There was once a time when it was nearly impossible to imagine that California could produce wine, let alone wine of quality or distinction. But here we are, nearly forty years since the Judgment of Paris, and now it’s impossible to imagine California without it.
To a lesser extent, sometimes new wine-producing regions – even in California – receive a tepid reaction, at least in the beginning. Sometimes it takes a big event to get people’s attention.
A big event is exactly what’s offered by the first annual Sierra Pelona Wine Festival, on Saturday, January 26, from noon until 4pm. The festival is set to feature around 35 local wineries and garagistes from the area, alongside approximately 25 food vendors.
The Sierra Polena Valley is only about 30 miles north of Los Angeles, but it might as well be a different world. Even the landscape looks different, with landmarks like the Vasquez Rocks of Agua Dulce, so popular with hikers. The festival day will begin with a recognition of the spectacular natural vistas, which are an integral part of life and tourism in the valley, with a winemaker hike at 8:30 am. The festival, itself, will take place on Saturday January 26 from 11am-4pm at Reyes Winery (10262 Sierra Highway, Agua Dulce, CA 91390) – also in Agua Dulce – with proceeds benefitting the Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital.
Reyes Winery is also a bit of an unexpected surprise. It’s as quaint as the rest of the region, with vineyards transformed in 2002 from its history as a commercial frog pond. Perhaps echoing the olden days of Napa, it’s hard to imagine good wine coming out of a place like that. But the wine is actually very good – elegant, delicate, fruit-forward but restrained. Maybe it needs to be tasted to be believed. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened in California. But this time you have a chance to be part of history as it unfolds.