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October 18, 2016

Bubblyfest by the Sea 2016

A special thanks to Create Promotions for granting me a Weekend VIP pass in exchange for coverage of Bubblyfest By the Sea 2016. I had a wonderful time up in Pismo/Avila Beach soaking up the sun and bubbles!

Being an Angeleno, I drive up the coast frequently for short trips to Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Sonoma, etc. For ease, I usually head up the I-5N, as the route is more direct and generally faster than taking the coastal trip up the 101N. However, Pismo Beach is (obviously) right on the coast, so the 101 coastal journey is your best bet. And what a lovely drive it was. I hit no traffic (shocker, I know), and arrived in a little less than 3 hours. If you haven’t driven up the California coast, I highly recommend it. The endless ocean views with the sun gleaming on the water are awe-inspiring.

I rented a studio from AirBnB that was one block from the beach in a little area called Shell Beach. I had my own “apartment”, an outside sitting area, and even a friendly dog named Jackson! Below is a recap of the Bubblyfest events I attended.


Winemaker Seminar Series presented by San Francisco Wine School 

This session was led by David Glancy MS, founder of the San Francisco Wine School. The class was held in the stunning “Beach House” at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. All the windows were thrown open and we enjoyed the sounds of the waves crashing and a nice ocean breeze. It was an intimate class of about 12-15 of us, and David was enjoyable and full of knowledge; my favorite combination in wine education! We learned the history of sparkling wine in Europe, the difference between a grower Champagne and one in which grapes are purchased, and the evolution of the sparkling wine market throughout the world. He recounted a story of eating empanadas and drinking a sparkling Bonarda in Argentina as one of his favorite drinking stories. Damn, I’d love to get my hands on a sparkling Bonarda! David was then joined by a panel of 3 California wineries who produce sparkling wine. Jim Shumate of Pomar Junction in Paso Robles was the first speaker. Their sparkling is made by Rack & Riddle. We were then joined by Neil Roberts, viticulturist at Clavo Cellars in Paso Robles/Templeton. Neil manages 30+ vineyards in San Luis Obispo and Monterey. Lastly, we had Clarissa Nagy of Riverbench in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Maria Valley. She became winemaker in 2012 and in 2014 produced their first 100% estate bottling! Clarissa shared the fun fact that there are over 40 sparkling wine producers in Santa Barbara County alone! During this seminar, we enjoyed wines from: Le Grand CourtagePierre SparrBouvetJCBGossetTaittingerGremilletRiverbenchPomar Junction, and Clavo Cellars.

Tasting Mats

Jim Shumate of Pomar Junction

Corks & Cocktails

The thing about being a wine student and blogger is that I taste a lot of wine. But, surprisingly, I do not drink a lot of wine. Most of my encounters with wine are in class, in a tasting group, or at a wine event in which I am attending as press/trade. In those cases I have to protect my palate to be able to taste a lot of wine in a short amount of time.  But the Corks & Cocktails event was a different animal.  This was Bubblyfest’s Gatsby-inspired cocktail party with live music, free-flowing bubbles, nibbles, and other fun surprises. Guests were encouraged to dress up, have fun, and enjoy the incredible ocean views that this town has no shortage of. I made the decision to Uber and really enjoy this party…and I’m glad I did! Instead of just talking about it, here is a pictorial recap of the evening!

That view though

Musical delights by the Tipsy Gypsies

Nibbles + Sunset = BLISS

One of my fav pours that night: Hillersden Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

Gratuitous coupe selfie!

Their take on an old-fashioned (which included bubbly!)

Raspberry flavored cotton candy (by Haute Sugar Co) + Alma Rosa Brut Rose

Music, dancing, and bubbles

On Saturday I woke up early, got some work done, and walked to the local coffee shop a block away. Here I grabbed a homemade cinnamon roll (!) and a cappuccino and headed to the beach. The morning sun and waters were absolutely gorgeous. Oh, and oodles of puppy porn to satisfy your morning appetite!

Grand Tasting

The Grand Tasting is the largest event at Bubblyfest. Over 60 wineries poured selections from their sparkling collections. What I liked about the event is that it was outside with PLENTY of space. A lot of these big tasting events can be indoors in way too crowded rooms. Also, all the vendors were tented, which made the event more comfortable for everyone to enjoy. Highlights are below!

J Winery Brut 2009 Vintage

Myers Deovlet Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut

Derby Blanc de Noirs

Riedel Masterclass Glass Seminar

This was a unique and fascinating wine glass tasting, conducted by Riedel Ambassador Susan Dubrow. Susan masterfully demonstrated the relationship between the shape of a glass and our perception and enjoyment of wines. We had 4 different glasses in front of us: a New World Pinot glass, a Chardonnay glass, a Champagne glass, and a Champagne flute. We also had some wine pours in front of us in plastic cups: an oaked Chardonnay, an Oregon Pinot, and a Champagne. Lastly, we had different flavors of Lindt chocolates in front of each glass. The seminar involved tasting the various wines out of various glasses. It was CRAZY how different a wine can taste out of each glass. I’m not a big proponent of advocating for people to go out and buy millions of different glassware, but this seminar made it clear that having at least a couple different glass shapes is worthwhile. The chocolate pairings were just for fun, but oh were they delicious.

Overall, this was a VERY well executed weekend festival. Lots of pre-communication emails, educational (yet fun) seminars, a great cocktail party, and a manageable tasting event. Bravo to the entire team who helped put it all together! I will definitely be back for Bubblyfest 2017!

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re looking to Up Your Wine Game and Drink Better, consider booking a private in-person or virtual wine tasting experience.
Brianne Cohen Wine Educator
Brianne Cohen is a Los Angeles-based certified sommelier, wine educator, consultant, and writer.

Brianne has educated and entertained over 10,000 people through her in-person and virtual wine tasting experiences.

Brianne holds the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Diploma certificate, one of the most coveted wine certifications in the world. When she’s not helping people Up Their Wine Game, she can be found judging at international wine competitions

Brianne aims to make wine approachable and conversational, to surprise and delight with unexpected wine finds, and to give people knowledge (and confidence) about wine in their everyday lives.

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As a wine writer, I frequently accept samples for review on my  website and on my social media channels. Please contact me at to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions.

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