Pasadena Wine Festival – October 3, 2009

On Saturday, The Happy Hour Tour trekked over to the LA Arboretum for an evening of wine tasting, cheese sampling, and playing fetch (okay tossing a frisbee with this J's brother, our beer maestro (Brother & Sis-in-law are our resident beer experts)). The location and weather couldn't have been more perfect for early autumn wine tasting - the proof is in the pictures and really, in the festival's incipient year, it actually seemed quite successful.

Our adventures went like so:

4:30 pm - We arrived, were confused by the underage children working the will-call line, they were equally mystified by the concept of a guest list! We were also confused by the high number of folks of a certain age cutting in line. Damn baby, you gotta wait your turn!

5:00 pm - We continued in our confusion as we were handed a wine sampling card, but didn't receive an explanation of how the wine sampling system worked, until a helpful Mondavi representative explained that the card afforded us 15 tickets for wine pours/samples. Many wines were worth 1 ticket/pour, but some were 2 tickets/pour. At first, we thought this might not be enough to get our wine-buzz, but soon realized, this would do plenty fine.

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm – Our beer maestros joined us at the fest - we sampled many drinks and delicious cheeses. Over 20 wineries were represented and wines ranged from smoky tempranillos to spot-on merlots and the tastiest Riesling this J has ever enjoyed, too bad we didn’t get the name! The In’Ka booth seemed to be the place to be, but had a line so long we never got to sample the goods. JG loved the Champignon cheese so much, she bought herself a wheel to take home.

We also had the pleasure of meeting former NBA star John Salley, gentle giant/comedian extraordinaire/possible vegan (though he apparently ate a rat’s tail on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” – thanks internet!). He was kind enough to take a picture of this J & beer maestro brother and uttered the great comedic line, "I'm black, girl, you gotta use the flash!”

7:00 - 7:45 pm - As the festival was a good 30 miles from home, each of our parties had a designated driver - JB and beer maestro brother this time around. So us DD's sobered up over a game of frisbee and watching a hot air balloon rise.

8:00 pm - Sufficiently sweaty and sober, we headed to a sit-down Mexican dinner in JB’s hometown-away-from-home, Sierra Madre, where a second wine & jazz fest was taking place in the town's square. For future Pasadena Wine Fests, we might recommend more food options - by the time we left, the line for the one food stand (grilled sausages) was a good 100-feet long, necessitating finding a bite elsewhere.

9:00 pm - We all departed, the J's back to LA-proper to attend a birthday party at the downtown Figueroa Hotel, the beer maestro's home to Orange County.

In all, the festival was a very classy, fun evening with a great crowd and a great cause - all ticket sales benefitted the Pasadena Symphony Association.

Special thanks to the Pasadena Wine Festival for tickets for The Happy Hour Tour and our contest winners, Andrea & Carley!

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