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Wine Tasting in Downtown Paso Robles

by Xochitl Maiman – January 7, 2017

Downtown Paso Robles offers a comprehensive wine tasting experience that’s still a secret to many touring and tasting visitors to the area.

Downtown Paso Robles WineriesThe Paso Robles wine region of Central California is no longer the secret of locals and wine writers on the lookout for the next best thing. Nope, Paso Robles is now a major player in the California wine scene, in fact, it was named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2013.

The region, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and named for its oak studded rolling hills on either side of the 101 freeway, boasts over 200 bonded wineries, many of them with tasting rooms along various wine trails zig zagging through the hills. Visitors can literally spend days touring and tasting on the various “wine trails”.

Downtown Paso Robles WineriesWhat is still somewhat of a secret is that there are over a dozen tasting rooms located in the charming and historic downtown area, offering myriad wine varietals and styles for every palate. These tasting rooms generally represent smaller boutique wineries that aren’t equipped with an “on site” tasting room facility to receive guests, or are just too far off the wine trails to be easily found.  Most of the wineries belong to the Paso Robles Downtown Wineries Association, and each offers a unique tasting experience. Many also offer live music performances in the late afternoon and evenings on weekends.

Strolling Downtown Paso Robles

The trick is to actually plan to spend a few hours downtown – simply park your car and stroll the streets surrounding the downtown park, stopping  to taste wine, have lunch, and shop at any of the wonderful stores boasting food goods, clothing, home décor, antiques and collectibles. Alternatively, you could spend a few hours tasting, then relax with some music in one of the tasting rooms  before heading to dinner with your new favorite wine in hand.

If you’re planning a trip to Paso Robles, you might consider planning to be there when the Downtown Tasting Rooms have one of their “wine strolls”, usually once during each season. This is the perfect opportunity to meet many of the winemakers/owners themselves, and each tasting room generally offers a food pairing to showcase one of their wines. Many also offer music and wine specials during these events.  The group also does similar walk-around events to benefit various charities, like Zoo to You and Wine 4 Paws.

I haven’t visited all the downtown tasting rooms yet, and more have opened recently, but here are a few standouts I would suggest.

D'Anbino Cellars - Downtown Paso RoblesLocated in the historic train depot, just a couple of blocks from the Downtown Paso Robles Park, are Anglim Winery, producing wines primarily from Rhone varietals, and the very unique tasting room of D’Anbino Cellars.  Co-owners John D’ Andrea and Carmine Rubino, come from the music industry and their tasting room is like a TV and film music museum with much of their music memorabilia on display. The tasting room bar is made of piano sound boards and the whole place doubles as a much sought after music venue featuring some of the finest musicians in California, with concerts 2-3 times a week.  Their annual “Italian-night” is a ton of fun.

LXV Wines - Downtown Paso Robles

Photo Credit: LXV Wines

LXV is one of the most unique tasting rooms you will probably ever experience. Here your senses are aroused by the color of the walls, the texture of the fabrics of the couches, the smell of spice, and, of course, the taste of their beautifully crafted wines with labels inspired by the 64 arts of Kamasutra.

For most unique building, Derby Wine Estates, located  in an iconic Downtown Paso Robles landmark, is the place to visit. Erected in 1922, the building was a processing plant for the Almond Growers Association for the period of time when almonds were the area’s prime agricultural commodity. The building went through a number of incarnations before being purchased and meticulously renovated by the Derby’s in 2010. Call ahead for a “reserve  tasting” in their lofty “Almond Room” with stunning views of the surrounding hills.

Derby Wine Estates - Downtown Paso Robles

Photo Credit: Derby Wine Estates Facebook page

Frolicking Frog  also boasts a unique location as it shares space with a jewelry store, fitting as owner/winemaker Stu Goldman is also a jeweler. The “jewels” of his winemaking include rich, lush wines made from zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and other red varietals.

Parrish Family Vineyard not only offers wonderful wines, both red and white, but their family history is deeply rooted in the Paso Robles area. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a day when David Parrish or his daughter, Cecily, is there, do ask for the family story while you sip one of their delicious zinfandels or Cabernets. Don’t miss the “Silken” blends, both white and red versions.

Downtown Paso Robles WineriesTo learn more about the Paso Robles Downtown Wineries visit their website or follow their Facebook page

Download and print tasting guide and map of Downtown Paso Robles Wineries tasting rooms.

 

I’LL DRINK TO THAT!

A Passover Tradition Continues- Matzoh Popovers

by Xochitl Maiman – April 23, 2016

Traditions – ties that, if only for a moment, remind us that we are deeply connected to people and times before us.

Traditions, by definition – the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. Whether they are rooted in religious beliefs, native culture or just family fun, traditions are very often related to food and meals well spent with family and friends.

Here are some of my family’s favorite food related traditions….Christmas cookie baking, clam dip on Christmas Eve, triple chocolate pecan pie for my daughter’s birthday, chocolate eclair cake for my son’s birthday, chicken casserole for erev You Kippur, corn casserole for Easter, Friday night dinner with friends, my mom’s sherry laced pumpkin walnut bread for Thanksgiving, and my mother in-law’s Passover mandel bread and popovers.

This year, my mother in-law, now in her 90’s, has passed on the matzo popover recipe to me. I remember these popovers from when I first started dating my husband. She’d make them and fill them with tuna salad, and they were light and kind of nutty tasting – the perfect host for that “traditional” deli style tuna that I’ve never quite been able to replicate, for some reason.

So for the many of my friends out there whose moms or “bubbies” made matzo popovers, here’s the recipe. It’s basic, simple to make and the memory it invokes will bring a wistful smile to your face. Don’t forget the tuna! Cheers to traditions – what are some of your favorites?

Passover matzo popovers
Belle's Passover Popovers
Print Recipe
Servings
12 popovers
Servings
12 popovers
Passover matzo popovers
Belle's Passover Popovers
Print Recipe
Servings
12 popovers
Servings
12 popovers
Ingredients
Servings: popovers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° and grease or spray muffin tin.
  2. Combine water, oil, salt and sugar in a large sauce pan - bring to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in matzoh meal until it is fully mixed in and begins to pull away from sides of pan. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. With a fork, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Evenly divide dough among muffin cups, rounding tops slightly.
  6. Bake for 40-43 minutes till nicely browned and sound hollow when thumped on bottom. (If they brown too quickly, lay a piece of foil over top for balance of baking time.
  7. If not going to use the same day, best to refrigerate.
  8. Enjoy - Happy Passover!
    Passover Matzoh Popovers
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Live Long and Prosper, “Mr. Spock”

Is there someone who has touched your life – changed your life – inspired you – facilitated an epiphany, an “aha moment” that altered your course – your personal evolution? For some that person might be a parent, a friend, an activist, an author, a spiritual leader, a musician, a painter…. but a fictional character?

Spock,_2267

While you come to this blog to read about food and wine, today I ask for your indulgence as I devote this space on the world wide web…and indeed a space in my heart…and soul, to “Mr. Spock” and the actor that brought him to life – Mr. Leonard Nimoy. How ironic that a character so purposely void of emotions could evoke such a wide array of emotions in me today in learning of his passing and in the many years that I have spent remembering and putting to practice Mr. Spock’s logic and ideology.

Even at a young age, Mr. Spock’s logic and view of the world…or in his case, the universe, resonated with me. It just made sense. Objectivity, intelligence, focus and clarity. The emotions of love, respect, trust and fear were all there, just kept in check so the job at hand could be accomplished. Well, perhaps I was never going to be a “Number 1” on an intergalactic airship, but I would have many opportunities in my life where those attributes would provide me with the foundation necessary for the situation at hand.

Juxtaposed against the logic, there seemed to be a spiritual component subtly implied in the character of Mr. Spock. Indeed, Mr. Nimoy explained that even the iconic split finger hand gesture, generally accompanied by the words, “Live Long and Prosper”, was derived from a gesture made by practitioners in a synagogue he witnessed as a youth. In later years, Mr. Nimoy would write many books of poetry, illustrated with his own photographs. As a poet and photographer in my teens, again, my connection with the passion, introspect and the emotion of his written word, ran deep.

Having lived in Hollywood my whole life, movie star sightings are pretty common place. But only once, have I actually wanted  to verbally connect with one of those stars. I had gone to see a musical performance at the Hollywood Bowl that was being narrated by Mr. Nimoy. When his portion of the show was finished, I darted to the backstage artists’ entrance to hopefully see him and let him know how deeply his artistic endeavors had touched me over the years. But as fate would have it, he had left quickly and I had missed him. Today, it saddens me that he shall never know.

So today, I will raise a glass to toast a mentor and thank him for sharing and for the many lessons well taught.

Is there someone who has touched your life – changed your life – inspired you – facilitated an epiphany, an “aha moment” that altered your course – your personal evolution?  If you can, why not thank them today?

And as always……

I’LL DRINK TO THAT!

 

My Thoughts on Wine Blogging

Wine Blogging – What it Means to Me

– Xochitl Maiman    September 7, 2014

Xochitl Maiman wine blogging

Harvest at Cass Winery a few years ago.

In the 2 months since the Wine Bloggers Conference was held, there have been many posts about the conference experience , the wines, the winemakers, and much has been said about wine blogging and wine bloggers. Some wineries don’t see the “value” in wine bloggers – some wine bloggers don’t think other wine bloggers are “doing it right” or are credible enough. So here’s my take on the whole wine blogging thing – for what it’s worth and to whom ever cares. But, after all, isn’t that what a blog ultimately is – a place to voice an opinion, make a statement, share your thoughts?

I started this blog, however many years it was ago, so that I could share my love and admiration for the wines and winemakers of the Central Coast, primarily, and to bring awareness of the many small wineries and their wonderful wines to other wine enthusiasts. I love to write, and I thought this would be a good way to exercise the muscle. That’s it. I never claimed to be a journalist or sommelier. I’m not writing for a Pulitzer or to be offered a job by Wine Spectator or the Wall Street Journal. I write for fun. I love wine. I love wine people. I love vineyards. I love to share my wine/winery discoveries with others.

In my blog posts, you’re not going to find long, colorful descriptions of a wine or my “expert judgement” on a wine’s quality. Suffice it to say, that if I mention a wine in one of my posts, it means I enjoyed it in whatever time and setting it was, with whoever I was with at the time and with whatever food I was enjoying with it. That’s the way wine is. Most wines, (rarely do I come across a wine that is just plain bad, thank goodness), to some degree, are chameleons, and will change their color (not literally) slightly with the circumstances in which one is consuming it. So all I’m ever saying is, I enjoyed this wine, I suggest you try it too and decide for yourself if you like it. Everyone’s palate is different, but there is a lot of wine out there. All I’m doing is helping the reader narrow down the field a bit – offer a bit of direction to their own wine discovery.

As for the wineries that don’t see the value in wine bloggers, here’s what I say. Yes, I agree, that there are many different types of wine bloggers. As for me, if I’ve called a winery asking for a tour or tasting, they can be certain I’ve done my homework. Something about that winery has caught my eye and inspired me to learn more – see/taste for myself. I’m not necessarily going to pepper my posts with quotes, as one blogger suggests all good bloggers must do. Worse yet, I might not even find the time to actually write a blog post about a tasting or winery visit. (Often, there just isn’t enough time in a work day for me to write for myself). My work is in social media – I understand the value of social engaging and sharing. So while I may not blog as often as some, or as eloquently or professionally as others, I am making a conscious effort to continually support the efforts of the wineries I visit by participating on their social properties, posting images, proper tagging, sharing of events and providing opportunities for those in my wine sphere of influence to try the wines I find. And when I do post, I am careful to link to winery websites and include good imagery. Most importantly, my objective is to convey to the reader the “feeling” I had during my visit – how a winemaker looked when he was describing his first wine, the excitement and twinkle in the eye of a new winery owner, the awesome beauty to behold from a tasting room deck looking out onto a sea a vines, the majesty of a giant oak guarding a vineyard block, how a vineyard made me cry (yes it happens quite often), the first taste of a ripe viognier grape……. it goes on and on. Those are the experiences I want to share – that I want my readers to seek out for themselves. If this is the kind of wine blogging you’re interested in reading, I would be honored if you’d stop by from time to time.

I am so lucky to live in a state where wine country, lots of it, is just a couple hours away. I am blessed to have an ever growing circle of friends who appreciate wine and all that goes with it. I am grateful for the many opportunities I am given to learn more, taste more, and meet more of the very special people joining the wine industry every year. And in reference to the latter, I want to thank every winery, winemaker and organization that has offered my a seminar, a tour, a visit, an hour of their valuable time….a taste of their wine – each has contributed to and fostered my never ending love for…wine. Cheers!

I’LL DRINK TO THAT!

Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon – Staking a Claim

by Xochitl Maiman   May 4, 2014

Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon producers are spreading the news

Paso Robles CAB Collective cabernet sauvignon

Paso Robles, well known for its Zinfandel and Rhone varietals, is  positioning the region as a major player in the production of high quality, age worthy California Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals. In fact they feel so strongly that they are contenders for the throne that 28 producers have come together to get the word out. To this end, they have formed the Paso Robles CAB Collective, which hosted its second annual CABS of Distinction events for trade, media and consumers April 23-26.

One of the founding members of the Collective, Daniel Daou of DAOU Vineyards, said, as most believe, that “a great wine starts in the vineyard”. And here’s where the Collective begins their stand.  With calcareous clay soils similar to those of France’s Bordeaux region, Daou touts Paso Robles to be “more like Bordeaux than Napa”.  Cabernet likes this kind of soil which provides for good natural acidity and minerality in the fruit. The problem has been that until now, Paso producers have been “shy” about pushing the envelope on their cabernet programs. With the strength of numbers, the support of the Collective and the effort to educate consumers and change the general market perception, it is their hope more Paso Robles cabernet and Bordeaux varietal producers will push to increase the quality of their vineyards, (currently 55% of vineyards in Paso Robles are planted to cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals), and realize the true potential of the region.

During the two days that I attended the various events for the media, I was given plenty of opportunity to listen to and speak with many of the winemakers in the Collective. Their ages vary, and their stories of how they came to be winemakers are all different, but what these men and women share is a passion for what they do and they’re eager to share that passion with the wine drinking community. They are excitedly looking to the next 10 years as a pivotal time when consumer awareness grows, allowing Paso Robles to take its place among the great cabernet producing regions of the world.

So it at this point that I make my recommendation – get to Paso Robles and start tasting for yourself. Visit the wineries, talk to the winemakers and buy some wine. Buy multiple bottles of your favorites so that you can drink a bottle now and lay down a couple for tasting again in a year or two or three.  Take note of the characteristics of these wines – which you like, which you don’t. What changes occur in the wine/how does it evolve over the years? Did this wine have longevity in the bottle? Which vintages did you like better and why? Host a blind tasting for your friends and include cabernet from different regions. Which styles do you prefer? How does your palette change over a period of time? How do the wines change when paired with food? If you find some Paso favorites, encourage your local wine store to consider carrying them. Luckily, the best way to learn about wine is to drink it….with friends, family and of course good food.

But where to start, you ask? By all means visit the CAB Collective’s website for a list of their members. Don’t forget that there are many other cabernet producers in Paso Robles that are not yet members of the collective, so explore them as well. But in the meantime here is a very short list of some of my favorites from the CABS of Distinction tastings.

 

Parrish Family Vineyards – 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Bon Niche Cellars – 2010 L’Entrée- Malbec and 2010 Fenetres Petit Verdot

Halter Ranch Vineyard –2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

Calcareous Vineyard – 2006 Petit Verdot – Denner Vineyard

Cass Vineyard and Winery – 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Paso Robles – Come for the Wine, “Stay” for the History

Paso Robles offers history along with its fine wine, cuisine, places to stay and scenic landscape.

In the many years I’ve been visiting Paso Robles, I have stayed in hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, guest houses and spare bedrooms. Paso Robles offers as much variety in accommodations as the wineries do in wines. All the more fun! Whether you’re looking for functional, rustic, country, a bit of Tuscany, secluded or in the thick of things, Paso Robles has the perfect place for you to “stay” while enjoying your wine country getaway.

For me, I always love a place to visit with some history and Paso’s history is embraced and evident everywhere you turn. During the late 1880’s, prominent local land owners Daniel D. Blackburn and Drury James (the uncle of the outlaw Jesse James), helped establish the beginnings of a town with first-class amenities. They saw to the city’s incorporation in 1889, designed the town’s City Park and, in 1891, built an extensive bathhouse over the sulfur spring as well as the three-story Hotel El Paso de Robles, which is today the Paso Robles Inn. 2014 marks the 125th anniversary of Paso Robles and will be the theme for the annual Pioneer Day Parade to be held October 11, 2014.

The Paso Robles Inn is one of the area’s iconic landmarks valued not only for its comfortable accommodations, rambling gardens, hot springs and downtown location, but for its storied history. It is also home to the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom, the only structure to survive the devastating fire of 1940 that destroyed the original inn. The Paso Robles Inn was re-built in 1942 and in 2000 the Grand Ballroom was restored to its original grandeur, boasting original hardwood floors and high beam ceilings with original light fixtures.

Paso Robles Inn-historicalPaso Robles Inn Grand BallroomJust a short 2 block walk from the Paso Robles Inn stands another charming piece of Paso’s history, Emily’s House Bed & Breakfast. The history of this farmhouse dates back to the late 1800’s when Otto Toevs Sr. emigrated from Russia just before World War I. He opened a general store and started a family.  In 2012, 82 members of the extended Toevs family from around the world gathered for a long-overdue family reunion at the original homestead, which by then had been purchased by Vicki and Kenny Combs and refurbished into the Bed & Breakfast it is today.

Toevs Emily's House Bed and Breakfast

mily's House Bed & Breakfast - Paso Robles, California

Vicki Combs - owner, Emily's House Bed & Breakfast, Paso Robles

Vicki Combs – owner, Emily’s House Bed & Breakfast, Paso Robles

I was invited by Vicki to come for a stay and did so during the recent Paso Robles CAB Collective media events for the CABS of Distinction. Our events were held in the Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom so the location was perfect!

Vicki greeted me with the warmth of an old friend, and as I was traveling alone, that was greatly appreciated. As she gave me a tour of her home, I was at once taken with the warm feel and comfort of this old home that has been meticulously given new life with modern updates creating the perfect combination of old and new.  Original wood flooring meets pristine tile floors in the new en suite bathrooms of two of the three guest bedrooms.  The room I stayed in overlooks the expansive farmhouse kitchen with all the modern amenities to serve guests as they gather around the long kitchen table that was built from one of the homes original walls.

Farmhouse kitchen at Emily's Hous Bed and Breakfast Paso Robles

Emily's Room at Emily's House Bed & Breakfast, Paso Robles

Emily’s Room

After a wonderful dinner in town at the popular Buona Tavola, I walked the two blocks back to Emily’s House, and was delighted to find a glass of port in antique crystal and some cookies waiting for me on the bedside table. The bed had been turned down, and the bedside lamp cast a warm glow on the room. A cozy feather bed would provide a good night’s sleep and the smell of brewing coffee would be my awakening.

Port and cookies at Emily's House Bed and Breakfast

After a long hot shower, I dressed quickly, looking forward to the events of the day. But first, some breakfast and a few cups of that great smelling coffee. Vicki clearly has a passion for taking care of her guests and it’s evident in the care she puts into every detail, especially breakfast. The table was set with  silver, crystal and linen, but felt very casual in her big kitchen. We chatted extensively about food and wine and our favorite places to visit it the area while she prepared breakfast.  She loves to get out and about with her guests taking them to all her favorite wineries in the area and was excited to learn of my favorites to add to the list.  Breakfast of Bananas Foster French Toast and Canadian Bacon was a delicious way to start a day that would involve a whole lot of Cabernet. (more on that in a separate post)

Emily's House breakfast Paso RoblesLater that day, Vicki told me about the wonderful weddings they have held in the large back yard which she gardens herself and claims is a “work in progress”. Indeed, they have just re-furbished the pond, added a vegetable garden, a chicken coop with chickens, and are making plans for building a BBQ area. Whimsical items placed throughout the garden and among the exuberant roses, make a stroll through the grounds even more enticing.   A covered patio with plush cushion filled furniture provides the perfect setting for enjoying breakfast or an afternoon glass of wine.

Roses at Emily's House Bed & BreakfastEmily's House Bed and Breakfast Garden Paso RoblesEmily's House Bed and Breakfast Patio Paso RoblesGreat conversation once again accompanied my delicious breakfast the next morning as we chatted about Paso, wine, restaurants, tomatoes, and myriad other subjects. This time the table was set more “country” style and featured a frittata made with fresh kale and mushrooms and sausage – so good! And because Vicki believes, as do I, that all meals deserve a sweet ending, there was her version of apple pie, with bite size pieces of flaky crust mixed in with the apples instead of just on the bottom!

Breakfast at Emily's House Bed and Breakfast Paso Robles

Frittata with rosemary roasted potatoes

Once again, I had experienced the munificent hospitality that is so Paso Robles, leaving feeling as though I had made a new friend for life. With each visit I learn a little bit more about the history of this place and how it influences the Paso Robles of today –the blending of old and new that is the charm of Paso Robles…..I’ll be back…

I’LL DRINK TO THAT!

The Garagiste Festival – 2nd Annual Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival

by Xochitl Maiman             April 9, 2014

The Garagiste Festival – Southern Exposure Grand Tasting expanded to two days in 2014 – so much wine – so little time!

The original Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles has now become almost legendary in its fourth year – a festival dedicated to showcasing high-quality, cutting-edge, small-production commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,500 cases a year. Last year the festival launched its “Southern Exposure” Festival focusing on the artisan winemakers of the Santa Ynez Valley. This year their there were so many wineries that the event added a second day with each day featuring different wineries. As I said, “so much wine – so little time!”

In fact, I was only able to attend the first day of the festival, but I did jump start the weekend (March 28-30), by attending the Garagiste “Kick-Off” Party, a pizza and wine pairing at Cecco Ristorante in Solvang. Eleven “garagiste” wineries, including 2 that would not be participating in the main event, poured while Cecco tray passed piping hot pizzas and other yummy appetizers. The patio was packed with wine enthusiasts all anxious to learn more about these small wineries, most with no tasting rooms, making this a rare opportunity to taste these gems.  While it’s always so good to meet and speak with the owners/winemakers, I especially enjoyed meeting Deanna King of De Su Propria Cosecha and Zach and Ian from Archium Cellars.

Garagiste Pizza Party

Highlights:

Archium Cellars – 2011 “Dissident” Rhone Blend (82% Syrah/18% Grenache)

Zach and Ian of Archium Cellars

Zach and Ian of Archium Cellars

Archium Cellars Dissident

De Su Propria Cosecha – 2011 Roussanne, Stolpman Vineyard and 2009 La Cosecha Central Coast Red

Vinemark Cellars – 2009 Reserve Primitivo

Press Gang Cellars – 2010 Syrah, Harrison Clarke Vineyard

Calilove Wines – 2013 “Gold Rush” Chardonnay, Presqu’ile Vineyard – Barrel Sample

The following morning, after a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we headed over to the Veterans’ Memorial Hall for a couple hours of tasting. Of the 30 wineries pouring and the countless wines of all varieties, these were some of the standouts for me from wineries I was not already familiar with:

Archium Cellars – 2013 Rosé of Grenache

Carucci Wines – 2012 Viognier, White Hawk Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard – 2012 Grenache Blanc “Summer Shade”

Crawford Family Wines – 2012 Pinot Noir – Zotovitch Vineyard

Wendy and Mark Horvath - Crawford Family Wines

Wendy and Mark Horvath – Crawford Family Wines

Dubost Ranch – 2009 Reserva (70% Syrah/30% Tempranillo)

Liquid Farm – 2013 Mourvedre Rosé, Vogelzang Vineyard and 2012 Chardonnay – “White Hill” – Sta. Rita Hills

Moretti Wine Co. – 2013 Vermentino

Ryan Cochrane Wines – 2012 Pinot Noir – Solomon Hills Vineyard

Ryan Cochrane Wines Pinot Noir

Ryan Cochrane Wines Pinot Noir – 2012 – Solomon Hills Vineyard

Shai Cellars and Tercero Wines were also there, and while I’m quite familiar with their wines, it’s always good to taste the latest offerings from Shawn Halahmy and Larry Schaffer, respectively. Two favs are the 2009 Shai Cellars Adome (65% Syrah/35% Cabernet Sauvignon) and Tercero’s 2009 Cuvee Christie.

Denise Lowe, the Goddess of Wine, Shawn Halahmy and Sandy Grazziani of Shai Cellars.

Denise Lowe, the Goddess of Wine, Shawn Halahmy and Sandy Grazziani of Shai Cellars.

A large selection of grape varietals were represented including genache, syrah, viognier, cabernet sauvignon, primitivo, roussanne, gewurztraminer, chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel, tempranillo, sauvignon blanc, negrette, chenin blanc, riesling, mourvedre, semillon, vermentino, merlot, petite verdot, petite sirah and malbec.

I love the wines from this region – the pinot’s are earthy, but with fabulous fruit, the chardonnay’s have complexity and balance, the rhones and bordeaux varietals are complex without being too heavy, and with good fruit and elegant mouthfeels. All in all, this was a wonderful tasting and not only do I look forward to next year’s event, but I’m anxious to track down some of my favorites from this event and add them to my cellar!

More winery information.

While the details for the 2014 Paso Robles Garagiste Festival have not been announced yet, stay up to date with all the latest news on their website.

CABS of Distinction – 2014

by Xochitl Maiman   April 4, 2014

CABS of Distinction Expands to 5-day Event

CABS of Distinction Paso Robles 2014

After the success of the inaugural CABs of Distinction event, (launched last year to celebrate and promote Cabernet Sauvignon and red Bordeaux varietals produced in Paso Robles, California), and the increased exposure and credibility from Paso Robles being named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, the Paso Robles Cab Collective has geared up for even more exciting events in 2014. The CABs of Distinction events will take place in locations across the Paso Robles AVA with enhanced sommelier, media, trade and consumer experiences. For more information on the sommelier, media and trade events visit http://www.pasoroblescab.com.

One of the highlights for me from last year’s event was the En Primeur barrel tasting of the 2012 vintage and I look forward to tasting the 2013 this year, as well as the Library/Rare and Reserve offerings. There will also be a vintner panel discussion moderated by Matt Kettmann, contributing editor of Wine Enthusiast and senior editor of Santa Barbara Independent, winery hosted lunches and dinners, vineyard tours and more all geared to shed light on the true potential of Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals from Paso Robles.

Paso Robles CAB Collective en primeur tasting of 2013

En Primeur tasting at 2013 event

Consumer-focused events will take place April 25-26. These two days will showcase spectacular quality wines from producers of world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and red Bordeaux varietals. The weekend begins on Friday with wineries hosting various events throughout the day and winemaker dinners at wineries and in Paso Robles’ most sought-after restaurants at night. Last year I had the pleasure of attending the winemaker dinner at McPhee’s Grill in Templeton which featured the wines of Chateau Margene, B&E Vineyards, Robert Hall, Eberle and Justin. Read all the delicious details of that dinner and check out this year’s winemaker dinner options. Seating is always limited so reserve early!

McPhee's Grill dinner course - CABS of Distinction 2013

McPhee’s Grill dinner course from 2013 winemaker dinner

The CABs of Distinction Gala on Saturday will be held at River Oaks Hot Springs in Paso Robles and will include tastings of 32 wineries (28 member wineries and four invited garagiste producers), each thoughtfully paired with artisanal cheese or charcuterie. Decadent catered lunches will be provided by notable Paso Robles restaurants and caterers (Robert’s Restaurant, Crush Catering and Avant-Garde Experience), along with chocolate tastings, live music, a barrel-making demonstration, and more.

Gary Eberle discussing Cabernet Sauvignon with guests at the 2013 CABS of Distinction Grand Tasting

Gary Eberle discussing Cabernet Sauvignon with guests at the 2013 CABS of Distinction Grand Tasting

Luxury VIP ticket holders will start the day with an intimate private vintner-hosted reception and lunch at Thomas Hill Organics in downtown Paso Robles at 11 a.m. The indulgent multi-course menu will be paired with select Cabernet and red Bordeaux wines. After lunch, complimentary shuttle service will be provided to the event site where VIP’s will be the first to arrive and taste through reserve wines at 1 p.m. VIP guests will have private access to a VIP Lounge throughout the day, and continued access to the Gala from 2-5 p.m.

Premium-Reserve VIP tickets are also available for early entry to the Reserve Tasting at 1 p.m., access to the VIP Lounge throughout the day, as well as full access to the Gala.

Read more about last year’s event.

Tickets for the CABs of Distinction Gala event can be purchased at www.pasoroblescab.com. The website includes member winery details and contact information, trade tools and the PRCC blog with extended member features, harvest reports and other news.

Members of the Paso Robles CAB Collective include ADELAIDA Cellars, Ancient Peaks Winery, B&E Vineyard, Bon Niche Cellars, Calcareous Vineyard, Cass Vineyard & Winery, Chateau Margene, Clautiere Vineyard, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Eberle Winery, Halter Ranch Vineyard, Hammersky Vineyards, Hunt Cellars, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jada Vineyard & Winery, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, Le Cuvier Winery, Le Vigne Winery, Opolo Vineyards, Parrish Family Vineyards, Peachy Canyon Winery, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, Record Family Wines, Red Soles Winery, Robert Hall Winery, Sextant Wines, Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery, and Vina Robles.

ABOUT THE PASO ROBLES CAB COLLECTIVE

Paso Robles CAB Collective logo

Formed in 2012, the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective (PRCC) is an independent collaborative effort of leading Paso Robles growers and producers of Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals specific to the Paso Robles AVA in California. The PRCC strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles region in producing superior quality, classic and age-worthy Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals that compete with like varietals on a global stage to consumers and media worldwide. For more information, please visit www.pasoroblescab.com.