607 E. Main St., Suite D

Surf Brewery
4561 Market St., Suite A

Downtown Ventura is going through somewhat of a renaissance. Over the past year, we’ve seen craft beer and wine enter into the scene with stunning results — options! As far as the eye can see. The latest is Labyrinth, with a tasting room just west of the library, but with origins distinctly New Zealand.

Ed and Stephanie Schwartz found the right spot for this line of Labyrinth wine, a series known as Haka. The store itself, formerly a fashion spot, is streamlined with little to no decoration, putting a focus on the five-flight set-up on the bar.

For $10, five wines were poured, beginning with the 2010 Santa Barbara chardonnay. Chardonnay has never been my go-to white — but under the masterful hand of oenologist and New Zealand native Ariki Hill, this creamy chardonnay finishes with a pop of citrus and flowers.

After the stellar 2009 Santa Barbara pinot noir, a bold vintage that does not kid around on the palate, with notes of dark cherry and a bit of spice, the 2010 Freebird, a Paso Robles sourced blend of merlot and tempranillo stole the show. A bright burst of jam followed by a smooth transition from France to Spain in its fiery finish had this one in my bag.

I would be remiss not to mention that last week was American Craft Beer Week, and as such, local brew appreciation was in high gear. This past Saturday, with a 12-ounce pour of Surf Brewery’s cask-conditioned, oak cube-aged Southswell Double IPA with mosaic and centennial hops added in for an extra kick, I thought of London (cask-conditioned ales are a staple of English pubs); I listened to the dreamy tunes of a local surf rock band; I recalled a time when Ventura had no Surf Brewery and then said a little prayer to the beer gods. Truly, this is a time of great bounty.

Visit Labyrinth’s tasting room at 607 E. Main St., Suite D, Ventura.

Surf Brewery’s cask-aged series is an ongoing project. Check its Facebook for updated information at, or go to at 4561 Market St., Suite A, Ventura.

5 O’Clock Somewhere is a new column and will run every other week for the latest in tempting intoxication around Ventura County.