I recently spent some time exploring the wines of Ventura County, California. One winery that is rockin the wine and the fun is Plan B Wine Cellars. Husband and wife team Marlow and Janis Barger are the proprietors and wine makers at Plan B and they are doing things their way! For starters they don’t have a wine club; rather, they offer wine lovers the “B-list.” Once you purchase two bottles of wine from their winery you receive 10% discount off your next 10 bottles, starting immediately. Once you have purchased a total of 12 bottles, you will be rewarded with an additional 5% discount on ALL future bottles; that’s 15% off from then on. You’ll also receive exclusive first options to purchase new wines before anybody else.
No wine club shipping wine when you don’t need it, no obligation to purchase any wine at all. They just want to reward loyalty and keep customers coming back.
Another way Marlow and Janis are putting fun in wine is with their “Growler” program. Plan B wants their customers to have fun. They offer live music in their tasting room on the weekends, have two wines on tap and sell growlers. Once you purchase a growler each time you visit their winery you simply “Fill it, Chill it and Refill it.” What an awesome idea! Customers can simply bring their own growlers they have previously purchased from Plan B each time they come to the winery for wine, music and a good time!
Finally, Plan B hosts many fun events. They have 2nd Sunday Supper each month with food trucks, live music and wine flowing all with no cover charge from 4:30-7pm. Additionally, they host many special parties throughout the year. At the time of my visit they had just held a “Prohibition Party” featuring 20’s – 30’s style music, costumes and atmosphere! How fun is that!
With all the fun they are having at Plan B Wine Cellars the most important aspect of their winery is the high quality wine being produced. Janis opened up the winery for me on a Tuesday (the tasting room is opened Saturday and Sunday 12-5) and we had a wonderful time talking and tasting wine. I sampled four of their wines and found them all very high quality and delicious.
Plan B 2011 Grenache: This wine poured a bright ruby into the glass and offered an inviting bouquet and round flavors of bright red berries and currants with a touch of spice, cassis and oak in a lush mouthfeel with great structure and balanced acidity and tannins. This was a lighter Grenache yet it was full of flavor and medium in body. The grapes were sourced from Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara County. SRP $31. Order direct from Plan B Wine Cellars.
Plan B 2011 Mouvedre: This wine poured a bright ruby into the glass and opened with fruit driven aromas and flavors of ripe round berries with a touch of licorice and violets and an earthy feel. It was clean and lively on the palate, medium in body, round acidity and velvet tannins that lingered on the palate. The grapes were sourced from Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara County. SRP $29. Order direct from Plan B Wine Cellars.
Plan B 2011Valley View Syrah: This wine poured a dazzling maroon into the glass and opened with brooding dark berries and fruit wrapped around baking spice, pepper, black tea, tobacco and a hint of vanilla in a well-structured body of round acidity and restrained tannins that is medium in body and lingering on the palate. The Syrah is co-fermented with 4% Viognier. SRP $37. Order direct from Plan B Wine Cellars.
Plan B 2011 Central Coast Blend GSM: This wine is a 45/10/45 blend of the three previous wines that marry in complete harmony. This wine poured a deep maroon into the glass and opened with red and black fruit, cassis, pepper, tobacco and a hint of damp underbrush that caresses the palate with a bit of earthiness. This wine was round and juicy with concentrated fruit yet well-structured with round acidity and velvet tannins. It was delicious. SRP $35. Order direct from Plan B Wine Cellars.
Each one of the wines stood beautiful on their own so it was not surprising they all joined together in a fourth beautiful wine. I recommend all four of these wines as well as a visit to Plan B Wine Cellars in Ventura County, California.
But why the name “Plan B?” Like many in the wine industry Marlow and Janis did not begin their careers making wine. They were long time wine drinkers whose passion continued to grow. Marlow found himself helping out at area harvests as a hobby. That grew into helping with wine production at Cantera Cellars, where over time Mike Cantera encouraged Marlow to begin producing his own wine. After research and endless conversations Marlow and Janice took a leap of faith with some of their retirement money and in 2010 produced their first vintage. After deciding upon a name for their winery they shared their name with friends who were less than enthusiastic. Janis said well I guess we need a Plan B! And that was it! Plan B wineries sources their grapes from areas best suited for viticulture but they transport the grapes to their facilities in Ventura County where they fully produce 100% of their own wines. In addition to the wines I tasted they also produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Grenache Rose (available only on tap at the winery – but hurry it sells out fast).
Janis and Marlow are kind and passionate wine makers who are living their dream of producing high quality wines. I strongly encourage you to visit their web site to learn more about Plan B Wine Cellars, view their entire portfolio of wines and order some bottles for yourself. Next time you are in Los Angeles take a short drive north on Highway 101 to visit Plan B Wine Cellars and add high quality Ventura County wines to your own wine portfolio! You will be glad you did!
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with the four outstanding wines from Plan B Wine Cellars is Sounds Like Hallelujah by The Head and The Heart. It just feels like a very apropos song from an apropos named band. Marlow and Janice followed their hearts but did not lose their heads in the process and in 2010 produced their first very own vintage! I am guessing that sounded like hallelujah to them!
Get your own bottles of wine from Plan B Wine Cellars and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!