Fall is officially here at the Westlake Village Inn. The crisp morning air give us hope that our California Summer is coming to end and the season has officially changed. This month we celebrate with our annual Oktoberfest festivities at The Stonehaus. Experience a traditional German celebration October 14th – October 16th at The Stonehaus. Enjoy steins of authentic craft beer in our Beer Graden, fine German fare, live music and more as we ring in Fall.
You’ll also notice Autumn favorites returning to the Stonehaus bakery including housemade pumpkin muffins and spiced pumpkin cookies. We also welcome back our traditional pumpkin spice latté that pairs perfectly with one of the cozy outdoor fireplaces and your morning breakfast.
Experience seasonal specials at Mediterraneo like Butternut Squash ravioli and Fall-inspired desserts from Chef Lisa Biondi and the other talented chefs in the kitchen.
There is nothing more special than a Fall staycation at the Inn where you can truly take in the splendor of the season. Explore our Fall Spa Specials or unwind with a relaxing yoga class in our Yoga Shala.
Stay tuned for more information on our annual Thanksgiving Feast and holiday celebrations at the property this November. Until then, Happy October.
Fall is a turning point at The Westlake Village Inn. Although in California we often experience an Indian Summer where the heat doesn’t dissipate until Halloween comes near, even the leaves have fallen but the warm air lingers, we still anticipate the seasons changing.
We celebrate Fall with crisp, leafy garland, earthy-colored foliage, and pumpkins decorating the property. The Stonehaus vineyard leaves begin to change color and morph into a golden shade of brown and the grapes are succulent and ready to be picked. You’ll see the menu evolving at Mediterraneo with new seasonal specials as Chef experiments with root vegetables, pumpkins, squash, and warmer flavors. The Stonehaus will bring back Pumpkin Spiced Lattés and seasonal favorites that you can sip and enjoy in front of the cozy fireplaces.
Fall is a lovely time at The Westlake Village Inn Property. We’ll welcome the new season at the Stonehaus with the 2nd Annual Harvest Wine Dinner in the Vineyard on Saturday, September 24th to celebrate the culmination of the growing season. Enjoy a wine and hor d’oeuvre reception followed by four family-style courses of Fall inspired fare paired to the wines of Trefethen Family Vineyards of Napa Valley.
Learn more here: https://ticketbud.com/events/39aa4566-6401-11e6-893f-a3d0fa1362b9
There’s nothing more lovely than a Fall Staycation at the Westlake Village Inn. The kids are back in school and there is a calm lull before the holidays. Experience Fall spa specials at the The Spa and take in all the beauty the property has to offer.
Each afternoon, as I sit with an array of bottles in from of me, tasting some of the best wines from around the world, people stare and often proceed to tell me that I must have the best job in the world. While that’s quite true, it is still just that, a job. Tasting wine, at least in a professional setting, can be hard work. And while we each have our own unique sensitivities and tolerances that can lend towards more natural abilities to taste certain characteristics of wine, for the most part, tasting wine is a learned skill that takes practice and requires much focus. I remember walking into class at 8am on my first day of studying wine professionally and seeing 12 glasses of 1oz wine pours on the desks and thinking both, “isn’t it a bit early?” and “this is going to be great!”. By lunch I had a bit of a headache and could have used a nap. Not because I’d been drinking all morning, every sip was swiftly spit out (at first by threat of expulsion, and then by sheer necessity), but because as I quickly learned, tasting wine is actually hard work. I was exhausted. For as much as I’d gone wine tasting and self studied over the near decade prior, I realized that I had very little idea as to how to really taste wine, and all that I was tasting when I did. Over the weeks that followed, each morning started out the same, arrive at 8am, taste 12 or so wines until noon, break for lunch, taste another 12 or so until 5pm, go home, study, repeat. Each day, for 8 hours a day, we studied wine and how to taste it. And as it turns out, there is much more to it than just swirl, sniff, sip & (sometimes) spit. There is in entire protocol, and if followed and practiced, it can reveal all of the wines subtle nuances and tell you its life story.
Being in California I assume everyone’s done their fare share of wine tasting. You’ve swirled and sniffed, and possibly even spit, but for many, you were just going through the motions, nodding and smiling as someone “more knowledgeable” than you goes on about notes of cigar box and bacon fat, while you think to yourself, “all I’m getting is red”. Or perhaps the power of suggestion is strong on you, all you need is for someone to mention peaches and honeysuckle and you’ll smell it too, but prior to the mention, all you smelled was white. Or maybe you actually know a lot about wine, possibly even more than you thought. Maybe years of trips to wine country and dinner parties have made you a bit of an expert. You know the very real struggle of finding a good Pinot Noir under $20 and have long since transitioned from Pinot Grigio to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and are now onto French Rosé in the summer. But if you joined the masses and have steered clear of Merlot for the past 10 years, you could be surprised at the challenge you might face while trying to decipher between it and a Chardonnay if you couldn’t actually see it’s color. A sensory analysis of wine breaks it down using sight, smell and taste, and can reveal everything about a wine from it’s grape varietal, to the region it’s from, to how old it is. But much of what we come to know about a wine during a tasting can be determined from its appearance alone. Beyond noting the obvious difference between red and white, you can narrow down varietals by intensity of color, climate by viscosity, and age by the rim. For example, just by looking, you’d likely be able to tell a Sauvignon Blanc from a Chardonnay, as you know the first to be a pale straw color and the latter to be more of a yellow/gold. Or take the reds, both Pinot Noir and Syrah can have prominent earth notes on both the nose and palate, but one glance noting their difference in color intensity could quickly guide us to the right conclusion. So what if we didn’t have the guidance of sight to rely on? We’d be left with just our nose and palate, and unless you’ve been practicing for 8 hours a day, this might be trickier that you’d think.
Join us in The Wine Cellar on February 13th as we take the blind tasting to the next level and challenge your wine tasting skills with a sensory analysis of five premium single varietal California wines served in black glasses, eliminating the guidance of sight. Each tasting pour will be paired with a small bite to enhance your tasting experience, and additional wine and food will be served when the tasting commences. Whether you’ve been married for 20 years, are planning a first date or are looking for a fun night out with friends, this fun twist on a the classic blind tasting will be a fabulous way to spend your Valentine’s Day weekend.
As lovely as the holidays are, getting through the holiday season is a lot of work, usually leaving us feeling depleted, and come mid-January, with a little case of the post-holiday blues. The twinkle lights are down and the streets are dark, the smell of fresh pine and apple pie has vanished, there are no more trips or visitors, no more parties, and no real reason to get dressed up and go out. And while there might be a small sense relief, it always feels to me like there is far too much winter ahead with too little excitement to look forward to. So on this 1st week of winter, even amongst the last minute holiday to-do list, I feel the need to plan little something to look forward to, to bring us all a little mid-winter comfort & cheer.
The Swiss figured out long ago that a simple yet decadent, leisurely meal based around cheese and wine with friends is the quickest way to warm the spirits. Raclette, from the French word Racler meaning “to scrape”, is both the name of the creamy Swiss cheese made from the milk of cows that graze upon Alpine pastures, and the name of the dish. Traditionally, a nourishing vegetarian meal believed to be created by Swiss shepherds nearly 700 years ago when they’d set up camp during their journey up the Alps and slowly melt the cheese over an open fire and scrape it onto boiled potatoes, pickles and bread.
Today Raclette is not just a standard meal in Swiss & French ski lodges, it is enjoyed all over the world and includes meats and a variety of other vegetables, yet always maintains its tradition of being a casual, communal meal enjoyed slowly over hours, and of course, staying true to Swiss tradition, is never served with water, only hot tea, beer and wine. Nothing sounds more relaxing and enjoyable to me right now than sipping wine by the fire over a Raclette feast, especially one that I don’t have to cook and clean up after.
So in the spirit of relaxation and comfort, we invite you to cozy up by the fire and indulge in an Alpine-style cheese and wine dinner with us in The Vintage Room at Mediterraneo on Saturday, January 23, 2016. While we’re all resolving to do and be so much in the coming New Year, taking a moment for ourselves to truly relax and unwind after the craziness of the season ought to be on the top of our resolutions list.
Created by local winemakers roughly a century ago, they wanted a wine that they could drink immediately in celebration of the end of harvest, while the rest of the better Beaujolais was aging, and so Beaujolais Nouveau was born. Beaujolais Nouveau, meaning “New Beaujolais”, is the first wine released of the new vintage. Just 6-8 weeks after the grapes were hanging on the vines, pitchers of the fresh from barrel wine were shared all over the region, eventually making their way to Paris and beyond. Over the years, laws were put into place, release dates were changed and Beaujolais Nouveau Day was created. By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is released at 12:01am, on the 3rd Thursday in November, regardless of the date of harvest, and the race to distribute the first wine of the season begins. What began in the southernmost part of Burgundy, in the Beaujolais region of France, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is now celebrated across all of France and around the world with festivals, parades, fireworks, live music, dancing and food. Roughly 1 million cases and 70 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are consumed around the world at the same time every year.
Beaujolais Nouveau is made exclusively of the Gamay grape from France’s Beaujolais region, and like Champagne, must be hand harvested. Unlike more traditional fermentation methods, Beaujolais Nouveau goes through carbonic maceration, a quick method of fermentation where the berries are left whole for the juice inside each grape to ferment without contact with skins or stems, which enhances the grapes inherent fruit characteristics while eliminating tannins, resulting in a light, vibrant, fresh and fruity red wine that it is meant to drink immediately (by the following spring) and is best served chilled.
We at The Stonehaus will be celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day and the much anticipated arrival our Beaujolais Nouveau on Thursday, November 19th through Saturday, November 21st with live music, French fare, and of course, a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau!
In celebration of the culmination of the wine growing season and the harvest of a new vintage of wine, we are hosting our first annual Harvest Celebration Dinner in The Stonehaus Vineyard at 6pm on Saturday, September 19th featuring the wines of Zaca Mesa Winery.
Zaca Mesa is a local (Santa Barbara County), family owned winery that has been making hand crafted, estate grown and bottled wines, using traditional methods and sustainable practices since 1973. Located in the northern Santa Ynez Valley, just 25 miles inland of the Pacific Ocean, their vineyards enjoy morning fog and afternoon breezes ensuring the slow, consistent ripening of their grapes resulting in lush, high scoring wines. They specialize in Viognoir, Syrah and Rhone Blends, and just received 90 point scores on a number of the wines we’ll be enjoying!
Our Chef Joe Serna has created a fall inspired menu featuring local and seasonal ingredients carefully selected to pair with each wine. The evening will begin with a wine & hors d’oeuvre reception followed by a 4-course plated dinner under the stars, accompanied by live music and a Zaca Mesa Winery specialist, providing an ideal setting to savor the last of our warm summer nights.
We do what we can. We volunteer, we donate our time and money, we recycle, we conserve water, we adopt animals, we shop local, we buy organic produce and certified humane meat and dairy, and then we drag our exhausted, saintly selves into the coffee shop with our reusable mug, and we order conventional coffee. I get it. We’re tired, we’re running late, we need to get on with our day and it doesn’t occur to us to consider where our coffee actually comes from. But when you think about it, we do put a lot of other consideration into our coffee choices. We tend to take our coffee pretty seriously. We have spent our adult lives cultivating our perfect cup, and to some, how we take our coffee can be as much an extension of our personality as our wardrobe. And knowing how another takes their coffee, well that means you truly know somebody. So with all of the other good that we try to do, and all of the thought that we put into our coffee, why do we stop short and order conventional without considering what we’re supporting with our dollars when we do? Probably because we can’t do it all.
With coffee being the 2nd most traded commodity behind oil, the demand to keep up with production takes a major toll on the environment. Coffee naturally prefers shade and flourishes in dense forests, but due to demand, hybrids have been developed to survive in full sun, and over the last 25 years rainforests have been cleared to maximize growth space and ease of harvest, hurting ecosystems and destroying habitats and their inhabitants. For coffee to grow under such unnatural conditions, it requires the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, making conventional coffee beans some of the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world, exposing farmers to harmful chemicals and polluting the air and water supply of the surrounding communities.
Luckily there is an alternative choice, organic coffee. With organic coffee, growing and handling standards and sustainable practices such as the use of renewable resources and the conservation of water and soil are ensured from the farm level all the way to the roaster. Organic coffee shrubs are shade grown under high-canopy trees in their natural habitat, housing a small ecosystem of birds and animals that create natural mulch as fertilizer and therefor are free of synthetic chemicals, ensuring the health of the soil and the water. Shade grown coffee also yields fewer berries, resulting in a higher concentration of flavor, are richer in antioxidants and are less bitter.
As wonderful as all of that is, there is still more to consider. We should choose not just organic coffee, but coffee that is fairly traded as well. The first time I ever thought about the concept of Fair Trade was sometime just over a decade ago when Chris Martin wrote the words “Fair Trade” on his forearm during a Coldplay concert. Embarrassingly, prior to that it had literally never occurred to me. With all of the benefits of organic, Fair Trade Certified products take things a step further to benefit communities in developing countries as well as the environment by ensuring that farming families receive fair prices for their harvests, allowing them to manage their own businesses and compete in the global marketplace, and in turn, invest in their communities, healthcare and education. Fair Trade Certified also ensures safe working conditions, prohibits forced child labor and protects ecosystems by prohibiting planting in protected areas and are always free of agrochemicals and GMO’s.
Luckily, we are beginning to put a more thought into the importance of what we support by how we spend our money, and demand for the organic/fair trade coffee market is growing! The Stonehaus has always directly supported the organic and fair trade coffee industry by sourcing our coffee beans from a family owned, certified organic coffee roaster who uses only Specialty Grade, USDA Certified Organic/Certified Fair Trade beans. Specialty Grade is the top grade that there is for coffee and consists of only 10% of the worlds production. Our coffee at The Stonehaus is from the top 3% of the top 10% Specialty Grade coffee in the world. So when you get your coffee at The Stonehaus, you are not only getting a superior cup of coffee in both quality and flavor, but you are directly supporting a coffee industry who’s practices will improve the environment and the lives of farming families for generations to come, whether you meant to or not 😉
The annual growth cycle of a grapevine begins with bud break in the spring and culminates with harvest and leaf fall in the autumn. In celebration of the end of a dormant winter, the beginning of spring, and the breaking of the buds on our vines, we are holding our first annual Bud Break Celebration Dinner in The Stonehaus Vineyard at 6pm on Saturday March 21st.
As our estate-grown wines are still spending time in barrel, we’ll be featuring five wines from The Tablas Creek Winery. Known for being leaders in the Rhone Varietals, Tablas Creek makes highly rated, award winning wines from a winery that was just voted one of the top 10 to visit in California. The Tablas Creek Winery is located in the hilly Los Tablas district of West Paso Robles, an area known for its similarities to Chateauneuf du Pape, making for perfect growing conditions for their imported vines planted on a limestone rich, 120 acre organic estate vineyard where they use dry farming & biodynamic techniques.
Drawing his inspiration from the season, Executive Chef John Parker has created a perfectly paired spring fare menu, using only the freshest seasonal ingredients. The evening will begin with a sunset Róse Reception followed by an alfresco, four course, family-style vineyard dinner. Complete with Tablas Creek wine specialists and live music, this dinner will be the perfect way to kick off the new season!
Bud Break Menu:
RóseReception – Tray passed appetizers
Tablas Creek Patelin De Tablas Róse, Paso Robles, 2014
1st Course: Appetizer: Spring Pea Arancini with arugula pesto
Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc, Paso Robles, 2013
2nd Course – Salad: Roasted Beets with burrata crème and kale chips
Tablas Creek Mourvedre, Paso Robles, 2012
3rd Course – Entrée: Wood Grilled leg of lamb served with roasted new potatoes and grilled heirloom carrots, marinated with roasted garlic, rosemary and pistachio dust
Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Rouge, Paso Robles, 2012
4th Course – Dessert: Cheese Board with pave d affinois and saint agur blue, dried fruit, honey comb and grilled bread
Tablas Creek Vine de Paille Roussanne, Paso Robles, 2012
Just six weeks into the New Year, many of us may find ourselves right on track with our 2015 goals, but many of us may find that we’ve already fallen behind. Much like the New Year is an opportunity for a fresh start so is each new morning. With each morning comes a new chance to make healthy choices for our bodies and start the day off right by eating a nutritious breakfast that will set the tone and inspire good choices for the rest of the day. Breakfast literally means to break your fast, and how we choose to do so can have a huge impact on our health. We’ve always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for most of us with busy mornings, long commutes or just small morning appetite’s, making healthy breakfast choices a habit can be a challenge. All too often we end up trading nutrients for convenience, or not eating breakfast at all.
Inspired by the idea of fresh starts, The Stonehaus launched a new Healthy Breakfast menu as well as a Superfood Smoothie menu to provide you with a variety of breakfast options that are not only gourmet & delicious, but nutritious, balanced, and filling, and the perfect way to healthfully break your fast! Our nutrient rich smoothies sneak in a large number of beneficial “superfoods” providing you with many of the essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, electrolytes, proteins and omegas needed, while covering a wide variety of flavor profiles and appealing to even the pickiest of palates. All of our smoothies can be enjoyed in addition to our new healthy breakfast items, or can include added boosts making them a complete and balanced meal on their own, helping you start your day off right whether enjoyed leisurely amongst the vines, or taken on the go.
So as we inch closer to spring, and our resolutions start to fade with the winter, we need to strive to make healthy eating an enjoyable part of our everyday lives, not just something to suffer through a few times a year. By starting off each morning making healthy choices, these healthy choices will eventually begin to seep into your afternoons and trickle into your evenings, making not just for healthy days, but healthy weeks, months and years, until soon healthy eating is not just a resolution, but a way of life.
The Stonehaus released our very first harvest from 2012 at an exclusive barrel tasting event!
The Stonehaus, located at the Westlake Village Inn, hosted an exclusive barrel tasting and blending party on Thursday, January 15th, 2015. We showcased our Estate Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah wine, before sending them out to be bottled so they can complete their aging process.
After an ideal growing season, we harvested the 1st Vintage of our estate grown, Malibu Coast AVA, grapes in late September 2012 at 24 & 1/2 brix, yielding 2 barrels of each Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and 1 barrel of Syrah. After spending over 2 years in 50% new French Oak, these wines have matured resulting in ripe fruit, oak spices and soft tannins on the palate.
The event was hosted in the Tasting Room and was a great place to enjoy great wine and make new friends. Guests were able to mingle with the winemakers while nibbling on Executive Chef John Parker’s personal selection of cheeses, charcuterie, marinated olives and accoutrement from the West Coast region.
The whimsical décor featured unique touches, such as wine bottles used as vases to hold wildflowers, roses and mint garnish.
As anticipated, the event sold out to a very special group of guests and we’re looking forward to hosting the next one!