Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Other Coachella Fest: An Olympic Gold Medal Winner & Emerging Winemakers Converge On Indian Wells

Here in the Southern California desert, the words 'Coachella' and 'Fest' are synonymous with the musical extravaganza that converges annually (and soon) on the Indio Polo grounds. Add in the word 'wine' and it came to mean something else entirely, which is what I discovered as I wound my way through the myriad of bold California wines, generously poured by industry pros at the Coachella Wine Festival, held at the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells.
The first taste that struck my fancy was a 2008 Napa Pinot Grigio from Ahnfeldt Winery that was creamy and rich with tropical and stone fruits. Then it was on to one of the more exciting Festival finds. Bink Wines are a cult favorite in Medocino County, where winemaker Deborah Schatzlein and her partner Cindy Paulson craft some rather excellent, high-alcohol whites and bold reds.
Standouts were the 2008 Randle Hill Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, fragrant with honeysuckle and ripe sweet pear, and the 2006 Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir. The Pinot was juicy with thick red fruit and soft velvety tannins, with an explosion of vanilla on the finish. Hoping to find these wines in the desert at some point.
I had the pleasure of talking vino with Olympic Skater and Gold Medalist Peggy Fleming, who with her winemaker husband Greg Jenkins, turns out an addictingly delicious Rose and some standout Syrahs in Los Gatos. Peggy is a breast cancer survivor, which inspired the name of the Fleming Jenkins Rose: Victories. 

It was Greg who turned me on to the Festival's perfect pairing-his inky and fruity 2007 Madden Ranch Syrah (made with grapes sourced from football great John Madden's Livermore Valley Vineyards) matched with tender, succulent braised short ribs, courtesy of Bing Crosby's in Rancho Mirage.

Other standout selections included a spicy and cedary Petite Syrah from Vina Robles and a supple and rich Sonoma Cab produced by Trione Winery. This festival did not receive as much advance publicity as the Fashion Food & Wine Fest that took place on El Paseo recently, but it was a well-organized and extremely enjoyable event that turned me on to some exciting names to watch for in the future.
Vino Chick would like to thank the following:
Event Photographer: Timm Andrews


  1. What a great start to what I know will be an amazing blog! Great job Nicky!

  2. thanks, Danielle-welcome to the blog!! Your suggestions and comments are always welcome..

  3. Great blog! Who's that handsome fellow pouring wine in the second photo!

  4. Fun event, great post & pix!