Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wine Fest Los Olivos 2015

They were right - this town
 should have its own wine festival!
Hospitality Center at Corner House Coffee
The day started with pouring RAIN
and finished with pouring WINE!
This wine festival was a very different format ... no lines for food or wine, no congested traffic or crowds, just a perfect way to taste wine while strolling around Los Olivos!
Stafford's Famous Chocolates, next to the Hospitality Center, was our first stop and also our last stop of the day. In my original plan I'd mapped out a tasting trip in a circular route around town. When I discovered the food pairing schedule at wineries (and in Stafford's case, wine pairing schedule) varied throughout the day, we adjusted our tasting order to match up with the different time slots.
This change of tasting order was no problem in the relatively small area, and it added some "mystery" to the festival. Unfortunately, our timing wasn't perfect though, and we missed the food from Babe' Farms and AutoStrada Pizza.
Romp added We Olive SLO to their Boots, Shoes & Bags.  Devon likes the olive oil at We Olive very much, but I think it could have been a real hit if it were paired with wine!
Our first tasting was at Andrew Murray Vineyards, where they have been spreading the Rhone gospel for many years. This wine tasting and food pairing turned out to be one of the best of the day!
Caramelized Cipollini Onions + 2013 Viognier
I ranked all of the wines I tasted as Excellent! The food pairing featuring Caramelized Cipollini Onions and Twice-baked Potatoes with a Red Wine Braised Short Rib on Top by Village Modern Foods really complemented the white and red wines. 
Twice-baked Potatoes & Red Wine Braised Short Rib + 2013 This is Elleven Pinot Noir
This wine and food pairing really did go to 11!
Devon visited Honey Paper to check out their wine-themed stationery and gifts.
In contrast to the modern interior at Andrew Murray Vineyards, Refugio Ranch Vineyards has the corner on rustic!
We enjoyed tasting their wines and I especially liked the 2012 Syrah-Grenache-Petite Sirah.
Bob's Well Bread "artisan hand-made in small batches" bread was featured with the wine.  It was fresh and very good.

Artiste is by far the most colorful winery in the area! Impressionism on the walls and European style blends that they call Impressionist Cuvées are a great blend of wine and art.
Both red wines were very good and I liked the 2014 Queen best.
Even the food was colorful! The outdoor portable brick oven from Fire & Wine Wood Fired Pizzas was kept busy producing pepperoni, sausage and margherita pizzas. The thin crust was super!

The 2014 Queen red blend with slices of pepperoni and sausage pizzas. (Love the Jackson Pollock-style splattered paint in the background. I need some napkins that look like this!)
Daniel Gehrs Wines poured some interesting wines.
I enjoyed the 2012 Pinot Noir, Cienaga Valley, Monterey County best.  Devon liked the 2013 Riesling. We both liked the 2011 Fireside Port with chocolate. The big winery cat attempted to drink out of my empty glass, but then decided to drink the 2015 terra cotta clay saucer water under the pot by the door.  Something for everybody!
We enjoyed Toretti's Family Vineyard wines and the brats, hotlinks, and Linguiça sausages from Big Joe's Brats.
The 2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley was my favorite! Devon liked the 2012 Chardonnay and 2012 Rosada De Pinot Noir.
Big Joe's Brats with gourmet fixins were tasty and a little spicy.

The Riedel Master Glass Seminar at the Grange Hall received good reviews.

Sides Hardware and Shoes - a Brothers Restaurant was just across the street from the Grange Hall and they provided the food at the Arthur Earl tasting room too.
We found Coquelicot nearby and tasted the white and red wines.
The 2011 Mon Amour, their "Flagship Red," was excellent.

The Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe turned out to be a pleasant tasting stop. Unlike any other wine festivals, we sat at the bar inside the restaurant/wine shop and were served our wine and food.
The 2012 Bernat Grenache Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley and the 2009 Bernat Syrah ‘Gratitude’ were both very good! I tasted the chicken pate and pickles on crostini with the white and had the deep fried steak tartare with the red.
Alexander and Wayne poured three red wines and Pure Joy Catering served grilled pork and cheese sandwiches.
The 2011 Merlot was my favorite and it paired very well with the Cuban-style sandwich.
The Arthur Earl Tasting Room is related to Alexander & Wayne and it's just around the side.
All of the Arthur Earl red wines were excellent! Sides Restaurant served a delicious maple pork belly and a smoked salmon on crostini; they both went very quickly!
Hip, trendy and orange! We enjoyed our visit to Epiphany Cellars.
The white and red wines were all very good! My favorite was the 2011 Gypsy. Petros served some tasty meatballs and a fried dip.
We found Lafond Winery & Vineyards on the front porch at Wendy Foster – Los Olivos.
I thought the 2011 Chardonnay was excellent and it paired well with the shrimp appetizer from Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro.
Our last tasting room stop was at Stolpman Vineyards. It was a nice cottage with authentic grapevines in the front and a good size tasting room.

 Winemaker Peter Stolpman was sharing some wine on the patio.
All of the Stolpman wines were very good and I enjoyed the 2012 Originals Syrah with a great pulled pork sandwich from Georgia's Smokehouse.
Our very last stop was back where we started in the beginning ... at Stafford's Famous Chocolates with Larner Vineyard & Winery
Both the 2010 Elemental GSM and the 2010 Syrah were very good, as usual. And winemaker Michael Larner was right, the Stafford's chocolates went best with the 2010 Syrah.

The rain stopped very early. All of the dishes paired with wines were very good! The festival was fun and I can recommend all of the places we visited. In particular, I had the best times at Andrew Murray Vineyards, Arthur Earl, Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe, and Toretti's Family Vineyards.

I'm glad we made it to the first Wine Festival Los Olivos and I can't wait to go to the next one in 2016!

Gary Coon with empty wine glass and camera at the Fess Parker Inn & Spa.
Twitter:      @TasteNTrip