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Fall at the Inn: Harvest, Food & Wine

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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.
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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.

The Blind Tasting

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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.

A Warm Winter’s Eve

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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.

Mediteranneo Raclette

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.

2012 Vintage Stonehaus Wine Barrel Tasting

- Maria Solorzano

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!

Wine Barrel Tasting
Wine Barrel Tasting Stonehaus