Hello wine fans, recently I attended a wine event hosted by the Thousand Oaks Rotary Club that was in support of the Ventura County Special Olympics. The rotary has put on this event for the past 6 years and has typically raised in excess of $100,000 for this charity. This year`s event was at the very beautiful Westlake Village Inn and was appropriately called "A Midsummer Eve of Wine and Arts."
As a special guest I was granted access to the barrel room and was able to meet several former Olympic athletes including Rafer Johnson, Peter Carruthers and Terry Schroder. Rafer won the gold medal in the 1960 decathlon. Peter won the silver medal in the 1984 Olympics in skating and he can be seen on ABC or ESPN on a regular basis. Finally Terry Schroeder won silver medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and was named water polo Player of the world in 1981 and 1985. I was happy to see these Olympians show up as I have some family members who are mentally disabled, one of which competed in the Special Olympics in the early 1980`s.
Over 500 people attended this year`s event to taste wine and see the various art displays. Over 30 area wineries showed up to pour and sample their wines. The standout winery of the event was Cobblestone Wines. Cobblestone is owned by P.J. Ochlan and is wife. I first met P.J. about 5 years ago when he and I were pouring wines at an event together. I recall someone at that event who tasted one of his wines said that it was just o.k " average at best. I was shocked by this comment and had to say this is one of the best wines I have tasted in a long while. P.J. then boasted a big smile and pulled out of his bag that his small production wine just received an impressive Wine Spectator rating. P.J. is a true winemaker, one who focuses on quality, not ratings which he proved that day by holding back his ratings as he wants those who try them to like them for the quality and attributes of the wine itself.
P.J. makes 2 standout wines that are exceptional. The first is the 2006 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay. This wine is made entirely from the fruit grown on the Laden family Vineyard in Monterey County. This wine has a very interesting profile, you can taste toasted coconut, popcorn and pineapple. The palate will also bring out tangerine flavors as well. A range of citrus continues through a long, dry finish alongside spice and oak tannin. The structure and balance make for an elegant and extremely versatile food-pairing wine. If you are a chardonnay fan who has a palate that demands the best, this is a chardonnay you can`t pass up on and deserves a place in your home cellar.
The second wine is the 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine shows a deep red color. It has aromas of cherry cola, berries, black pepper, anise and sandalwood. Your Palate is greeted by cranberry, vanilla bean and almond and the vibrant finish displays dry oak tannins. This wine pairs well with a variety of meats. I personally enjoyed a bottle of this wine with steak and lobster in our backyard over the barbeque this past week. I highly recommend that if you like big, bold cabs, this is one to try!
The Ventura County Special Olympics provides year-round training and competition for more than 700 special needs children and adults with varying degrees of ability. It`s sports in its truest sense; the goal is not to win, but to try - to experience, but not to conquer. All earn an award, a cheer and a sincere "well done."