My first year going to LA Wine Fest was a real eye opening experience. Most So Cal patrons have proven to have the attention span of gnats. However, the LA Wine Fest demonstrated both endurance and stamina when they were able to get thousands of the people within the city of Los Angeles to commit to a new experience.
5 years ago, I came across the creator of the 2-day Disneyland for adults, Dr. Joel Fisher. Joel was a very witty and smart man who has been in charge of the 2-day event for the past 10 years. His knowledge of both local and international wines is endless; he is literally a walking wine encyclopedia. With each New Year more followers are born and more glorious wineries are participating. Don’t get me wrong things can get a little bit rowdy by the end of the day, but most times people are acting with a so much dignity as you can after spending 6 hours imbibing in the hot sun.
This year was an added blessing, even though Joel was recently recovering from pneumonia, this did not stop him from talking to all of his followers, and party goers in his designated golf cart. Besides being a wealth of knowledge about wine, Joel Fisher is a trouper with a capital T. He has taught me so much about wine and laughter that I am just going to raise up my glass right now and say this one is for you Joel!!
You can rest assure that you will always find a new wine to taste, and most often would not be what you suspected. Joel and his staff are always researching and seeking out new and exciting wines for the public to try. In the event that the wine taster is trade and not public, be prepared for the winery owner to roll out the red carpet in the form of a luscious new reserve.
The LA Wine Fest has it all, great wines, food trucks, fun shopping, and lots of characters. Located at Raleigh studios, (which I hear might be it’s last year there,) it truly is the perfect location. Raleigh has lots of it own history, but to be able to drink fine wines there is an honor in itself.
Raleigh Studios is the longest continuously operating studio in the (country. In 1915, the studio was called the Famous Players Fiction Studios, with a Mary Pickford production as one of the first features to be filmed on this historic Hollywood lot. An early owner had the vision to build one of the world’s first sound stages – complete with a glass top so light could enter without disrupting sound recording. This kind of innovation has marked Raleigh Studios throughout its history. Some of the industry’s most influential leaders have called the lot home, including Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Walt Disney, Bette Davis (the cult classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? was filmed at the lot) and Jim Henson and the Henson Companies. Over its long history, some of televisions’ most famous early shows and pilots were filmed at the studio, including Superman, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason.
Spending the entire day at this historic lot and seeing all of its notable sites is truly life altering. At the Fest you can start by winding around the studio, finding things to taste along the route. Then the VIP area really will make your head spin. The VIP area included all of the great new wineries and wine makers enclosed in one nice little patio; this is my favorite part. The food trucks are also the perfect accompaniment to the wine, on top of the dj/live music in one of the many sections. The crowd is a cross section of hipster, and serious wine connoisseurs, but everyone has the same thing in mind, to let go and have some fun. There is nothing too serious here.
Here are some of the wineries represented:
Borg Realer, Italy, Dalton Winery, Israel, Ascension Cellars, Blair Estate, Bottle wood Ventures Inc., Bottle Rock Wines, Cello Estate Wines, The Drama Wine Collection, Napa AVA, Bulgarian Vitigno, Byron Winery, Caduceus Cellars, Cambria Estate Winery, Clayhouse Wines, Cloak & Dagger Wines , Cuatro Dias Wines, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Fathers & Daughters Cellars, Fetzer Vineyards, Frey Vineyards, Guarachi Wine Partners, Herzog Wine Cellars, La Playa Vineyards, Lucky Dogg Winery , McPherson Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Ojai Alisal Vineyard, Old Oak Winery, Overland Wines, Panthea Winery & Vineyard, Plan B Wine Cellars, Powell Mountain Cellars, Quigley Fine Wines, Rebel Coast Winery, Riboli Family Wine Estates, Rosenthal – The Malibu Estate, Roxo Port Cellars, South Coast Winery, Strey Cellars, Sunland Vintage Winery, Barbera Bianca, Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, Baily Vineyard & Winery, Europa Village, Falkner Winery, Foot Path Winery, Hart Winery, Lorimar Vineyards & Winery, Oak Mountain Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards, Wiens Family Cellars,The Other Guys, Tolosa Winery and Vineyards, Vina Sympatica Sparkling Wines, VinVillage, Trump Wines, Loscano Wines, Argentina, Vinemark Cellars, *Vino Noceto Wines, Wedell Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery, Zuri Wine Tasting.
There are also many fun food products and food trucks presented at the Fest:
Food Trucks/Restaurants: Cousins Maine Lobster, Crepe de Ville, Fair Game GFT, Jenis Splendid Ice Creams, Kogi BBQ, LA Brea Bakery, Piazza Pie, Raleigh Studios Cafe, Slammin’ Sliders, Sunset Catering, Tainamite, The Grilled Cheese Truck.
General Exhibitors: A Total Diva Designs, Ama Waterways, Ameriprise Financial, Bazaar Boutique, Bev Wizard Co., Bistro Blends, Bond Bar, Bright Current Choctal, CUTCO Cutlery, Da’ African Village, DelGrosso Foods, Drizly, Fancifull Fine Foods & Gift Baskets, Farm Fresh To You, Garlic Expressions, GlamSquad, Glitz N’ Glamour, Go Vertical, Gourmet Blends, Gourmet Lips, Homejoy, Jax Coco,King Barrel, Kissy’s Creations, Laguna Salt Company, Los Angeles Times, Malibu Discovery Wine Tours, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Olimila Gourmet Emporium, Origami Owl & Laga BagsQuini, Sideways Series – Rex Pickett, TOSSWARE, Vagabond Cheese, Wine Treasures – Unique Finds for Lovers of Wine, Zagat.
More on Dr. Joel M. Fisher – He is the proud Founder & CEO of LAWineFest. He has written for the Culinary Connection of the Chefs de Cuisine Association of California, for the Beverly Hills Courier, and since 2010 for the Underground Wine Letter. Students were so fortunate to have studied under his tutelage From 2007-2009 when he taught at Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. He also taught at the Culinary Arts Department of the Art Institute of California, and is a founding partner of the educational Wine Vine and Dine. Net. Amongst his other lofty endeavors, he is A Sommelier for the Escoffier Association of Southern California, and a member of The Tasting Panel (formerly the Bon Appetit Tasting Panel) and is a Wine Host for CRN’s What’s Cooking Show.
Currently a member of the Society of Wine Educators, The Circle of Wine Writers (UK), and the International Federation of Wine and Spirits Writers. He was awarded a Wine Enthusiast Media Scholarship for 2005 at the Culinary Institute of America, and is the author of the Wine Work Book, now in its 6th edition. In 2005, Joel co-led chefs and culinary students to the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany and to wineries in Burgundy and Champagne in 2005. In 2006 he led a program, “Wine and Cuisine of Iberia,” to Spain and Portugal.
This year is very special with a few new programs created by Dr. Joel Fisher; LAWineFest popular choice awards, which the attendee’s decide which wines get the top honors. This program is being powered by Quini, a new wine tasting app created by Roger Noujeim. The second is a sales program with LAWineFest strategic partner Drizly, Inc. that will deliver favorite wines to the attendee’s doors.
With Dr. Joel M. Fisher leading the way, how could you go wrong? Great wine, good conversation right in your own back yard here in sunny gorgeous Los Angeles, what more could you want. So get out your phone and get an easy Uber pick-up, drink as much as you like, and bask in the glory that every May in Southern California there is one of the best premier wine tastings ever.