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Tour Journal by Wendy van Diver, editor-in-chief

This year, I'm celebrating a very special anniversary! It’s the 75th anniversary of the Los Angeles International Wine Competition, hosted by the fabulous Fairplex, the home of the Los Angeles County Fair. The actual judging by nearly 100 international wine experts of the 3,200-plus wines occurred in late May, and the winners were announced at Cheers: L.A.’s Wine, Spirits, Beer & Food Festival in June. I was just reviewing the roster and it’s amazing how many types of wines are entered from all around the world. There are more than 500 categories from Albariño to Zinfandel, including nonalcoholic wines and Saké!

I contacted Fairplex Cellar Master Mary Ellen Cole, who runs all of the wine and beverage events for Fairplex. “There are so many great wines to share,” she tells me. “We have many wines not available in the United States. Many are wines that you would never try, but should.” Mary Ellen points out that there are many affordable Gold Medal wines; in fact, a favorite class this year was The Price is Right- Value Wines. All of the winning wines are available for the tasting five days a week from August 29 until September 28 at the Los Angeles County Fair. But that’s only the beginning. Fairplex also offers an exciting Wine Education Program with classes and seminars on an array of subjects on wine, spirits, and olive oil. Class participants are given a Wine Education Passport and for every class they attend they receive a stamp. With six stamps, “students” are invited to an exclusive Passport Party, featuring the finest wines and foods from the Wine Education Program. During September, the Fair’s massive Wine Marketplace displays all of the L.A. International Wine Competition’s award-winning wines, extra virgin olive oils, and spirits. Two Gold Medal tasting bars pour samples of more than 200 Gold Medal wines and a third offers Gold Medal wines by the glass. The program attracts a wide range of wine lovers—from beginner, to someone like me, to expert. All have a great time, leave having learned something, and plan to return next year in 2015.  –W. van Diver

For more information, please visit: fairplex.com