Tag Archives: winemaker

Babcock Winery & Vineyards | Lompoc, CA

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

One of my favorite new wineries is actually not new at all. Established in 1978, Babcock Winery & Vineyards in Lompoc, CA has a rich history in the Santa Ynez Valley and is one of the best producers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir around.

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Back in 1978, Mona & Walter Babcock purchased a 110 acre property on Highway 246 near Lompoc where they planted 20 acres of Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and sold small amounts of fruit to some of the most prominent local winemakers.

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The beautiful vineyards around Babcock Winery & Vineyards

As rave reviews starting pouring in for the wines produced using fruit from their vineyard, the Babcock’s decided to open a small winery and started producing their own wines.  And the rest is history.

Mona & Walter’s son, Bryan has been crafting small-lot, terroir driven wines from the gorgeous Babcock Winery in the Santa Rita Hills since the early 1980′s.  The winery is still family owned and operated to this day.

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I just FINALLY visited Babcock for the first time about a month ago and had the good fortune of visiting during their annual open house weekend.  The first thing I noticed was the uber cool tasting room, which had a vintage, rock star vibe and was surrounded by the most gorgeous rolling vineyards.  For dog owners, Babcock is very dog-friendly as long as they are kept on a leash.

The Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

The Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Babcock Winery & Vineyards tasting room

Since it was the annual open house, I had a rare chance to taste Babcock’s entire portfolio of wines, as well as an opportunity to try two incredible, yet-to-be-released wines at the futures barrel tasting.  I was truly blown away.

Annual open house at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Annual open house at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I was impressed by the first few wines we tried, which included a 2012 Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 “Upper Crust” Syrah.  As we worked our way through the list to the “Terroir Extraordinaire” offerings, the wines became more complex and multi-layered.  Bryan’s attention to detail and winemaking expertise was evident in each and every sip.

Beautiful outdoor seating area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Beautiful outdoor seating area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Beautiful outdoor area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Beautiful outdoor area at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I would have loved to take home a bottle of each wine I tried, but I narrowed my selection to a 2012 “Microcosm” Pinot Noir for which there are simply no words, a juicy 2012 “Precocious” Pinot Noir, and a couple bottles of the yet-to-be-released 2013 “The Limit” Chardonnay from the Radian Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills.

The Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards where the futures barrel tastings took place

The Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

The cool, mid-century inspired Soulstruck Lounge at Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

Babcock Winery & Vineyards

I honestly can’t believe it took me so long to visit Babcock Winery & Vineyards, but I’m very glad I did.  Babcock is not to be missed.

Click here to visit the Babcock Winery & Vineyards website.

BABCOCK WINERY & VINEYARDS
5175 E. Highway 246
Lompoc, CA  93436
Phone:  (805) 736-1455
Tasting room hours: 10:30AM – 5:00PM Daily

Exploring Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone – Part 1

The Santa Barbara "Funk Zone"

The Santa Barbara “Funk Zone”

In what was once an old, rundown industrial area just west of Santa Barbara’s bustling shopping district, the Funk Zone has emerged as a hub of unique art, culture, food & artisan wine.  In my opinion, it’s one of the best things to happen to Santa Barbara in a long time.

The Santa Barbara "Funk Zone"

The Santa Barbara “Funk Zone”

With a number of shops, galleries, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants all within walking distance, it’s easy to spend a day roaming around and exploring.

Several of the tasting rooms that comprise Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail are located right in the Funk Zone – some of which are open late.  Buellton’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company also opened a second location with a great outdoor patio for microbrew-lovers (or those just needing a break from wine).

My first stop at the Funk Zone was AVA Santa Barbara – a winery dedicated to making first class wines that highlight the very best of the five distinct AVAs (or American Viticultural Areas) of Santa Barbara.

AVA Santa Barbara

AVA Santa Barbara

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room was truly one of the coolest I’ve seen.  With the use of soil samples, incredibly detailed wall murals, and an excellent portfolio of wines, visitors get a serious education on what makes each distinct Viticultural Area unique.

Inside the tasting room at AVA Santa Barbara

Inside the tasting room at AVA Santa Barbara

Incredible wall mural in AVA Santa Barbara by artist Elkpen

Incredible wall mural in AVA Santa Barbara by artist Elkpen

AVA Santa Barbara

AVA Santa Barbara

We tasted an incredible line up of wines from cool climate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays to a Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec that thrive in the region’s warmer areas.  All the wines in this diverse portfolio were crafted from Santa Barbara grapes.

AVA Santa Barbara Wines

AVA Santa Barbara Wines

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room is very dog friendly

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room is very dog friendly

Outdoor patio at AVA Santa Barbara

Outdoor patio at AVA Santa Barbara

After AVA Santa Barbara, we walked up the street to check out Municipal Winemakers.

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

I absolutely loved the Municipal Winemakers tasting room.  It was creative and eclectic with just the right amount of industrial grit that makes the Funk Zone so special.

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Just like at AVA Santa Barbara, our dog Booker was invited to join us inside the tasting room while we tasted a delicious line up of wines.  My personal favorites were the mouth-watering Bright White dry Riesling and the juicy Grenache.

Booker relaxing on the cool floor at Municipal Winemakers

Booker relaxing on the cool floor at Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

I had such a fun day at the Funk Zone and can’t wait to head back.  Stay tuned for Part 2…

Click here to visit the Santa Barbara Funk Zone website.
Click here to visit the AVA Santa Barbara website.
Click here to visit the Municipal Winemakers website.

AVA SANTA BARBARA
116 East Yanonali Street
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
Phone:  (805) 453-6768
Email:  taste@avasantabarbara.com
Tasting room hours: 12PM - 7PM Daily

MUNICIPAL WINEMAKERS
22 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
Phone:  (805) 931-6864
Email:  dave@municipalwinemakers.com
Tasting room hours:
11AM - 6PM Monday through Wednesday & Sunday
11AM - 11PM Thursday through Saturday

 

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…

2nd Annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” Returns to Solvang…

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

As far as wine festivals go, there’s nothing quite like the annual Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles.  For the last 3 years, super small lot winemakers have descended upon Paso Robles to share the fruits of their labor with crowds of excited wine lovers.

These festivals provide a rare opportunity for wine enthusiasts to taste wines they’ve never heard of before, as well as a chance for artisan winemakers to share their passion – and often their very first vintage – with new fans face-to-face.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Over the weekend of March 29-30, 2014, Garagiste Events brings the festival to Solvang, CA with the 2nd annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure”.  This year, the festival expands to 2 days and will include an outstanding lineup of high-quality, obscure, low-production wines from the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County (as well as a few Garagistes from the Central Coast/Paso Robles).

Of the 56 or so winemakers that will be present, half are new festival discoveries, 1 in 4 will be pouring their first vintage, and 80% don’t have a tasting room.  Without these invaluable Garagiste Festivals, so much great winemaking talent would remain undiscovered.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

This year’s Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure will feature two Grand Tastings, one on Saturday from 2PM – 5PM, and one on Sunday from 1PM-4PM.  Each day will showcase a unique lineup of winemakers.  In addition to the Grand Tastings, each day of Southern Exposure will feature one of the festival’s morning tasting seminars.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Kaena Wine Co. at the Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

The Grand Tasting list for Saturday, 3/29 includes:  Archium Cellars, Ascension Cellars, Carucci Wines, Casa Dumetz, Cholame Vineyard, Cordon Wines, Crawford Family Wines, Dubost Ranch, DV8 Cellars, Graef Wines, Ground Effect Wines, Harrison Clarke Wines, Kaena Wine Company, Kessler-Haak Winery, Kita Wines, Larner Winery, Liquid Farm, Luminesce, Moretti Wine Co., Pence Ranch, Press Gang Cellars, Roark Wine Co., Ryan Cochrane Wines, Seagrape Wine Company, Shai Cellars, Tercero Wines, Transcendence Wines, Turiya, and Vinemark Cellars.

The list for Sunday, 3/30 includes:  a-non-ah-mus, Baehner-Fournier, Bradley Family Winery, Brophy Clark Cellars, C. Nagy, Cali Love Winery, Cloak & Dagger, Clos Des Amis, Dascomb Cellars, Desparada, Dilecta, DV8 Cellars, Fontes & Phillips, Frequency Wines, Gioia Wines, Guyomar Wine Cellars, J. Wilkes Wines, La Fenetre Wines, LaZarre Wines, Montemar Winery, Nicora Wines, ONX Wines, Plan B Cellars, Refugio Ranch, Scott Cellars, Solminer Wine, STANGER Vineyards, Weatherborne Wine Co. and Zinke Wine Company.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure (photo courtesy of Tom Lake)

Tickets to the Garagiste events are very limited, so be sure to purchase yours soon.  The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure is a non-profit event with all proceeds benefiting the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture program.

Needless to say, I can’t wait for the festival and will do a post-fest write-up on my favorite wines.  Hope to see everyone there!

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

Law Estate Wines | Paso Robles, CA

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

During my last visit to Paso Robles, I had the honor of visiting the soon-to-be-open Law Estate Winery.  From the modern, architecturally stunning winery & tasting room to the impeccably crafted wines, I was blown away by the experience.

Making our way up the gravel drive to Law Estate Wines

Making our way up the gravel drive to Law Estate Wines

Perched high above Peachy Canyon Road on the westside of Paso Robles, the Law Estate Winery offers visitors picture-perfect views of the sweeping Law Family Vineyards below.  When we arrived, we were greeted by general manager Oliver Esparham, who guided us through a tasting of the Law Estate wines.

Sweeping views at Law Estate Wines

Sweeping views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Views at Law Estate Wines

Currently, the portfolio includes four wines from the winery’s first vintage, 2010.  We tried the Audacious (44% Grenache, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 10% Petit Sirah), Beguiling (94% Grenache, 6% Syrah), Sagacious (44% Grenache, 42% Syrah, 14% Mourvedre), and Intrepid (100% Syrah).

Our "tasting room" for the afternoon with a beautiful view

Our “tasting room” for the afternoon with a beautiful view

Winemaker Scott Hawley is known for making wines that are an expression of their place, showcasing the very best of what the vineyard has to offer.  His passion for winemaking and meticulous attention to detail is evident in the final product, as each of these wines was truly exceptional.

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

The current Law Estate Wine portfolio

I personally loved the Audacious, which had an elegant hint of acidity, the Sagacious with a perfect marriage of ripe juiciness and spice, and the complex yet wonderfully balanced Intrepid Syrah.

After tasting the wines and learning more about the incredible dream proprietors Don and Susie Law are turning into a reality, we were taken on a tour of the property.

Exterior view of the kitchen

Exterior view of the kitchen

Exterior view of the three story production facility

Exterior view of the three story production facility

Exterior view of guest entry at Law Estate Wines

Exterior view of guest entry at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

More exterior views at Law Estate Wines

When construction is completed, Law Estate will include a tasting room with panoramic estate vineyard views, a wine garden and outdoor fireplace, a kitchen where Orion Stang of Dilecta Wines will showcase his culinary skills, and a state of the art production facility which was completed just in time for the 2013 harvest.  It really is a contemporary architectural masterpiece.

State of the art fermentation tanks

State of the art fermentation tanks

State of the art fermentation tanks

State of the art fermentation tanks

Stainless steel tanks

Stainless steel tanks

Concrete fermenter

Concrete fermenter

Oliver explained that tastings at Law Estate will be unique in that visitors will make an appointment and will be given individualized attention by a member of the tasting room staff.  This means no crowding around a tasting counter with staff trying to remember which wine to pour next.  I personally love the idea and think it will elevate the entire tasting experience.

Barrel aging at Law Estate WInes

Barrel aging at Law Estate Wines

Oliver Esparham discussing barrel aging

Oliver Esparham discussing barrel aging

Blending room where the delicious Law Estate wines are perfected

Blending room where the delicious Law Estate wines are perfected

Beautiful late afternoon views at Law Estate Wines

Beautiful late afternoon views at Law Estate Wines

After our tour came to an end, we purchased a few bottles (all of which are priced equally at $62/bottle) and thanked Oliver for showing us around.  Thanks also to tasting room manager Kathleen Naughton for helping make our visit possible.

I truly can’t recommend Law Estate more and am so excited to see the property when construction has ended.  Stay tuned for the official opening, which will hopefully be in December or early 2014.  Law Estate is not to be missed.

Click here to visit the Law Estate Wines website.

LAW ESTATE WINES
3885 Peachy Canyon Road
Paso Robles, CA  93446
Phone:  (805) 226-9200
Email:  info@lawestatewines.com
* Tasting room is not yet open for visitors.

Presqu’ile Winery | Los Olivos, CA

Presqu’ile Wine – Los Olivos, CA

Every time I head up to Los Olivos, CA, I feel like the town just gets better and better. With every trip, I seem to uncover an incredible new wine or a fun, new place to grab a bite. This past weekend was certainly no exception.

Presqu’ile Wine – Los Olivos, CA

Presqu’ile Wine – Los Olivos, CA

I decided to try the wines of Presqu’ile and instantly fell in love. The Presqu’ile Wine tasting room is located a couple of doors down from the recently opened Sides Hardware & Shoes restaurant. The restaurant had a 45 minute wait, so we put down our names and headed to Presqu’ile.

Anna Murphy in the Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

We walked in the front door and I couldn’t help notice the incredibly cool decor. The room was painted in a deep charcoal that was warmed with splashes of color, interesting art, and great lighting. It was refreshing to see a tasting room with such a unique and contemporary design.

Proper pronunciation of Presqu’ile cleverly written on the tasting room wall

Colorful art on the wall at Presqu’ile

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

I was also thrilled to see a doggy water bowl on the front porch when we arrived. Our dog Booker was welcomed inside and instantly made friends with the tasting room dog, Hazel.

Booker and his new friend Hazel having a blast

While the dogs played, we sat at the bar and started our tasting. They offer a Presqu’ile Flight for $10 which includes a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Rose and a Pinot Noir. They also offer a tasting flight of 3 Pinot Noirs for $15, or you can taste all 6 wines for $20.

Wine wall at Presqu’ile

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Menu

We opted for the “taste them all” option, and tasting room manager Anna Murphy took us through the line up while she told us about the history of the winery.

We learned that the Murphy Family owns Presqu’ile and that the name means “almost an island” – an homage to a very special piece of land in the Gulf Coast that belonged to her family and was lost during Hurricane Katrina. The family is working on a permanent Santa Maria winery/tasting room that will open Summer 2013.

Chandelier in the Presqu’ile tasting room

Back to the wine. I thought the entire line up was pretty incredible and had a difficult time picking favorites. Winemaker Dieter Cronje handcrafts the wines in a perfectly balanced, elegant, food friendly style which I really enjoyed – especially in an area with so many super-juicy Pinot Noirs and buttery Chardonnays.

Photo of winemaker Dieter Cronje

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

Presqu’ile Wine Tasting Room

The hot day helped me narrow down my purchases to a 2010 Presqu’ile Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley ($35) and a 2011 Presqu’ile Rose of Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley ($18). I will definitely be back for several bottles of Pinot Noir on my next visit.

Overall, I was so happy we visited Presqu’ile. Anna was such a pleasure to chat with, the vibe of the tasting room was so welcoming and fresh, Booker got a great workout playing with Hazel, and the wines were fantastic. I can’t wait for my next visit.

Click here to visit the Presqu’ile Winery website.

PRESQU’ILE WINERY – TASTING ROOM
2369 Alamo Pintado Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 688-2022
Email: info@presquilewine.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Monday

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