Wine Wednesday: Golden Grapes

What’s in a Name?

Golden Grapes, a popular Palm Springs wine festival returned (after a long hiatus) on December 4th, 2021, to celebrate the best of small-lot, organic, bio-dynamic, sustainable wineries throughout California.  Tickets sold out fast.  The event was hosted by two well known local hangouts; Ace Hotel & Swim Club  and Dead or Alive Bar + Shop – both within walking distance to where I live lucky for me.

I have to say I was both surprised and disappointed to discover how little supply of organic wines are available for purchase in any of the local grocery stores here; even “Total Wine” the big wine supplier in Palm Desert.  This was really my main intention for attending the event…to discover fine tasting, organic California wines. That plus the fact this fest is known among industry insiders as a winemaker’s favorite wine festival.

Even though it was small in size, it was still overwhelming since I was not at all familiar with any of the wineries featured.  In actuality, it was hit and miss for me.  As with choosing films at a film festival, the movie title (or wine label here) is what first garners my attention.  After that, I hope the film (wine) lives up to my expectations.  Many times it does not.  All in all I enjoyed this outing on a beautiful afternoon with great views. I was able to pace myself and keep it classy, enjoy small bites in between tastings while people-watching.  My dog enjoyed it too especially when I shared some of my cheese with her.

It was fun to meet the winemakers and taste the Golden State’s distinct and diverse bounty of grape varietal, style, and terroir, from Shasta to Mendocino, Sonoma to the Sierras, down the Central Coast, all the way to San Diego – and everywhere in between.

How it Began:

Palm Springs Wine Fest was founded in 2018 by Dead or Alive owner, and locally-born-&-raised wine merchant, Christine Soto, as a platform to uplift and evangelize small producers and their conscientiously-farmed and crafted wines within the greater desert community. The inaugural PSWF was also held in December 2018 at Ace Hotel & Swim Club, bringing together over 30 winemakers of California’s new-guard to pour their fresh, honestly-made juice for the wine-loving assemblage – and the rest is history.

oh yeah; there was beer too.

The $75 admission included unlimited tastings (although they recommend you keep it classy but you know how that can go), small bites, and expert insights from the winemakers such as:

Ashes & Diamonds, Broc Cellars, Las Jaras, Scribe Winery, Ruth Lewandowski, Hoxie Spritzer, Inconnu, Nomadica, Minus Tide Wines, Forlorn Hope, Roark Wine Company, En Cavale, Iruai, Ardure Wines, Augur Wine Co, Carboniste, Los Chuchaquis, Stirm Wine Co, Field Recordings, Fine Disregard, Lo-Fi Wines, Penville Wine, Thee & Thou, Raft Wines, Little Trouble Wines, Rootdown Cellars, Es Okay, Cole Ranch, Roark Wine Company, Woods Beer & Wine Co, Origin Wine, Two Shepherds and more.

From where I drank

If you love wine and want to experience something unusual and unique, I suggest getting tickets early next year.

Later that evening…

I attended the Bouschet Christmas Party (one of my favorite places for curated wine and tastings, small bites, PS Air Bar) and met a few new friends.

I met Anna Rexia – a flight attendant and entertainer for PS Air Bar.

LINKS:

https://www.deadoralivebarandshop.com/

https://www.bouschet.com/

Homepage

 

PioneerTown, CA.

True Grit!

Sometimes you’re in the mood for glamour and sometimes you’re in the mood for something a bit more gritty, or something you didn’t even know you were in the mood for…something like the wild, wild West…which has its very own style of glamour.
Way out in the desert, on our drive back from Joshua Tree, we came across an enchanting Old West Town that was built in the 1940’s and used as a film set throughout the 40’s and 50’s.

a few of the movie posters from what was shot on location here

from the little museum – a rotating display of many movies that were shot in this area.

In 1946, Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors, including actors Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. They dreamed of creating an Old West set that was actually a town worth visiting, with 1880s-style false-front façades but interiors that had stuff for visitors to see and do too. Up went (from the outside) frontier stables, saloons, and jails; inside, they housed ice cream parlours, bowling alleys and motels. More than 50 films and television shows were filmed here in the 1940s and ‘50s.

 

 

 

 

 

These days Pioneer Town is no longer used to make Old West movies. Instead, it’s a real town with a few houses, restaurants and all the remains of the movie set that you actually walk around.  If you’re an old John Wayne and Western movie buff you’ll probably find it quite worthwhile and exciting.  At the very least you feel what it was like to live that lifestyle.

While location shooting and businesses here have dwindled, you can still see mock gunfights on Mane Street (pun intended). But the most happening place by far is Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, with surprisingly good live music (Robert Plant and Leon Russell have played here) in a seemingly unlikely setting. This must-see desert find also serves up awesome ribs, plus classic Santa Maria barbecue, burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Raising the Bar

Bar Cecil (pronounced sessel) is a homage to Cecil Beaton, a renaissance man who was equal parts rebel and aristocrat, an artist who lived between classical charm and new world rebellion, a provocateur, an Expressionist, and an aesthete who incorporated many mediums to create a style all his own.

THIS is how we like it!

Diane Keaton was a walk in the other night.  Guess she was just looking for a good bar.

Cindy Crawford was there for dinner next night.  The place is a draw…for good reason.

We met John (one of the owners) who very kindly gifted my friend and me some very cool swag.  Lucky us.

Bar Cecil is a love letter to Beaton’s vision of life and art: a celebration of what’s good, of eliminating that which is only pomp, and in the process creating memories through food, drink and hospitality. Bar Cecil is for those who follow the beat to their own drum, horn or whatever inspires them to create, to be individuals, and to embrace diversity. – taken from their website.

https://barcecil.com/

YES: we shall!

Day Trippin’ Joshua Tree

We enjoyed the newly expanded outdoor market/fair and shops in downtown Joshua Tree.  I’ve narrowed down from the plethora of pictures taken.  

Starting with “THE END” – that’s the name of the boutique.  Art by owner Kime Buzzelli.
Beauty Bubble” – an operating beauty salon and museum.

This unique vendor-run weekly outdoor artisan market is located in downtown Joshua Tree right off Highway 62 at the Hi-Desert Cultural Center. Started Labor Day weekend and runs every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm.  We had so much fun perusing the showcase of locally handmade goods, arts, clothing, and many more awesome desert creations as only Joshua Tree can bring you!

Reminds me a little bit of Nelson, B.C.

I bought a hand painted linen blouse & soft hoodie from this vendor.

My neighbor Mindy here in Palm Springs owns this unique boutique – “Kama Clothing.”

Joshua Tree Coffee is the best in the West.

The Art of Bob Mackie 

What does Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy Birthday Mr. President” gown, Carol Burnett’s “Went with the Wind” curtain-rod dress and Cher’s show stopping 1986 Oscars look have in common?  They’ve all been designed by the one and only Bob Mackie.

Mackie, the true fashion visionary and icon himself was in Palm Springs (actually he lives here) in person for his latest book signing…a first-ever comprehensive and authorized showcase of the legendary designer’s life and work featuring more than 1,500 photos and sketches – many from Mackie’s personal collection.

Duh; of course I was there!  I was one of the first to buy his latest book appropriately titled “The Art of Bob Mackie” as soon as I was alerted about it via bookstore email.  It’s a fashion lover’s dream book.

It’s just Fabulous!  The book signing was at “Just Fabulous” – a suitably named store here in Palm Springs (link below) specializing in extraordinary books, cards for all occasions and other fun items you won’t see anywhere else.  I dare you to walk in and come out empty handed – won’t happen!

I also bought a Christmas tree ornament and I don’t even have a tree.  You’ll see!  Maybe I’ll get a tree just to buy more ornaments.  Post to come…for me it’s still too early to be shopping and/or posting stuff to do with Christmas.

But getting back to Bob. Guess I’m not exactly on a first name basis with him after meeting him only once. But I feel like I know him. What I mean by that is I remember watching almost every episode of the Carol Burnett Show in my grandparents’ living room on almost every Saturday night for years.  And I remember watching the Sonny and Cher show with my parents. What does this have to do with Bob Mackie? Everything!  He was responsible for every costume for the entire production of the Carol Burnett Show and made all of the costumes for Cher after meeting both Sonny and Cher on the Carol Burnett Show.  And of course it doesn’t end there. From Broadway to Burlesque, his  wide ranging repertoire includes dressing every famous glamour girl and some of the guys for stage, TV, movies and concerts with unique, incomparably stunning and sometimes hilarious creations.

I missed meeting Bob Mackie at the vintage market even though he was there on his own and it wasn’t announced.  He was there and I was there but I really wasn’t there because it was after a pride party the night before so don’t ask so I missed meeting him then.  But I got to tell him at the book signing that I unexpectedly and surprisingly came across a few of his designs at the market (which has expanded since the last time I was here) which I had never seen before.  And to my disbelief, he was completely unaware of that fact.  So I felt like we had a “moment.” A Mackie moment that I’ll remember for the obvious, but also for the fun outside the shop while waiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Outside looking Instyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://bjustfabulous.com/

Feel-good Friday: the Comeback Kid

Proof of Life in Palm Springs with the Diva herself; acutely misplaced for so long…and the Marilyn sculpture above.  

Sunny Days are here again.  Photo: Paul LeMay

Some consider her a “Work of Art“; others “a Piece of Work.”  Maybe she’s a bit of both.

It’s so nice to be back.  I took a break from blogging in order to get organized before leaving Vancouver and setting up house here in Palm Springs.  First time in years having missed a season however I’m not the only snowbird who was unable to make it until now.  So….making up for lost time for what was completely out of our control takes being a little out of control patient.

El Jefe with a Chai Latte, Palm Springs.

There were a lot of firsts this time around.  First time flying with my dog instead of driving.  My boyfriend and I tried to make it as smooth a transition as possible for Layla who had never been on a plane before.  We couldn’t get a non-stop from Vancouver to Palm Springs for dates we wanted so we took Air Canada to Los Angeles and rented a car from there – a two hour drive with little traffic. Emphasis on “little.”  No one told us that Layla would be in another terminal on arrival and it would take us for what seemed like forever to find her.  When we finally located Layla she was all by herself in her crate alongside a homeless person who set up house inside the terminal.  Remember the movie “The Terminal” with Tom Hanks? – exactly! It’s sadly become a reality.

Anyway we got her and let’s just say her crate was a mess.  Guess she doesn’t like flying.

These photos are after grooming.  No; I don’t mean that she looked like this right after grooming.  I had her groomed…then she ran through sprinklers in a park (completely out of control) and before I knew what to do she rolled in the dirt – her attempt to dry off.  Didn’t work!

Look at that smug face!  Can’t get upset. 

Ordered a pet trailer to attach to my cruiser so she could ride behind me and now she’s as happy as ever and also oblivious to whatever distress she’s caused.

Another first was coming back to a broken kitchen window and realizing that someone had crawled through and took personal belongings – yes; it was a break in!  Not only that; it must have been a skinny woman on top of it.

I’ve known other people who’ve had their homes broken into before and it always sounds invasive and awful but before it happens to you, you really have no idea how horrible it feels.  The window is being repaired and I’m dealing with insurance.  Stupidly I left a few valuables here not knowing how long it would be before being able to come back.  Whoever broke in knew what they were looking for. That’s why I know it was a woman.

Giant art Installation by Salinas artist John Cerney.

Then I was sending a text when all of a sudden a little robot showed up out of nowhere on my screen going around and around with a message that kept saying “erasing“….so I shut off my phone.  But then when I turned it on again it was blank.  I had to borrow someone’s phone to call Samsung support to walk me through a total “reboot” which included changing passwords, etc….I ended up losing more than half my contact list and photos from the past six weeks.  Of course it could’ve been worse – it always can.

That took oh; about 3 hours in total.  I owe that guy a case of beer and dinner.

There was one really good first though…

Halloween here was a blast!  It’s obviously over now and I had absolutely no idea on what large a scale people (Hollywood industry and the gay crowd inparticular) would go to all lengths to dress up and I mean dress up!  There was excellent live music, tons of people in the streets with the most amazing costumes.  Okay; I’ll post one photo out of many, many just to give you an idea.

Pee-wee with wee-wee     You bad, bad boy!

Okay, okay; a few more but Halloween is over.  I’ll spare you all the Marilyn look-a-likes and the contest from which all the Marilyn’s got up on stage.  There were many.  All dressed alike and wearing wigs as in the photo of sculpture.

My friend Tammy with a faux police officer. Maybe he was real – so hard to tell!

Dame Edna

Nice looking couple

So I will leave you for now with a wink and a smile…until next time.  Promise it won’t be for too long.

 

 

 

 

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wine Wednesday: Spadefoot Toad Series

What is Spadefoot Toad you ask?  Aside from being a round amphibian creature with short legs and protruding eyes…it’s one of my favourite red wine!

If you’re a wine lover you must check out these three recently released spectacular, highly anticipated new labels from the coveted Spadefoot Series at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

Keeping it in the family; Ezra Cipes (second generation) is extremely proud to present these wines, made in partnership with grape grower Ron Firman at his idyllic Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC, along with the legendary Canadian artist and activist Robert Bateman, who has drafted an original illustration specially for the labels. Ten percent of the proceeds from each bottle sold supports the Bateman Foundation’s work to nurture the next generation of conservationists.

Robert Bateman “Ocean Rhapsody” Orca Painting

Spadefoot wines are made entirely from organic grapes grown lovingly at Ron Firman’s Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC. Ron tends his small acreage as if it were a garden, carefully applying compost to each individual vine and creating habitat for the at-risk Great Basin Spadefoot Toads to breed for natural pest control.
 
Ron grows pristine grapes that give concentrated, age-worthy wines that truly reflect the care he takes in his vineyard. Each single-vineyard bottling is a special expression of the south facing slope on which his vines are cultivated.
 
If you are searching for the perfect wines to enjoy over cool autumn evenings or to stow away in your cellar for future sipping, look no further! These three distinct bottlings are exploding with flavour and intensity that will only deepen with time.

2016 Spadefoot Toad Syrah
Bold, dark and smooth with notes of blackberry, soft leather, ripe raspberry and black pepper. Forty-seven months of neutral oak aging brings a whisper of vanilla and spice. Firm, gripping tannins and bright acidity buttress the concentrated fruit flavours, providing excellent structure for long term cellaring.
 
2017 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
2017 was a true vin de garde vintage here in the Okanagan. This unique take on a classic Tuscan variety is seductive and velvety, with a juicy core of candied cherry and fresh blueberry notes and whispers of tomato leaf, vanilla cola and baking spices. Exceptional fruit concentration balanced with vibrant freshness!
 
2018 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
Succulent and finessed. A clean, classic vintage with a long and steady growing season resulted in this elegant, medium-bodied Sangiovese. Red and blue fruits dominate the nose, carry through the palate, and are deepened by heady notes of clove and potting soil. Intense and full of soul… perfect for the changing seasons.uan etched, branded wine decanter to show off these wines at their very best.

To date this has been one of my favourites

2014 Spadefoot Toad Syrah

Elegant small lot, single-vineyard expression.  Available here:

https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/product/2014-Spadefoot-Toad-Syrah?pageID=75B3C5AF-E336-E1D7-D4C6-86C645A2D12B&sortBy=DisplayOrder&maxRows=24&&productListName=Shop%20Wine&position=12

HAPPY 40th to VIFF!

How convenient and nice of  the Vancouver International Film Festival to let us stream most of the 2021 movies, documentaries, short films + animations from the comfort of home.  But what was really wonderful after such a long hiatus, was to be able to view these amazing films in person “in-cinema.”  Seems like a long time.

Highlights:

VIFF could not have been more excited to roll out the red carpet this year with Special Presentations that were a cause for celebration. The scope of work that was showcased was simply phenomenal, featuring auteurs like Terence Davies and Kenneth Branagh; stars such as Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch; and a spectrum of stories ranging from intimate human dramas to towering historic narratives.

Belfast is a 2021 British-Irish black-and-white coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Special Presentations included one world premiere, one Canadian premiere, and the latest addition to the VIFF lineup: The Power of the Dog by Jane Campion, which focuses on the charismatic rancher Phil Burbank who inspires fear and awe in those around him until his brother brings home a new wife and her son, tormenting them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love; starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Additional highlights included the world premiere of The Sanctity of Space by Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson, which follows the directors as they traverse Denali National Park and uncover the story of pioneering photographer and cartographer Bradford Washburn; the Canadian premiere of Red Rocket by Sean Baker (The Florida Project), a luminous, seriocomic fable about America’s underclass through the eyes of a washed-up porn star in Texas; and Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the director’s first film in English starring Tilda Swinton as an expat orchid grower in Colombia with a strange malady.

Power of the Dog – Jane Campion, Australia/New Zealand, 2021.  In her strongest movie since The Piano, Jane Campion turns the machismo of the Western film on its head. Benedict Cumberbatch is the tyrannical cattle rancher at war with his own brother (Jesse Plemons) in this stark, revelatory drama.

The only animation I screened was Lamya’s Poem, the animated feature whose voice cast includes Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Millie Davis (Wonder) and Faran Tahir (Iron Man). 

The film charts the story of a 12-year-old Syrian refugee who is given a book of poetry of classic 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. As the perils of her journey mount, the book becomes a magical gateway.  It was amazingly well executed. 

I followed that with Disney blockbuster “Cruella” featuring the two “Emma’s” – Stone and Thompson – both outstanding if you haven’t already seen it.   Reminded me of “The Devil Wears Prada.” This was not part of the VIFF lineup; but it made me ponder the notion of having watched an excellent animation that was based on a real person with historical fact followed by a movie acted out by real people that was based on animated fiction.  

We hope you join us next year.  In the meantime you might be able to catch “best of the fest” at https://viff.org/Online/default.asp

Happy Viewing

Summerhill Estate House

There are plenty of good reasons to go wine tasting in the Okanagan in October.  For starters:

The wine is always good no matter what month you decide to visit, but come October and over the Fall/Winter in general it’s much easier to book accommodation as the wineries are less busy with everyone back to work and back to school.  So may I suggest a not so little gem of a place to stay…Summerhill Pyramid Winery Guest House (shown in photos on this page).  Not only is it amazingly spacious with a view to die for, but the winery + bistro is adjacent to the guest house.  A hop, skip and a roll home away.

That’s what I’m talking about!

For booking availability please contact:

estatehouse@summerhill.bc.ca

In the meantime…

Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack

Five wines to pair with your feast plus an extra-special bottle for dessert!
Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack