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Holiday Colors

Vintner suggests that red and white wines share space on the table this season.


"What's a good wine for the holidays?"

It's a question Ventura's Leeward Winery owner Chuck Brigham is likely to be asked repeatedly over the next few weeks.

Considering the type of gatherings the holidays bring, Brigham suggests offering both red and white wines at the big meals.

"We usually suggest a Pinot Noir, which usually isn't too overbearing for white meat and if made correctly has enough fruit, so that works pretty well," he said.

"Also a fruitier Chardonnay works well, and I usually suggest our Edna Valley Chardonnay. I think it's always nice to have a red and white at the table. At Thanksgiving there are so many different types of food, so it's a good time for people to experiment."

To assist party planners already in the holiday spirit and thinking about feasting with family and friends, the winery will host its annual holiday open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 14 and 15.

As usual there will be a combination of samples of Leeward's bottled wines and wines straight from the barrel. Brigham and winemaker Mark Meagher plan to feature the barrel versions of the 1997 Santa Barbara Syrah and the 1997 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir Reserve.

"A lot of people may not be familiar with what a Syrah is," Brigham said. "It's becoming one of the more sought-after red varietals. More and more it is being planted--the Central Coast is really a good area for it."

As for the Pinot Noir on display, Brigham said the barrel version came from such a stellar harvest, it was the first to earn the Reserve tag at Leeward. Guests will have the opportunity to compare the vintage with a sampling of the 1996 Pinot Noir.

Along with the featured barrel wines, Leeward will be pouring its Founder's Chardonnay, a limited 100-case variety that Brigham describes as "a very different style, a very buttery style, of Chardonnay."

Capistrano's Restaurant of Oxnard will provide the accompanying foods.

Leeward Winery is at 2784 Johnson Drive, Ventura. Admission is free. For more information, call 656-5054.


A couple of culinary contests with fast-approaching deadlines:

The Adult Peanut Butter Lovers' Fan Club (members, you know who you are) is offering $500 to the first-place finisher in its ode to peanut butter contest.

Simply place your profound appreciation of peanut butter into poetry form and let the judges decide.

Other awards of $50 to $250 also will be presented.

Send poetry--with name, address and phone number--to Peanut Butter Poetry Contest, 500 Sugar Mills Road, Suite 105-A, Atlanta, GA. 30350. Or e-mail the entry to Deadline is Nov. 30.


To draw attention to its new Web site, the California Olive Industry is sponsoring the first of what will be a quarterly ripe-olive recipe contest.

The winner of the debut contest will receive a year's supply of California ripe olives.

Recipe entries will be judged on taste, ease of preparation and creativity in the use of olives as an ingredient. E-mail entries to Nov. 30 is the deadline.

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