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To South Africa, to Italy, to Spain! Let's Go!

Traveling with Wine

Posted: February 25, 2008 3:00 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2008 5:02 a.m.

My brother is always suggesting sushi when we visit him in Tucson. And I always give him the same negative response accompanied by one word describing why I wouldn't dare try sushi in his state: landlocked. Where it's expected to enjoy Pomme Frites (French Fries) with Chinese food: Amsterdam. And, if you've planned on tasting local wine in Hawaii, you might as well be prepared for what it's made from: pineapple.

You can travel to Napa without winery reservations or a limousine driver, but you will surely miss a winery's private label or drink too much too soon. The same held true on our novice trip to France and Italy. We completely lost out by only having what was available daily on the all-inclusive restaurant menus. Without the benefit of some fluency in a foreign language, we feared venturing out.

A better way to see the world of wine awaits. And, you don't have to leave the country, the state or even our very own town.

Vino 100 has just launched their 2008 Passport Program. Each month, the store features wines from different wine-growing regions throughout the world. Instead of an old fashioned punch card, this new version is decorated hard card stock with boxed areas for different stamps, small enough to fit neatly in your pocket.

With every wine purchased from their selected countries, you can receive passport stamps and customer-loyalty points. Buy two bottles of wines featured that month, and you can receive promotional items, while supplies last. Throughout each month, the wine tastings and special events will be wholly dedicated to each individual destination.

Then, as you continue with the passport program, you'll receive 200 bonus customer-loyalty points. And if that's not enough of a temptation, you will also have a chance to win a grand prize drawing to be awarded at the end of the program for a one-night stay in Los Olivos, or Santa Barbara, that will include complimentary tastings at two local wineries. (Be sure to invite your favorite wine columnist!)

At the Women On Wine (WOW) event held on February 13, I learned that after visiting South Africa, we would venture on to Italy in March, Australia in April, Argentina in May, Germany, New Zealand and Spain for the first summer months, Chile for September, the United States in October, rounding out our worldwide tour in time to visit France and Portugal for the holidays!

For the final two weeks of February, customers may chose from wines such as Cape Haven 2004 Pinotage and Tumara 2005 Pinotage, KWV (I had to know: Kooperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging) 2006 Steen, Ken Forrester 2007 Petit Chenin Blanc and Black Pearl 2003 Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. All were poured at WOW that night while Lil Lepore held her customers' attention.

"We encourage our customers to go outside the box by tasting other countries, and varietals, that California doesn't offer. You don't have to always go for the familiar! You'll get a little education, a fun experience, spark some new interests and join the excitement that others have found coming on board.
"Bordered by two oceans, South African wines offer a unique flavor from the warm climate and moist air."
Referring to the winegrowing map we all had as placemats, Lil explained that most wines were produced near Cape Town. She also pointed out that the small silvery label on the neck of each bottle signified the South African wine board certification each bottle must have.

"The blends you are sampling should be opened fifteen minutes prior to serving as blends should breathe, allowing them to get to know each other." The women murmured their approval as they sipped while blending and getting to know each other as well.

Local realtor, Lauren Lefkowitz, exuberantly enjoyed the first wine poured, screw-capped Ken Forrester Stellenbosch 100% Chenin Blanc. She had brought several friends with her for the evening, anxious for them to enjoy what she had already discovered. "I love traveling around the world with Vino 100!" she exclaimed.

Valencia resident Cindy Stephens was happy to learn that her allergies to high sulfites in red wine may not be as much of a problem with European wines. Lil explained that since "Europeans don't have the same laws governing sulfites, we usually see less added in their varietals."

As we continued to enjoy the wine and the food that was provided for pairing, some women took notes while others, myself included, tried not to read the available descriptions of the wines before making our owns decisions. We agreed on notes of apricot with the Chenin Blancs; to spice, chocolate and rich noses in the Shiraz blends and in my favorite Pinotage.

After purchasing three bottles of wine that evening, I then was given my first stamp on my passport, a T-Shirt advertising South African wines and John Platte's comprehensive 610-page guidebook of the region.

Vino 100 is located at 28112 Newhall Ranch Road at the intersection of Copper Hill Drive in Valencia. For more information, call (661) 294-6886 or visit (Vino 100 Valencia received the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce nomination as Small Business of the Year in 2007.)
Lepore and co-owner Frazier also host the popular wine web log, Two Women on Wine:

Finally, look for me at Valencia Wine Company's Consilience Wine Dinner at Salt Creek Grille on Feb. 28 at 6:30 pm. Brett Escalera, Winemaker and Owner of Consilience, a small producer of premium boutique wines from the Central Coast, will be presenting his wines together with the fine cuisine of Salt Creek. (Brett was also a guest speaker at Vino100 last November at their popular Meet the Winemaker series.)
Call Valencia Wine Company to secure your reservation: 661-254-9300.

Eve Bushman is a resident of Newhall. Her column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal. If you have an upcoming wine event that you would like to see covered in her column, she can be reached at


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