsletter, garagiste profiles and more. Named one of the “Top Nine Incredible Epicurean Vacations” by ABC News, Garagiste Festivals are produced by Garagiste Events, a non-profit dedicated to furthering the education of future winemakers and those training for employment within the wine industry. Proceeds from the festivals are donated to the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Program.

Media Contacts:

mWEBB Communications for The Garagiste Festivals

Melanie Webber, melanie(at)mwebbcom(dot)com, 424-603-4340

Crystal Hartwell, crystal(at)mwebbcom(dot)com, 714-987-1016

(1) http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/12/news/la-dd-santa-barbara-garagiste-festival-southern-exposure-20140211

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Apr 22, 2014
Terri Judson

Paso Robles wine region is a quieter alternative to California’s more famous …

Anyone looking to holiday in a California wine region with all the sophistication of Napa and Sonoma without their crowds—and prices—should consider a visit to Paso Robles, a small coastal city, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Especially this year as Paso Robles celebrates its Quasquicentennial, or 125th anniversary.

We wanted only to stop there for lunch but ended up spending the afternoon exploring its downtown, captivated by its fine restaurants, art galleries and funky shops, including a jewelry store with a wine-tasting area in the back. Unfortunately, we didn’t have more time to poke around as the region offers many mostly undiscovered treasures, especially when it comes to eating well-prepared local produce and drinking excellent local wines.

Our Lonely Planet guidebook recommended we exit Highway 101 to sample the food at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro and Wine Lounge, just off the city’s historic town square. We ate al fresco under its awning-covered patio, first sharing a kale salad prepared with a variety of crispy fresh greens, no doubt all harvested that morning from the restaurant’s own nearby garden. Our freshly baked ciabatta sandwiches, goat cheese with poached persimmon and fresh basil for me and, for my wife, smoked salmon with avocado and sunflower sprouts, were distinctive—and tasty. The local Denner winery’s Viognier was fruity, refreshing and also crisp.

Thomas Hill Organics is one of about two-dozen restaurants within a few blocks of the town square, all specializing in locally-grown food and seasonal menus.

We skip dessert at the restaurant for lavender honey gelato at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, one of 20 shops and restaurants on the square, also home to a weekly farmers’ market and bandstand concerts every Friday evening during the summer. Among the other tempting sweet-tooth choices on the square are cocoa mint cookies from the Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookie Company or English Toffee apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Also worth a visit is Studios on the Park, an open studio to watch artists at work in various media and to check out their latest exhibit. The studio sponsors monthly evening art walks that take in other galleries as well as wine-tasting rooms. And there’s Siegel’s, a family jewelry store that may be the world’s only full-service jeweler and pawnbroker with a wine-tasting area. Customers can sample reds and whites from the prize-winning nearby Frolicking Frog Winery as they consider diamond sizes.

Just two decades ago, the area had some 30 wineries; today there is almost that number of tasting rooms around the city square. There are 200 vineyards nearby. Last year, Wine Enthusiast declared Paso Robles Wine Region of the Year. Originally, known for its Rhone varietals, the current offerings include much more, from cabernets to zinfandels.

But wine is not the only liquid here for tasting. The Pithy Little Wine Company, in addition to its own wines, lets visitors sample its homemade sodas. For families, it’s ideal: the kids quaff orange cream and vanilla sodas while the grownups check out the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Olives are another major regional crop, and there are a number of nearby growers who offer tours and tasting rooms. Visitors can taste different blends or fruit-infused olive oils such as tangerine or lemon. One benefit of olive oil tasting tours: no need for a designated driver.

Still, wine reigns supreme. There are two major wine festivals every year, one in the spring and the other in the fall. On the third weekend in May (May 15-18, 2014), some 130 wineries put on Wine Festival events while about half of the producers gather in the town square to show off their best vintages.

During October, on that month’s third weekend (Oct. 17-19, 2014), regional vineyards celebrate the annual grape picking during Harvest Wine Weekend. The wineries report that it’s their busiest time of the year. Some stay at inns in the vineyards, others in town where accommodations range from boutique luxury to motels.

The “big blowout� 125th birthday party this year occurs on Pioneer Day, October 11, an annual celebration of the community’s heritage. It starts off with a morning parade featuring antique tractors and marching bands that ends at noon with a baked bean feed for everyone. And it’s free. Volunteers start stirring the beans in 12 huge kettles before dawn. The recipe includes some 1,200 pounds of beans, 500 pounds of beef, 100 pounds of bell peppers and some 70 pounds of secret seasonings.

Says Quasquicentennial organizer Shonna Howenstine: “Our community has always had a pioneer spirit. It’s coming out of the recession quite well, and this year our birthday will truly be a time to celebrate all that we now have to offer.�

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Apr 22, 2014
Terri Judson

Quick Bites: How to be a smart seafood eater, made easy, plus three festivals …

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch outreach manager Ryan Bigelow debones how and why to make conscious and sustainable choices on fish, shrimp, shellfish and more—without breaking the bank—at Monterey Hostel‘s free potluck talk series 6pm Monday, April 28, at 778 Hawthorne in New Monterey. (Bring something to share; the program starts at 6:45pm; 372-5762 for more.)


That’s appetizing news for eaters familiar with the cluelessness, misdirection and paucity of sustainable options that shadows seafood eating and shopping in restaurants and markets—and the at-times-steep sticker prices for responsibly harvested fish.

The Weekly and Assistant Editor Kera Abraham helped pioneer coverage of Oceana North America‘s efforts to hold purveyors accountable for misinformation with a enterprising investigative cover story “Something Fishy: Seafood fraud disguises farmed salmon as wild, tilapia as snapper and sole as sand dabs. What’s on your plate—and how did it get there?

Now California Sen. Alex Padilla, D—Los Angeles, has introduced a bill in Sacramento, SB 1138, which would make it unlawful for any person to knowingly sell mislabeled seafood.

His office’s announcement of the bill spotlights the fact that, while spending on seafood in the United States has grown to more than $80 billion annually, state law does not provide clear guidance regarding accurate labeling of seafood.

“The lack of standards has led to high rates of mislabeling throughout our state,” it reads.

It refs the Oceana survey and its harrowing findings—including the discovery 84 percent of Southern California sushi samples were not the same fish they were labeled as. 

“The Oceana study revealed that half the tested seafood sold in California is routinely mislabeled. SB 1138 will change that. Honesty in seafood labeling is important to both our health and our oceans,” Padilla says. “It’s quite simple, when the menu says ‘halibut,’ we should actually be served halibut. Seafood labeled ‘red snapper” should actually be red snapper.’” 

SB 1138 is modeled after similar legislation passed in the state of Washington.

More quick bites follow, starting with more conscious food news:

• The Sustainable Foods Fair represents one of the most fun and affordable pieces of Cooking for Solutions weekend May 14-16. It’s Saturday the 17th, with artisan food tastings, a Whole Foods market, “talk and taste” demos on the deck from stars like Jose Garces, Lorena Garcia and Nathan Lyon, free with admission, 10am-6pm.

• Last week, the state of Vermont passed H.112, what some advocates are calling this country’s first “no-strings-attached” law requiring the mandatory labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and prohibiting the practice of labeling GMO foods as “natural” or “all-natural.”

• Weekly food contributor Shiho Fukushima organizes an event with Dr. Beatrice Levinson of Monterey Bay Naturopathy that asks “How serious is the gluten epidemic and can it change the future of the restaurant industry?” 1pm Saturday, April 26, at Rio Grill. RSVP to glutenfreeshiho@gmail.com.

• A cool $10 from every corkage popped Wednesdays in May at Knuckles and Fireside Lounge at Hyatt Monterey (372-1234) goes to Hope Center for Monterey.

Big Sur Food Wine Festival made FlipKey.com‘s Top Food Wine Festivals for 2014. The fact that FlipKey is a vacation rental website and said rentals are wildly controversial on the South Coast adds a little spice of irony.

• The 55th annual Castroville Artichoke Food Wine Festival moves to Monterey Fairgrounds May 31-June 1.

Carmel Valley Garden Association‘s free 45th annual Garden Show, “Under the Valley Sun,” happens 10am to 4pm, May 3-4, 2014 at Hidden Valley Music Seminars (659-0436 for more).

Santa Lucia Highlands annual gala ($85) is May 17 at Mer Soleil. Thirty-plus of the very best wineries in the state.

• J D’s Foods now has bacon flavored and gravy flavored weight loss shakes ($19.99, www.BaconTrim.com). For real.

• The 22nd annual Monterey County Vintners and Growers’ (375-9400) Winemakers Celebration pours 100-plus local wines on Dolores Street in Carmel 2-5pm Saturday, May 3, hopefully adding momentum to host the city’s farmers market on its streets and in its park rather than Sunset’s parking lot.

• Fun fact: Olive trees can live past 600. Tasty fact: Holman Ranch estate olive oil ($25/375ml) is superb thanks to a blend of Tuscan, Spanish and French varietals. It’s also now available online and at the tasting room (659-2640).

• Follow @MontereyMCA as I eat toward 1,600 tweets.

• Valley Hills Deli BBQ does another bargain tasting/pairing session ($12) 5-7pm Wednesday, April 30, starring Antle Wines with bites like poached salmon, chicken-artichoke sausage and sirloin kebabs. RSVP at 293-8608.

• Beers are half off every Monday all day at reborn Bahama Grille (676-3568) on Main Street in Salinas (look for our review out Thursday).

• On May 2, Arroyo Seco Winegrowers hold a wine dinner at Will’s Fargo in Carmel Valley from 6-10pm ($125). info@arroyosecowinegrowers.com for more.

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Apr 21, 2014
Terri Judson

Mark your calendar for big wine fests

click to enlarge

  • The Story Inn, home to the Indiana Wine Fair.

The only way to appreciate wine is to actually taste wine – and that means tasting a variety of wines, pushing yourself to try new things.

And there’s no better way to taste more wines than at wine festivals, which are exploding in popularity around Indiana and surrounding states. Two dominate the calendar: the Indiana Wine Fair in Story on April 26, and Vintage Indiana in Indianapolis on June 7.

Approaching its 12th year in quirky little Story, the Indiana Wine Fair has grown to be wildly successful. The town is best known for its Story Inn – “One inconvenient location since 1851″ – and a world-class restaurant.

The wine fair, which also offers plenty of food options and entertainment, runs 12:30-7 p.m. on April 26. Admission is $30 with a Story Inn wine glass keepsake for the first 4,000 at the gate. Designated drivers are admitted for $10.

The fair offers shuttle buses from picturesque Nashville and Bloomington. Story is approximately half way between Columbus and Bloomington, about 10 miles south of Hwy. 46.

In its 14th year, Vintage Indiana, sponsored by the Indiana Wine and Grape Council, is the oldest of Indiana’s mega-wine gatherings. The noon-6 p.m. event is held in Indianapolis’ Military Park downtown. Admission is $25 in advance and $35 at the gate. The first 10,000 people receive a souvenir glass. A VIP program costs $50 in advance and gets you an hour of less-hectic tasting at 11 a.m.

Vintage includes entertainment, craft and food vendors, along with a Wine Food pavilion featuring presentations from chefs and foodies.

Both wine festivals present a wide range of wines from many of Indiana’s 80-some wineries. You can easily taste more than 100 wines at either event.

There are, of course, other good wine festivals. Vevay, along the Ohio river, hosts the Swiss Wine Festival August 21-24. Vevay claims to be the location of Indiana’s first winery. At this time they have 12 wineries committed to pouring for the event. And then there are other festivals and art shows which may feature a winery or two.

But the two big ones come up early in the year. Each features a lot of wineries. It’s not unusual to find 20-35 wineries at either event. Parking can be an issue at Story; a large abandoned field is used across from the Story Inn. Parking in Indianapolis is where it can be found but plentiful on the city’s near west side.

Both festivals are great fun. But a word of warning: Story’s Indiana Wine Fair is crowded into a small space. There are Hoosier winemakers who will whisper, off the record, the festival has grown beyond its footprint.

Vintage draws an even bigger crowd, but the venue is much more spacious. Both venues feature long lines and crowds. Obviously, people are consuming alcohol at these events. There are always a few who have bellied up to the tasting table a few times too many. The wineries are very careful with the one-ounce pour, but there is no policing how many pours anyone consumes.

A little advice for big wine events: Learn to spit. Some people are uncomfortable sloshing wine around in their mouth, then expelling it into a dump container at each winery’s booth. The trick is to learn to move the wine around from the front of your mouth (or palate) to the back. If you’re a little uncomfortable, remember this is a worldwide custom commonly seen in European and even Napa Valley tasting rooms. You can practice it at home.

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes for more than 20 Midwestern newspapers on value wine every other week. Read his wine blog at: howardhewitt.net.

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Paso Robles wine region is a quieter alternative to California’s more famous …

Anyone looking to holiday in a California wine region with all the sophistication of Napa and Sonoma without their crowds—and prices—should consider a visit to Paso Robles, a small coastal city, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Especially this year as Paso Robles celebrates its Quasquicentennial, or 125th anniversary.

We wanted only to stop there for lunch but ended up spending the afternoon exploring its downtown, captivated by its fine restaurants, art galleries and funky shops, including a jewelry store with a wine-tasting area in the back. Unfortunately, we didn’t have more time to poke around as the region offers many mostly undiscovered treasures, especially when it comes to eating well-prepared local produce and drinking excellent local wines.

Our Lonely Planet guidebook recommended we exit Highway 101 to sample the food at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro and Wine Lounge, just off the city’s historic town square. We ate al fresco under its awning-covered patio, first sharing a kale salad prepared with a variety of crispy fresh greens, no doubt all harvested that morning from the restaurant’s own nearby garden. Our freshly baked ciabatta sandwiches, goat cheese with poached persimmon and fresh basil for me and, for my wife, smoked salmon with avocado and sunflower sprouts, were distinctive—and tasty. The local Denner winery’s Viognier was fruity, refreshing and also crisp.

Thomas Hill Organics is one of about two-dozen restaurants within a few blocks of the town square, all specializing in locally-grown food and seasonal menus.

We skip dessert at the restaurant for lavender honey gelato at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, one of 20 shops and restaurants on the square, also home to a weekly farmers’ market and bandstand concerts every Friday evening during the summer. Among the other tempting sweet-tooth choices on the square are cocoa mint cookies from the Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookie Company or English Toffee apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Also worth a visit is Studios on the Park, an open studio to watch artists at work in various media and to check out their latest exhibit. The studio sponsors monthly evening art walks that take in other galleries as well as wine-tasting rooms. And there’s Siegel’s, a family jewelry store that may be the world’s only full-service jeweler and pawnbroker with a wine-tasting area. Customers can sample reds and whites from the prize-winning nearby Frolicking Frog Winery as they consider diamond sizes.

Just two decades ago, the area had some 30 wineries; today there is almost that number of tasting rooms around the city square. There are 200 vineyards nearby. Last year, Wine Enthusiast declared Paso Robles Wine Region of the Year. Originally, known for its Rhone varietals, the current offerings include much more, from cabernets to zinfandels.

But wine is not the only liquid here for tasting. The Pithy Little Wine Company, in addition to its own wines, lets visitors sample its homemade sodas. For families, it’s ideal: the kids quaff orange cream and vanilla sodas while the grownups check out the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Olives are another major regional crop, and there are a number of nearby growers who offer tours and tasting rooms. Visitors can taste different blends or fruit-infused olive oils such as tangerine or lemon. One benefit of olive oil tasting tours: no need for a designated driver.

Still, wine reigns supreme. There are two major wine festivals every year, one in the spring and the other in the fall. On the third weekend in May (May 15-18, 2014), some 130 wineries put on Wine Festival events while about half of the producers gather in the town square to show off their best vintages.

During October, on that month’s third weekend (Oct. 17-19, 2014), regional vineyards celebrate the annual grape picking during Harvest Wine Weekend. The wineries report that it’s their busiest time of the year. Some stay at inns in the vineyards, others in town where accommodations range from boutique luxury to motels.

The “big blowout� 125th birthday party this year occurs on Pioneer Day, October 11, an annual celebration of the community’s heritage. It starts off with a morning parade featuring antique tractors and marching bands that ends at noon with a baked bean feed for everyone. And it’s free. Volunteers start stirring the beans in 12 huge kettles before dawn. The recipe includes some 1,200 pounds of beans, 500 pounds of beef, 100 pounds of bell peppers and some 70 pounds of secret seasonings.

Says Quasquicentennial organizer Shonna Howenstine: “Our community has always had a pioneer spirit. It’s coming out of the recession quite well, and this year our birthday will truly be a time to celebrate all that we now have to offer.�

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