Dr. Joel M. Fisher, a wine educator, columnist and sommelier, founded LA WineFest in 2005. The fourth annual WineFest is taking place June 6-7 at Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios, with portions of proceeds going to the Children’s Tumor Foundation and the Hollywood YMCA. Booths will feature over 100 wineries, plus craft beer, sake, spirits and seminars. On Tuesday night, Dr. Fisher discussed his vision for LA WineFest and where the festival stands in its evolution.
Josh Lurie: Why did you decide to start LA WineFest?
Dr. Joel M. Fisher: At the time I belonged to the Bon Appetit Tasting Panel. We were doing a lot of tastings and programs and I was doing other things in my life. I said, you know, we don’t have a major event for consumers to taste, learn and get more comfortable with wine, so I decided to start it.
JL: What were you hoping to accomplish with LA WineFest and how close are you to that goal?
Dr. JMF: I was really hoping to make it a major event in the LA wine scene. We’re getting there. I also wanted it to be a preeminent educational event. We will do that.
JL: In what ways has LA WineFest changed since year one?
Dr. JMF: We’ve gotten bigger and better and tried to control the size of the drinks, because we’re not a guzzling event. We’re a tasting event.
JL: Why did you decide to incorporate beer, sake and liquor?
Dr. JMF: Firestone Winery, our friends, had a strong beer component. We’ve had beer and tequila since the beginning. Bourbon and sake are new this year.
JL: Why did you decide to honor George Rosenthal and Reed Foster this year?
Dr. JMF: Reed Foster is a great man, co-founded Ravenswood Winery…He’s just a regular cowboy, but the guy has a Harvard MBA. He’s an esteemed wine person. I thought George Rosenthal deserved it for spurring an interest in wine in Southern California and developing the Malibu ABA.
JL: What are a few must-try wineries at LA WineFest?
Dr. JMF: Hall, Cielo, and Flying Tiger’s coming from Napa.