Tag Archives: Wine Trail

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

Wrath Wines | Monterey County, CA

Wrath Wines

Wrath Wines

The Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County was yet-to-be-explored wine country for me until a couple of weekends ago. After spending two perfect days soaking up as much of the area as I could, I found it to be a unique and very special place.

The SLH AVA sits in the Salinas Valley between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountain Ranges, and enjoys a true cool climate thanks to fog and breezes blowing in from the Monterey Bay. This makes it absolutely ideal for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah – varieties that dominate in the area. As a serious fan of Pinot Noir, I couldn’t wait to taste some new wines.

Wrath Wines

We spent most of our time on the River Road Wine Trail, which is essentially the main artery through the Valley and home to approximately 13 tasting rooms. The area is covered by over 50 vineyards, but most of them are private and solely grow grapes to sell to wine makers. We stopped at many of the tasting rooms along the wine trail, but I absolutely fell in love with Wrath Wines.

Exterior of the Wrath Wines tasting room

Exterior of the Wrath Wines tasting room

Aside from the fact that it’s surrounded by gorgeous vineyards, the Wrath Wines tasting room was not an immediate stunner. That is, until we stepped inside. Once I walked through the front door, I felt like I had entered a hidden oasis.

A view of the outdoors from inside the Wrath Wines tasting room

Wrath Wines tasting room

Wrath Wines

Inside, the tasting room was modern, simple & bright. We had our dog, Booker, with us and he was immediately welcomed to join us indoors. He quickly became friends with a winery dog named Penny and the two of them chased each other through the vines the entire time we tasted. We decided to grab our first taste and join the doggies outside.

Sip Certified Wrath Wines

Wrath Wines

Wrath tasting menu

We enjoyed an outstanding line up of Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Syrahs while relaxing by the pond. We also ordered a plate of crackers with local, hand crafted Monterey Jack cheese from Schoch Family Farmstead.

The cheese is hand-made just down the road from the winery by the Schoch family who have owned and operated their small dairy since 1944. It was so yummy and paired so nicely with the wine that I hunted it down at The Cheese Shop in Carmel – right next to Wrath’s smaller Carmel tasting room.

Stunning views at Wrath Wines

Penny showing our dog Booker around the property…

Wrath Wines

Pond at the Wrath Wines tasting room

Outdoor seating at Wrath Wines

Outdoor seating at Wrath Wines

Wrath Wine & Schoch Family Farmstead Cheese

Wrath’s adorable winery dog, Penny

An incredible old building that sits next to the vineyards and can be seen on the label of every bottle of Wrath wine.

Even after spending a couple of hours at Wrath Wines, I didn’t want to leave. The stunning scenery, amazing wine, and friendly people made the whole experience unforgettable. I can’t think of a better place to lose track of an afternoon. Wrath is not to be missed.

Click here to visit the Wrath Wines website.

WRATH WINES
35801 Foothill Road
Soledad, CA 93960
Phone: (831) 678-2212
Email: info@wrathwines.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Friday through Monday