A friend of ours is traveling to California later this week and staying in the area we visited last month. She was asking for recommendations of places to see and do. Naturally I'm heading to the central coast region of California for this week's travel Tuesday post.
We are always trying to find unique and fun spots to explore when we travel in California. We had read about this winery and sculpture garden and decided to visit it on Wednesday before the expected rain arrived. This full winery has many varietals of wine, pistachios grown on the property you can taste and tons of crazy metal sculptures, what more could you want?
World renowned sculptor John Jagger was commissioned by owner Dr. Warren Frankel for a five year period, and his works can be viewed while strolling through the gardens. These magnificent sculptures in bronze and granite are one man’s life work and are sure to inspire any visitor. From the beautiful 10 foot bronze “Mermaid” rising from the fountain, to the 20,000 Lb. granite “Puma” and the 16 ft. tall bronze “Dancing Horse”, Jagger’s passion for the underwater world, cats – from domestic to wild, and horses are evident. Upon entering the tasting room you are greeted by Jagger’s miniature series of sculptures displayed throughout. Mr. Jagger left this world on June 6, 2013 and with his passing, local sculptor Dale Evers has taken over the reins as the sculptor in residence, and will continue to push the creative envelope.
They also have an area which shows you what the different varietals of wine look like, with a row of each type planted and named. I found this fascinating as I had never compared them like this before.
Not to be outdone by the sculptures themselves, the tasting room is really unique and beautiful as well. The wrought iron chandeliers hang down in a inviting fashion, the soda machine in the back has been completely redone, and the chairs even have a unique look.
The winery also serves their own, grown on the property pistachios right there in the tasting room as well and you can eat them in-between tastes of wine.
This all comes together in an unique and interesting wine country experience.
Tuesday was a beautiful morning - so beautiful that I sat on the front porch and listened to the birds as I drank my morning coffee. One of the nicest things about this house is that it is out in the country - you really have an opportunity to unwind when you are here.
We didn't get going until close to 11. Ahhh, the joys of vacation.
Our first stop was one of Paul's favourite wineries Eberle. A pioneer of Paso Robles, Gary Eberle founded Eberle Winery more than 35 years ago. Eberle is one of the highest award-winning wineries in the U.S. and ranks in the top 10 of gold medal award-winning wineries in the country.
Today, Eberle Winery has reached a case production of 30,000. The Eberle name, which means “wild boar” in German, has earned a reputation as one of the highest award-winning wineries in the United States. In 2012, Eberle received acclaim from Wine Spectator, earning 93 points for its 2010 Steinbeck Vineyard Syrah; and last year, Eberle was voted Winery of the Year at the 2013 Central Coast Wine Competition. Nearly four decades of wine awards are on display in the Eberle tasting room. Once they taste the wines, visitors understand why Gary Eberle has been called the “Godfather of the Paso Robles wine appellation.”
Eberle Winery is a welcoming place. Guests arriving at the tasting room are first greeted by a famous bronze Porcellino (wild boar) statue. It is the 93rd replica of he original bronze Porcellino cast by Tacca in 1620, and now found in Florence, Italy. Italians consider it good luck to rub the boar’s nose and toss a coin in the water below. Visitors to Eberle are fortunate as well; they can taste the wines that have won so many high accolades and tour the caves for free.
Eberle’s 17,000 square feet of underground caves provide a captivating environment for exclusive par ties. The intimate VIP Room inside the caves seats ten for private wine tours, lunch, dinner, or other events. In addition, the 100-seat Wild Boar Room serves as a romantic and beautiful backdrop for the winery’s monthly Guest Chef Dinner Series (featuring renowned chefs from around the world), as well as other private events. A comfortable picnic deck overlooking the estate vineyard can also be reserved for weddings or groups of up to 100.
Leaving Eberle we headed back into town for lunch at the Thai restaurant.
The afternoon was spent wandering around the Paso square, shopping a bit, and resting on the park benches, when we felt like watching the world wander by. . . the perfect way to spend a vacation afternoon IMHO.
We wanted to visit the Tuesday afternoon farmer's market - although after having done so we should have spent our time doing something else. LOL It was VERY off season and our only purchase was a baguette . . . but it was a very yummy baguette. :-)
As we headed back to the house we decided to visit Brecon winery. We think it is the one located on the other side of the hill behind the house. Brecon Estate opened their doors four years ago and has amassed over 40 Golds/Double Golds and Platinum medals, not including four 90+ scores from eRobertParker.com. These stellar reviews are no surprise from Welsh Winemaker Damian Grindley, who as a long track record of producing international, award-winning wines. Current varietal releases include 2013 - Cabernet Franc, “Conviction” (White Rhone Blend), Petit Verdot, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and newly released 2013 Meritage and a 2014 Viognier/Grenache Blanc blend. The many microclimates of the Central Coast region allow for this wide range of varietals and each wine is a true representation of the soil and climate of its vineyard site. Brecon Estate produces these varietals with fruit grown in the larger Central Coast appellation as well as the appellations of Paso Robles and Monterey.
Production at Brecon Estate is sold exclusively on site through their tasting room. Each wine is fermented in small batches after being selected from their own vineyards as well other high-end parcels on the Central Coast. Brecon’s vineyards are home to some of the first plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines in the original Adelaida district of Paso Robles. The roots of the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards are old enough to have reached deep into the ground and as a result, the vines have been dry-farmed for the past four years. It is amongst these vineyards that Brecon’s newly designed, contemporary winery sits along the stunning Vineyard Drive.
The tasting bar attendant asked us if we wanted to taste inside or outside. It was 70 + degrees so we decided to enjoy the sunshine as much as possible. The outside area was lovely - this would be a great spot for a group tasting.
It was a wonderful experience. We sipped, the winery animals paid a visit, another couple joined us and we chatted. The attendant kept pouring more wines. He brought snacks. It was so lovely that we did not want to leave!
As they say, all good things must come to an end. We packed our purchases away in the car and made the short drive back to the house.
After a nap we sat outside and watched the sun set.
Dinner was tempura shrimp, salad,and tortellini . . . and lost of wine. :-)
Monday seemed to be a sleepy day in Carmel . . . actually I have the sense that every day is a sleepy day in the off season. After breakfast in the hotel we wandered the town a bit - everything except for the market and a few restaurants was shut up tight.
Given that the shops weren't looking for our dollars we packed up and headed south.
Our original plan was to have a scenic drive down the coastal highway but the combination of fires last summer and the rains this spring have produced a series of landslides that have the highway blocked. Plan B involved heading over the hills east of Carmel and linking up with the highway through the Central Valley. It was a dull drive through the flat fields, made a bit more exciting by me forgetting to get gas and the struggle to find an open gas station in the wee communities we passed.
Finally we arrived in Paso at 11:30. Early to settle into our rental but just in time for lunch. We parked downtown. Paul wanted to go to his favourite Mexican restaurant . . . which was closed on Mondays. Instead we went to a new spot for us and had a BIG beer and a BIG plate of Mexican food - carnitas for me.
Once we were finished, we made our way to the rental. The house is a restored 1890 schoolhouse along the rambling country roads west of the city. We stayed here in 2014 and fell in love. We were curious to see if everything was as wonderful as it was previously - it was!
After settling in we headed to the nearest ship to gather some supplies.
It helps that the nearest shop is a Trader Joes. :-)
We also stopped at a butcher which sells local, naturally raised meats for some dinner supplies. Our normal routine is to eat lunches while we are out and about and have a nice dinner at the house.
Given how gorgeous the kitchen is how could I NOT cook here??????
On the way back we popped into a winery located around the corner form our house. We had visited Jada not long after it opened years ago and were happy to return to see what was happening. Jada has gained a reputation for both Rhône and Bordeaux-style wines. Wine critics have assigned scores as high as 95 points to the limited production, stand-alone varietals and blends.
Winemaker, David Galzignato, crafts the wine from the estate vineyards surrounding the tasting room and winery. Following 100% biodynamic practices in all of the vineyard blocks, the winery is in the second year of a six year certification program. Biodynamic farming often uses organic farming techniques that many of the great, first-grown wineries in France follow to produce their wine. Working with biodynamic consultant Philippe Armenier, the team at Jada is striving to improve upon the fruit that is already producing high quality wine.
We decided to do a wine and cheese pairing which proved to be a fabulous decision! It is amazing how the two bring out so much in one another . . . a sip of wine, a nibble of cheese, more wine, more cheese. MMMMM Happy Jerry and Paul.
When we got back to the house and the groceries were out away it was formally nap time. I love slow vacations with plenty of time for naps.
Later we had some charcuterie and vino at the big dinging table - not sure we ate here at all when we were last here - it was summer then so our of our meals were outside.
Dinner was steak (unfortunately the grill ran out of gas mid-grill so I had to finish it off on the stove), gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce, and salad.
Later we sat outside, sipping wine, and looked up at the stars. . . a great finish to the day.
coming home from work and finding a wine club delivery awaiting you at the door!
This shipment contained 2 bottles of Portfolio 2014, 2 bottles of Chardonnay 2015, 1 bottle of Amphora VR 2015, and 1 bottle of Dark Pool 2010 (LSV new port-style wine). I'm looking forward to uncorking these!
It is always a happy day when I get to unpack another wine club shipment!
This shipment was all reds - 3 Blind Trust, 2 Syrah, and a Pinot Noir.
From the winery . . .
We are proud to release our first reds from the 2014 vintage. The last few growing years have been getting progressively warmer, so lots of ripe flavours and full bodied reds is the result.
Blind Trust Red 2014 - $26.99* The Blind Trust is the second label of our big Bordeaux style blends, and its robust taste profile and affordable pricing make it a solid investment. It's the first year Malbec dominates the blend, followed by Merlot and the Cabs.
Syrah 2014 - $33.99* Syrah has become a powerful varietal for BC winegrowers. The 2014 Syrah is 100% estate grown on our Perfect Hedge vineyard in Osoyoos and blends 97% Syrah with 3% Viognier. A third of this wine is not just aged, but also fermented in French oak puncheons and tanks, which imparts silky tannins and a lush roundness to the wine.
Pinot Noir 2014 - $28.99* Small Cap Release - Only 149 cases With fruit sourced from a stellar high bluff site on the Naramata Bench, Pinot Noir has a reputation that it can be tricky to grow. But BC's cooler climates are showcasing Pinot Noir that is world class.
Prince Edward County AKA 'the County' is an up and coming wine region about 2.5 hours to the east of us. In addition to wine it is known for the farm to table food movement, art galleries, and a beautiful bucolic ambiance. After I got my new job at work we decided to celebrate with a weekend away. . . well Sunday - Tuesday away. I had last been in the county in 2011 and we were curious to see the new developments.
During the course of 48 hours we visited 8 wineries, a brewery, 2 cheese makers, 5 art galleries/studios, wandered around 2 small towns, hiked a bit of the millennial trail, and ate some amazing meals.
We left the county this afternoon with a car full of wine, beer, and treats, wondering why the heck it had take us so long to return.
(Thanks to the folks at Food and Wine for putting this fun post together)
If your favorite Star Wars characters were wines, here's what they would be.
Choosing the right bottle in the vast world of wine can often seem like navigating the galaxy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to sell out theatres around the globe —so obviously there are many out there who share my fondness for the epic film series. The major players from the original triology all had strong, distinct personalities, much like wines have unique styles, and the character that you identify with most might lend some insight into what you like to drink. With Episode VII introducing the voices of the new generation, here are 13 central characters from both the Light and Dark Sides—and their wine world equivalents.
Princess Leia Organa: Blanc de Noirs Champagne Why? Bold, fearless and brimming with energy and determination, Leia is instrumental in the Galactic Civil War. Although there’s darkness in her lineage—in the form of Darth Vader—she is pure Light, like this white Champagne made from black grapes (100 percent pinot noir, to be exact).
Luke Skywalker:Barolo Why? Skywalker is awkward and unsettled in his youth, his true identity hidden away until later in life, when he realizes his true potential as a Jedi Master. Barolo similarly requires time for its tannins to soften and its beguiling secondary aromas to come to the fore. When they do, the wine drinks like the masterpiece it was destined to be.
R2-D2:New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Why? This feisty little droid is always on a mission, and he always succeeds—just as Sauvignon Blanc successfully put New Zealand on the map as a world-class wine-producing country. Plus, he’s zippy, spritely and always reliable.
C-3PO:Second Wine of a top-growth Bordeaux Why? This 3PO unit is programmed for etiquette and protocol and is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication, so you’ll want him as your Number 2. Buttoned-up and British by accent, he’s right at home at any fancy affair but can also hold his own if the mood turns a little more raucous.
Darth Vader:Cahors Why? There could be no darker side of the wine-producing world than that known as the "black wine" of Cahors in Southwest France. There, the Malbec grape finds its most deeply colored and mineral manifestation, its firm structure of tannin and acidity giving it longevity, much like the life-sustaining black armor of the Sith Lord Vader.
Obi-Wan Kenobi:Burgundy Why? A longtime Jedi Master, Obi-Wan is to the Force as Burgundy is to terroir: the epitome of its expression. The wines, like the man, exude the effortless elegance, grace, and complexity to which all others aspire.
Han Solo:Etna Rosso Why? “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” is a frequent quip from the lawless smuggler turned Alliance fighter Han Solo. You’d have a bad feeling, too, if you were a vine planted on the volcanic slope of Sicily’s Mount Etna, which is prone to erupting from time to time. Wines produced there are smoky, seductive and never lacking character.
Chewbacca:Chilean Carménère Why? This Wookie warrior speaks in a tongue not many understand, like this grape, which was originally mistaken for Merlot in Chile and produces wines of an earthy, animale profile.
Yoda:Georgian Wine Why? Yoda is a beacon of ancient wisdom and the organic lifestyle. If he were to make wine, he would almost certainly ferment his fruit in old-school earthenware vessels buried into the ground, like the qvevri that Georgian winemakers still use today.
Rey:Oregon Pinot Noir Why? The Force is strong with Rey. Although she’s next-generation Jedi, she has the makings of Obi-Wan-level mastery, just as Willamette Pinot shows obvious ties to the grape’s Burgundian pedigree.
BB-8:Pét-Nat Why? This latest addition to the lineup of droids stole the show with his crowd-pleasing and naturally bubbly demeanor. He also wins for best sound effects, like this fun, fuss-free French sparkler.
Finn:Cru Beaujolais Why? Finn refuses to conform and remain among the ranks of Stormtroopers of the First Order, opting to express his individuality, much like the crus express their distinct terroirs, setting them apart from commercial Bojo.
Kylo Ren:Austrian Zwiegelt Why? Although officially turned to the Dark Side, Kylo Ren sometimes falters toward the Light, pulled in two directions like this red grape variety, which is a crossing of Blaufränkish and Sankt Laurent. Both exhibit the freshness of youth mixed with the brooding spiciness that comes from sinister intentions.
In the midst of the craziness that is work these days I find that I need to find small things to focus on to stay balanced and happy. Imagine my joy when I came home one night last week to find my latest wine club shipment!
Two bottles of the 2014 Chardonnay,2bottles of the reserve 2013 Portfolio, and 2 bottles of the 2013 Syrah.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.