As the weather warms up, and the sun stays out late, we are ready for fun local family friendly events. Look no further, Food Truck Friday’s are back! From April to September on the last Friday of the month, both Strey Cellars and Magnavino Cellars team up to bring you this exclusive experience in Ventura County! We host a live band each month in our barrel room, and park a local food truck outside, our tasting room is open, of course, providing the trifecta: food, entertainment and wine! Gone are the days when you could only find your favorite food truck parked outside of a brewery! We don’t just choose any food truck, we invite the best of the best, because we love food ALMOST as much as we love wine.
Each month has it’s own flavor, starting next week on Friday, April 26th with Baby’s Badass Burgers, which is owned by female entrepreneurs who just so happen to be foodies! In their search for the perfect cheeseburger, it became clear that they had to create it themselves. These gourmet burgers are not only award winning, but are paired with creative names, and served by an attractive friendly staff. To accompany this fun food truck, is a band that hardly needs an introduction, Hot Roux! If you have not heard Hot Roux, you won’t want to miss them! They are Ventura locals who play fun Louisiana blues and swampy rock n’ roll.
Cousin’s Maine Lobster food truck will be pulling up on May 31st, bringing us traditional New England style lobster rolls, tacos and tots! Founded by two cousins who had been reminiscing on their childhood traditions of being bibbed, elbows deep in hot lobster, they birthed the idea to launch a food truck with quality and affordable lobster, which is farmed sustainably. You may have seen them on the TV series, Shark Tank? Speaking of reminiscing, this evening will be a blast from the past, introducing the band, 80’s Invasion! Throwing back to the days when MTV played music videos, and the hair was big!
There’s nothing like comfort food on a summer evening, on June 28th be ready to eat all of your favorites from one of our favorites, SoCal Comfort! Think burgers, grilled cheese, hot dogs, coleslaw and their famous elote tots… my mouth is watering. This locally owned food truck is not only known for the delicious food, but also for their tireless charity and non-profit work. They just may be as much of a draw as our featured band, Road Brothers! Road Brothers are a blues and rock band from Oxnard, we always have a blast dancing and singing along, and I know you will too!
Our next food truck has a claim to fame, Shrimp Vs Chef and was recently featured on Food Network’s Food Truck Nation. I watched the episode and even though I am a vegetarian, I seriously questioned my lifestyle choices when the host, Brad Miller described each moment of tasting the Baja Shrimp Tacos. Beer batter tempura shrimp, cayenne aoli, toasted sesame seeds… I’ll have to live vicariously through you all on July 26th. Luckily, I will be able to thoroughly enjoy The Renegades 805 all night! They are a local dance band from Ventura with a truly talented vocalist and a three-piece horn section. The Renegades know how to have fun and get you on your feet!
Our summer would not be complete without the infamous Middle Feast food truck on August 30th! Middle Feast was the season five winner of The Great Food Truck Race! Complete with build your own bowls, felafel, gyro, tacos and salads, there is a gormet option for anyone. This is Middle Eastern food with an Asian and Mexican twist, with ever evolving flavors. We will also be graced by Craic Haus, which is a fun “shamrockabilly” high energy band from Claremont, California.
As summer comes to a close, we end the season appropriately with Cowboy John’s Smokin’ BBQ as our last hurrah on September 27th. This family owned, competition grade food truck is not kidding when they claim to be the best. Cowboy John’s has won countless awards and has earned this title. In fact, last year we teamed up with them and they made a barbecue sauce with one of our wines, and won a gold metal at the Ventura County Fair. So the answer is YES, wine pairs with barbecue! To our delight, The Renegades 805 will be back by popular demand, you’re welcome!
I am getting so pumped for summer, and can’t wait to hang out with you all during Food Truck Fridays, listening to music, and enjoying delicious food and let’s not forget, drinking award winning wine!
Wine has been a essential in many cultures since almost the beginning of time. In fact, the earliest known winery was discovered in Armenia, in a cave dating back to 4100 BC. Not only was there a wine press, but also fermentation vats, jars, cups and grape seeds. The fact that wine making was so advanced at this point suggests that wine making had been going on long before this. Evidence of wine making and wine drinking has been found all over the world ranging from 4000 BC in Sicily, 4500 BC in Greece, 6000 BC in Georgia and 7000 BC in China. I promise I am not trying to “information at you”, I am truly fascinated by wine, and it’s origins! AND it gives me an excuse to be drinking right now. So before you continue reading this pour yourself a glass of wine. Now geek out with me for a moment. Never underestimate the power of knowledge! Next time someone says, “You drink a lot of wine,” You can dazzle them with all of these compelling fun facts.
In ancient times, altered consciousness from drinking wine was considered religious and sacred. (See, that’s a perfect retort, who can argue with that) One of the most famous, and oldest texts mentions wine countless times, I’m sure you’ve heard of it, The Bible. Biblical references show that the Jewish people used wine in ritual. And to this day, largely because of the story of The Last Supper, Christians drink small amounts of wine in the ritual of communion, and you’ve all heard about that time that Jesus turned water into wine. (Those people obviously drank a lot of wine…) Long before Jesus’s time wine played such an important part in Greek culture, that they needed a god to worship. The Greeks worshiped the god Dionysus who ruled the grape harvest, wine making, and wine in general. I’m just sayin’, I’m not above setting up an altar to Dionysus next Harvest! Dionysus was not the only god who ruled wine. From Egypt, to Greece, to Mesopotamia people worshiped gods and goddesses who ruled wine, wine making, drunkenness, and grape harvest.
The first wine grapes came to the Americas, specifically Mexico, by the Spanish conquistadors (soldiers and explorers from Spain) to provide necessities for the Holy Eucharist (Communion). Once again, we see the importance of wine and religion and tradition. During prohibition in the 1920’s through the early 1930’s, while consuming alcohol was legal, manufacturing and selling alcohol was illegal. But we know enough about the roaring twenties to know that people were still drinking wine (and other alcohol). They either stashed it pre-prohibition, or went to a speakeasy. While California is famous for wine, now, America’s wine game in general was stunted because of prohibition. The only legal way to make wine was for religious purposes… causing a lot of questionable rabbis and priests to come out of the wood works. Some wineries cheated the system by selling “wine bricks”, you would add your own yeast and water and allow time for fermentation. Somehow I feel like that could not have been very delicious, particularly considering that I have been immersed in the wine world the last 4 years! But hey where there’s a will there’s a way. To this day 10 states include counties that prohibit the sale of alcohol at all, it’s called a dry county. Here in Southern California we abide by some prohibition era laws but those vary county by county. For instance, in Malibu you can grow grapes and make wine, but you cannot legally bottle wine in Malibu. Lucky for Strey, we can legally make, bottle and consume wine, hooray for Ventura County.
I can’t speak for you, but when wine comes up, the first varietal I think of is Cabernet Sauvignon, even though Cab is not my personal favorite, it just may be the most popular grape. That’s pretty funny considering that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a hybrid. At some point in the 1650’s, Cabernet Franc grapes and Sauvignon Blanc grapes naturally crossed, creating an entirely new varietal that was appropriately named, Cabernet Sauvignon. My mind was BLOWN when Katie told me this. I happen to love Sauv Blanc, and Cab Franc separately, and never would have guessed, even though it’s in the name!
It turns out, humans are not the only animals who like getting drunk! There are these birds called Bohemian waxwing birds. They eat the fruit of Rowan trees which ferment while they are still on the branches. Some of them fly around drunk and unfortunately, imminently crash into things like buildings and die. In Canada, some of these birds were admitted into a rehab to help them sober up! Elephants enjoy eating fermented fruit and can get buzzed, although, they have to eat A LOT, because they are so big. Bees can get drunk off of fermented nectar, but it’s a terrible idea because A. they can’t find their way home, and B. if they do, the other bees are likely to attack. Evidently getting a “Flying Under the Influence” is a no-no for bees. In the Caribbean Vervet monkeys like getting drunk and may go as far as to steal your drink! I guess as humans we know when it’s a good time to drink up, and when we should slow down. Drinking is fun, but knowing our limits is essential.
Next time you have a cold, think about having a glass of red wine. Wine has an anti inflammatory that helps you fight off colds. In fact, bioflavonoids in red wine can prevent you from catching a cold at all. Resveratrol is proven to help lower cholesterol and prevent blood clots. It is an antioxidant, which we all know is very important. Antioxidants help to render free radicals neutral. (Free radicals are basically blamed for everything from aging, to Alzheimers.) This being said, be mindful and be sure to check in with your healthcare professional. I am sooooo not a doctor, and while I might treat my illnesses with magical medicinal wine, I am not qualified to tell you how to treat yours. That being said, wine a bit, you’ll feel better.
Today, wine is a staple for… basically everything. It enhances social situations, it’s used to celebrate, and to sooth a wounded heart. Wine is a conversation piece that is multifaceted. The conversation around wine never ends. The addition of wine to a conversation helps to flow and open and inspires laughter. Loving wine is a timeless tradition, pairing wine with your meal can be the perfect ingredient to go from ordinary to extraordinary! We truly are following in the footsteps of our ancestors, as we continue to make wine, and pop bottles. This love affair is in our blood, our history, and just may be the reason a few of us were born. For the love of wine.
Pop Ups… Workshops… and Sip&Shops, OH MY! It’s time to shake off that sleepy wintery coziness and welcome Springtime! Gone are the days where you came to our winery simply to taste wine, our calendar has been filling up fast with fun, interactive classes and workshops.
To kick things off, on March 24th we are hosting the Spring Sip & Shop, our barrel room will be filled with all of your favorite local vendors. From clothing to makeup to cooking supplies… You name it! A lot of our vendors are wine club members, and personal friends of ours. We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to open a space for them to share their passions, and get to know all of you. It’s In The Sauce BBQ Food Truck will be onsite! Plus, there’s wine. (If you have a small business and would like to be a part of future events like this, let us know! The more the merrier!)
If you are one of those people that loves hands-on crafts and activities (and wine) we will be hosting a few unique classes starting with Profesh Cookie Decorating Classes on March 31st! The theme is Spring Fling! These classes are so much fun, and Christy Wishingrad totally brings the artist out in you! Even those of us who are not particularly artistic manage to walk away with beautiful cookies! Plus a complementary swag bag filled with goodies is yours to take home! These classes do fill up quickly, so be sure to order your tickets. If you can’t make it to this class, save the date for the Easter Edition which will be held on April 14th.
If you’re not a cookie person, but you’re a wine person, sign up for Scott’s April Winemaker Tasting in the library room. This is an exclusive opportunity to taste wine with Scott, ask questions, learn fun facts and gain wine knowledge. Scott is not in the tasting room very much, so take advantage of these tastings. The next one is on April 14th, and we have been planning them on the second Sunday of every month.
If you ever go anywhere, you’ve noticed that succulents are IN, but not just a pot of Jade, or Aloe, it’s all about beautiful and creative arrangements. Succulents are drought resistant and shockingly self sustaining. They also provide the perfect opportunity for creativity, and decor, inside and out! On April 7th Lydia and Tierra Gardens will give a succulent workshop, and you get to create and take home your unique terrarium! Lydia offers hands on and guided instruction, to bring out the green thumb in you. (and if you swear you can’t keep a plant alive, this is a great place to practice, who knows, you just might surprise yourself!
We know how much people love to paint and drink wine, so be sure to join us on April 12th for this fun painting class! Time To Paint with Wendy Berry is a special painting experience like no other. Wendy is attentive, patient and talented. Whether you love to paint, or feel like your artistic skills are lacking, this is the best class to learn tips and tricks, and unleash your inner artist.
For you chocolate lovers, Cocoa Roma will be at Strey for a Pop Up Shop on April 20th. These are hand-crafted chocolates with delicious flavors and designs, just in time for Easter! Custom design orders for baby showers, birthdays, wedding and more are available on site! Our dessert wines will compliment these lovely chocolates perfectly.
*Information on each of these events is on our website, and Facebook*
I REALLY didn’t want this blog to sound like a newsletter, I am just so excited for all of the fun we have planned. I hope to see you all this coming Saturday for the Verdelho release! I know I have not been in the tasting room much this month, between my birthday March 2nd, the field trip with Scott, Katie and Husband to 4 local wineries on March 9th, and attending the birth of my best friend’s baby girl on March 15th. I hope you’ve all had a great time visiting with Darcey, and getting a little extra Katie time. I hope you all know how much I miss you when I am away! Don’t forget that Friday nights I keep Strey open till 8 so you can pop in for a glass after work to wind down and catch up.
“You don’t have any whites?” If I had a nickel for every time someone said this in the tasting room… The truth is, you often don’t find many white wines when you are wine tasting in local boutique wineries. It’s not because we don’t like white wine, it’s actually because the process to create white wine is very different. In fact, our first two white wines, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2014 Chardonnay were made “off-site”, which is a way to say, “We did not ferment this wine, however, we did purchase the grapes and used a trusted winemaker in the region that the grapes were grown to make a wine to our specifications.” Please note, this isn’t laziness, making white wine requires different equipment, it’s expensive, and the process is pretty delicate. However, in 2017 Scott rolled up his sleeves and tried his hand at making his first white wine. (You may remember our remarkable Pinot Gris? Sadly, it’s just a memory because it sold out almost faster than we could bottle it!) In order to make our own white, we built a cold storage room within our storage space at Strey. This would not have been possible prior to 2017 because we hadn’t expanded yet. Our expansion really was imminent, not only did we need event space, but this opened us up to many more possibilities with wine making. A cold storage room is extremely important, as you know the weather in SoCal is pretty warm during Harvest season, which usually falls between August and October in Ventura County, #The805. The warmer it is, the faster the grapes will ferment. With white wine you need temperature control, particularly if you like crisp acidic white wine. At the time we just could not afford a jacketed tank, (if you’re like me you’re wondering what the heck that is, it’s a temperature controlled tank.) but we could sort of cheat the system by building a small room that we attached a small window AC unit to, we then bypassed the AC’s temperature sensors and viola, we were able to maintain a lovely 44 degree temp.
Because Scott loves crisp refreshing wine, it was important that we did not use barrels for fermentation. Instead we used stainless steel tanks. The benefit is that the wine stays airtight and won’t go into Malolactic Fermentation (ML). ML fermentation is a secondary fermentation that turns malic acid to the softer lactic acid. You may have heard the term used in regards to Chardonnay. It’s not quite as popular now, but Chardonnay used to be known for its creamy or buttery taste. That is a result of oak and ML fermentation. We did not want any of that for our Pinot Gris. Instead we wanted to lock in all of it’s esters, which are the basis of great aromas. Higher temperatures especially during fermentation increase the rate these esters are released, so between the cold storage and stainless tanks, we try to preserve the crisp acidity.
We absolutely fell in love with the Pinot Gris, and although making white wine came with a learning curve, we were really excited to try again. This time, we wanted to use grapes that you don’t often find in a tasting room, much like our signature series. We REALLY were hoping to procure Albariño grapes because Scott and Katie love Albariño. Sadly that did not work out this time around, but omigod you guys we were able to source Verdelho grapes! Verdelho originated in Portugal and was the most popular grape on the small island of Madeira, just off the coast of Africa. It also has been very popular in Australia. Typically Verdelho is fruity, and fresh when it’s young, but it’s said to be one of the few grapes that ages gracefully. I’ll be honest, from the tank samples I’ve tasted, I don’t see ours lasting on the shelf long enough to find out how well it ages. We can’t seem to keep ourselves from dipping in for barrel samples as it is! On March 23rd we will be releasing our 2018 Verdelho in celebration of springtime! Remember that our whites go fast, we make them in smaller quantities, and as it warms up, white wine is the most logical go-to in the tasting room, and poolside, beachside and obviously bedside. So as Katie would say, “Get em while they’re hot!” If you’re one of those very patient wine lovers, grab an extra bottle to lay down so we can see if it’s true that Verdelho ages well.
If you’re not a white wine fan, I encourage you to broaden your horizon and try our Verdelho with soft white cheeses, fruits and fatty meats. Scott and Katie like to pair it with Salmon Caesar salads. I may not be a foodie, but working in the tasting room has opened my eyes, stomach and palate to the magical world of wine pairing. I have learned that there is a time and a place for white wines. Especially if you like spicy foods. Pairing a sweet Riesling or Gewurztraminer with jambalaya is phenomenal. The flavors complement each other, creating an experience out of your meal.
Another fantastic wine for food pairing is a nice dry Rose. In 2016 and 2017 Scott made two lovely Mourvedre Rose’s. The grapes only sat on their skins for 4 and 6 hours at room temperature giving us a mellow salmon or coral color. In 2018 we decided to change it up and make a Barbera Rose. We let those grapes sit with their skins for 14 hours after crushing and de-stemming while they were cold soaking at 45 degrees which has given us a vibrant pink color. Like, it would have matched my hair if I still rocked pink! When we press, we are extracting the juice from the grapes themselves, up until then, the juice has “sat on the skins”. Cold soaking is a method used to extract color and flavor from grapes. The grapes cold soak on the skins. Generally extraction occurs during fermentation, but a lot of winemakers notice that cold soaking brings out different aspects of the grapes without it being too tannic. We are pretty excited to release our Barbera Rose this summer, I promise to give you a heads up once we have a definite release date!
#BestJobEver Having this platform is so much fun! Getting the opportunity to share with you all, the heart-and-soul of Strey Cellars. Giving you an inside look at a local winery, from both wine making and the tasting room. I was thinking, when I have an interest in something, be it a singer, a business, or a new hair care brand, I want to know EVERYTHING. I love the idea of having exclusive information, and I thought maybe you would, too, here’s a personal behind the scenes of how our tasting room ticks.
My youngest daughter was five years old when I started working in Strey Cellars tasting room, and when we told her I was going to be working at a winery, she said, “Mama’s never gonna leave that job.” (She’s very insightful.) Prior to working at Strey I was a stay at home mom, and provided child care for numerous littles. Which can’t possibly be a surprise, if you’ve been in the tasting room the last two years, half the time I’m holding a child. In fact, if you have a child, I was probably holding yours, while pouring one handed tastings, and discussing the bright red fruits and hint of smoke on our 2014 Syrah. This is one of my favorite parts about Strey, we are not only dog friendly, but we are family friendly. I love that I can say, “Bring the family and a picnic, OR Grubhub food over and stay all day!” We want you to hang out with us. We know there are not a lot of places you feel comfortable enough to bring the kids, but Scott and Katie are a young couple, raising kiddos of their own. They understand the importance of creating a space that is inclusive. We offer markers and paper for kids to draw pictures, we have a chalk wall, we play fun music.
Anyway, working at Strey truly has been a turning point in my life and despite our family friendly atmosphere, I finally have adult time. (And I’ve needed it! “Let it Go” was on constant repeat in my head.) You would not know this about me, because you probably met me while I was standing behind a counter, but I am actually an introvert. Working with Scott and Katie at Strey taught me how to talk to strangers. Granted, liquid courage may have played a part, but seriously, if you met me outside of Strey, well we might not have met. I would have been too busy pretending you don’t exist because of “Stranger Danger” and so preoccupied with the notion that I might say something weird that I would be left rehashing the awkward moment for days.
Katie taught me how to start conversations, she gave me a safe platform to practice people-ing. She showed me how wine and the winery, itself is a fun easy subject. I have six wines in front of me, that’s six subjects! Six ways I can connect with people. In the beginning it was really scary, but I knew my script. I found that I learned so much from our customers and wine club members. So many of you are so willing to share wine experiences and even tips and tricks to flawlessly use a double hinged corkscrew (Thanks Dale!). Did you know that when Katie offered me this job, I initially said no because I didn’t think I would be very good at it? Even though it was my dream job, I was afraid our wine club members would not accept me. I know how much you all love Scott and Katie. I was worried I would not fit in, or I did not have enough wine knowledge… or even look old enough to be taken seriously behind the bar.
But what did Katie do? She saw through my insecurities, did not accept “no” as an answer and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I am so grateful that she did. Strey has been a lesson in so many capacities. I have learned how to avoid politics in public (still working on that one on social media), how to be welcoming to people even if they are mean (OK once a customer made me cry, but that was really early on, and I almost quit that day… but guess what, Katie hugged me, gave me a pep talk, helped me shake off the negative vibes and now I know how to deal with people who aren’t nice.), and my self image is more secure because Katie is constantly taking and posting pictures of me for everyone to see that make me feel beautiful and confident. Oh, and when it’s busy, I have developed a magical power to remember which tasting you’re on. Aaand I think I’m also physically stronger than I was before because stocking the bar is quite the workout.
It’s not really recommended to become friends with your boss, but how could Katie and I not? We spend almost every weekend together, our kids love each other and it’s quite possible that we are both each other’s first call when we need a sounding board. She flows so well between business and fun. Katie has an ability to transition from “management mode” smoothly, giving people a comfortable place to openly ask questions. By breaking down wine terms into an easy to understand tutorial, you won’t feel overwhelmed with information. She is the same way with me, she teaches patiently, and has a way of simplifying the subject. Pairing this with her fun personality, our friendship was inevitable.
When Katie was pregnant with their first daughter, Ivy, she had to take a step back from the tasting room. This was a little bit scary for me, and probably her, too considering up until this point she single-handedly ran the tasting room. I certainly was not sure if the wine club members would accept me, knowing that personal connection is very important when it comes to customer loyalty. To my surprise, our wine club members have welcomed me with open arms. I’ve had members specifically ask for me to work parties and weddings so that I was able to be a part of their special event… I have also had people ask specifically for me to not work parties and weddings so that I can attend their special event. I have developed great relationships and even a best friend in our tasting room. It’s more like family visiting… in a good way… (I might even be your unofficial therapist.) I am so grateful for the last four years. Thank you to Scott for making such delicious wine. Thank you to Katie for seeing something in me that I didn’t even know was there. Thank you Husband for sacrificing weekends together so that I can go to a job that I love. Thank YOU for opening up to me and bringing me joy and friendship. I felt the need to share these very personal stories because this is what sets our tasting room experience apart. This is the heart and soul of Strey. Our phenomenal wine, and edgy decor are just as important as the relationships. You don’t come to Strey Cellars just for a tasting. You come to Strey Cellars for an experience.