Thursday, September 3, 2009

The 7th Annual Malibu Wine Classic 2009

The biggest surprise this year at the 7th Annual Malibu Wine Classic was the strong presence of Malibu wineries, both in sum and essence. It's no longer a small band of producers like Rosenthal, the Malibu Vineyard, and Saddlerock.

Along for the ride were wineries from Santa Barbara County, and local restaurants from the neighborhood pizzeria to the posh Sunday brunch establishments, but the real story here were the wines.

Even Farah Griffin, Miss Malibu Teen USA 2010, and grandaughter of the late Merv Griffin wasn't here just for prestige. Her family produces malbec and chardonnay for Malibu's Griffin Vineyard. Could this beauty queen have a future as an oenologist?

While some buzzed about Tori Spelling sightings, I was more excited about seeing Muriel Hemingway, of Personal Best and Star 80 fame, among so many other movies and television appearances. Muriel was working the booth for Fortun Foods finishing sauces, her new career as a cookbook author and advocate for holistic living showed that the Malibu Wine Classic is about the food and wine, not Hollywood.

So, grab your glass and and a date, it's time to mix and mingle.

Although I was initially taken in by the habitation of Santa Barbara County wines, I seized on the opportunity to see what Malibu had to offer, and some of the other wineries I've bypassed on my many trips to Santa Ynez.

Summerland winery didn't disappoint. I enjoyed a fine pinot and chardonnay, the Trio, a blend of Syrah,Grenache, and Mourvedre made for a delicious rhone style wine.

The Malibu wineries have done well with natural chardonnays aged in stainless steel to bring forth crisp and fruity unoaked wines. It was a clean break from the usual California Chardonnays so reliant on malolactic fermentation. There were some nice young pinots as well.

I was able to sample Malibu wines from Drake, Griffin, the Malibu Vineyard, Malibu Sanity,Casa Dumetz, and Hoyt wineries. I was caught off guard by how nice the wines were.

Drake Vineyard, Malibu

Malibu Sanity, Malibu

Santa Barbara was well represented by notable wineries such as Alma Rosa, Consilience,Scott Cellars, Foley, the elegant sauvignon blancs of Fiddlehead, and Ken Brown.

Alma Rosa

Ken Volk from Monterrey County brought another dimension to this celebration on undiscovered California Wines.Ojai was represented by Old Creek Ranch Winery.

All wineries present made for a superb gathering. Among those counted were AJB, Anglim, Blair Fox, Brander, Bridlewood, Buttonwood, Calcareous, Cantara, Carr, Cass, Ciello, Clesi, Clos Selene, Cordon/Santa Maria Winery, Core, Curran, Demetria, Derby Wine Estates, DiBruno, Dragonette, Gioia, , Herman Story, Jaffers, Kaena, Laetitia, L'Aventure, Linne Calodo, Lone Madrone, Lucas & Lewellen, Malibu Solstice, Rancho Ventavo, Robert Hall, Rosenthal Malibu Estate, Sans Liege, Sextant, Sierra Madre, Scott Cellars, Silver, Stolpman, Strange Wines, Stafford, Sweeney Canyon, Tablas Creek, Tantarra, Tercero, Terry Hoage Vineyards, Vihuela Winery, Villa Creek, Vina Robles, Vino V Wines,and Westerly

The food took a backseat to the outstanding wines but there were plenty of eats and a few standouts.

STK made a sweet and savory short rib well suited for the event's fruity wines. And, they kept serving long after most booths had called it a day.

The kumamoto oysters at the Water Grill booth were a hit and didn't last. I scurried off to find a nice Malibu white wine to pair with this tender bite

The Sunset impressed with the Valdivia Ranch cherry tomato with prosciutto, goat cheese, and a clever shot of dressing as a chaser.

Other restaurants included Monsieur Marcel, Casa Escobar Malibu, Charlie's Malibu, Joe’s Pizza of Bleeker Street, The Four Seasons Hotel, Moonshadows, SaddlePeak Lodge, Beachcomber Cafe/Malibu Pier Club, an Spumoni.

Any event in Malibu wouldn't be complete without a babe or two.

The Malibu Wine Classic was a material event. A place to get to know the diverse wine regions of California off the beaten path, with special attention to the local Malibu wine scene.Quality wines,welcoming booths, and winemakers eager to get to know their consumers.

It's an affordable event, for a noble cause. Proceeds for the event go to Childhelp, a non-profit dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect.

The Malibu Wine Classic should be on your calendar for next summer, a great way to spend a summer day with a date or friends.Meet your winemakers, chefs and enjoy the vibrant local crowd.

I'd like to thank Emily Olsen of One Group for inviting me to this fabulous event.

See you in 2010!
Malibu Wine Classic

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