21 Oct

The Food Event 2014

Food Event 2014 LogoIt is uplifting to know that some things continue to be consistently good. This certainly applies to LA Magazine’s The Food Event, the ninth installment of which took place this past Sunday afternoon at Saddlerock Ranch (home to Semler and Saddlerock wines) in Malibu’s Santa Monica Mountains. This year, the weather was perfect and the food samples were excellent. The event has a greater focus on food than on wine, but we did discover some very nice wines and enjoyed a variety of other beverages. After many years of holding this event, the event organizers have found the right balance of restaurants, beverages, activities and capacity. Read on…

15 Jul

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure

LA Garagiste Festival LogoIf you are anything like us, you use your garage for anything but parking your car. A lot of innovative and interesting things happen in garages around the world. Whether people get together to form a new musical group, launch a new art movement or develop the next big thing in technology, they usually start off modestly, taking advantage of whatever resources they can scrape together and work hard to get to the next level. So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that this also happens in the wine industry. Garagiste (gar–uh–zhē–stuh) is the term that originated in the Bordeaux region of France. It was used as a put–down of someone who made small amounts of wine in a make–shift setting (which could be a garage) that wasn’t a chateau and who didn’t follow conventional rules. In other words, it was the establishment winemakers’ way to dismiss the little guys. Well, sometimes the little guy tries something different and becomes the next big thing. This past Saturday, we sampled wines from a host of winemakers who each handcraft a small volume of wine. While the production volumes may be small, the wines are not. Read on…

12 Jun

DO La Mancha

DO La Mancha LogoToday, we travelled to central Spain—well, in West Hollywood. We were invited to a tasting of the wines of DO (or Denominación de Origen) La Mancha, which is Europe’s largest (in contiguous land area) wine growing region, covering the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Toledo. With 300,000 hectares (more than 740,000 acres) of vineyards, of which just over half have been approved for DO La Mancha wines, this region is an elevated plateau directly in the center of Spain, where rainfall is scarce, summers are quite hot and winters are very cold. The Moors controlled Spain at one time in its history, and the name La Mancha was likely derived from the Arab word “al-mansha”, Read on…

05 Jun

Look for Greeks Bearing Grapes

Greek Wine EventUntil today, my experience with Greek wines was, well, somewhat ancient. I hadn’t had Greek wine since about 40 years ago in my youth. So, when I received the invitation for trade and media to experience “ancient and indigenous varietals of Greece”, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Based on my decades-old experience, I told Leah that my expectations weren’t high. Leah said I need to keep a more open mind and age more gracefully, like a fine wine, and she was right. Today, I discovered some grapes and wines that rank among my favorites.

The wines poured at this intimate event at Faith & Flower restaurant in downtown LA were predominantly crafted from the Xinomavro (pronounced Ksee no’ ma vro) grape, Read on…

12 May

On the Road Again

RoadtripWow! We’ve been busy and a bit under siege the past several months. From work to illness to getting two more into college and handling a variety of extended family matters, we’ve had quite a year so far. Yet, we managed to work in some very nice wine and food travels despite the challenging times. In particular, we rewarded ourselves with a wine and food tour around the occasion of our 30th wedding anniversary in late March, and we’ll be posting a series of articles about that experience. Leah pretty much guessed where we were headed for our actual anniversary night, but that is the subject of the next article. We start off the series with the very beginning and the very end of our trip and, in the process, give you some information on two great places to stay the next time you journey mid–way between the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. And you’ll never guess what these seemingly disparate places have in common. Read on…

21 Dec

Down to the Wire

Anthropologie Candelabra Transformed for ChristmasExperiencing last minute gift syndrome? Can’t think of a single thing to get the wine imbiber on your list? Well, my friends, today is your lucky day! I’m just (barely) recovering from one of the most hectic Decembers on record and I’ve got suggestions for you that should satisfy both your time frame and your wallet.

Normally, we here at Wine Imbiber have our act together and post our Gift Guide much earlier. But, this year, I (Leah—the head elf) got called to jury duty the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend and lost a major chunk of time from my already tight schedule. Luckily, Christmas actually came early this year for me as my Pinterest habit paid off big–time for me the week before Thanksgiving. Read on…

25 Nov

Release the Killer Bees

Ian Blackburn speaking at the 2011 Beekeeper Zinfandel release eventWe interviewed Ian Blackburn two years ago as he was celebrating the creation of Beekeeper Cellars and the inaugural release of his excellent 2009 Beekeeper Zinfandel, so we were eager to attend a recent event marking the release of his third vintage, the 2011 Beekeeper Zinfandel, a single vineyard designate wine from the Madrone Spring Vineyard in the Rockpile appellation of Sonoma County. This event was structured as a vertical tasting of Ian’s first three Beekeeper vintages. Ian, who has been working on his Master of Wine degree, is the founder of Learn About Wine, a premier source for wine education and events in Southern California, hosting unique classes, events and tours. When we spoke two years ago, Ian explained that he undertook the Beekeeper project in order to “learn by doing,” and it appears he really has learned a lot by making his own wine. Read on…