California Fun: Wine, Cocktails and More

It’s Tuesday, July 17, 2018 and I’m wheels up at 6:00 a.m. out of LAX to Des Moines, IA.

I’m looking forward to finding a steak house to match my favorite, Tornado Steak House, in Madison, WI, where the Institute team dined last month to start our summer travel season.

When I left the East Coast heat wave on July 6, I arrived in Los Angeles to the same, if not worse, heat wave Californians have experienced in the last couple of years.  Oh boy!

So if the weather is hot, you must stay hydrated, and to that end, we did a number of our favorite specialty cocktails over the week and why not start with a Moscow Mule for a prelude to our opening dinner?

For a before and after shot of the mule, or what was left of it, go HERE.

We stayed with tradition and upon my Friday arrival we did our Friday evening dinner at Casa Nostra restaurant in Pacific Palisades.  With a $15 corkage fee, Mike decided to bring two great bottles for dinner, a 2015 Aubert Chardonnay for Mav and a 2015 Alto Moncayo Garnacha for the boys!

On my bucket list when coming to LA, is to play paddle tennis and enjoy Ray Poblick’s Bloody Marys.  I’m happy to say I checked that box on my second day in town.  Go HERE for those pics.

Thanks Ray, it’s been two years since I got to visit with you in your Cabana and enjoy your bartending skills.

Before I go on and on with all the specialty cocktails made throughout the ten days I thought I'd just give you a list of the cocktails and pictures.  Here we go!

Mid-week we had our West Institute Annual Wine Reception and Dinner with staff and friends.  This year’s event was once again held at the Wojo Cabana and dining room at the Bel Air Bay Club (BABC).  They did a special mid-course surprise that can be found HERE. The Grouper was incredible!

We were also fortunate enough to have some old friends join us to celebrate a great week at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).  For pictures from that event go HERE.

For the weekend post Institute we started with a couple of Clementine Martini's.  Oh boy they were good!

See below for a list of the wines we consumed over the course of my stay.


  • 2017 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc Rose
  • 2017 Domaine De Fontsainte


  • 2013 Falcor Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
  • 2014 Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Chalk Hill Appellation
  • 2015 Aubert Chardonnay, Sugar Shack, Napa Valley
  • 2015 Liquid Farm Chardonnay, Golden Slope (three bottles)
  • 2015 Peter Michael Chardonnay, La Carriere
  • 2016 Carmenet Chardonnay, Napa Valley (three bottles)
  • 2016 Cougar Crest Albariño, Walla Walla Valley (two bottles)
  • 2016 Cougar Crest Chardonnay, Walla Walla Valley (two bottles)
  • 2016 Frank Family Chardonnay, Carneros
  • 2016 La Follette Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast


  • 1994 Stagliano Sangiovese, Napa Valley
  • 2003 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
  • 2003 Retro Petite Sirah, Howell Mountain
  • 2004 Linne Calodo, Paso Robles
  • 2005 Feather Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • 2005 Vinum Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 2006 Feather Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • 2008 Kobalt Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
  • 2011 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley
  • 2012 Scurati Nero D'Avola
  • 2012 Stagliano Sangiovese, Rutherford, Napa Valley (two bottles)
  • 2013 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
  • 2013 Torrin Akasha, Paso Robles
  • 2014 Chateau L'Argenteyre, Medoc
  • 2014 Justin Isosceles, Paso Robles
  • 2014 Liquid Farm Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2014 Pickpocket Grenache, Paso Robles
  • 2015 Admirable Malibu Ruby Blend
  • 2015 Alto Moncayo, Garnacha
  • 2015 Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (two bottles)

Thanks Mike and Mav for your hospitality and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

Pictures for my entire stay can be found HERE.