If there wasn’t enough going on in Santa Barbara next weekend — from the Vintners’ Festival in the Santa Ynez Valley on Saturday to the weekend-long Earth Day celebration at Alameda Park — now there’s a reason to burn some rubber, ignite those fossil fuels, and head down south to Los Angeles: the California All-Stars tasting of the best and brightest wines coming out of Napa and Sonoma counties in the parking lot of Wally’s Wine and Spirits on Westwood Boulevard. Featuring nearly 100 wineries, each pouring two wines, as well as breads, cheeses, and BBQ, it all goes down Sunday, April 22, from 1-4 p.m.

Still not 100 percent convinced that we should ditch Earth Day for the opportunity, we asked Wally’s Gary Fishman to entice us a bit more.

Why should we drive all the way from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to taste wine?

Nearly 200 wines poured by high-end producers for only $39.99? Just one wine-by-the-glass pour of some of these wines at a restaurant would cost you half the price of admission! Also, many owners and vintners will be pouring, like Andy Erickson of Leviathan Red, the winemaker of classic Screaming Eagle vintages.

Which wineries are you most excited about? Perhaps new ones, or old faves?

Some new ones are Vineyard 7 & 8, Kristine Ashe, and Tournesol. Some old faves: Dominus Estate, Pahlmeyer, Paul Hobbs, and Silver Oak.

Are there any particular trends coming from Napa/Sonoma that we should be on the lookout for?

New vintages are reflecting a swing back to elegance and refinement — a definite shift away from over-extracted, overly alcoholic wines that tended to impart a “furry” mouth-feel designed to elicit high scores from critics while, unfortunately, being seriously incompatible as dining accompaniments.

If we make the trek, can you suggest anywhere to sleep afterward?

The Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel is close by and is reasonably priced. Bargain hunters can check out the Holiday Inn at the Santa Monica Boulevard off-ramp of the 405 Freeway, just west of Sepulveda Boulevard.

How about to eat?

Pastina [2260 Westwood Blvd.; (310) 441-4655; pastina.net] is a great family-owned restaurant, and it’s walking distance from Wally’s.


For more info on the event and tickets, click here. For more on Wally’s Wine and Spirits (2107 Westwood Blvd.), go to wallywine.com.


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