Tag Archives: Rhone

Highlights from the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure | The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

One of my absolute favorite things about the Garagiste Festivals is the opportunity to discover new wines and meet the incredibly gifted people who make them.

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Even with a few Garagiste Festivals under my belt, I’m always amazed by how much new, little-known wine talent shows up at each event to share the fruits of their labor – some of whom are pouring their very first vintage.  I’ve discovered many of my favorite wines at past Garagiste Festivals, but I also love exploring some new ones.

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at The Wiltern

That being said, here are a few of my new favorites from the recent Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure at the iconic Wiltern theater…

Frequency Wines

Almond Wasserman of Frequency Wines

Almond Wasserman of Frequency Wines

Frequency Wines

Frequency Wines

Frequency Wines is a label started by brother-sister duo Almond & Zac Wasserman.  Since their first vintage in 2010, Frequency has received rave reviews from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for their beautifully crafted Rhone varietals, and last year they opened their own tasting room in the hip little town of Los Alamos, CA.  I absolutely loved their 2014 GSM & 2014 Zotovich Syrah.

Artisan Uprising

Artisan Uprising

Artisan Uprising

Artisan Uprising's beautiful hand-drawn label

Artisan Uprising’s beautiful hand-drawn label

Artisan Uprising’s David & William Vondrasek are true Garagistes.  Before releasing their first commercial vintage in 2012, the brothers had already spent years learning from their grandfather who made wine in his basement, and crafting wines for the family to enjoy.  After winning a few competitions, developing their own style, and stockpiling more wine than the family could consume, Artisan Uprising was born.  Now the brothers meticulously hand craft their wines using grapes from some of the best vineyards in Paso Robles and adorn each bottle with a beautiful label drawn by their sister.

Coda Wines

CODA Wines

Spencer Daly of Coda Wines

Spencer Daly of Coda Wines is one of the coolest winemakers I’ve met.  The 25-year-old just released his first vintage as an homage to the two things he loves most – music and wine.  A coda in the musical sense typically designates a movement or structure in a piece of music.  Spencer has named each wine under the Coda label with a musical term, harmoniously blending his two passions.

Spencer believes both music and wine are a reflection of the artist who created them, and both evoke certain moods and experiences.  I couldn’t agree more.  I thought his 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and 2013 Syrah were particularly delicious and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Coda.

PHOTO:  Spencer Daly of Coda Wines.  Courtesy of the Coda Wines Facebook page.

Weatherborne Wine Corp.

Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp.

Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp.

To me, there’s nothing like an exceptional Pinot Noir and Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp is making just that.  I’ve been raving about Weatherborne since Cris released his first vintage last year – a 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir crafted using grapes from the John Sebastiano and Melville Vineyards.

This year, he released his 2013 vintage, which is 100% John Sebastiano fruit.      While the 2012 is a bit tart and juicy with a bright acidity, the 2013 is darker, spicier, and multi-layered.  Weatherborne has definitely proven that the same grape – Pinot Noir – can produce two incredible wines with distinctly different flavor profiles.

Other Garagiste wines I highly recommend include:
Alta Colina
Archium Cellars
Casa Dumetz
Cholame Vineyard
Cloak & Dagger Wines
Dilecta Wines
Larner Wine
C. Nagy Wines
Tercero Wines

I hope to see everyone at the next Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles in November… Cheers!

 

Cholame Vineyard | San Miguel – Monterey County, CA

With the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure just around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to write about one of my favorite new Garagiste winemakers, Cholame Vineyard.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame (pronounced “Sho-Lamb”) doesn’t have a tasting room, so you have to catch them at festivals such as the Garagiste Festival, at local wine events, or at a select few restaurants and tasting rooms in Solvang & Orange County.

Cholame Vineyard Wine Tasting Event in Orange, CA

Cholame Vineyard Wine Tasting Event in Orange, CA

I had the incredibly good fortune of attending one of their wine events this spring and discovered what quickly became one of my favorite wineries.  Founded in 2006, Cholame was the happy result of a motorcycle ride vintner David DuBois took with a friend through the back roads outside of Paso Robles.

Inspired by the beauty in the area and by a great lunch at the Parkfield Cafe in the Cholame Valley, David decided to come back and explore the area further.  Cholame is a Yokut Indian word meaning “The Beautiful One”, which summed up David’s feelings about the Valley perfectly.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

He purchased 75 acres along Vineyard Canyon Road and planted 10 acres of vines, taking special care to choose varietals that would work well with the soil and climate.  Since then, David and his award-winning winemaker Andres Ibarra have handcrafted a beautiful portfolio of wines, fitting of the name “Cholame”.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

At the April event, I had the opportunity to taste through Cholame’s current releases, which included a ’14 Grenache Rose, ’13 Summer Shade Grenache Blanc, a ’12 Chardonnay, ’12 Cross Country Rhone Blend, a ’11 Zinfandel and a ’11 Bull Pen Tempranillo.  The wines were accompanied by a selection of cheeses and hors d’oeuvres.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

I also had a chance to speak with both Andres Ibarra and David DuBois who I could easily have talked to for hours.  I loved hearing the passionate stories about how Cholame came to be and about the journey they’ve taken to make the winery what it is today.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard Bull Pen Tempranillo

Winemaker Andres Ibarra & Vintner David DuBois

Winemaker Andres Ibarra & Vintner David DuBois

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

There really wasn’t a wine in the portfolio I didn’t like.  t took home several bottles, including the ’13 Summer Shade Grenache Blanc which was full of tropical fruit, the juicy and slightly spicy ’12 Cross Country Rhone Blend, and the ’14 Rose which was full of strawberry and perfect for summertime.

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

It was such a wonderful day.  A huge thank you to David, Andres, Katelyn, Cate and the entire Cholame team for your hospitality and for introducing me to your outstanding wines.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

If you’re heading to the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure this July 11th, make sure Cholame Vineyard is on your list…

CHOLAME VINEYARD
Phone:  (805) 610-1122
Email: info@cholamevineyard.com

Larner Vineyard & Winery | Los Olivos, CA

Oftentimes when I visit a winery, I find that I enjoy meeting the people involved in making the wine just as much as I enjoy the wine itself.  Such was the case when I visited Larner Vineyard & Winery in Los Olivos, CA.

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

I’m fascinated by the winemaking process and am always excited when I get to chat with a winemaker I admire first hand.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when I walked into the Larner tasting room on a recent Saturday, only to find that it was empty and that winemaker & vineyard manager Michael Larner was behind the bar pouring.

Michael Larner at Larner Wines in Los Olivos, CA

Michael Larner at Larner Wines in Los Olivos, CA

Michael’s passion for wine is tireless.  After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, he went on to earn his Master’s in Viticulture & Enology from UC Davis.  He then apprenticed in Tuscany and the Rhone Valley, co-founded the Ballard Canyon AVA, was named vice president of  the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, and began teaching winemaking & wine appreciation classes in Santa Maria.  Somehow he and his wife Christina found time to make the first vintage of Larner Wines in 2009 and it’s been a family run operation ever since.

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Located in a section of the Los Olivos General Store, the Larner tasting room is tiny and intimate. We walked up to the counter which is just big enough for about two people and Michael poured our first taste – a 2013 Malvasia Bianca.

Larner WInes

Larner Wines

From that point, we spent over an hour chatting with Michael about everything from vineyard management to the challenges that come with harvest & production to how to market & distribute the final product – particularly if you’re a small artisan winery.  Michael is literally hands-on every step of the way in his craft, which made the visit not only enjoyable, but educational as well.

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

After the Malvasia Bianca, we tasted a 2012 Rose, a 2010 proprietary GSM blend called Elemental, a 2010 Syrah, a 2009 Reserve Syrah, and a 2010 Grenache.  Larner specializes in Rhone varietals, all of which were nicely balanced and very food friendly.  I particularly liked the ’09 Reserve Syrah and the ’10 Grenache.

Larner Wines available by the glass

Larner Wines available by the glass

Larner Wines

Michael Larner and the Ballard Canyon AVA

If you’re a Rhone lover and you appreciate small production, hand crafted wines, you don’t want to miss Larner Vineyard & Winery.

LARNER VINEYARD & WINERY
2900 Grand Ave
Los Olivos, CA  93441
Phone:  (805) 688-8148
Email: info@larnerwine.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Monday

Highlights from the 2nd Annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure”

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Last weekend, some of the finest local, small production wine making talent around gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building in Solvang, CA for the 2nd annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure“.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

This year, a Grand Tasting was held on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, with a different lineup each day.  With 60 wineries pouring over the course of two days, and only a limited amount of time, I feel like I only scratched the surface. While I had a hard time choosing favorites among all the incredible wines I did get to taste, I managed to narrow my list down to a few stand-outs.   If you can get your hands on any of the wines below, I highly recommend you do… Archium Cellars Garagistes Zach Jarosz and Ian Sergy of Archium Cellars poured their 1st vintage at the festival, which included a delicious portfolio of Rhone varietals.  I particularly liked the Provencal-style ’13 Grenache Rosé and the juicy ’12 “Haven” Grenache.

Zach Jarosz & Ian Sergy of Archium Cellars

Zach Jarosz & Ian Sergy of Archium Cellars

Delicious '13 Grenache Rose from Archium Cellars

Delicious ’13 Grenache Rose from Archium Cellars

Archium Cellars

Archium Cellars

Press Gang Cellars Press Gang Cellars is winemaker Kyle Knapp and his wife, Savanna’s labor of love and true passion.  The Press Gang Cellars portfolio included some outstanding Rhone varietals, including a ’10 Grenache and a crisp ’13 Grenache Rosé “Savanna Rhea”.

Press Gang Cellars

Press Gang Cellars

Press Gang Cellars

Press Gang Cellars

Kyle & Savanna Knapp of Press Gang Cellars

Kyle & Savanna Knapp of Press Gang Cellars

Roark Wine Company Ryan Roark of Roark Wine Company takes a minimal approach to wine making and truly lets the grapes speak for themselves.  I liked his multilayered, unfiltered ’13 Sauvignon Blanc and his modestly priced ($15/bottle), non-vintage red wine blend he calls “Craigslist Cuvee #2”. As Ryan puts it, “where do you go when you are looking for a deal?  Craigslist!  What do they have on Craigslist?  Everything!  This wine is a blend of loose ends, things that didn’t have a home but that together tasted awesome.”

Roark Wine Company

Roark Wine Company

Ryan Roark of Roark Wine Company

Ryan Roark of Roark Wine Company

Roark Wine Company's "Craigslist Cuvee" Red Wine Blend

Roark Wine Company’s “Craigslist Cuvee #2” Red Wine Blend

Liquid Farm I’m a long-time fan of Liquid Farm’s Chardonnay and Rosé, so I couldn’t resist stopping to try the latest vintage (which of course, was as good as ever).  The ’13 Mourvedre Rosé was dry, crisp, and just heavenly.

Liquid Farm

Liquid Farm

Liquid Farm's Winemaker, James Sparks

Liquid Farm’s Winemaker, James Sparks

C. Nagy Wines It was difficult to pick favorites from Clarissa Nagy of C. Nagy Wines’ current portfolio.  I particularly liked her ’11 Pinot Blanc Bien Nacido Vineyard and ’12 Viognier White Hawk Vineyard – both a little taste of summer in a glass.  I also liked her ’10 Garey Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir, which had an elegant balance of vibrant fruit and spice.

C Nagy Wines

C. Nagy Wines

C Nagy Wines

C. Nagy Wines

a-non-ah-mus Ron Hill of a-non-ah-mus released the label’s first vintage in 2007 and he’s been producing impeccably crafted Rhone varietals ever since.  I really enjoyed the ’12 Viognier which had a beautiful, crisp acidity and the tart, juicy ’10 Alisos Vineyard Grenache.

a-non-ah-mus

a-non-ah-mus

a-non-ah-mus

a-non-ah-mus

Ron Hill of a-non-ah-mus

Ron Hill of a-non-ah-mus

Weatherborne Wine Corp. Winemaker Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp. was pouring his first vintage (2012) of the one & only varietal he produces (a Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir).  That being said, it was probably one of the best Pinot’s I’ve tasted – the perfect balance of juicy fruit and a hint of spice.  I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Weatherborne…

Chris Carter of Weatherborne

Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp.

ONX Wines I had the opportunity to try ONX Wines at the last Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles.  Since then, I’ve fallen in love with the unique blends ONX produces – particularly their Tempranillo based “Praetorian”.  When I found out they were debuting a ’13 Rosé of Tempranillo called “Indie”, I had to try it. Just like all the other wines ONX produces, I can’t recommend the ’13 Indie Rosé enough.  Delicious.

Jeff Strekas of ONX Wines

Jeff Strekas of ONX Wines

The '13 "Indie" Rosé of Tempranillo by ONX Wines

The ’13 “Indie” Rosé of Tempranillo by ONX Wines

Once again, “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” provided an invaluable opportunity to taste some outstanding, yet-to-be-discovered wines and to talk to the friendly, passionate artisans who make them.  I hope to see everyone at the next one… Cheers! Related Posts: 2nd Annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” Returns to Solvang…

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines – *CLOSED*

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

* UPDATE 8/13: CLOSED. The tasting room is now owned by J Dusi Wines

I’ve wanted to try Edward Sellers’ wines for years. It was always on my list, however because the tasting room was located in downtown Paso Robles, it usually ended up at the bottom as a last place to visit before dinner. Unfortunately after a day of wine tasting outside of town, we usually skipped more wine and focused on food.

Now Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines has a gorgeous tasting room on the Westside of Paso and during my last visit, I made it the first stop of the day.

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

Driving down Highway 46 West, it’s easy to miss the entrance to Edward Sellers. Although the tasting room is not far off the highway, once you turn down the unpaved drive and head onto the vine-covered grounds of the winery, you feel miles away from everything.

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

The tasting room at Edward Sellers is modern, yet it fits in perfectly with the natural beauty around it. There is plenty of sunny outside seating that overlooks the acres of vineyards. We got out of our car and were greeted by two friendly winery dogs who quickly made friends with our dog, Booker.

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

Outside seating at Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

Outside seating at Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines with a picture-perfect view

After soaking up some sunshine, we headed inside – Booker included – to try some wine. The inside of the Edward Sellers tasting room is just as lovely as the outside with dark stone floors, a bright green accent wall, and big window behind the bar that allows you to peek inside the barrel room.

Inside the Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines tasting room

Inside the Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines tasting room

Inside the Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines tasting room

Our tasting included two whites followed by a series of reds. Similar to other wineries in Paso Robles, Edward Sellers specializes in hand crafted American Rhone style wines. However, what I think sets them apart is the fact that most of Edward Sellers’ wines were perfectly balanced and surprisingly food-friendly. They had the classic, big Paso Rhone style that I love without being too big and bold to complement a meal.

Booker enjoying the cool stone floor at Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

All the wines we tried were consistently good which made it difficult to pick our favorites. We decided to leave with a couple of bottles of 2011 Grenache Rose – a juicy, strawberry-filled rose that is perfect for summer. We also took home a bottle of 2007 Vertigo (71% Grenache, 16% Mourvèdre & 13% Syrah) which was slightly tart with a nice hint of smoke.

I’m so glad we finally tried Edward Sellers. It is one of our new favorites and will be a regular stop on our visits to Paso Robles.

Click here to visit the Edward Sellers Vineyards website.

EDWARD SELLERS VINEYARDS & WINES
1401 West Highway 46
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 239-8915
Email: info@edwardsellers.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Daily