Ventura's Winter Wine Walk is a Christmas miracle
By Chris O'Neal 12/12/2013
Sitting at a booth on The Tavern’s patio, sipping at Figueroa Mountain’s pale ale, my companion and I thought back to the very first stop we made for this year’s Winter Wine Walk in downtown Ventura. Ah, yes — Suncoast Realty. Smoked salmon. Italian wine. What a way to start a Saturday evening.
The annual event, which has run far and away with the title of one of the most anticipated booze-related events of the year in Ventura, was a bit more streamlined than the year prior. Folks with plastic wine glasses meandered toward downtown businesses and for the most part were greeted immediately with wine and food. Bombay served up sliders with a nice red from St. Francis; the only mild annoyance was the customer who, after asking what the line was for, immediately jumped said line and stole two sliders.
But we were a little too deep into our experience to care all that much. Our next stop found us at Sushi Marina for nigori and hot sake, accompanied by a California roll and a single gyoza, a wonderful interlude between wines.
Don’t be fooled by the name; the Winter Wine Walk is more than wine. At several stops we were treated to beer, specifically at Barrelhouse 101 where North Coast’s Old Rasputin imperial stout was an option. The Ventura Visitor Center saw James Carling of Ventura Limoncello pouring samples of his Blood Orangecello and Crème, both spectacular ambassadors for what Ventura County can produce (also make wonderful Christmas gifts).
The star of the show is the experience. Yes, there are some fantastic wines to be had —notably Martin Ranch, served at California Street Optometry, and Labyrinth’s selection — but there’s something special about coming out from a real estate agent’s office having just finished a glass of wine to find that it’s snowing in downtown Ventura.
The Tavern was the perfect locale to end the night. With a beer in hand, the stars shining bright and the moon cutting through the chill, we planned our route for next year and began to scrub the purple off our lips.
Chris O’Neal floated home that night. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.