Editor's Note: Welcome to what I hope will be a weekly posting of events, news about the Central Coast wine industry and the people behind the wine. “BUBBLYFEST by the Sea” nation’s first sparkling wine festival

The resurgence of sparkling wine consumption has inspired the nation’s first and only dedicated sparkling wine festival.

BubblyFest by the Sea will take place in the scenic, seaside town of Pismo Beach Oct. 24 to 26, highlighting more than 40 domestic and international producers of “bubbly” in a weekend-long festival.

The festival kicks off from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday with a Gatsby-themed Cocktail Mixer at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa. Gatsby-themed attire is encouraged. Unique Champagne cocktails will be paired with gourmet appetizers, the sounds of jazz band The Tipsy Gypsies, and stunning cliff-side views of the Pacific Ocean (Cost: $60 per person).

The BUBBLYFEST Grand Tasting will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel, where guests sample pours from more than 40 local, domestic and international producers of Champagne and sparkling wine.

Also featured will be gourmet samplings of artisan cheeses, chocolates, oysters, bread and other bites, as well as sparkling cocktail concoctions and musical entertainment. (Cost: $65 per person).

Finally, on Sunday, BUBBLYFEST will return to Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa for a Sunday Funday Champagne brunch from 10 a.m. to noon.

Staged on the ocean-side patio of the resort’s Lido Restaurant, the event will feature a three-course gourmet brunch prepared by Chef Jacob Moss, paired with bottomless Champagne. The Dan Curio of Moonshiner Collective will provide live music to complete the light-and-fun ambiance (Cost: $45 per person).

For more information and tickets, visit www.bubblyfest.com.

Wine Spectator honors Orcutt’s Far Western Tavern with 2014 Award of Excellence

The Far Western Tavern in Old Town Orcutt has earned the prestigious "2014 Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator magazine, an honor reserved for select restaurants with exemplary wine lists.

The complete results will be published in the Aug. 31 annual restaurant issue of the Wine Spectator.

“We are thrilled to bring the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence to the Santa Maria Valley,” said Benjamin Chanler-Laurin, general manager and sommelier of the Far Western Tavern.

The Far Western Tavern was determined to take its wine list to the next level, with active input and support from restaurant co-owners, he explained.

“Some of the family members are vintners and wine collectors themselves,” he said. “They understood the significance of creating a standout wine list.”

“We really started to emphasize chardonnay, pinot noir and Rhône varietals — wines that excel in the Santa Maria Valley and across the Central Coast,” he said.

“At the same time, we wanted to offer examples of these same varietals from regions such as Burgundy and the Rhône Valley, to provide context and offer our local winemakers some international flavors to enjoy. And most important, we wanted to offer a diverse selection of affordable wines that paired well with our menu, including cabernet sauvignon and other varietals.”

(Editor’s note: Bien Nacido Vineyard held its 40th Anniversary Winemaker Dinner May 29 at Far Western, and the Miller Family graciously included me. I found the meal and wines paired with the five courses to be exquisite, in particular, the oak grilled Scottish salmon with hazelnut risotto and pan seared duck breast with grilled fennel and braised beets. The first and second courses each included three wines, and the others at least one. Besides, seated at my table were local winemaking legends Bob Lindquist, Jim Clendenen, James Ontiveros, Joshua Clapper and Trey Fletcher, making the evening one for the books). 

2014 grape crop predicted to be slightly less than that of 2013

California’s wine type grape production is forecast at 3.9 million tons for 2014, down 8 percent from 2013, according to a report issued Aug. 13 by the California Agricultural Statistics Service.

However, 3.9 million tons is still a sizable crop, and if estimates hold true, 2014 will be California's third-largest ever wine-grape crop to date.

The raisin crop is expected to be 1.95 million tons, down 13 percent from 2014, and table grape production is forecast at 1.20 million tons, down 2 percent.

The forecast is in line with Allied Grapegrowers’ earlier estimate of 3.8 to 4.0 million tons of wine grapes in 2014, though Allied president Nat Dibuduo said he thinks the state’s forecast for Thomson grapes may be high — with the Thompson crop down by as much as 20 or even 25 percent.

Send submissions for “The Business of Wine” to laurie@centralcoastwinepress.com, or winecountrywriter@gmail.com.

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