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The popular California Wine Festival attracted North County enophiles to Park Hyatt Aviara Resort this weekend in Carlsbad. Photo via Facebook/California Wine Festival
The popular California Wine Festival attracted North County enophiles to Park Hyatt Aviara Resort this weekend in Carlsbad. Photo via Facebook/California Wine Festival
Carlsbad Cities Columns Food & Wine Taste of Wine

Enophiles descend on Carlsbad’s Park Hyatt Aviara for California Wine Festival

Carlsbad, the beautiful coastal headquarters for Taste of Wine, finally had its own beachside California Wine Festival this past weekend at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort.

Located on the Heron Lawn next to a pristine pond frequented by the sleek white birds, this quintessential California wine tasting experience included hundreds of California reds and whites.

Tastings were offered without limit to the eager crowds that lined up patiently waiting for a chance to sip and savor a cabernet sauvignon from Austin Hope or a pinot noir from Sojourn among many others.

I enjoy a Napa cab, a Sonoma Coast pinot and a Central Coast viognier, but when I want to get really get excited by wine, I go for a zinfandel — the big bang wine. It’s jammy, briary and mouthwatering with big fruit and its own exclusive richness.

Some of the most prized zins are old vines of 50 years and over. Most are cultivated in the Dry Creek area of Sonoma, which leads me to a great wine discovery at the festival, Dry Creek Vineyard, north of Healdsburg.

Joe Czesnakowicz (right), regional sales manager for Dry Creek Vineyard, pours a 2019 zinfandel to a pleased guest at the California Wine Festival in Carlsbad. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Joe Czesnakowicz (right), regional sales manager for Dry Creek Vineyard, pours a 2019 zinfandel to a pleased guest at the California Wine Festival in Carlsbad. Photo by Rico Cassoni

I tried their basic entry zinfandel — Heritage Vines ($26) — an “old vine” wine with cuttings from a pre-Prohibition era vineyard, grafted onto recent rootstock.

After a successful grafting, the winemaker screened and propagated virus-free vines that would ultimately produce a crop. The 2019 vintage is delicious and wonderfully balanced. On the palate, brambly flavors of dark boysenberry, black cherry and raspberry, warm spices, and cocoa completed its complexity.

As a bonus, the Dry Creek version has the addition of 19% petite sirah. This wine has bright acidity, white pepper and wild sagebrush. Try it with grilled meats, pizza and Italian sausage.

But it doesn’t stop at this beauty. The winery offers nine other zinfandels during this 50th anniversary year, founded by David Stare without previous experience. By working day and night for 5 decades, he carved out his path in the wine industry.

Bring a keen observer of the not so obvious sights and sounds, I like to notice which wineries drew the biggest crowds, lining up for a number of minutes to get a sip of their favorite wines.

So, here are the crowd favorites measured by the longest lines: Austin Hope from Paso Robles, Carol Shelton from Sonoma, Goldschmidt Vineyards from Sonoma, Hall Wines from Napa Valley and Sojourn Cellars from Sonoma.

The sentimental favorite was clearly Rescue Dog Wines where 50% of all proceeds go to support rescue dog organizations and local SPCAs. Visit land.DOGTV.com/rescuedogwines.

The next California Wine Festival will be in Santa Barbara on July 15 and July 16. To purchase tickets, visit CaliforniaWineFestival.com.

Three Wines Win Big for Gianni Buonomo

The 2022 Great American International Wine Competition has just concluded in Rochester New York. We’re excited to report that the urban winery Gianni Buonomo Vintners, with winemaker Keith Rolle at the helm in San Diego’s Ocean Beach, has scored a “hat-trick” of awards at this prestigious event. Here are the winners:

2018 Blaufrankisch, Platinum Medal: It beat all entries from the U.S., Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

2018 Petite Sirah, Gold Medal: The grapes were sourced from El Dorado County and made at the Ocean Beach winery to vinify and barrel age.

2018 Barbera, Gold Medal: The grapes are sourced from Amador County. Congratulations and a shout-out “well done” to Keith Rolle. For more on the winning wines go to GBVintners.com.

Wine Bytes

— An evening of cigars and wine is planned for Friday, June 24, at Lorimar Winery in Temecula. This event includes a four-course dinner paired with cigars and Lorimar’s award-winning wines. The cost is $125. per person. Wine club members pay $112.50 plus tax. For tickets and event time, visit shop.lorimarwinery.com/reservation-events, or call 951-694-6699.

— Join the newest winery at Scenic Valley Ranch Vineyard in Ramona for the opening of their tasting patio on Memorial Day weekend from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 28 to Monday, May 30. The tasting menu includes: Albarino, Field of Roses, cab franc, petite sirah and a rare old vine Tokay. Scenicvalleyranch.com or call 619-884-3514.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Frank and Rico are two of the leading commentators on the web. View their columns at tasteofwineandfood.com. Reach them at [email protected] 

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