From Just Booze

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Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival Highlights the best of rosés in Broomfield, CO June 11

by Andrea Verdin

Summer is coming. That means barbecues, beach bonfires, and camping with friends. That means camping and roasting corn on the cob over an open fire, and yummy, chilled wine to enjoy as you lounge by the pool during the day.

IRWF_Drink_Pink_Vino_LogoTo honor the tradition of drinking delicious chilled wine, Wine Country Network, Inc., publisher of Wine Country International® Magazine and producer of the Denver International Wine Festival, has announced the first-ever Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival.

The Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival will be held on Thursday, June 11, 2015 at the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield, Colorado.

Far from being a small company with limited food and wine expertise, the Wine Country Network, Inc. publishes Wine Country International®Magazine, hosts a radio show at www.twcradio.com, and throughout the year organizes several professional beverage competitions, as well as the Denver International Wine Festival and the Pairsine Chefs Food and Beverage Pairing Competitions.

900-wine-bottlesWith all of these credentials, Wine Country International® Magazine’s Co-Founder and Editor, Christopher J. Davies is able to explain why rosés are fit to be featured at their own festival.

“Rosés are typically seen as a summer wine because they are lighter,” explained Davies. “They have a great pair-ability, and this festival was timely. We find that some restaurants keep rosés on their wine lists year-round because they are gaining popularity.”

Far from being a diluted red, rosés are produced from the same grapes as more full-bodied reds, but the juice is only allowed to ferment with the grape skins for a few days, giving rosés their delicate pink color, explained Davies. Winemakers from all over are coming so that you can sample their wares, and you can determine what type of rosé strikes your fancy.

In recent years, rosé wine consumption in the U.S. is growing by double digits. More and more producers are releasing their versions of incredibly food-friendly rosés. The Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival offers wine enthusiasts the chance to sample over sixty new releases right before the summer Rosé drinking season.

Chef Hosea Rosenberg
Chef Hosea Rosenberg

To add to the experience at the Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival, Davies said that wandering French Jazz musicians will perform, and wonderful food will be available from local restaurants, including Blackbelly, The Oceanaire Seafood Room and Big Mac and Little Lu’s. This is a perfect way to learn how to pair your new favorite pink drink with food from Top Chef Season 5 Winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market and Restaurant, Madeleine de Jean (a/k/a Madame Champagne) and Barrie Lynn, The Cheese Impresario.

In addition to the food and drink, the  Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival will be holding a special silent auction containing large-format bottles of Rosé and wine-related items. 100% of all proceeds will benefit There With Care, which provides a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis.

The 2015 venue is the luxurious Omni Interlocken Resort, which will offer a limited number of rooms at a special festival rate of $119/night. Call 303-438-6600 for reservations. Tickets for the Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival are now on sale. For more information, visit www.DrinkPinkVino.Com. For further information, visit www.winecountrynetwork.com or call 303-664-5700.

San Diego Rhythm and Brews Festival a Success for San Diego Brewers Guild

By Andrea Verdin

San Diegans showed that a little moisture and clouds weren’t going to keep them from having a good time, and flocked to the San Diego Brewers Guild’s annual San Diego Rhythm and Brews Festival. Music, craft beer, and delicious local cuisine were enjoyed by all, with many dancing away as they discovered new favorite brews.

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The event was held in the historic downtown Vista Village, which was right in the heart of the Hop Highway. Guests were able to sample brand new barrel-aged brews, saisons, and sour ales along with their longtime favorites. San Diego’s top breweries were also joined by home brewers who competed for ‘Best of Show’ in the popular homebrew contest, sponsored by Mother Earth Brewing Co.

“We are thrilled to offer craft beer fans another opportunity, in addition to Beer Week, to access their favorite breweries,” says San Diego Brewers Guild president Kevin Hopkins. “Rhythm & Brews grows larger each year- and this year will be no exception.”

To complement the wide selection of brews from San Diego and beyond, the San Diego Rhythm and Brews Festival featured continuous live performances on two stages by seven popular local bands, including the Bill Magee Blues Band, voted the “Best Blues Band in San Diego” by the San Diego Music Association, Ben Powell, whose most recent album was nominated by the San Diego Music Association for ‘Best Blues Album’ in 2014, and renowned band leader Bubba McCoy. The Tighten Ups started up the festival, and crowds continued to dance their afternoon away.

 

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Celebrations were made with good conscience, as a portion of the San Diego Rhythm and Brews Festival ticket sale proceeds benefit Fight ALD, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education about adrenoleukodystrophy. Fight ALD was founded by a Vista, CA couple who tragically lost their young son, Sawyer, to the deadly genetic disorder. In addition, the event benefited the San Diego Brewers Guild to facilitate the organization’s efforts to bring attention to San Diego’s innovative brewing community and to elevate the craft as a whole on a national level.

Community events, including Rhythm & Brews, are representative of the Guild’s tradition of bringing craft beer to the masses, and offer local brewers needed visibility and opportunity for continued success. According to a recent study, the economic impact of San Diego’s craft brewing enterprise continues to grow substantially— doubling in the last three years to reach an estimated $600 million in 2014. Beer tourism has been an important component of that growth as millions of visitors explore the region to experience our county’s nearly 100 craft breweries. At Rhythm & Brews, a San Diego Brewers Guild premier event – the other being San Diego Beer Week – craft beer devotees can familiarize themselves with the best of San Diego’s brewing culture all in one place.

Ted Z and the Wranglers
Ted Z and the Wranglers
The Tighten Ups
The Tighten Ups
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Criscito Pizza brings authentic pizza
Criscito Pizza brings authentic pizza
Pretzel necklaces were for sale
Pretzel necklaces were for sale
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For more information about the San Diego Brewers Guild’s upcoming events, please visit www.sandiegobrewersguild.com, the Guild’s Facebook page, or follow @sdbrewers on Twitter.

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4th Annual Rhythm & Brews Music & Craft Beer Festival: Bringing Music, Craft Beer and Good Causes Together

by Andrea Verdin

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend in San Diego County, look no further: the fourth annual Rhythm & Brews Music & Craft Beer Festival which will take place this Saturday, April 25th from 12-4PM in the Historic Downtown Vista Village.

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This event has been a big hit in North County since its beginning. This year, more than 60 breweries will be a part of the festival. In addition to local favorites like Ballast Point, Belching Beaver, Green Flash, and more, visiting breweries from Colorado, Illinois and Hawaii are slated to participate.

This means thirsty attendees can enjoy tastings of more than 100 craft brews. Beer enthusiasts will also enjoy live music, spanning from blues to folk to funk on two stages and outstanding local fare will be available for purchase.

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In addition to the SDBG, this year’s event will benefit  Fight ALD, a non-profit organization founded by a Vista, CA couple who tragically lost their young son to the deadly genetic disorder.

This event is sure to please, so head on over! If you see one of the Wander Crew there, be sure to take a pic with us.

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For more information on the  Rhythm & Brews Music & Craft Beer Festival, check out their website. For more information on Fight ALD, visit their website.

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Wine Tasting in Solvang by foot, car or tour guide

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The view of the Valley from Andrew Murray Vineyards.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

As my time in Southern and Central California’s wine countries continues to grow, I’m learning that there’s more than just a couple of ways to master wine tasting. Sure, you can pick up a map and visit a few favorites or locally famous wineries. You can go on a guided tour ensuring that you never lift a finger or get behind the wheel. Or, you can just show up to a winery and hope that an employee willingly offers you a tour. When it comes to wine tasting in Solvang, patrons have quite a number of options.

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We managed to catch the tail end of the Sideways photo exhibition at the Elverhoj Museum in Solvang.

The city of Solvang is surrounded by river beds, mountains and rolling hills where some pretty serious varietals are growing. Wine tasting in Solvang has been on America’s radar for several years and the movie Sideways continues to attract fans and movie buffs to the region. On my recent trip to this Danish town, I got an insider’s look at all of the different ways to wine taste. Here are my picks for the best options for wine tasting in Solvang.

Walk to a tasting room in Solvang

While Solvang may be small in size, this city really packs a punch in terms of the quality restaurants, hotels and entertainment offerings. You’ll find 18 wine tasting rooms in town alone so you’ll definitely find a place that meets your needs. (And did I forget to mention that there are 120+ wineries in the neighboring Santa Ynez wine country?)

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The geniuses: Louis Lucas & Royce Lewellen.

Louis Lucas and Royce Lewellen of the regionally famous Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards kindly invited our International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association group into their lovely tasting room in Solvang. The two families joined forces and have been growing delicious grapes on the 400 estate acre vineyard. Can’t decide between a French Pinot Noir and an Italian Sangiovese? Not only does Lucas & Lewellen grow 25 varietals from both countries, but they also have two distinct, regionally-based tasting rooms just a half block away from each other in Solvang.

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Go for the Brut at Lucas & Lewellen as a start to your wine tasting.

We spent the evening at the Lucas & Lewellen tasting room and were treated to an enormous platter of gourmet cheeses, crackers, fruit and paté. While the gentlemen shared their stories, history and vast knowledge of their varietals, we sipped on an amazing 2011 Blanc de Noirs Brut Sparkling wine, 2013 Viognier, 2013 Goodchild High 9 Pinot Noir and so much more. All of the wines had their own special qualities and I highly recommend visiting the tasting room if you can’t make it to the vineyard.

Pick a few favorites and drive through Wine Country

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Inside the tasting room at Andrew Murray.

Driving through any wine country makes for a beautiful day regardless. Solvang and its neighboring towns offer scenic views at every turn. Santa Barbara Vintners is your one-stop shop for details about all of the wineries and vineyards in town so make sure you do some research on their site before your trip.

We drove through the hillsides and visited Andrew Murray Vineyards, which specializes in rhône-style wines. Their tasting room is sleek and modern and you’ll definitely want to spend some time on premises. We also drove to Rusack vineyards, which offered views of the valley with their delicious wines. From Sauvignon Blanc to Zinfandel, everything I tasted at Rusack was superb so make sure they’re on your go-to list.

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The view from Rusack Vineyards.

Stagecoach Co. guided wine tours with a wine expert

If you really want to hit the pavement, or lack thereof in wine country, sometimes the best way to see the wineries is with a tour guide. Since 2001, Stagecoach Co. has offered wine tours for small and large groups while giving an insider’s look into the valley. Kurt was our driver for the day and I was blown away by his wealth of wine knowledge. For the best experience, Stagecoach Co. selects the wineries you’ll visit based on the size of your group and winery availability.

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The road to the horse stables at Bella Cavalli Vineyard.

One of the benefits of touring wine country with Stagecoach Co. is the intimate relationship the tour company has with local winegrowers. That being said, Kurt was able to take us to a private boutique winery not open to the general public. In order to visit Bella Cavalli Vineyards, you must be on a Stagecoach Co. tour or an existing member of the Bella Cavalli Vineyard Club.

Bella-Cavalli-horseOwner Jeff Lockwood poured his Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and so much more while also sampling some of the salsas, sauces and olive oil produced at the winery. The winery also butts up against Bella Cavalli Farms where horses graze on a 50-acre ranch while rehabbing or rehabilitating. I bet you won’t find too many wineries where you’re not only greeted by vineyard dogs but, also neighing horses.

Solvang is an outstanding destination if you’re an experienced oenophile, traveling with friends, or simply looking for a weekend trip with all of the attractions of a quaint and cozy town. For more information, visit www.SolvangUSA.com.

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San Diego Spirits Festival opens your eyes to new and unique cocktails and liquor

Written by Nadia Ibanez

Gone are the days of drinking uninspired cocktails, watered-down beer, bad wine and sugary shots. People my age are stepping up their game when it comes to their nightcaps and alcoholic beverages of choice. Luckily, there are events like the San Diego Spirits Festival to help open our eyes up to luxury liqueurs and award-winning spirits.

The festival highlights spirit purveyors, local mixologists and other alcohol-related businesses over a weekend at the Port Pavilion on the San Diego Bay. Local restaurateurs are also on hand offering up delicious bites to soak up all of the drinks. No matter your drink of choice, the Spirits Festival has got you covered.

Here’s a look at some of our favorites from the San Diego Spirits Festival.

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BuzzBallz are a colorful way to have one of your favorite cocktails. Not only are the ballz cute, but they float!

 

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We loved Anestasia Vodka not only because of how smooth it was, but also because of its unique glassware.

One of my favorite hideouts during the event was the Snake Oil Cocktail Co. bar. This company is really helping to revolutionize the idea behind the craft cocktail with simple and seasonal ingredients. Local mixologists designed their own cocktails for the event, which rotated each day. I loved the Latin Connection, a mixture of Appleton rum, lavender laced horchata and a brown ale reduction. The Cardinal Punch was also delicious with Skyy vodka, hibiscus tea, ginger reduction and vanilla, topped with an edible orchid.

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The guys behind Snake Oil Cocktail Co. are conjuring up some serious drinks.

Gin and tonic and gin martinis have been my go-to beverage as of late and the family behind Gompers Gin have a great product. The essence of golden pear and lavender go amazingly well with the juniper berry flavor.

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There was definitely no shortage of entertainment throughout the weekend, including bartender battles, burlesque dancers, aerial acrobatics and more. However, the guys at the Don Loco Tequila bar were showing some serious flair.

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The dates for next year’s event have already been set for August 22-23, 2015. If you’re looking to broaden your alcohol horizons, I suggest you save the date. For more information, visit www.sandiegospiritsfestival.com.