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Festival goers Karen Hynes, Jamie Paiko, and Mitra Burns having fun making wine labels at the Louis Jadot experience. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Festival goers Karen Hynes, Jamie Paiko, and Mitra Burns having fun making wine labels at the Louis Jadot experience. Photo by Rico Cassoni
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Something for everyone at La Jolla Art+Wine Festival

From the title, La Jolla Art+Wine Festival, it is obvious that both art and wine would be present, but there was much more. In the heart of downtown La Jolla on Girard Ave, festival-goers could also enjoy entertainment, gourmet food, a silent auction, and pet adoptions, in addition to over 160 artists from the US and Mexico, along with the Wine and Beer Garden.

Unfortunately, my Wine Bro Frank could not make this one, and I recruited my good friend and tennis partner, Steve Dafnis, to be my wingman for the day. The art side was highlighted by the work of the Bommarito Brothers, whose mission is to “enhance and bring inspiration to our everyday spaces through unique and exceptional photography.”

On the Wine side of the show, America’s #1 French wine, Louis Jadot, headlined the Wine & Beer Garden as part of their Straight From The Vine tour across the US. We had the pleasure of meeting US Brand Director Jennifer Fritz, who shared the wines they were pouring. We started with the 2020 Macon-Villages Chardonnay with bright acidity due to the stainless steel fermentation.

It had floral notes (I picked up lilac) and green apple and pear on the palate. Next, Fritz poured the 2020 Beaujolais-Villages made with 100% gamay, which is like pinot noir grapes. This was a fruit-forward wine with strawberry and cherry on the palate and some spice on the finish.

The third one was the 2019 Pinot Noir Bourgogne. This was my favorite of the three, seeing nine-months aging in French oak to smooth out the tannins, and it had both plum and cherry on the forward palate with some earthiness, to be expected of Old World Pinot, on the back palate.

La Jolla Winery members (left to right) Rob and Mary Kay Bates, Rob Hixson III (president),  and Leslea Meyerhoff (sommelier). Photo by Rico Cassoni
La Jolla Winery members (left to right) Rob and Mary Kay Bates, Rob Hixson III (president), and Leslea Meyerhoff (sommelier). Photo by Rico Cassoni

I appreciated the Louis Jadot wines’ commitment to consistency and quality. They implement a “practice called réplis, in which wines of a higher appellation are incorporated into a wine bearing the appellation below them.

For example, Jadot’s Beaujolais-Villages will customarily contain a percentage of wines from Beaujolais crus.” This creates great value wines in the $10 to $20 range. Additionally, Festival goers were able to create their own Louis Jadot wine label. More info at lovejadot.com.

One of the most intriguing groups I met at the festival was La Jolla Winery, headed by President Rob Hixson III. For those who have always dreamed of owning a winery and making wine, La Jolla Winery might be for you. This is a co-op winery created in 2008 that Hixson heads up with Leslea Meyerhoff, Partner and Sommelier.

They typically keep membership to 25 shares and currently have 35 members who work the vines and winemaking about 16 Saturdays per year. They are fortunate to have the assistance of larger wineries such as Twin Oaks Winery and now Bernardo Winery.

This is not your Italian Nonno’s homegrown basement wine. I was fascinated with their wines and even more impressed when Hixson shared they won four awards for Best in Show in their category with their 2016 vintage at the San Diego County Fair. To learn more and possibly become a member, check out lajollawinery.com.

Other notables of the day were Nina Snow of DOCG Imports, which oversees The La Jolla Wine Club specializing in imported Italian wines and hosting wine trips as part of the club. This includes their latest trip to Sardegna, Italy, where Nina and associate Petra Belliti created a memorable experience for guests (docgimports.com).

Tech Geek, now artist and creator of San Diego Craft Wine Barrel Riot wines, ages the wine in barrels previously used for aging spirits such as Tequila, Rum, and Bourbon. His wines created a unique and flavorful profile – BarrelRiot.com.

Joey Labes and Brenna Turner, co-founders of Sake High!, are the first to bring it to the U.S. (Venice, CA).

“Sake High! is sourced from Kyoto, Japan,” Labes and Turner both said. “It is handmade, all-natural, gluten and sulfite free. We are all about love, new cuisines, adventure, and community.” See sakehigh.com.

My last mention is the band “The Naked I.” These guys were jamming with killer tunes. Between classic, high-energy cover songs and their own original work, they had the beat pumping and the crowd on their feet dancing. Dakota Ringer is the lead singer. More info at dakotaringer.com.

Wine Bytes

WineSeller Brasserie is hosting a Louis Roederer Champagne Dinner at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4. They will be pouring some special glasses of Champagne and sparkling wines from their California-based Anderson Valley Roederer Estate. This dinner is sure to sell out. For more details and RSVP at 858-450-9557.

Time is running out to purchase tickets for the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival. This is San Diego’s most extensive Wine and Food Festival, and it was named the winner of the 2019 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice for Best General Food Festival. The largest crowds will be at the Grand Decant, Grand Tasting, and Grand Fiesta on Friday, November 11, Saturday, November 12, and Sunday, November 13. General Admission and VIP tickets can be purchased at sandiegowineclassic.com.

Temecula’s De Portola Wine Trail is holding this year’s Harvest Fest from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6. Come out and enjoy wines from 10 participating wineries celebrating their 2022 harvest season. The cost is $79.99 per ticket plus tax. There is also a Designated Driver (food only) ticket for $39 plus tax. Purchase tickets at bit.ly/DPHF22 or 855-398-9463.

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