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L.A. Wine Fest pours its heart out

June 8, 2009 |  2:58 pm

The weather was kind for wine this weekend. For the Los Angeles Wine Fest, held at Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios, Saturday was touch and go with scudding clouds and canceled garage sales and cemetery film screenings all around. But Sunday the crowds were rewarded with the very sundress and straw fedora weather we’d been craving for nearly a week. With a glass in hand, it all looks so much better.

L.A. Wine Fest is in its fourth year; much more than the weather threatened the health of this year’s event. But the bad economic forecast hasn’t curtailed Angelenos’ interest in wine, nor, for thatLawinefest1 matter, their thirst. This year’s festival featured more than 3,000 participants over two days, sampling more than 500 wines, beers, spirits and sakes, a smattering of designer soft drinks, and even one beverage that purported to remove from your palate any tannic evidence of any of the aforementioned beverages. It’s called SanTasti, a mildly sparkling palate cleanser, and it works scarily well.

For the most part, the wineries represented here were not the critical darlings of the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate with scores in the middle 90s. Most were the sort you encounter from wineries on a given Central Coast wine route, which gather followers in their tasting rooms and retain them in wine clubs and on mailing lists. Of course their lack of critical acclaim hardly makes their waresLAWF_185 any less quaffable, and there was plenty of quaffing of wines from many corners of the world, including local talent from Malibu from the likes of Rosenthal, Cielo and Trancas, and a debut entry called Cornell. My personal favorites among the domestic producers included Stoller (Oregon) and Kenneth Volk and Core from the Central Coast. Among imports, Torbreck (Australia) put on a good showing, as did the impressive sakes of Boutique Sakes. Perhaps the most eclectic entry came from Los Altos importer Blue Danube, which poured unusual wines from Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

There were also several so-called lifestyle exhibitors, promoting supplemental products and services for wine lovers, including candles to enhance your evening wine enjoyment; floppy hats, LAWF_068sandals and wraps to enhance your afternoon wine enjoyment; various gravity-defying wine storage systems; and wine inspired, terroir-driven chocolates. In one corner Pat Farrell demonstrated his tannin-smoothing magnetic wine pourer Bev Wizard. Two booths exhibited the sort of jewelry that adorns the foot of your wine glass. Near the entrance DJ Henry Eshelman spun happy songs. On the other side of the lot, Bill Reichenbach’s combo delivered a soft backbeat to all the sipping swirling and swilling.

--Patrick Comiskey

Photos: Amber Bergherm