Wednesday, May 29, 2013

California Jazz & Wine Fest 2013

Sunday, May 19th, we went to the California Wine and Jazz Festival at Conejo Creek Park North in Thousand Oaks. It was presented by the Rotary Club of Westlake Village Sunrise and they support high school music programs in Conejo Valley with the proceeds. 
Sunday turned out to be a sunny, breezy day in at Conejo Creek Park, perfect for outdoor wine, beer, and food tasting, and a little shopping.
This year the stemless wineglass fit into a festive plastic festival plate. I think I need the unit that attaches to a camera, and maybe a place to hold the tasting notes and a pen, or just a golf cart.  But that would be drinking and driving and we know that isn't going to happen ...
First stop was at Stonefire Grill for some pasta, salad and a slider. Great way to start the festival.

Herzog Wine Cellars poured a 2011 Special Reserve Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County and their first estate bottled wine, a 2010 Petite Sirah, from Prince Vineyard, Clarksburg, CA.  Both wines were excellent, and the Petite Sirah went well with the brownies they served.

Herzog is the master of displays and marketing bling.

Steve Felten, former winemaker at Norman Vineyards, was pouring a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and a 2009 Pinot Noir from his newly established Felten Cellars in Paso Robles. We liked both of them very much.  

Did I mention it was breezy? As soon as I picked up my wineglass from the red plate it and the fork took off and landed right on Steve.  Embarrassing. He didn't miss a beat pouring though, and luckily, I'm a member of the clean plate club, so he didn't get much on him.  It could of been a lot messier.  That was the end of my little red flying plate, and I was happy to eat whatever was served with it's own plate or napkin later on.

ViñAlegre poured their 2011 Rosé (made with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), 2009 Merlot, 2010 El Sueño (75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot), and 2010 Primitivo (Primitivo grape is part of the Zinfandel family).  I thought the El Sueño and Primitivo were very good.

Casa Baranca Organic Winery's Alysia Dewar was pouring a Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot and the wine I tried, a very nice 2009 Pinot Noir, Laetitia Vineyard (Arroyo Grande). 

John Shaw was pouring his Alma Sol Winery's 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Cuatro Caminos, a nice red blend.  I especially enjoyed a preview of his 2011 Merlot, bottled 8 weeks ago and ready for distribution around September.  It seemed to be pretty good to me right now, but maybe I like Merlot Nouveau.

Former “Tonight Show” trombonist Matt Finders and the Matt Finders Ensemble were playing some great jazz.

Devon enjoyed the Qupe Chardonnay and rated it the best of the festival's white wines. We met the guys from the Wineyard who were enjoying it too!  I tasted the 2009 Verdad Tempranillo, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard and the 2010 Syrah, Bien Nacido.  Both were very nice.

Brendan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant was serving some awesome sliders, with and without jalepeño.

Lee and Helen Williams, Owners/Winemakers of Golden Star Vineyards, were pouring their 2012 Chardonnay, Monterey, 2011 Purple Haze (Zin, Merlot, Malbec), 2011 Zinfandel, Paso Robles, 2011 Merlot, Paso Robles, and 2012 Syrah, Chavez Vineyards, Antelope Valley.  My favorite was the Purple Haze!

Red wines from Magnavino Cellars were poured by those laid back Rotary guys.
After a little bottle re-alignment it was clear that these fine red wines were available: 2010 Zinfandel, 201 Syrah, 2010 Sangiovese, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - all from Lodi Appellation. I always rate these reds highly and this tasting was excellent as usual.

Malibu Sundowner/Wades Wines was pouring Cabernet Sauvignon and other fine wines.

Great little tacos from Pierre's Catering.  9021PHO is in the background; didn't get a chance to try their noodle soup.

A change of pace from Pinkberry and Robek's booth. Pinkberry's Chocolate Hazelnut gelato was a favorite.

And what follows a Chocolate Hazelnut gelato best? Nothing like a Hopstorm IPA with 6 different varieties of hops.  Pretty good!  And I tried the Jeremiah Red too.

Moez gave Roger (Dr. Hops) the day off and was pouring some Honey I'm Home Blonde Ale and a very nice Schwarzbier. I tasted the Schwarzbier dark lager and it hit the spot; plenty of flavor, but not too heavy.

Firestone Walker poured their Union Jack IPA (my favorite, above), California Pale Ale, Double Barrel Ale, 805 (blonde ale), and a new Pivo Hoppy Pils.  They told me I had to try the Pivo since I like hops.  I did. And it was hoppy, but it was still a Pils style beer otherwise, and it's not my favorite style.

Surf Brewery served their County Line Rye Pale Ale and their Black IPA - both very good!  I especially enjoy a rye flavor for a change of pace.

DJ’s California Catering was serving pasta with a real flair! 

Bean Crazy had coffee available and Chemayne Faulconer from  Roblar Winery and Vineyards shared some of their wonderful wine:
  • 2010 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
  • 2011 Meule Rouge (34% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 33% Mourvedre)
  • 2011 Vivre la Vie (50% Grenache, 50% Syrah)
I thought they were all excellent!

I Would Rather Be Baking had some fantastic chocolates that went very well with the Roblar red wines. Theresa and Mark Delgado really design some colorful and tasty creations!

Qdoba Mexican Grill served a very nice mango salad - good with white wine.

Who are Lucas and Lewellen anyway? It turns out that Louis Lucas and Royce Lewellen were a grape grower and Superior Court Judge that met in 1975 through the Santa Maria Wine & Food Society.

I liked their 2009 Pinot Noir and 2010 Toccata Classico, Santa Barbara County (Super-Tuscan style: 45% Sangiovese, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Freisa, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot).

And the great music continued on with some blues from keyboardist and vocalist Mighty Mo Rodgers singing about his real life experiences with Tin Drum.  "Tell me why, there's no Jerry Lee Lewis High!?"

The Beer Ghetto - minus Wolf Creek.  Wolf Creek was at the festival, only they were in their Restaurant capacity at another location and not in their Brewing Company mode. Their food is always great, but we missed their beer!
Devon said that Chef Stroh's Pestos made a nice snack; the flavorful 4 were:
  • The Green Monster
  • Sundried Tomato
  • Blue Apricot
  • Smok'n
My favorite is Smok'n and we buy it at Four Brix Winery.  They were handing out recipe cards that are also available online.

Lots of crafty items for sale - my favorite was this cork wreath by Annee Hahn!


Fashion on the go...

Now this is different:
Best Divorce Rings in Town 
"With this ring, I thee shed." Take the beautiful gems from your wedding rings and let us help you design a ring to commemorate the start of new memories.

William Hirsh of Cielo Farms was pouring his fabulous Woodstock Collection wines:
  • NV Woodstock - BlackBird (50% 2009 Petite Sirah, 50% 2010 Verdot)
  • 2009 Woodstock - The Witch, Napa Valley (85% Zinfandel, 10% Syrah,  5% Petite Sirah)
  • 2009 Malbec (100% Malbec)
  • 2009 Woodstock - Black Widow (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 15% Petite Sirah)
  • 2008 Woodstock - RedHouse (100% Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 2009 Woodstock - Purple Haze (Syrah, Petite Sirah)
They were all very good and my favorites were The Witch, Malbec, and RedHouse.
All of the wine was too good to spill, so this sippy cup with a wine glass inside of it did the trick! Although I'm not sure how she appreciated any "nose" locked inside.  

There were a lot of wineries and food vendors that I didn't get to, but those that I did taste made it worth the trip!

The crowd seemed to be enjoying the day with great wine, beer, food and music. The California Jazz & Wine Fest IS becoming an exclusive JAZZ venue, gourmet WINE and FOOD tasting event!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Paso Robles Wine Festival Weekend (May 16-18)

Paso Robles Wine Festival Weekend
The annual Paso Robles Wine Festival in May is always a great tasting trip.  This year we toured wineries on Thursday afternoon and Friday, and then went to the wine fest on Saturday.  We started our tasting trip in Santa Margarita on the 176 mile drive up to Paso Robles.

The festival in the village square was a great way to catch all of the wineries we couldn't fit into our first two days of tasting.  This year the new layout worked very well, it didn't feel too crowded, and the weather was relatively cool, for Paso Robles, with a nice breeze all day.

Devon, my designated driver, hotel and gourmet restaurant locator, made the trip a success!

Our first winery was Ancient Peaks in Santa Margarita. A rustic location with great wines and a zip line!
The Ancient Peaks estate Margarita Vineyard is an interesting combination of five different soil zones — ancient sea bed, sedimentary, shale, volcanic and granitic.
Devon tasted the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Blanco (pinot gris & muscat) and 2012 Rosé (syrah & pinot noir). I really enjoyed their 2011 Zinfandel and 2010 Oyster Ridge (cab, merlot, petite sirah, petit verdot & cabernet franc).  The other wines I tasted included their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Renegade, and 2010 Petite Sirah.
Across the street from the winery you can try their zipline canopy tours over the Santa Margarita Ranch. There are 4 different ziplines that cover 3,000 feet. Probably can't drink your wine while zipping though.

Kenneth Volk Vineyards is known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.  The tasting room is located opposite of the Fat Cat Farm and next to Lone MadroneDevon liked KV 2008 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Cuvee and 2007 Orange Muscat, Wind Willow Vineyard white wines. I thought the 2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Cuvee; 2009 Pinot Noir, Garey Ranch Vineyard; and 2009 Mourvedre, Enz Vineyard were excellent!
Fat Cat Farm is an organic specialty nursery that has herbs and drought tolerant annuals and perennials.

Lone Madrone was pouring a 2012 La Mezcla, a 2012 Picpoul Blanc, and a 2009 Points West Red that we both agreed were all great! The 2010 Barfandel won the creative naming category: Barbera + Zinfandel = Barfandel.  It was a unique blend with 46% Barbera, 36% Zinfandel, and 18% Petite Sirah.  I liked it.
Devon at Lone Madrone (Joel pouring)

Rumor  has it that Lone Madrone is moving their tasting room next month from their Hwy 46 location to somewhere on Adelaida Road to the west.

Jack Creek Cellars was a nice tasting stop a little to the south in Templeton.  Located in a very scenic area they have 40 acres of vines planted, of which 24 acres are Pinot Noir.
Thanks to our friend, Tricia, for recommending their Pinot Noir - we agree, it's awesome!  We bought a bottle of the 2010 Estate Pinot Noir, which has 6 different clones (667, 777, 943, 828 ...).  It's excellent.
Brette Womack, Director of Consumer Sales,  explained that although the heritage grape of Paso Robles is Zinfandel, Jack Creek is too close to the coast to grow Zin. Well, that's OK with us, because it seems that everything else Jack Creek bottles is excellent! We had the 2010 Estate Chardonnay, 2010 Estate Grenache, 2010 Estate Syrah and they were all great.

Hearthstone Vineyard & Winery poured their 2010 Pearl (60% Roussanne, 40% Viognier), 2011 Grenache Rosé (100% Grenache), 2008 Slipstone (GSM: 62% Grenache, 31% Syrah, 7% Mourvedre), and 2008 Profundo (57% Sangiovese, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Syrah).  
We both liked the Pearl and the Grenache Rosé, and I liked the two red blends even more!

Chateau Margene / Mooney Family
The 2012 Grenache Blanc; 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands (Clones Dijon 115, 113 & Pom 4); and 2008 Petite Sirah, Sereno Vista Vineyard (100% Petite Sirah) were top notch!
I also tasted the 2010 Mourvedre (80% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah) and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot).

Dinner at Artisan
Glad we found this location before they move close to the town square this week.  We started with some Jalapeño Cornbread with honey butter.
After finding out they were out of my favorite Firestone Walker IPA I asked for their hoppiest beer and got a dry hopped Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale from the Flying Dog Brewery (where else?). Odd to have an east coast ale in Paso, but it was a good change after wine tasting all day.
Devon had the Los Osos greens, market vegetables, and buttermilk with a Dungeness Crab slider, prosciutto, quail egg, and béarnaise. 
I had the soup of the day (Mushroom) with an Abalone, Avocado, Pork Belly Carnitas Tostada. They weren't entrees, but they were delicious. Devon had a glass of the local Rendarrio Chardonnay 2011 with dinner.  It was reported to be a very nice Chardonnay.


Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery 
A great discovery located on the side of Villicana Winery, this small winery makes some great Syrahs and everything else. 
Top ratings to all of these Alta Colina wines:
2012 Grenache Blanc
2010 GSM (45% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, and 25% Syrah)
2010 Toasted Slope Syrah
2009 Mourvèdre Estate, Library Selection (75% Mourvèdre, 14% Syrah, 11% Grenache)
2010 Late Harvest Viognier


Villicana Winery
Although I was mainly focusing on red wines I tasted the 2011 Estate Viognier and it was great! Their 2010 Estate Syrah and the 2010 Estate Mourvèdre were my favorite red wines.

I also enjoyed the 2010 Estate Merlot, 2011 Estate Zinfandel, and the 2011 Estate Vin Rosé.

And right next to the Villicana Tasting Room is Paso Robles' First Craft DistilleryEven though it was a wine tasting trip we had to try out their spirits.
RE:FIND Distillery 
The name "RE:FIND" is about FINDing a purpose for saignée, the prized free-run juice removed prior to fermentation to enhance wine quality, and REfining it into top-shelf spirits. They distill a Neutral Brandy and a Botanical Brandy, which are essentially a vodka and a gin.
The Botanical Brandy uses the Neutral Brandy as a base alcohol. A proprietary blend of botanicals including juniper berry, coriander, orris root, lemon and orange peel, grains of paradise, and lavender are added through a vapor pass process to impart a clean gin flavor.
One distinct benefit of vodka derived from grapes is the compound glycerol which is produced during the fermentation of wine grapes. It forms the "legs" in a wine glass and has a sweet, viscous quality that gives their spirits a uniquely smooth, soft characteristic.
They were both very smooth and the gin was very unique and flavorful.

DAOU Vineyards
We enjoyed the views and the wine at DAOU Vineyards.  It's obvious that no expense was spared on the facilities, vineyards and wine making.  
All of the wines were truly first class.
2011 Viognier
2011 Roussanne (we bought a bottle of this wine)
2010 Celestus (59% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot)
2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot)
2011 Reserve Zinfandel

HammerSky Vineyards & Inn was setting up for their winemaker dinner when we arrived. They have some creative wine names and I liked the 2010 Naughty Princess Viognier and 2009 Red Handed (66% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot) the best.
We also tasted their 2009 Open Invitation (42% Merlot, 53% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Syrah), 2009 Zinfandel and an unreleased 2010 Zinfandel that showed promise.  They are apparently well-known for their "Party of Four" (40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Franc) and the current vintage is 2009, but they weren't pouring any when we visited.


Roxo Port Cellars (co-located with Chateau Margene) had a great chocolate pairing with their ports.  My favorites included:
2008 Paso Mélange
2008 Ruby Tradicional
2008 Négrette
2008 Magia Preta (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Syrah) - the flagship port.

Other ports that were very good:
2009 Petite Sirah, Wolff Vineyard
2008 Barbera

Stacked Stone Cellars
We made it to Stacked Stone in time to catch some BBQ and taste some of their great zinfandel and red blends.  To start with we had some 2011 Rosetta Rosé made with 100% Estate Zinfandel.

Donald Thiessen - Owner/Winemaker
While enjoying some BBQ and talking with Donald about winemaking we tasted his red wines:
2011 Gem Rhone Blend (50% Syrah, 50% Zinfandel)
2011 Quarry Bordeaux Blend (30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Cab Franc)
2011 Zin Stone Zinfandel (90% Zinfandel, 10% Petit Syrah)

These all scored highly in my ratings. The Quarry Boudeaux Blend was the most complex and we took a bottle home with us. 

Calcareous Vineyard
I discovered Calcareous and their other label, Twisted Sisters, at the Ojai wine festival last year.  They were very good at the time, and after visiting their gorgeous winery on a hilltop I am glad to find that their wines are still tasting great!
We tasted the 2011 Paso Robles Chardonnay, 2012 Lily Blanc (46% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 24% Marsanne), and the Twisted Sisters 2012 Chardonnay whites wines.  The Paso Robles Chardonnay and Lily Blanc were fantastic and we bought a bottle of Lily Blanc.
I found the 2011 Zinfandel to be better than the rest of their excellent red wines! No wonder it earned a 94 point/Gold Medal from the Beverage Testing Institute. The 2009 Grenache-Mourvèdre (64% Grenache, 36% Mourvèdre), the 2009 Trés Violet  (36% Mourvèdre, 34% Syrah, 30% Grenache), and the 2008 Lloyd Cabernet Sauvignon were all just regular old excellent.


Craft Beer Break
In addition to fantastic wines all over Paso Robles and points south, the area has some great brewpubs/microbreweries.  Firestone Walker Brewing Company has long been a big attraction and now there's another great brewery in the same area south of Paso Robles in Templeton.

The BarrelHouse Brewing Company is a little more rustic than Firestone Walker.  They have a nice indoor/outdoor bar with outdoor entertainment, food trucks, and you bring your own chairs if you want to sit down outside.

After a fantastic IPA at the BarrelHouse we went to Firestone Walker and had some great burgers for dinner.  The kitchen is relatively new, but they do a great job.  Best burger and huge onion rings that I've ever had.  Of course a Union Jack west coast IPA (double dry hopped) went along with it.

31st Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival

We started the day in town at the Amsterdam Coffee House for some good, local coffee (Starbucks doesn't seem to be around the center of town). 

The Premium ticket for the Saturday Grand Tasting was good for an hour early so it started at noon and lasted four hours. The regular ticket started at 1 pm. The weather was perfect for tasting wine and we managed to sample wines from most of the major festival sections.  We started with the Rhone-Style wineries, and then followed with Bourdeaux-Style, Zinfandel, and Other Wild Wines sections.

This glass wrangler was enjoying her job! She picked out two glasses especially for us...

The wineries below are listed in the order we visited them, more or less. The wines marked with an asterisk (*) below are the ones that we rated the highest.  All of the others were good too!  It was hard to find a bad bottle of wine at this event.

Halter Ranch
2012 Côtes de Paso Blanc (58% Grenache Blanc, 18% Roussanne, 16% Picpoul Blanc, 8% Viognier)
*2010 Ancestor (39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petit Verdot, 26% Malbec)
*2010 Syrah (84% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre, 5% Malbec, 3% Viognier)

Clavo Cellars
2011 Two Moons - Aporia 2011 (50% Marsanne, 50% Grenache Blanc)
2010 Grenache Blanc, Oracle
2010 Viognier
2010 Angst (GSM)
2010 Ardor
*2008 Collusion
*2007 Enigma, Proprietary Blend

Adelaida Cellars
*2012 Rosé, Anna's Vineyard (37% Cinsault, 29% Grenache, 29% Mourvèdre, 5% Carignan)
*2011 Version White, Anna's Vineyard (53% Roussanne, 47% Grenache Blanc)
*2010 Pinot Noir, HMR Vineyard
2010 Version Red, Anna's Vineyard (37% Mourvèdre, 28% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 13% Cinsault)
*2008 Inventor (37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 9% Grenache, 6% Cab Franc, 6% Counoise)
*2009 Cabernet/Syrah Estate Reserve (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah)

Tablas Creek Vineyard
2011 Côtes de Tablas Blanc (27% Viognier, 26% Grenache Blanc, 25% Marsanne, 22% Roussanne)
*2012 Dianthus (60% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, 15% Counoise)
*2010 Grenache
2010 Patelin de Tablas (45% Grenache Blanc, 34% Viognier, 18% Roussanne, 3% Marsanne)

Vina Robles
2012 Vermentino - Huerhuero
2012 White4 (Viognier, Verdelho, Vermentino, and Sauvignon Blanc)

2012 Roseum (Syrah) - Huerhuero
2008 Syrée (Syrah, Petite Sirah)
*2009 Petite Sirah - Estate

*2010 Red4 (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre)
Winemaker Kevin Willenborg added his personal wine notes to each pour and made the tasting very interesting.

Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery
Owner Dana Merrill poured a great line-up of wines. Devon liked the Viognier and I thought the Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon were excellent.
2012 Syrah Rosé
2010 Zinfandel
*2011 Viognier
2011 Picnic Chardonnay
2010 Fiesta (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot)
*2010 Syrah
*2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Train Wreck (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvèdre)

SummerWood Winery & Inn
2012 Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles
*2010 Viognier, Paso Robles
2010 Marsanne, Alta Colina Vineyard
2007 Syrah, Paso Robles
*2009 Grenache, Paso Robles

Calcareous / Twisted Sisters
Twisted Sisters wines are made by the same winemaking team that produces Calcareous Estate Wines.

*2012 Calcareous Lily Blanc (46% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 24% Marsanne) - just a great as it was at the winery the day before.
*2010 Twisted Sisters Matriarch, Paso Robles (15% Merlot, 31% Petit Verdot, 24% Malbec)

Anglim Winery
2010 Cameo, Central Coast (Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne)
*2012 Rosé, Central Coast (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Viognier)
2011 Cerise, Paso Robles (Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Roussanne)
*2010 A "best barrel blend" of Syrah and Mourvèdre (
Partner/Winemaker Steve Anglim poured some fantastic reds and described his winemaking history.  I'm not sure if the 2010 "best barrel blend" I sampled will be generally available, but it was excellent!

Hearst Ranch Winery 
2011 Chardonnay, "Glacier Ridge"
2011 White Wine, "Three Sisters Cuvée" (80% Grenache Blanc, 20% Viognier)
*2011 Red Wine, "Three Sisters Cuvée" (50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre)

Saw winemaker Jeremy Leffert and enjoyed his 2011 Three Sisters Cuvée Red Wine. It's just as good as the 2009 I had at Santa Barbara's 9th Annual California Wine Festival last July.

Bianchi Winery
2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, Lakeside Ranch
2010 Zinfandel, Paso Robles

Pianetta Winery
All winners!
*2010 Sangiovese
*2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
*2010 Tuscan Nights (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Sangiovese, 5% Petite Sirah)

Hoyt Family Vineyards
*2010 Chardonnay
*2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Tempranillo

Other Wineries
There were many wineries to choose from and I got most of the way through my tasting list, with the exception of some Burgundy-Style wineries.  

At least we were able to taste one or two wines from each of the following:
  • Caliza Winery
  • Chateau Margene
  • Écluse / Blind Dog
  • Le Vigne Winery
  • Niner Wine Estates
  • Riverstar Vineyards
  • RN Estate
  • Stacked Stone
  • Veris Cellars

There were several places serving food at the festival and plenty of gourmet food trucks parked along the festival on Pine Street. Some of food places in the festival were very good, like Bless Your Heart Baking with their healthy gluten free, low glycemic, vegan samples.
Others might have been good too, but as soon as they put their food out, swarms of 20-30 people scooped up everything like vultures.  So we headed to the food trucks and had delicious pulled pork sandwiches.  
We ate our food truck lunch on wine barrels and talked with our friend, Lilian, who we met at Roxo Port Cellars the day before

Central Coast band One Time Spaceman provided entertainment for the festival with their Rock, Blues, and Americana style.

Everthing Else

Devon met Brigit Binns, author of The New Wine Country Cookbook: Recipes from California's Central Coast.  Devon had purchased her book at Lone Madrone winery the day before. She's looking forward to making the "Zucchini and Mint Frittata with Ricotta Salata" with our zucchini crop.
I met Brigit's husband, Casey Biggs, while Devon was discussing cookbooks.  Casey told me he is the "Paso Wine Man." I hadn't heard of him, but he's apparently the star of a series of commercials promoting Paso Robles wines.  The ad campaign is run by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and it features a wine-geek-meets-Old-Spice-guy. Come to think of it, I believe he was wearing a white shirt...

It looked like everyone was enjoying themselves.

Future Paso Robles vintner analyzing the root stock.

Dinner at Thomas Hill Organics
After digesting everything from the wine festival, we managed to go to dinner at a restaurant Devon found.  We shared a bottle of Lone Madrone's Points West White (44% Roussanne, 27% Viognier, 14% Picpoul Blanc, 15% Marsanne) that wasn't available for tasting at Lone Madrone; it's one of my favorite white blends.
We skipped the thin crust wood fired pizza, but it did look good cooking in the outdoor brick oven.  Devon had shrimp and I had duck. Even if the food was healthy, it was excellent, the service was very good and we recommend it.

Wine Summary
Is Paso Robles a great place for wine or what? We tasted 134 wines (plus a few that weren't counted) and of those, we rated 74 wines highly.  That means more than half of the wines we tried, or 55% of them, were excellent!

The Top White & Rosé Wines

The Top Red, Port & Dessert Wines

We're looking forward to visiting Paso Robles again soon and tasting another few hundred wines.  They just keep getting better every year.

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