SMOKE & FIRE
When lovers of food and wine are looking for that seminal match of fine aged Black Angus beef from Nebraska and a quintessential Santa Maria Valley pinot noir from Santa Barbara County or a sublime French red burgundy, part of the total experience, of course, presupposes a smoke-free and an aroma-free environment.
Any casual or serious wine tasting requires no smoking, no wearing of perfumes or colognes, no heavily scented floral arrangements, linens which are bleach or chlorine-free, and no highly aromatic foods which would overwhelm the delicate nuance of the wine, and best in a bright, well lighted space, with either sunlight or incandescent lighting-never flourescent lighting which makes the color of red wine look putrid.
I mention this because I just returned from a short vacation which took me as far east as Omaha and Palmer, Nebraska.
And I write this because we who live here in California might take what we have here for granted, and by that I mean smoke-free bars and smoke-free restaurants-the law of the land here in the Golden State!
It might be easy to forget what we have here until you find yourself, as I did, trying to enjoy a reasonably good breakfast in a place near Flagstaff, Arizona, having two Marlboro smokin' truckers sit down in the booth next to me while trying to enjoy the bacon and grits, and being told that the non-smoking section isn't open yet because the restaurant doesn't have enough servers that early in the morning. When this happens you know you must be in a place like Arizona-certainly not here in California!
And we who live here have to be continually vigilant because Merchants of Death like Philip Morris and some of their whore-like cronies-elected members of the California legislature-would like nothing more than to relax existing state laws, making restaurants here in California more smoker friendly, and all under the guise of "Individual freedom" issues and smoker's rights.
HOSPICE DU RHONE
If you love wines from France's Rhone Valley, and the Rhone varietals and Rhone-style wines of California and Australia, you've got to attend the 8th annual Hospice du Rhone International Wine Celebration which takes place on Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17th at the Mid-State Fairgrounds in Paso Robles.
Rhone producing wineries from around the world will participate in what has become the world's largest, and perhaps most important, tasting of Rhone varietal wines-red grapes like syrah, grenache, mourvedre, and white grapes like viognier, marsanne and roussanne.
Some of the sessions at this celebration of Rhone wines include a "spotlight on California syrah," and the art of pairing white Rhone varietals with complex foods.
And one of the highlights of the event is the Hospice barrel auction, featuring special one-of-a-kind barrel lots of Rhone-inspired wines.
Proceeds benefit Hospice of San Luis Obispo County. For tickets or more details, call (805) 784-9543, or take a look at their website, www.hospicedurhone.com.
RED, WHITE AND BLUES
Richard Longoria Wines joins Buttonwood Farm Winery to host the fifth annual "Red, White and Blues" festival on Saturday, June 24 from 3 to 7 p.m. The afternoon of music and wine features Guitar Bomber Junior Watson plus singer-songwriter Karen Tyler of Paso Robles. $22 in advance; $26 at the door. (805) 688-3032.
And down the road a bit, the Santa Barbara International Wine Auction, a benefit for the Music Academy of the West takes place August 10-13. For details, call (805) 969-9463 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Vintners' Association set Saturday, October 14, 2000 from 12-3 p.m. for the 10th annual "A Celebration of Harvest." Tickets are $65 and must be purchased in advance. Call (805) 688-0881.
Bob Senn lives in the Los Alamos Valley, thinks more like a local with each passing day, has been an ex-smoker for almost eight years, and owns the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
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