Showing posts with label Ventura. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ventura. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Four Brix Winery

Ventura, California is welcoming its first winery.  Four Brix Winery has actually been around a while, but they are moving into a new facility located at 2290 Eastman Avenue.  This will make Four Brix the only winery operating within the Ventura city limits.
After two years at the Wine Yard in Thousand Oaks, Four Brix Winery is celebrating the Grand Opening of its new winemaking and tasting facility the weekend of September 17-18, 2011.  This affair offers Ventura County wine lovers a great opportunity to celebrate California Wine Month right in their own backyard.
One of 12 wineries along the Ventura County Wine TrailFour Brix Winery produces wines inspired by cuvees from the Rhone Valley, Tuscany, Bordeaux and other renowned regions.
The winery is co-owned and operated by three couples – the Stewarts, the Simonsgaards, and the Noonans, who were prompted by their mutual love of food, wine, and people to found Four Brix Winery with the goal of sharing their passion with others.
The Four Brix Grand Opening festivities run Saturday and Sunday, September 17th and 18th, from noon until 5:00 p.m. both days.  Wine tastings are $10 and guests can join the Four Brix wine club at the "Founders Club" level, which affords members the ability to self-select each wine for their wine club shipment.  This special "Founders Club" membership will only be available through Grand Opening Weekend.
Local art will be displayed throughout the weekend, with light hors d'oeuvres, cheese plates, and charcuterie are available for purchase.  No reservations are required.  Get more information at Four Brix Wine.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011


Gary Stewart, Four Brix Winery

A great bunch of Ventura wine people showed off a great bunch of wine in Thousand Oaks recently.  Four Brix Winery invited some media representatives to their tasting room in The Wineyard on Thousand Oaks Boulevard.  I was fortunate to be included in the group who tasted some of Four Brix offerings.

Gary Stewart (pictured) hosted, while Lora Simonsgaard helped me taste through a flight of really exceptional wines.  Four Brix is located in Ventura County, and they source their grapes from a variety of great California regions - Santa Barbara County, Paso Robles, Monterey and Sonoma among them.  Their wines are predominately blends - they do a fantastic job getting the mixtures right for incredible bouquets and delightful flavors.

Many of their wines use grapes from a specific area, even though the labels denote a rather generic "California" designation.  I suggested to them that they use more specific designations for a little more "label pizzazz," but they were way ahead of me.  The next vintages of several of their blends will feature designations of "Central Coast" and "Paso Robles" on the labels.

The Wines

Smitten 2009 - The only white on the table for this event is a Viognier/Marsanne blend.  The '10 vintage won't have as much Marsanne, only 5%, I'm told.  The '09 shows the Viognier well, with a lovely, floral nose and a little white pepper.  The nose is so full and the mouthfeel so creamy, I assumed some oak is involved.  Not so, though - it's a stainless steel white.

Roseo 2010 - This is a barrel sample, as the wine is scheduled for a May 14th release.  It's Grenache-based and some Zinfandel is used in the mix.  It's unusual, but it works.  A big strawberry nose meets great acidity and fruity flavors on the palate.  It's definitely a wonderful rose for food.  The crew at Four Brix is shooting for a price point under $15.

Temptress 2008 - A five grape blend of Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, this one is juicy and spicy on the nose with a dash of cinnamon showing.  Big, red fruit flavors are joined by good minerality and acidity and plenty of spicy notes.  I'd love a piece of smoked sausage with this wine.  The '09 vintage will be labeled Central Coast.

Rhondevous 2008 - Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Counoise make up this vintage, while the '09 will feature Grenache in the lead position.  The nose is fragrant and lovely and the taste is spicy blackberries.  It's all San Luis Obispo County fruit despite the "California" label.  Look for a Paso Robles designation on the label for the '09 vintage.

Scosso 2008 - Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot make up this beauty with a smokey, bright cherry nose and deep, rich flavors of spicy dark berries.  The name comes from the Italian horse race called the Palio di Siena, which is held in the town square.  It's a rough race in which horses sometimes finish without their jockeys, a condition known as "scosso."  You'd be well advised to stay in the saddle for this ride, though.  The Sangiovese is sourced from McGourty Vineyard on Paso Robles' west side.

Petite Sirah 2008 - Fruit from Sonoma County's Gold Hawk Vineyard brings the Russian River Valley to Ventura County.  A 100% varietal wine, the nose is dark and spicy with an iodine note while the palate is fruity and tannic.  The 2010 vintage will feature Charbono in a blend, from Calistoga's Frediani Vineyard.

One of the Four Brix wine wizards, Gary Stewart, told me about going to the vineyard to harvest the Charbono grapes.  Due to a quarantine caused by the European grape moth, Stewart was not allowed to bring the grapes to the crush facility.  He had to "field press" the grapes right there in the vineyard, leaving the leaves and stems behind!  No doubt, that extra effort will be appreciated when the vintage is ready.

All the wines at this tasting were paired with Vosges Haut Chocolate from TIFA Foods, an Agoura Hills venture.  Mike Ashamalla was on hand to describe each morsel.  The chocolate with notes of Indian curry and coconut paired with Smitten, while a disc made from Fiji beans went with the Roseo.  Temptress paired well with an Indonesian chocolate with earthy, mushroom flavors and one with spicy Ancho chipotle and cinnamon elements scored with Rhondevous.  Scosso was a hit with a Madagascar chocolate with a dark, smokey edge.  TIFA is working with Four Brix Winery on a project to create chocolates especially for their wines.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Mike Brown, Jim Galicia

When the great wine regions of California are enumerated, Ventura is often missing from the list.  It may be because they grow more strawberries than grapes in Ventura County.  They actually grow more strawberries than anything else in Ventura County.  But wine grapes don't even make the top ten.  Raspberries, celery, lemons, tomatoes, peppers, avocados and cabbage beat out grapes.  Even plants grown for nurseries and cut flowers are in the top ten.  But that doesn't mean nobody cares about wine in Ventura County.  Far from it.

The name of the event was "Unexpected Grapes From Unexpected Places," seemingly tailor made for an area which, for many, flies below the radar as a wine region.

There are only a handful of vineyards in Ventura County, so the winemakers have to source much - if not all - of their fruit from elsewhere in the state.  The passion for winemaking is not diminished, however.  They will put their wines up against any others.  Gary Stewart of Four Brix Winery says "It's not all Sonoma and Napa - other regions have good grapes, too."  Good winemakers as well.

Stewart, John Whitman of Old Creek Ranch Winery, Mike Brown of Cantara Cellars (left in image) and Jim Galicia of Rosenthal Malibu Estate (right in image) poured their wines for me, all at one table.   The wasn't even a hint of friendly rivalry.  They were all there working for team Ventura.

Here are my notes on what the guys poured for me:

Cantara Cellars Zinfandel 2008 - Lodi fruit - lightly tinted - lovely nose with cherry and spearmint notes

Cantara Cellars Tempranillo 2008 - rich and full, smokey fruit

Old Creek Ranch Loureiro 2009 - Santa Ynez Valley fruit - 12%abv - beautiful nose of peach, pear and citrus - tart taste of grapefruit, zesty

Old Creek Ranch Carignane 2008 - minty note under a big, bright cherry and blueberry palate

Old Creek Ranch Sangiovese 2008 - Sangio/Primitivo blend - SBC fruit, White Hawk Vineyard - big cherries with a long finish

Four Brix Scosso 2008 - super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cab Sauvignon and Merlot - beautiful floral nose - cherry on the palate is rich

Four Brix Temptress 2009 - Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel - will be released in Nov 2010 - dark and bright fruit both at once - complex

Rosenthal Surfrider Red Wine 2005 - fruit from Malibu Newton Canyon - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot - big nose of red fruit, tastes smokey, cherry, earthy

Tomorrow: Stuck in Lodi again - and loving it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010



A lot has been said recently about the wines of summer.  For many, though, summer means beer.  Lager, amber ale, India pale ale, even a nice, cold porter - hot summer days seem to beg for them.  With plenty of hot summer days on the way, there is a Ventura, CA event beer fans will want to attend.

Salute!  is a celebration of craft beer and fine foods which will occur Saturday June 19, 2010 at San Buenaventua State Beach.  VIP attendees will have the grounds to themselves from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and general admission is from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  The ticket price - $60/$135 VIP - will buy unlimited tastings of some 300 craft beers and 100 fine food purveyors.  All the proceeds will benefit Food Share of Ventura County .
Live music will accompany the festivities and experts in various fields will share their knowledge.  "Dr. Bill" Sysak of Stone Brewing Company will offer insights on the incredible beer and ale his outfit produces, while contributions are also planned from Jerret Gilden, the Ojai Beverage Company's chef, as well as Belgian beer experts John Fincioen and Claudine Von Massenhove and the director of "Beer Wars," Anat Baron.

Taste treats, music, experts and a beachside setting should make for an interesting afternoon in Ventura.  If you are there for the official kickoff between noon and 1:00 p.m., say hello to DJ Perry from local rock radio station The Octopus 95.9 FM, who is slated to help get the whole thing off to a rockin' start.