FESTA Italiana fun set in Carlsbad Island Center

The sights of Italian people and products, the smells of homestyle Italian food, the tastes of Italian wines and the sounds of Italian music. It’s the fifth annual FESTA Italiana at the Island Center, Faraday and College in Carlsbad, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 11.
This free-to-the-public benefit event is presented by the Encinitas Sons of Italy Lodge. Leading the entertainment will be classically trained opera tenor Herman Salerno and his team of singers and players. Authentically costumed Sicilian dancers will perform the “Tarantella” dance and others. They are a favorite in San Diego’s Balboa Park program.
Salerno is also a leading maker of Italian wines from Ramona and he will team up with Carlsbad Wine Merchants in their shop at the center, for an Italian Wine Tasting event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The winery is most known for its Petite Sirah, which recently won a medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition. His Barbera has recently deserved attention. It’s a “drink now” wine whose grape is from Northen Italy and is easy on the palate. Other Salerno wines to taste in the event will be Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and the proprietary Elegante, blended with Cabernet and Syrah. All wines will be poured inside Carlsbad Wine Merchants. Cost is $10.
In a recent interview, Salerno commented, “with Ramona’s special terroir, this area has been recognized with its own official appellation, the Ramona Valley. I get extraordinary depth and character.” He has been making wine some 18 years and uses traditional handcrafted methods to produce premium wines. For more information, call the winery at (760) 788-7160. For details on the FESTA, call (858) 537-9878.
Discover Granache
My Top 10 Tastings for the first half of 2009 will be unveiled with the next column and I am picking up my tasting schedule to widen my candidates for this occasion. For a few years now I have admired the French and what they have accomplished in the southern Rhone Valley with Chateau-neuf-du-Pape. At the same time, a Spanish wine has caught my attention, made in nearby Temecula at La Cereza. It turns out both wines are the product of the Granache grape. (The Spanish call it Garnacha).
Most of the time, it is used as a blending grape and takes a back seat to its big brother in the Rhone, Syrah. But some California winemakers are maximizing this grape into a soulful, splendid solo performer.
That leads me to a special winery in Monterey that makes a 2006 Granache from the Wild Horse Vineyard in Monterey’s backcountry, Marilyn Remark. Joel and Marilyn Remark tasted many small vineyard French Granache wines before they embarked on their own vibrant style. Theirs is a classic Rhone-style varietal, pure and rich. The cost is $45 and it is produced in limited quantity. Visit www.remarkwine.com for more information.
Wine Bytes
— WineSellar and Brasserie in the Sorrento Valley of San Diego presents a “Sparklng Affair” from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 4 for $29 per person. Six sparkling wines with tasting notes offered. Lunch can be added for $12.50 each. RSVP at (858) 450-9557.
— Wine Street in Carlsbad has famed surfer turned winemaker Robert August appearing with his wines July 11. On July 16, it’s an Italian wine seminar and tasting featuring Gabriella Orlando, specialist on these wines. RSVP and more info by calling (760) 431-8455.
— The Porto Vista Hotel in Little Italy San Diego and the Off The Vine Club offers two wineries and their new release party from 5 to 8 p.m. July 12. Rooftop views and a five-course dinner for $45. Details are available by calling (760) 579-2800.
— Santa Barbara has its sixth annual California Wine Festival July 16 through July 18. Events are downtown and at the pier and include top restaurants and wineries, capped by an all-day Saturday event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (805) 637-4411.
— In Temecula, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa is hosting a winemakers dinner at 6 p.m. July 18. A five-course meal paired with perfect wines. Each couple gets a bottle of wine signed by winemaker John McPherson. Cost is $125 per person. Find out more by calling 866-9-WINE.

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