Tag Archives: wine club

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery | Healdsburg, CA

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Over the last year or so, I’ve fallen madly in love with Sonoma County.  In particular, the area of the Russian River Valley encircled by the towns of Guerneville, Sebastopol & Healdsburg.  From the towering Redwoods to the rocky coastline and everything in between, the natural beauty in this area is unsurpassed.

Towering pines line the driveway up to Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Towering pines line the driveway up to Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

The more I explore the wines from this area, the more I realize how amazing they are as well.  This year, we decided to escape LA and ring in the new year in a cozy cabin tucked among the Sequoias in Guerneville.

With nearly all the tasting rooms closed on New Year’s Eve, we headed to the nearby Russian River Brewing Company for some outstanding beers, including a Brown Ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries called Supplication.  When the tasting rooms reopened after the holiday, I couldn’t wait to try some new wines.

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Entry to Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Entry to Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

My first wine of 2014 was at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery.  The Gary Farrell Winery is nestled among the pines on a hillside that offers sweeping views of the Russian River Valley below.  Because it was such a beautiful day, we decided to do a Terrace Tasting which included 6 wines for $25 per person.  There was also a Traditional Tasting available inside at the tasting bar for $15 per person.

Inside the tasting room at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

The tasting bar at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Inside the tasting room at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Inside the tasting room at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Stunning view from the terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Our dog Booker enjoying some shade & the stunning view from the terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Views from the terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Views from the terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Hospitality manager Lavonne Holmes was our host for the afternoon and we couldn’t have been luckier.  She walked us through a series of Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs & Zinfandels while explaining the history of Gary Farrell, and sharing her rich personal knowledge and experiences in the wine industry.  Not only was she a pleasure to talk to, but she also made my passion for wine burn even brighter.

The beautiful terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

The beautiful terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

The terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

The terrace at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

All the wines we tried were beautifully crafted and very nicely balanced.  I particularly liked the 2011 Rochioli-Allen Vineyard Chardonnay, the 2011 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the bold, mouth-watering 2011 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley.  

Terrace Tasting at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Terrace Tasting at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

I could have easily spent the entire day sitting on the terrace chatting with Lavonne and enjoying the delicious wines of Gary Farrell Vineyards.  It was the perfect way to kick off the new year.  We will definitely be back soon.

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Click here to visit the Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery website.

GARY FARRELL VINEYARDS & WINERY
10701 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA  95448
Phone:  (707) 473-2909
Email:  concierge@garyfarrellwinery.com
Tasting room hours: 10:30AM – 4:30PM Daily

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 Chris 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

Chris 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

Terry Hoage Vineyards | Paso Robles, CA

Terry Hoage Vineyards

Terry Hoage Vineyards

Tucked away on an idyllic parcel of land on the Westside of Paso Robles lies the Terry Hoage Vineyards and tasting room. In the rustic winery perched right across the small parking lot from his home, Terry Hoage and his wife Jennifer are hand-crafting some of the finest wines to come out of Paso Robles.

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry and Jennifer learned the art of winemaking from some of the artisan trailblazers in the area, particularly Justin Smith of the famed Saxum Vineyards. Justin made wine for Terry Hoage Vineyards and oversaw the winemaking process from 2002-2003 until Terry and Jennifer released their first vintage in 2005.

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

The Hoage’s take a very minimalist approach to making wine and do not incorporate any racking, fining or filtering. They personally oversee every step in the process, producing bold, juicy Rhone varietals that are 100% organically farmed and estate grown. You can taste the quality, creativity, and attention to detail in each sip.

Our dog Booker enjoying the beautiful grounds at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Our dog Booker enjoying the beautiful grounds at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Seating area at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Seating area at Terry Hoage Vineyards

During a pre-holiday trip to Paso, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Evan and Kellie in the Terry Hoage Vineyards tasting room. Aside from the Hoage’s, Evan and Kellie are the only other official employees at the winery, which made it feel even more like a true family style operation.

Evan & Kellie of Terry Hoage Vineyards

Evan & Kellie of Terry Hoage Vineyards

We were taken through the current tasting flight which included 4 incredible reds, and also got to try a couple of wines from the upcoming 2010 release.

Before embarking on his career as a wine maker, Terry was a professional football player and spent 13 seasons in the NFL playing for 6 different teams. He subtly pays homage to his football days through the names he give his wines (“The Pick”, “The 46″, “The Hedge”, etc).

Memorabilia from Terry Hoage's career in the NFL

Memorabilia from Terry Hoage’s career in the NFL

IMG_2727

Memorabilia from Terry Hoage’s career in the NFL

I thought all the wines at Terry Hoage Vineyards were outstanding and were on par with my favorites in the area (Booker, L’Aventure, etc). I wanted to take a bottle of each home with me, but I managed to narrow my purchases down to a 2009 “The Hedge” (a deep red Syrah named after the hedges of UGA where Terry played), a 2010 “5 Blocks” (a Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache/Cinsault blend honoring the 5 blocked field goals Terry had in his college days), and a 2011 “Pik Pool” (a white Picpoul Blanc that tasted like summertime).

The Current Tasting Flight: '08 "The Pick" Grenache Cuvee, '07 "The 46" Grenache-Syrah, '09 "The 46" Grenache-Syrah, and '09 "The Hedge" Syrah

The Current Tasting Flight: ’08 “The Pick” Grenache Cuvee, ’07 “The 46″ Grenache-Syrah, ’09 “The 46″ Grenache-Syrah, and ’09 “The Hedge” Syrah

The 2010 Release - Currently available to wine club members

The 2010 Release – Currently available to wine club members

I truly can’t recommend Terry Hoage Vineyards enough and thank Evan & Kellie for sharing their knowledge, passion, and hospitality. To quote Robert Parker, “This is the kind of wine the Central Coast should be producing more.”

The stunning views at Terry Hoage Vineyards

The stunning views at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Click here to visit the Terry Hoage Vineyards website.

TERRY HOAGE VINEYARDS
870 Arbor Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 238-2083
Email: info@terryhoagevineyards.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Thursday through Monday

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…

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

Booker Vineyard Release Party – Paso Robles

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Booker Vineyard’s annual member release party and I wanted to share some photos of what ended up being an incredible day.

The wine, food, music and setting couldn’t have been more perfect.
Pier 46 Seafood Market and Thomas Hill Organics catered the event and provided a delicious assortment of finger foods, including fresh oysters. I also had the opportunity to introduce our dog Booker to his namesake. I’m proud to be an allocation member and am already looking forward to next year…

Booker Vineyard private release event – May 5th, 2012

Booker Vineyard release event

Winemaker Eric Jensen’s wife, Lisa greeting incoming guests

Guests enjoying a perfect day at Booker Vineyard

Delicious oysters from Pier 46 Seafood Market in Templeton, CA

A yummy assortment of appetizers from Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles, CA

A picture-perfect day at Booker Vineyard

Our dog Booker relaxing in the shade at Booker Vineyard

Click here to visit the Booker Vineyard website.

BOOKER VINEYARD
640 Anderson Rd.
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 237-7367
Fax: (805) 237-7368
email: eric@bookerwines.com OR orion@bookerwines.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday

Dog Friendly Wineries in Santa Barbara Wine Country

The wine country just north of Santa Barbara is hands down one of my favorite destinations for a weekend trip. Considering how often I visit the area, I’ve made it a point to find out which wineries are dog friendly.

Our dog Booker heading out on another wine tasting trip…

Just as I discovered in Paso Robles, Santa Barbara is full of wineries that welcome dogs with open arms. I’ve listed a few of my favorite wineries below and plan to expand this list with each visit…

  • Foxen Vineyard & Winery
    7600 Foxen Canyon Road
    Santa Maria, CA 93454
    Ph: (805) 937-4251
    Fax: (805) 937-0415
    Email: info@foxenvineyard.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 4PM
    Notes: Foxen is an extremely dog-friendly winery where leashed dogs can be brought into the tasting room at both locations (the main winery at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road & “The Shack” at 7200 Foxen Canyon Road). At the main winery, Booker was allowed inside with us on a leash or in one of the several outdoor seating areas where he was able to relax while we sipped wine. At foxen 7200 (“The Shack), Booker was allowed to come inside the small tasting room with us or sit outside with us on the deck and bask in the sun. At both locations, the tasting room staff brought him water and showered him with loads of attention. He absolutely loved it.

    Outdoor area at Foxen Vineyard & Winery

    Dog friendly Foxen 7200 (“The Shack”)

  • Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
    6200 Foxen Canyon Road
    Los Olivos, CA 93441
    Ph: (805) 688-1545
    Email: infowinery@fessparker.com
    Hours: Daily 10AM – 5PM
    Notes: Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is a dog’s dream. The winery is situated on a beautiful piece of land with a huge, perfectly manicured lawn where dogs are able to run around until their hearts are content. I actually didn’t inquire if they were allowed inside the tasting room because the outside area was just too perfect. We did a tasting, bought a bottle and sat outside with wine and snacks while Booker and his cousin Bodo played. Just remember to be courteous… even though dogs are allowed to be off leash, the lawn is also a picnic area so don’t forget to bring a leash with, as well as some potty bags and water.

    Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

    Dogs hanging out at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

    Dogs playing on the lawn at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

  • Alta Maria Vineyards
    2933 Grand Avenue
    Suite A
    Los Olivos, CA 93441
    Ph: (805) 686-1144
    Email: aminfo@altamaria.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 5PM
    Notes: I was very pleasantly surprised to find out Booker was allowed in the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room. This gorgeous new tasting room is located in downtown Los Olivos and when I inquired about bringing our dog inside, I expected to have to sit outside with him. Instead, we were told he was more than welcome to come in as long as he remained on a leash and we kept an eye on him. The tasting room is beautifully decorated and somewhat small, so this was definitely not a place for an excessively large or high energy dog. They apologized for not having a water bowl for him, which was totally fine. We were just happy he could be inside with us. He got to take a nap on the cool stone floor while we enjoyed some amazing wines.

    Small outdoor seating area at Alta Maria Vineyards Tasting Room

    Our dog Booker napping on the cool stone floor at Alta Maria Vineyards

  • Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
    7250 Santa Rosa Road
    Buellton, CA 93427
    Ph: (805) 688-9090
    Email: info@almarosawinery.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 4:30PM
    Notes: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards is a rustic, off the beaten path winery that some may remember from the movie Sideways. Booker was welcome to relax inside the tasting room on a leash, as well as roam around outside on Alma Rosa’s beautiful property. The tasting room staff happily gave him some water and a local dog who helps herd livestock in the area came down from the hills to say hello.

    Beautiful and rustic Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Booker roaming around outside at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Taking a stroll at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Booker hanging out with us inside the Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards tasting room

    Very sweet (and very dirty) local dog stopped by to say hello at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Lots more to come!…

Related Posts:
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles – Part 2

Foxen Vineyard & Winery…Again.

I realize this is the third time (at least) I’ve written about Foxen Vineyard & Winery, but as I sit here opening up my latest wine club shipment, I feel like a quick post is definitely in order.

Foxen Wine Club Open House

I patiently waited for three long years to be accepted into Foxen’s Anchor Wine Club. Due to the relatively small production at Foxen, wine club membership is limited and waiting lists are often long. But now that I’m a member, I can say without hesitation that the wait was 100% worth it.

As a member of the Foxen Anchor Club, I’ve been enjoying great discounts at the winery and feel like a kid on Christmas every time I receive one of my regular quarterly wine shipments (many of which are wine club exclusives). However, one of my best club experiences thus far happened on February 25th at Foxen’s first ever Wine Club Open House.

Heading into the barrel room at Foxen’s Wine Club Open House

We started our day of tasting at the Foxen shack where we tried a few wines before heading up to the newer, larger winery for the private event. When we arrived, we were led directly into the barrel room – a place that I’ve been dying to see ever since it was built.

Inside the Foxen Vineyard & Winery barrel room…

We signed in, were given name tags and wine glasses, and started our tasting on the east side of the barrel room. As we walked past neatly stacked barrels towards the folding table where a small crowd was gathered, I realized the man pouring was winemaker Bill Wathen.

Foxen’s winemaker Bill “Billy” Wathen

Bill “Billy” Wathen has been lovingly hand-crafting the wines at Foxen from day one. As I walked up to Billy, I have to admit I felt a bit starstruck. I’ve been hearing about the “Foxen Boys” Bill and Dick for years, but I had never met them in the flesh.

I introduced myself to Billy and he poured us tastes of his latest offerings, including a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – Vogelzang Vineyard, a 2010 Chardonnay – Tinaquaic Vineyard, a 2010 Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley, and a 2010 Pinot Noir – John Sebastiano Vineyard.

More views from inside the Foxen barrel room

I truly have never tried a wine at Foxen that I didn’t like and I feel like the Pinot Noir’s that come out of Foxen are unparalleled. Such was the case during this visit. It was such a wonderful opportunity to have the winemaker walk us through his creations.

After we tried the first four wines, we headed to the snack table where we grabbed a selection of cheeses, almonds, olives, meats and chocolates – all of which were a nice complement to the wine. Then we moved on to the west side of the barrel room to finish our tasting.

More views from inside the Foxen barrel room…

On the way to the west end of the room, we bumped into Dick Dore – Bill Wathen’s partner at Foxen and the man behind the slogan “if you don’t know Foxen, you don’t know Dick”. We got a chance to speak to Dick about some of the dinners and events Foxen has coming up – some of which were happening in my hometown just outside of Chicago.

We found that Billy had moved to the west side tasting table, so we were fortunate enough to have him pour our last three tastes – a 2009 Pinot Noir – La Encantada Vineyard, a 2008 Volpino – Santa Ynez Valley, and a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Vogelzang Vineyard.

The wine list from the Foxen Wine Club Open House

We chatted a bit more and enjoyed our last tastes on a picture-perfect Santa Maria afternoon. I walked away with a couple extra bottles of the 2010 John Sebastiano Vineyard and the 2009 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir’s – both of which were too good for words. If you can get your hands on either bottle, you’ll be very pleased you did. They’re heavenly.

Dick Dore outside the Foxen Vineyard & Winery barrel room

I absolutely loved being part of this wine club event and hope it’s something Foxen does more regularly. I’ve been to several other wine club events, but I’ve never been to one that felt quite so relaxed and personal. It was so nice to meet Billy, Dick, Allyson, Lee and the rest of the crew.

As I open my wine club shipment, I feel like I have an even deeper connection to what is inside and know a bit more about how each wine came to be. I look forward to the next one…

Click here to visit the Foxen Vineyard website.

FOXEN WINERY & VINEYARD
(business address & tasting room)
7600 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Daily

(foxen 7200 “the shack”)
7200 Foxen Canyon Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 937-4251
Fax: (805) 937-0415

Chronic Cellars

Chronic Cellars

My first experience with Chronic Cellars happened many miles from the sprawling vineyards of Paso Robles. We were up in Mammoth Mountain enjoying a tasty apres snowboarding dinner at a restaurant called Petras Wine Bar & Bistro. I noticed a white wine on the menu called La Muneca (meaning “the doll”) from Chronic Cellars that was described as having clean acidity with just the right amount of sweetness and notes of tropical fruit, pineapple and peach. I decided to try a sample and ended up ordering a couple of glasses with my meal.

Chronic Cellars

I knew Chronic Cellars was in Paso Robles. In fact, we had driven past it many times making silly remarks about the name, never thinking the wine could actually be good. But after trying La Muneca in Mammoth, I put Chronic on the top of my list for our next wine trip and I’m very glad I did.

Chronic Cellars tasting room

Chronic Cellars rebels against every wine tasting stereotype in the book. At the tasting room, you’ll find no pretension, no overpriced wines, no corporate-looking decor, and no stuffy tasting room staff. Brothers and co-owners Jake and Josh Beckett focus on making great wine that is fun, causal and accessible.

Chronic Cellars tasting room

Jake and Josh were raised in the heart of Paso Robles wine country and have always had a deep connection to the art of wine making. After graduating from college, they joined the team at Peachy Canyon Winery and spent a decade each immersing themselves in all aspects of the wine industry.

The Beckett brothers came up with the concept of Chronic Cellars in the midst of harvest in 2004. They had used the term “The Chronic” to describe likable objects before, but had never considered it a suitable descriptor for wine. They sat alongside the crush pad one evening in wine stained clothes and wet boots laughing about the idea of a wine that targeted a casual lifestyle.

Chronic Cellars tasting room

After their time at Peachy Canyon, they decided it was time to try something new and use all the knowledge and tools they gathered over the years to work on their own dream. They had an undeniable vision and desire to make a statement in the wine industry and took their first step toward Chronic Cellars. Their dream became reality when their first wines went public in 2008 and they’ve been going strong ever since.

I’ve actually visited Chronic Cellars a few times now and am currently a member of the Connoisseurs wine club. My most recent visit was a club event to celebrate the release of their summer shipment. The Chronic Cellars Connoisseurs Club is one of the best wine clubs I’ve seen – 2 shipments of 6 bottles per year with a 30% discount on each shipment plus 30% off all other purchases of wine and merchandise. It ends up being around $100 for 6 great bottles of wine which really can’t be beat.

Artwork on the walls at Chronic Cellars

Artwork at Chronic Cellars

I decided to pick up my summer shipment at the tasting room and enjoy the little party. Immediately upon entering, my senses were overwhelmed by the colorful hand-painted Dia De Los Muertos inspired artwork that covered the walls. Bluegrass music played in the background and I noticed an ever so subtle hint of incense in the air. Both Beckett brothers were in attendance – 1 pouring wine and 1 manning the grill outside. It felt a bit more like walking into a comfy living room than your average tasting room.

Wine & cheese at the Connoisseurs’ Club summer event

Next we decided to taste the 6 wines they were pouring, each paired with a locally made cheese. One thing you notice immediately about Chronic Cellars wines are the fantastic wine labels and clever wine names. The bright-colored labels are drawn by Joe Kalionzes, an amazing artist and good friend of the owners.

While La Muneca was no longer on the tasting list, I was excited to try 2 new whites that took her place. The first was ’09 Stone Fox (55% Grenache Blanc/28% Roussanne/17% Viognier, $20) which was light, mildly acidic, and full of peach, pear, pineapple, and citrus fruit on the nose and the palate – perfect for a hot day. While La Muneca holds a special place in my heart, Stone Fox was a fantastic follow-up and I purchased 2 bottles right off the bat.

Stone Fox was followed by ’09 Sofa King Suite (54% Viognier/46% Albarino, $13.99) which was well-balanced and a bit sweeter with flavors of gummy fruits, candied orange rind and freshly cut peaches.

Wine & cheese at the Connoisseurs’ Club summer event

Next was a series of reds. ’07 Purple Paradise (95% Zinfandel/5% Petit Sirah, $13.99) was full of raspberries, strawberries, white pepper and vanilla. It was smooth on the palate and great for everyday drinking. ’06 Dead Nuts Zinfandel (100% Zinfandel, $20) had concentrated flavors of dark fruits and peppery spices. ’08 Sofa King Bueno (65% Syrah/12% Petit Sirah/11% Grenache/11% Mourvedre, $20) was my favorite with lots of juicy fruits, bing cherries and toasted vanilla. Finally, ’08 Suite Petit (100% Petit Sirah, $30) was full of concentrated blueberry, blackberry and sweet oak flavors.

Outdoor patio at Chronic Cellars

We left the winery with 6 great bottles of wine and, as usual, smiles on our faces. Chronic Cellars is truly one of a kind with a unique personality, a casual and welcoming vibe, and a great portfolio of tasty wines that can be enjoyed without feeling like you’ve broken the bank. I’m already looking forward to picking up my winter shipment…

Click here to visit the Chronic Cellars website.

CHRONIC CELLARS
2020 Nacimiento Lake Drive
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 237-7848
Fax: (805) 237-7532
Tasting room hours: 11:3oAM – 5:30PM Thursday through Monday