Monthly Archives: June 2012

An Urban Winery’s Grand Illusion

Mystery.  Suspense.  Cards up the sleeve.  Is it magic?  Nope.  Just delicious wine.

A sneak peak of the 2010 “Imposter” and Smoke and Mirrors” wines awaits visitors to JC Cellars’ “Grand Illusion” Open House on Saturday, July 14, 2012 from 6pm-9pm.  Shrouded in a maze of fog, shadows and lights, the urban Oakland winery will feature a sampling of 14 critically-acclaimed wines, gourmet food pairings, and illusion-filled entertainment for guests to enjoy.

Led by esteemed winemaker, Jeff Cohn, and general manager, Alexandra Cohn, JC Cellars is an award-winning Rhône and Zinfandel-centered winery which sources fruit from California’s top growers and vineyards. From JC Cellars’ 15,000-square-foot facility in urban Oakland, Jeff fuses his passion for classic French winemaking with New World innovation to reflect the particular nuances of vineyards including Rockpile in Sonoma County, Fess Parker in Santa Barbara County and Stagecoach in Napa.

Date & time:      Saturday, July 14, 2012

Location:             JC Cellars- 55 4th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

Contact:               510-465-5900 or

TICKET SALES: (Price includes a logo wine glass, hors d’oeuvres, wine, dessert, entertainment, and more!)

Advance Purchase before Wednesday, July 11:  

  • Club Members: FREE
  • Guest of Club Members: $25
  • General Public: $35

After July 11:

  • Club Members : FREE
  • Guest of Club Members: $35
  • General Public: $40

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Wine

Celebrating The Nation’s Favorite Wine

With younger generations’ explosive interest in more and more exotic wine varieties, as well as the rise of groups like the Rhône Rangers and the Burghound, it’s tempting to believe that Chardonnay has been unseated as America’s most-loved varietal.  But no.

According to Reuters wine journalist, Leslie Gevirtz, Chardonnay is still not just America’s, but the world’s most popular white wine.  Though the varietal dates back centuries,

…it owes much of its history in the United States to a winemaker who planted the grape in California 100 years ago.

Ernest Wente, of the family-owned Wente Vineyards east of San Francisco, brought cuttings from Montpelier, France in 1912 and planted them in California.

Now, although worldwide there are 34 clones of Chardonnay, most of the Chardonnay produced in California is from the Wente clone.

Chardonnay Marks 100th birthday of growth in U.S.” Jan 31, 2012

In celebration of Chardonnay’s special place in our hearts,  The Chardonnay Symposium will once again be held in the Santa Maria Valley appellation of Santa Barbara County.  Internationally-recognized producers, newcomers to the craft and pioneering growers will gather in this leading Central Coast appellation to analyze, discuss, and, celebrate this versatile, oftentimes profound varietal.

The Chardonnay Symposium remains the only event of its kind devoted solely to the exploration of Chardonnay. With an educational panel session moderated by the Wine Enthusiast’s Senior West Coast Editor and popular blogger, Steve Heimoff, a gourmet food pavilion, chef-guided wine and food pairings, satellite winemaker dinners, and a grand tasting featuring over 50 producers, the 2012 Chardonnay Symposium promises to be yet another illuminating, thought-provoking and fun celebration of the world’s most celebrated golden grape.

June 30, Saturday’s premier, full-day event begins at Byron Vineyard and Winery with Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff headlining a distinguished panel of speakers to explore “Chardonnay and Terroir: What’s it all about?” Joining Heimoff for the discussion are eight winemakers, all of whom produce Chardonnay in California from regions ranging from Santa Maria to Napa. Panelists include 2011 Wine Enthusiast Winemaker of the Year, Bob Cabral of Williams Selyem, Jenne Lee Bonaccorsi of Bonaccorsi Wine Company, Dieter Cronje of Presqu’ile Winery, James Hall of Patz & Hall, Eric Johnson of Talley Vineyards, Heidi von der Mehden of Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, Foxen Winery’s Bill Wathan and Graham Weerts of Stonestreet in Alexander Valley.

Byron Vineyard & Winery

Directly following the panel session, The Grand Chardonnay Tasting takes place from 12:00 to 4:00 pm, also at Byron. This expanded tasting will afford guests the opportunity to sample a variety of Chardonnays from over 50 wineries, along with foods that pair well with Chardonnay. Celebrity chefs, including Budi Kazali of The Ballard Inn, Alfonso Curti of Trattoria Uliveto and Ryan Gromfin of Central City Market will reveal Chardonnay food pairing secrets under the demonstration tent.

Additional winery and culinary events round out a full weekend of Chardonnay celebration in the Santa Maria Valley beginning with the BYOC BBQ at the historic Sierra Madre Vineyard on Friday, June 29, from 6:00-9:30 pm. Guests are invited to bring their own bottle of Chardonnay to share while enjoying a gourmet barbecue, music, dancing, wine tasting and Santa Maria style hospitality at their beautiful Vineyard Room.

The weekend will culminate with a “Pops in the Vineyard” concert by the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society on Sunday, July 1 at 2:30 pm at Tres Hermanas Vineyard & Winery. Saturday winemaker dinners and Sunday tasting room events will be announced soon at

To purchase tickets or get more information, including a detailed event schedule, visit or email

1 Comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Travel, Wine

Wanna get in the mood?

Temptation abounds with oysters, chocolate, wine, and more at the 2012 Central Coast Oyster Festival

With evocative foods such as oysters, chocolate, and wine as its centerpiece, the Central Coast Oyster Festival’s “Aphrodisiac Bar” is the ideal spot for a brush with romance this June 16 at the Morro Bay Golf Course from 12 P.M. to 8 P.M.

For centuries, certain foods have been touted as capable of putting those who consume them “in the mood,” including almonds, asparagus, figs, and avocados.  Oysters are perhaps the most famous of aphrodisiacs, with their slippery texture and suggestive shape.  In Greek mythology, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was born from the depths of the sea in a giant oyster shell, and the love-hungry Casanova reportedly started his days eating 50 raw oysters for breakfast.

The first annual Central Coast Oyster Festival will play on this theme in its sensuous Aphrodisiac Bar, where world-renowned Morro Bay Oyster Company will be prepared in a variety of ways to enhance passion, potency and desire.  To complement these tempting delicacies, the Aphrodisiac Bar will offer a host of locally-produced sparkling wines (a classic oyster pairing) and Tap It Brewery will provide a special “oyster brew” concocted just for the Festival.  Other beverage sponsors include Fever Tree all natural premium cocktail mixers; Manguin No 1 Absinthe; and EVO Revitalizing Sparkling Water.

Of course, no aphrodisiac bar would be complete without a selection of fine chocolates, known to contain two chemicals – tryptophan and phenylethylamine – that inspire the same feelings as when people fall in love.  To that end, the Central Coast Oyster Festival Aphrodisiac Bar will feature delectable local chocolates paired with local wines that enhance the pleasurable effects.

Everything from the structure of the Aphrodisiac Bar – a modern-chic pagoda by famously whimsical The Do LaB out of Los Angeles – to furnishings by Beach Butlerz will promote a sensory experience unlike any other on the Central Coast.

Tickets for the Oyster Festival are just $20 and are available at The first annual Central Coast Oyster Festival is sponsored by the Morro Bay Oyster Company, the Morro Bay Golf Course, the City of Morro Bay, Tap It Brewing, Element Solar, The KRUSH Radio, New Times, The Cities of Los Osos/Baywood Park, Cayucos Abalone Farm, and ECO Rotary for a Zero Waste Event.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Travel, Wine