Wine Talk with Alice Swift , November 2015
LA County Fair + Wine, Beer AND Spirits…Who Knew?
Venue: Wine, Beers and Spirits Marketplace
The L.A. County Fair is one of the top five largest county fairs in the United States, and is held every September with more than one million attendees annually. I have fond memories of the fair as a child, and I’ve been attending annually since 2008 despite having lived in Las Vegas for four years now! One of my favorite experiences is the challenge to find all the new and creative fried food items; this year I enjoyed fried guacamole, and discovered some new items that I wasn’t bold enough to try, like the fried peanut butter pickle, funnel cake burger and the Mexican curly fries.
But, besides the fried food frenzy and carnival activities, my next favorite activity is a visit to the Beer, Wine and Spirits Marketplace, which houses a wine/beer tasting bar, as well as a number of tables to dine or have some of Dr. Bob’s famous ice cream. The Marketplace pours hundreds of beverages that were entered and placed in the Los Angeles International Wine Competition. On top of that, the fair also holds a series of wine classes taught by judges from the competition, sommeliers and wine educators.
The Los Angeles International Wine Competition has thousands of wine, spirits and beer entries annually. This ultimately leads to consumer benefits because the award-winning producers are then poured at the Marketplace in the Gold Medal Wine Tasting Bar. These entries cover the entire globe, with products from the United States to Barbados to Korea and many more! Below is a summary of the competition results:
entries from 22 countries
143 Best of Class
530 Gold Medals
1,209 Silver Medals
761 Bronze Medals
entries from 34 countries
53 Best of Category
10 Best of Division
178 Gold Medals
125 Silver Medals
39 Bronze Medals
1098 entries, 88 categories
82 Gold Medals
81 Silver Medals
75 Bronze Medals
27 Honorable Mentions
Believe it or not, the L.A. Country Fair and the Fairplex venue employs a certified sommelier, Mary Ellen Cole, who coordinates the wine education program. There are a large variety of classes that run five days out of the week for the entire duration of the fair, with a low fee of $20. This fee gets you six wine samples for tasting, four cheese samples, and one ticket to the Gold Medal Wine Tasting Bar to taste the winning wine from the competition. The instructors from the class are made up of wine educators, sommeliers and various distinguished competition judges. My favorite, of course, would be Dr. Margie Jones, professor at Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins College of Hospitality Management, and my inspiration to venture into the beverage world to begin with!
The class topics range, with some very interesting titles, such as:
• Forgive Me, I Have Zinned: California Zinfandels
• Taste Like A Sommelier: Blind Tasting
• Wines You’d Never Order, But You Should
• A Rainbow of Rieslings
• Wine, Cheese and Chocolate
• Story Telling: The Story Behind the Wine
Unfortunately, the fair is over for the year, but don’t fret, it will be back next year! Keep an eye out for the wine education class schedule that comes out before the fair starts at the Fairplex website: http://www.fairplex.com/wos/wine_competition/AwardsCelebration/WineEducationClasses.asp
Hope to see you at the fair next year!