Tag Archives: rose

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

5 Must-Try Rosé Wines For Summertime

With longer, warmer days upon us, it seems like Rosé season has finally arrived.  Grab a chair in the sun and enjoy one of these bottles on a lazy Summer afternoon.

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

 

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé
The Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé is made from Touriga Nacional, which is one of Portugal’s finest varietals and is typically used to make Port.  Arnot-Roberts  uses grapes grown in volcanic/river rock soils of the Luchsinger Vineyard in Lake County to make their Rosé.  It’s a very dry wine with a nice, crisp acidity.  Not a Rosé for everyone, but I thought it was quite good.

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

Arnot-Roberts 2014 Rosé

 

Copain 2014 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé
Copain’s 2014 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé is made from Pinot Noir from the North Coast AVA and is full of juicy red fruit and a bright acidity.  This wine is beautifully balanced and ideal to pair with food.

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

2014 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Rosé

2014 Copain “Tous Ensemble” Rosé

 

ONX “Indie” 2014 Rosé
ONX has been putting out some outstanding wines and the “Indie” Rosé is no exception.  Made from Tempranillo, Indie achieves an effortless harmony between slightly sweet red berry and watermelon notes, and refreshing acidity.  This wine is very easy to drink.  I recommend having several bottles of Indie chilled and ready to go for those warm Summer days.

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

2014 ONX "Indie" Rosé

2014 ONX “Indie” Rosé

 

Cholame Vineyard 2014 Rosé
I just recently discovered the wines of Cholame Vineyard and am so happy I did.  Their newly-released 2014 Rosé is full of fresh strawberry with a beautiful finish that will appeal to a wide variety of palates.  Cholame is a Native American word meaning “The Beautiful One” which describes this wine perfectly.

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé - Central Coast

2014 Cholame Vineyard Rosé – Central Coast

 

Brachetto d’ Acqui DOCG “Conti di Gropello”
I’m typically not a fan of sweet wines and was hesitant to include a sparkling wine on this list, however after tasting the Conte di Gropello Brachetto d’ Acqui, I couldn’t resist.  This deep pink, low alcohol (6.5%) sparkling wine is like summertime in a glass.  It tastes like sugar-dusted wild strawberries with a pleasantly balanced finish and a frothy effervescence…almost like an adult version of strawberry soda.  It’s guaranteed to make those who lean towards sweeter wines (Moscato, etc.) very happy.

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D'Acqui

Conte Di Gropello Brachetto D’Acqui

Here are a few more exceptional 2014 Rosé wines to try:
L’Aventure 2014 Estate Rosé (Paso Robles)
LIOCO 2014 “Indica” Rosé (Mendocino County)
Villa Creek 2014 “Pink” Rosé (Paso Robles)
Law Estate Wines 2014 Rosé (Paso Robles)

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

L-R: Arnot-Roberts, Copain, ONX, Cholame, Conte Di Gropello

 

Wind Gap Wines | The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I’ve noticed a trend recently of winemakers using a very minimalist approach to their craft.  By selecting the best grapes from specific vineyard sites, using wild yeasts, and remaining as non-interventionist as possible, they’re allowing the fruit to express itself in an honest, unique way.

An excellent example of this sort of wine making is what Pax Mahle is doing at Wind Gap Wines.  I had a chance to visit his beautiful, newly opened tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol, CA last week and tasted through his current portfolio.

The Barlow - Sebastopol, CA

The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

The grapes used to make Wind Gap Wines are sourced from vineyards throughout California that are directly influenced by, or planted along, different “wind gaps”.  These are essentially valleys cut through the coastal hillsides where winds flow inland, impacting the wine growing regions along their path.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I was really impressed by the uniqueness of the wines in the Wind Gap portfolio.  As part of his minimalist wine making approach, Pax uses mostly neutral fermentation vessels (stainless steel, concrete & neutral oak), and keeps his alcohol levels moderate, which allows the fruit to truly shine.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Tasters have the option of trying 4 wines for $12 or 6 wines for $24.  Wines are also sold “a la carte” by the glass and carafe to enjoy on site.  I opted to try 6, which included a slightly effervescent ’13 Arinto Pierce Ranch, a ’13 Trousseau Gris, a ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir , a bright ’12 Grenache from the Sceales Vineyard (some of whose vines are 80 years old), and 2 very different yet equally delicious Syrahs.  I also got to sample the ’13 North Coast Rose.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I particularly liked the ’13 Arinto and the ’13 North Coast Rose – both of which are sold in $40 refillable growlers ($28 for the refill) and perfect for summertime.  I also loved the slightly spicy ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and the ’08 Russian River Syrah.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines – 2008 Russian River Valley Syrah

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Whether you stop by for an hour or to spend a relaxing afternoon, Wind Gap Wines is a “must try” for your next visit to Sebastopol…

WIND GAP WINES
@ The Barlow
6780 McKinley Street
Suite 170
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 331-1393
Email:  mail@windgapwines.com
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 6:30PM Thursday through Sunday

THE BARLOW
6770 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 824-5600

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…

Exploring the Lompoc Wine Ghetto – Part 1

Lompoc Wine Ghetto

Lompoc Wine Ghetto

I’ve known about the Lompoc Wine Ghetto for ages, but for some reason, I never had a strong desire to visit. I had a preconceived notion that it was an easy access, multiple tasting room destination that catered to those who prefer quantity over quality. After visiting for the first time this weekend, I could not have been more wrong.

Tucked away in an industrial park in Lompoc, the Wine Ghetto is home to nearly 20 tasting rooms. It isn’t as visually appealing as some of the picturesque wineries in the area, but that’s what I loved about it. It actually deters large groups traveling in wine tour buses and limos. After all, it’s not exactly a place where you’d want to have your bachelorette party photos taken.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the Lompoc Wine Ghetto is very serious about wine. In the casual and inviting tasting rooms, passionate wine makers are pouring some incredible, super low production wines for their equally passionate fans.

Jalama Wines

Jalama Wines

Considering the number of tasting rooms in the Ghetto, I decided to try two during this visit and will continue my exploration over the weeks to come. My first stop was Jalama Wines.

Jalama Wines

Jalama Wines

When I pulled up to the Jalama Wines tasting room, I was very happy to see one of the resident winery dogs napping on the sidewalk outside. I discovered that almost all the tasting rooms in the Wine Ghetto allow dogs as long as they’re leashed and well-behaved. It made my desire to explore the area even stronger.

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

Winery dog Oscar relaxing in the Jalama tasting room

Winery dog Oscar relaxing in the Jalama tasting room

Once inside the tasting room, I was greeted by Mark Cargasacchi – the winemaker at Jalama who was guiding tasters through his portfolio of small lot, handmade Pinot Noirs, Grenaches and Syrahs.

Jalama Wines

Jalama Wines

A nice cheese & cracker plate to accompany the line up of Jalama Wines

A nice cheese & cracker plate to accompany the line up of Jalama Wines

The tasting at Jalama consisted of six wines, all of which were seriously good – complex, well-balanced and obviously crafted with care. I took home bottles of of tart 2011 Mourvedre ($36) and full-bodied, multi-layered 2009 “El Capitan” red blend ($36). I also loved the 2011 “Clementina” white blend ($26), which was full of mouthwatering tropical fruit, and the 2010 “Carg” Pinot Noir ($46).

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

Inside the Jalama Wines tasting room

For my next stop, I decided to try Zotovich Cellars.

Zotovich Cellars

Zotovich Cellars

Booker joined me in the tasting room and immediately made himself comfortable on the cold stone floor while tasting room manager Chelsea poured my first taste.

Tasting menu at Zotovich Cellars

Tasting menu at Zotovich Cellars

Booker made himself comfy on the cool tasting room floor

Booker made himself comfy on the cool tasting room floor

The tasting at Zotovich Cellars consisted of four wines (with a bonus taste of insanely good, wine club exclusive Viognier). Honestly, I was blown away by all the wines at Zotovich. The Chardonnay was beautifully balanced, the Rosé was like a glass of summertime with lots of strawberry and a nice crispness, the Pinot Noir rivaled some of my absolute favorites from the area, and the Syrah was complex with a blend of dark berries and spice.

Chelsea guiding tasters through the Zotovich Cellars portfolio

Chelsea guiding tasters through the Zotovich Cellars portfolio

If I didn’t already have several bottles of Pinot Noir in my collection, it would have been a no-brainer to take some home. Instead, I bought a few bottles of the 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($22) which will be perfect for warm summer days.

Delicious Zotovich Cellars 2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir

Delicious Zotovich Cellars 2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir

Zotovich Cellars

Zotovich Cellars

If you’re looking to join a wine club, the club at Zotovich Cellars was one of the most flexible I’ve seen with the option to do a yearly shipment of 3, 6, or 12 bottles AND the ability to choose your wines. I’m sure I’ll end up a member sooner than later.

Overall, my first visit to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto was such a great experience that far surpassed my expectations. If the rest of the wineries in the Ghetto are anything like Jalama Wines and Zotovich Cellars, I’m in for a serious treat…

Click here to visit the Jalama Wines website.
Click here to visit the Zotovich Cellars website.
Click here to visit the Lompoc Wine Ghetto website.

JALAMA WINES
308 N. 9th Street, Unit C
Lompoc, CA 93436
Phone: (805) 735-8937
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday, or by appointment

ZOTOVICH CELLARS
1500 E. Chestnut Court, Suite D
Lompoc, CA 93436
Phone: (805) 736-1600
Email: chelsea@zotovichcellars.com
Tasting room hours: 10AM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday, or by appointment

Sparkling Wines for the New Year – Vertuze & Louis Bouillot Sparkling Rosé

With all the celebrating that goes on at this time of year, I find myself enjoying a lot more sparkling wine and champagne than I usually do.

Since I have less time to travel to wine country over the holidays, I’ve been exploring the world of sparkling wine at home with friends and family. I recently tried a couple of bottles of sparkling Rosé that I thought were excellent and deserving of attention right before we ring in the New Year.

Vertuze Brut Sparkling Rose

Vertuze Brut Sparkling Rosé

The first bottle I tried was a brut sparkling Rosé by Vertuze. It is produced in the Arroyo Grande Valley in California’s Central Coast from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. Made in the traditional French méthode champenoise, the Vertuze Rosé had a very pale pink hue and a nice touch of sweetness.

Vertuze Brut Sparkling Rosé

Vertuze Brut Sparkling Rosé

For those who are unfamiliar, the méthode champenoise is the oldest and most traditional way of making sparkling wine. It involves a long, detailed process which includes blending wine (typically some combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir) followed by a fermentation period that requires a secondary in-bottle fermentation that can last up to 6 years.

True Champagne comes exclusively from the Champagne region of France while bubbly from anywhere else in the world is referred to as sparkling wine.

Vertuze Brut Sparkling Rosé

Vertuze Brut Sparkling Rosé

Back to Vertuze. Though I typically enjoy a drier sparkling wine, the Vertuze sparkling Rosé was nicely balanced, very easy to drink, and easy on the wallet at about $19 per bottle. I could see this being a hit for sparkling wine drinkers with a wide variety of palates.

The second bottle I tried was a brut Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Rosé called “Perle d’Aurore” by Louis Bouillot. Cremant de Bourgogne is the appellation (or defined geographical area) for the Rosé and white sparkling wines of Burgundy in France.

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Rosé "Perle d'Aurore"

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Rosé “Perle d’Aurore”

The Louis Bouillot “Perle d’Aurore” Rosé is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay. On the palate, it started with lots of strawberry, but finished drier than the Vertuze with a slightly finer effervescence and a nice minerality. I could see this appealing to sparkling wine drinkers who prefer less sweetness. Also crafted in the méthode champenoise, the Louis Bouillot Cremant du Bourgone “Perle d’Aurore” Rosé was a steal at $14.

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Rosé "Perle d'Aurore"

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Rosé “Perle d’Aurore”

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Rosé "Perle d'Aurore"

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Rosé “Perle d’Aurore”

Grab a bottle (or several bottles) of Vertuze Brut Sparkling Rosé and Louis Bouillot “Perle d’Aurore” Sparkling Rosé for your next holiday party. I guarantee either sparkler will be a hit. Cheers & Happy New Year!

2nd Annual Garagiste Festival – Paso Robles

By definition, the term “garagistes” refers to a group of innovative, renegade wine makers from the Bordeaux region who refuse to follow the strict French rules and instead, produce “Vins de garage” or “Garage wine”.

For the second year in a row, Paso Robles has celebrated the spirit of the garagiste movement by holding a festival focused solely on small production wines. Local artisan wine makers – some familiar and some unknown – gather together for a long weekend, giving wine lovers from all over an opportunity to taste the fruits of their labor.

The Creekside Room at Creekside Bed & Breakfast – Per Cazo Cellars

This year was my first experience at the Paso Robles Garagiste Festival and I was thrilled to be part of it. On this particular trip, we stayed at the Creekside Bed & Breakfast at Per Cazo Cellars. I honestly can’t recommend Creekside B&B enough. From the comfy bed to host Lynn Teckman’s delicious gourmet breakfasts that were delivered to our room each morning, the entire stay was perfect. Creekside B&B was also very dog-friendly which made it extra convenient and comfortable.

The cozy Creekside Room at Creekside Bed & Breakfast

The cozy Creekside Room at Creekside Bed & Breakfast

The Creekside Room at Creekside Bed & Breakfast

Amazing breakfast #1: Egg & sausage scramble with fresh mixed fruit, fresh squeezed juice, and warm muffin

Amazing breakfast #2: French toast, thick bacon, and fresh berries

The Garagiste Festival opened on Thursday with a dinner at Thomas Hill Organics featuring the cuisine of celeb chef Ludo Lefevbre. Unfortunately I did not attend the dinner, but having experienced Ludo’s pop-up restaurant LudoBites in Los Angeles, I’m sure diners had an unforgettable experience.

Windfall Farms – Paso Robles

We attended the Garagiste Festival on Saturday, which was the day of the big Grand Tasting. We walked into the beautiful Stallion Barn at Windfall Farms where 48 independent and passionate wine makers were set up for tastings in the horse stalls.

Inside the Stallion Barn at Windfall Farms

It was difficult to decide where to begin, but I decided to head over to Liquid Farm. On a rare occasion, I’ve seen Liquid Farm Chardonnay and Rose on menus at some of the finer restaurants in LA, but I had yet to actually try the wine. Owners Nikki and Jeff Nelson took us through a tasting of two Chardonnays – both of which were unique and wonderfully balanced – as well as one Rose. If you can get your hands on a bottle of Liquid Farm, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Nikki & Jeff Nelson of Liquid Farm

After Liquid Farm, we headed to Nicora Wine where winemaker Nick Elliot took us through some outstanding Rhones. Right now, Nicora wines can be tasted by appointment only, but I highly recommend trying them next time you’re in Paso Robles. I can’t wait to see what else Nick comes up with in the future.

Nick Elliott of Nicora Wine

From Nicora, we headed over to Cloak & Dagger where Ray Schofield walked us through his portfolio of exceptional wines – all of which are “handcrafted in secret”. We were unsuccessful at uncovering any of the secrets of Cloak & Dagger wines, but we were very impressed with what we tasted. We tried two Pinot Noirs, as well as a delicious 2010 Illuminatus Sangiovese and a 2010 Skull & Bones Zinfandel.

Ray Schofield of Cloak & Dagger Wines

After Cloak & Dagger, we headed to Red Zeppelin Winery where the eccentric Stillman Brown introduced us to a couple really good Central Coast red wine blends. Finally, we ended our tasting with the latest offerings from our friends Lynn and Dave Teckman at Per Cazo Cellars. The 2010 Epi Telos and 2010 Zing were so good that I had to take home a couple of bottles when we checked out of the Creekside B&B.

Stillman Brown of Red Zeppelin Winery

Overall, I loved being part of the 2nd Annual Paso Robles’ Garagiste Festival and feel like there were so many more amazing wines to try. The wine makers who I met continue to inspire me and deepen my love for wine. It was so wonderful to have the opportunity to taste new wines with the passionate people who are hand-crafting them. I look forward to next year…