Searching Big Bear For A Good Bottle of California Wine

Finding a Good Bottle of Wine At 6,750 Feet-

Seeking a good bottle of wine in California you’ll normally find yourself on the Central Coast, the valleys north of San Francisco, or the central valley near Lodi.

But the folks in Big Bear Village, nestled among Southern California’s pine trees at 6,750 foot altitude, provide a great opportunity to taste some of California’s upcoming wine while enjoying the hospitality, food and music of Big Bear.

Bottle of Wine

Twice yearly the Village Business Association Of Big Bear Lake hosts their Village Wine Walk. We just finished the summer version, visiting a friend’s cabin with three other couples. A portion of the proceeds ($30pp in advance) benefit the Big Bear Valley Education Trust. Their next Wine Walk is September 20.

In Big Bear Village, 28 of their retailers share wine and hors d’oeuvres from 3:30 to 7pm. Sprinkled throughout town you find open air venues with live music and of course plenty of things to purchase.

This is our second visit, and it was much better as the committee brings in fewer mass-market wines, supplying more and more small California wineries. Of course there is a smattering of wine from Argentina, and even Cucamonga. There were also four wineries on site presenting their vino.

What did we taste? Here goes:

2012 Stone Summit Zinfandel ✰
Redwood Vineyards Chardonnay ✰+
Redwood Vineyards Pinot Grigio ✰+
Redwood Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ✰
Galleano’s Cucamonga House Zin ✰+
Galleano Cano’s Cucamonga Reserve Zinfandel -✰
Galleano’s Cucamonga Valley Port ✰+
2013 Elsa Argentina Malbec ✰
2012 Elsa Argentina Chardonnay ✰+
2012 Mont Pillier Syrah  Star ✰
Heliotrope Pinot Noir Star ✰
Heliotrope Red -✰
2012 Donovan-Parke  California Pinot Noir ✰+
Challis Lane California Chardonnay ✰+
2011 Velvet Crush Red Blend (Central Coast) ✰+
2010 Bogle Petite Sirah ✰+
2011 Bogle Essential Old Vine Red ✰+
2011 Butterfly Red Blend ✰
2012 Ava (Santa Barbara) Vioignier ✰
2012 Ava (Santa Barbara) Caberet Franc ✰
J. Filippi Chocolate Port with Filippi Almond Sparkling Wine ✰+

Of course, 21 glasses of wine is entirely too much to drink, which is why we sip & spit.  Remember we were tasting, not drinking. In the process, we found many interesting wines to put on our list, and some bottles of wine for you to explore as well.

William Hodge - California Bottle Of Wine Big Bear Wine Walk

We will suggest to the committee several changes that would make the event better. For one, more pour and spit buckets. You cannot take your wine outside of the retail venues (we understand that.) But many of the venues did not have pour buckets or they were not readily visible. You start the day with a glass and 12 tickets for your wine taste, it’s not good practice to drink all that wine. Give folks a place to get rid of wine they may not thoroughly enjoy and avoid over consuming alcohol.

Another suggestion we have is cooling the red wine as well as cooling whites. Ambient temperatures in the stores can run close to 80°, which means you’re tasting red wine at ambient temperature. This is about 15° hotter than optimal. It would simply be nice to taste red wine at the right temperature. We know this is a lot of work. But it would showcase the red wines better.

We will be back visiting Big Bear Village’s Wine Walk (our last visit was two years ago.) It’s a very nice event, a nice exploration of California wine.

Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Temecula.

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.