Off the Menu: Time for Wine

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    cass wines 2By Christopher Trela and Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

    Tis the season for food and wine—particularly wine! So many terrific events are happening this weekend and on into March that’s nearly impossible to get to them all—but we’re going to try. Here’s a rundown:


    Lark Creek Newport Beach in Fashion Island is celebrating Wine Month through the end of March. Every bottle from their signature wine list is half price, which includes a selection of varietals from Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Barbara, Mendocino, and Sonoma, as well as from wine-growing regions around the world.

    Examples: 2011 Quintessa Illumination Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley is normally $68, but only $34 in March. The 2011 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles is normally $56, but only $28 in March. The 2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley is normally $105, but in March is $52.50.

    Guess where we’ll be dining this month? For more info, call (949) 640-6700 or visit


    This Saturday, OC Wine School offers a class called Bordeaux vs. California Meritage at Newport Beach Winery.

    Presented by OC Wine School’s founder Peter Smith, a resident of Newport Beach, the class is held 3 to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $75 per person and includes multiple wine samples and hors d’oeuvres. Participants will learn the difference between these regional blends and what makes them so special.

    To register for the class, and for info on upcoming OC Wine School classes and seminars, visit


    Tickets are still available for what is shaping up to be one of the most significant So Cal wine tasting events of the year: Family Winemakers 2014 Tasting event at Pasadena Convention Center on March 9.

    More than 150 wineries from throughout California are participating in this tasting, which is normally only open to trade and media but this year welcomes consumers for the first time.

    The list of wineries is truly impressive. Many of them are from California’s central coast region (our favorite wine destination) and include Adelaida, Ampelos, Fiddlehead, Fozen, Halter Ranch, J Dusi, Justin, Opolo, Tablas Creek, and Cass.

    Chris first encountered Cass wines several years ago at a tasting room in downtown Paso Robles, and fell in love with their Mourvedre.

    We recently talked to owner Steve Cass, who told us he’ll have a handful of his wines at the Pasadena event, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, a Rhone Blend, Petit Verdot, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, and port.

    For more information on Cass Winery, visit

    The Family Winemakers tasting is 3:30 to 6 p.m. Tickets start at $60 in advance, or $70 at the door. A limited number of early admissions during the trade segment at 1 p.m. (which includes the special iSip Lounge Reserve area) are available for $100. Visit for details.


    This weekend, Laguna Beach is host to a three-day food and wine extravaganza called Celebrate Good Taste that takes place at a handful of restaurants and venues around town,Roy's Restaurant - Duckhorn Wine Dinner (Red) including Maro Wood Grill, Rooftop Lounge, Surf and Sand, Montage, Sawdust Festival, and Laguna Art Museum.

    In additional to special tastings and dinners, a dozen restaurants have special menus this weekend, and local hotels have special packages.

    For details, visit


    Roy’s Restaurant in Fashion Island is holding a Duckhorn Wine Dinner on March 12 that features five courses and four wine pairings.

    Courses include Kona Kampachi tartare, lobster & peas, maple leaf duck duo, grilled beef tenderloin, and peach napoleon.

    No word on which Duckhorn wines will be poured, but we’ve had their wines and love them all. Special Roy’s and Duckhorn Vineyard prizes, including a Roy’s cookbook, hukilaus and an autographed Duckhorn Vineyards wine bottle, will be available during the evening’s raffle.

    The cost per person is $85. Visit for details.

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