PASO ROBLES, CA—It’s finally here. The Paso Robles Wine Festival’s Grand Tasting event takes place this Saturday May 19, 2013 with 18 restaurants, caterers and artisans showcasing the many gourmet delights from this beautiful region. And, of course, there’s the wine… Tickets are still available at www.pasowine.com
The wines from this part of California are world-class. I love ‘em!
Here is a list of the 63 participating wineries. Can’t manage to taste 63 wineries all in one day? Well, here’s my suggestion. Of course, visit your favorites, but then be sure to try wineries that are unfamiliar to you. Therein lies the fun of wine tasting!
Ancient Peaks Winery
Asuncion Ridge Vineyards
B & E Vineyard/Winery
Bodegas Paso Robles
Broken Earth Winery
Burbank Ranch in Templeton
Chronic Cellars Winery
D’Anbino Vineyards & Cellars
Derby Wine Estates
Domaine Degher Wines
Dunning Vineyards Estate Winery
Eos Estate Winery
First Crush Cellars
Grey Wolf & Barton Family Wines
Halter Ranch Vineyard
Hearst Ranch Winery
Hoyt Family Vineyards
J Dusi Wines
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
Le Vigne Winery
Niner Wine Estates
Peachy Canyon Winery
Pear Valley Vineyard
Penman Springs Vineyard
Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery
Record Family Wines
RN Estate Vineyard & Winery
Robert Hall Winery
San Antonio Winery
Shale Oak Winery
Still Waters Vineyards
Tablas Creek Vineyard
Treana and Hope Family Wines
Veris Cellars - Home of JanKris, Ben Hogan & Nova Vita Wines
Villa San Juliette
Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards
Highly recommended… Enjoy!
2013 Paso Robles Wine Festival To Include Trendy Small Bites
PASO ROBLES, CA—An annual highlight of California’s Central Coast wine country is the Paso Robles Wine Festival set to run from May 17-19, 2013. Although past festivals have included a food component, this year the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance is expanding its mission. More than 20 restaurants and caterers featuring cuisine that varies from locally sourced farm-to-table freshness to food truck cupcakes will be on hand with tasty morsels specially prepared to complement the bold, balanced, and vibrant wines of 63 participating Paso Robles area wineries.
This year’s expanded food offerings kick off on Friday May 17 at “Reserve”, an intimate late afternoon event that showcases futures, reserve, and library tier wines from 47 wineries, paired with bites from a sampling of the region’s most notable chefs. Savory and sweet delights from the likes of these local favorites will be served: Bob’s Well Bread, Robert’s Restaurant & Wine Bar, Robin’s Restaurant, Thomas Hill Organics, Villa Creek Restaurant and Vivant Fine Cheese.
Wine lovers won’t want to miss the Reserve event. It’s one of my favorite happenings at the weekend-long festival. Tickets to “Reserve” are currently still available on www.pasowine.com.
SONOMA, CA—Many oddities come my way here in Northern California wine country. Some sights elicit only a shrug but when this bus came to town the other day I stopped in my tracks while crossing the street and took the time to read it — all of it.
“One Guy (Bob), and his dog (Bogart), traveling to campuses across the country to promote kindness.”
“Kindness” what a concept.
CALISTOGA, CA—Founded in 1969, Cuvaison Estate Wines was Napa Valley’s twenty-seventh official winery. The name was taken from a French word that describes the mingling of grape juice with seeds and skins to allow extraction of color and flavor. Last Thursday, I visited their original tasting room near the town of Calistoga, amid the oak and pine forests of Napa Valley’s northeastern foothills.
Visitors who have packed a picnic lunch are encouraged to relax at tables on the shaded lawn or beside the olive grove.
Not one to linger while working — I quickly asked to taste their current flight of 4 wines. ($20). The wines that I sampled were all “single block”. The winery’s line-up usually changes every 2 weeks.
As an estate winery Cuvaison grows all their own fruit. Visitors are pleasantly surprised to learn that the winery is family-owned.
Here was the line-up they poured for my tasting:
2012 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc
Grown in the Carneros region of southern Napa Valley this wine had a tantalizing bouquet. It is available only in their tasting room. ($23)
2011 Kite Tail Chardonnay
Just as the Solitaire, this wine is made from 100% Carneros fruit and is only available in their tasting room. (Sorry, forgot to ask the price.)
2011 Estate Pinot Noir
Elegant. I detected raspberry and pomegranate flavors with bright acidity. Clean and graceful… This was a real winner. Recently, I’ve been falling in love with California Pinot all over again. ($42)
2010 Brandlin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
A new offering in their Brandlin line-up. Fruit comes from the slopes of Mount Veeder. It’s a blend of select blocks (one in particular was originally planted in 1926). Fantastic; restrained yet concentrated fruit right up front where I often like it. I found this Cab to have a hint of mocha which I was told is typical of this vineyard. ($55)
As with most California wineries, wine club members enjoy substantial discounts. Many Cuvaison wines are only available locally. One exception is their Estate Chardonnay which comprises about 75% of their total production. That’s the one you’re most likely to encounter outside of Napa Valley.
I found the staff to be very friendly and informative. Thank you Christina and Greg.
As you may already know, hospitality is very important to me. I won’t tolerate rude behavior. The folks at Cuvaison Estate Wines were professional and welcoming. Highly recommended!
These image are of their Calistoga tasting room. The just released “California Directory of Fine Wineries, 6th Edition” for Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, shines the spotlight on their newer Carneros tasting room, thirty miles to the south, with a detailed profile and striking photography by Robert Holmes. If you come to Napa Valley, then you MUST see it. The structure, built in 2009, is an architectural wonder located in the heart of the winery’s estate vineyard.
Both wineries serve the same delicious estate wines. The only difference between the two locations is the atmosphere.
Mid-week is the best time to visit Cuvaison and the Napa Valley. You’ll get much more one-on-one time to chat with your servers and enjoy the great wines of the region.
DOWNTOWN SONOMA, CA—The other day — we all thought someone had opened a magnum of sparkling wine… Pedestrians ran toward the spray with glasses in hand. Others shouted “Hey, this is wine country, just put a cork in it!”
2008 Ballentine Vineyards Napa Valley Old Vines Zinfandel (Estate Grown)
Was saving this wine for a special night. But my wife and sister-in-law opened this fine Zin last night while I was out having a burrito. They couldn’t help themselves and nearly finished the bottle. I was fortunate as they left me half a glass. “Sorry. It was really good,” was their excuse. How could I blame them?
My thoughts: This wine was first-rate. Excellent with food or by itself. Fruity yet dry; medium to full body. Let this one linger in the mouth and you’ll be rewarded with coffee flavors in the finish or, perhaps, you might find cocoa powder. It’s a winner. Oh, how I’d like another bottle tonight!
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CA—Winery “heros” making world-class wine who will be pouring their best at the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Festival, April 19, 20, 21, 22 in Solvang, CA.
SANTA YNEZ, CA—On Saturday April 20, 2013, three decades and over one hundred wineries and vineyards later, the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival returns to the the city of Solvang’s historic Mission Santa Inez where it all began.
Do you like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay? Then this is the place to be. I’m a Pinot lover and some of my favorites are coming out of this part of the state.
The Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival runs April 19, 20, 21, 22 and is designed to showcase the award-winning wines grown, produced, and bottled locally. Visitors from across the USA stream back year after year for the opportunity to meet their favorite vintners plus enjoy delicious food and music. The highlight of the festival weekend is the Festival itself on Saturday where over 50 wine varietals will be poured. The Festival also presents some of the best local food from restaurants, catering companies, and gourmet purveyors.
Below you’ll find a short series of Santa Barbara County winemaker interviews. I wanted to talk with the folks who will be pouring at the event to get the inside scoop… For more details about the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Festival or to purchase tickets go to www.sbcountywines.com.
As I’m fond of saying, if you still have questions about visiting the area, it’s quite okay to contact me directly.
Friends for more than thirty years, Dick Doré and Bill Wathen forged the successful partnership behind Foxen and foxen 7200. Widely known as the Foxen Boys, the two began making wine together in 1985 with borrowed tools and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from a Santa Maria Vineyard. As they expanded their Bordeaux-based portfolio to included Rhone-,Burgundy-, and Cal-Italian-style wines, they earned a reputation for exquisite quality and irreverent fun.
According to Doré, since Santa Barbara County is generally a cooler growing region the big dilemma has always been getting the fruit ripe. That’s why, over the years, Doré and Wathen have been “following the heat.” Inland fringes where the morning fog burns off sooner, such as the Happy Canyon AVA, have evolved from horse ranches to vineyards. These warmer places are better for growing (and ripening) the Rhone and Bordeaux varietals for which Foxen is known.
A number of the Foxen wines to be poured at this year’s Vintners’ Festival come from such warmer areas. They usually have six wines on hand. Here is the tentative line-up:
Doré told me that he finds this particular festival exciting as it allows consumers to taste the broad spectrum of wines produced in the vast array of Santa Barbara County microclimates. These diverse countywide growing regions drive the area’s tremendous grape versatility.
If you attend this year’s festival, be sure to stop by to visit with the whole Foxen gang: Dick, Bill, and Jenny, who will all be in attendance.
Head’s Up: As part of the Festival weekend, Foxen will be hosting a wonderful winemaker dinner at the Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang, CA. Although I’ve just learned that the event is sold out, if you’re feeling really lucky, call the winery to get on their waiting list. –TS
Gary Burk is one of the most popular winemakers in Santa Barbara County. His many friends and industry coworkers often sing his praises as a talented craftsman, musician, and all around great guy.
When I asked Burk the other day about the upcoming Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival, he replied in no uncertain terms that he will definitely be there. “I’ve been going for over 15 years,” he said. “It’s one of the best events not just in Santa Barbara County but up and down the California coast. It brings out the best in wineries, restaurants and consumers who are very enthusiastic about Santa Barbara County wines.”
Burk noted that what sets this event apart from others in the state is that “It’s run very well year after year.” He went on to explain that as a high quality event it brings back many of the same faces. “Consumers know that they’ll be able to taste the best wines from the county and check out what hot, new restaurants are now on the scene”.
Burk is currently selecting which wines to pour at the festival. The following are his most likely candidates:
Burk also said that there may very well be a “surprise wine” added to the mix.
Editor’s Note: Most every Friday evening Santa Marians and visitors in the know head to the Costa de Oro Winery tasting room to celebrate the end of the workweek. They relax in the comfortable lounge, where they order appetizers and fine wines by the glass and bottle. They also listen to live music ranging from rock to country and western, performed by various artists, including local Grammy Award winners and touring groups. Quite often, Burk himself can be found jamming with the band. This casual, Tuscan-style, family owned and operated tasting room offers a great sense of place. Highly recommended. –TS
Above all else Hitching Post Wines is about continuity. For more than thirty years Ostini and his winemaking partner in crime, Gray Hartley, have participated in the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Weekend festivities.
Ostini grew up in the restaurant business. His parents had operated the popular Hitching Post steak house in Casmalia, near Santa Maria, CA, since 1952. They specialized in Santa Maria-style barbecue—grilling steaks and chops over an open fire of red oak.
“In the beginning, the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Festival event was held at the historic Mission Santa Inés and we just served food,” said Ostini. This year, after a three-decade hiatus from the original site, the event returns to the Mission once again. But now days Ostini and Hartley’s wines get equal billing with Ostini’s BBQ.
On Saturday April 20 Hitching Post will fire up their oak wood grill. Ostini firmly assured me that he’ll be at the Vintner’s Festival, as he has for so many years, and that “we’re always cooking something indigenous to our region and representative of the restaurant.”
They plan on serving the following four wines at the tasting event:
“All of us in Santa Barbara County are individuals. We survived the Sideways onslaught and preserved our uniqueness,” Ostini said, referring to the unprecedented influx of visitors caused by the Academy Awarding-winning movie. There was the potential for this wave of media attention to bring change to the region and it’s winemaking traditions. Ostini playfully explained that wine in Santa Barbara County is made by a whole bunch of “kooks”, meaning, of course, that the local winemaking community is comprised of strong-willed individuals, with various personalities, doing things their own way. These days, nearly ten years after, commotion from the 2004 movie has died down. “We are still the same people we were before —and we’re very proud of that.”
Both Frank Ostini and his engaging partner-in-wine Gray Hartley will be on-hand at the festival to pour Pinot and serve BBQ to their many fans and customers. “We have a strong commitment to this event,” he said.
Editor’s Note: I hope to see everybody there! –TS
NAPA, CA—The 19th-century manor house at Stags’ Leap Winery is an historic Napa Valley treasure. Plans are now in the works to convert it from a bed-and-breakfast to an expanded wine tasting and visitation space as part of a $2 million property upgrade. This off the beaten track “by appointment only” winery, just to the east of Silverado Trail and south of Yountville Cross Road, will increase it’s daily allotted visitation from 10 appointments per day to 40. Food and wine pairings will also be added.
For the first time, the property will be featured in the upcoming sixth edition of The California Directory of Fine Wineries as a recommended destination. The new book premieres next month.
—Tom Silberkleit, Publisher
The California Directory of Fine Wineries
(aka “The California Wine Travel Insider”)
AIR DATE: Saturday April 6, 2013—
PROGRAM: “Tonia’s Kitchen” - all things foodie - with host Tonia King.
Content: Interview with California Wine Travel Insider Tom Silberkleit.
Topic: “Central Coast Wine Country” & “Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival”
Broadcast Stations: KJZA Flagstaff, AZ; KUBA-AM1600/FM 95.5 Sacramento, CA; WTCH-AM 960 Green Bay, WI; WJMQ-FM 92.3 Green Bay, WI; Philly Syndication Network, Philadelphia, PA; WCTR AM 1530, Baltimore, MD; KROS AM 1340 Clinton, IA; BJR Raleigh, NC, KSRO AM 1350, Santa Rosa, CA.