Let's Talk Wine with Eric Garnier
February 2014

And the winner is ????

The third annual Ventura County Wine Trail food & Wine Challenge was recently held at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort. Thirteen of the wineries on the Wine Trail companion themselves with local restaurants to try to make the perfect food and wine pairing. As in the past, the event was sold out, with close to 400 in attendance.

To me, this is the Best of the Best when it comes to a local flair with local product. Having attended each event as I have, I must admit that this event keeps getting better and better, and the judging becomes harder and harder, as everyone is trying to outdo each other for top honors. What is very noticeable at this event is the camaraderie among the contestants. Winery owners and restauranteurs sneaking away from their table to give hugs and "high fives" to their friends and competitors. This is a very tight group.

As I went around to the different tables, I was greeted like family from all the wineries. Many I know and some I met for the first time. I have my favorites, but this is a time when I must judge each wine and dish on its own merit. As I went around to each table, I became my own judge. I kept asking myself, " how does this wine match with this dish." Then it's off to the cheese table to take a break among the contestants. Back to tasting and judging. Now I've narrowed it down to three teams. As I go back to those three teams, it becomes harder to pick. Then all of a sudden it hits me: "Voila" !!!!!!!! I have chosen my favorite team.

At the end of the evening, the crowd anxiously awaits the Judges and Peoples Choice awards.

And the winners are !!!!!

2014 Food Challenge winner 1

Judges award was awarded to The Rhumb Line Restaurant in Ventura and Casa Barranca Winery in Ojai.

Peoples award went to Cafe Zak in Ventura and Magnavino Cellars in Oxnard.

Congratulation to the winners and to all the participants who made this such a great event.

By the way, for the second year in a row, the winner was my choice as well.


Questions or comments? Reach me at : Wineoeric@gmail.com

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