June 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
I have just returned from my yearly wine country visit of another wine region. I have made it a point/ goal to visit all of the significant wine regions in the world before I die. This year the region that I focused on was the Central Coast of California. This region is pretty large, stretching from Monterey County all the way to Santa Barbara County. The areas that I hit up were East and West Paso Robles, Santa Maria, and Los Olivos.
Paso Robles was the main reason I wanted to go to this region, and it did not disappoint! My first stop was a winery that I have been wanting to visit for a long time, and just so happened to be on the current cover of the Wine Spectator, Turley Winery. I happen to have the issue of the Wine Spectator on hand, and I read all about Larry Turley and his winery before the visit. Turley is the pinnacle of Zinfandel in the world, making it a must stop for me. Of the three production facilities he owns, the Paso Robles facility is the only one with a tasting room that is open daily for tasting. My favorite wine was the 2011 bottling from the famous Dusi Vineyard, but I thought that all of the wines were very solid.
The next stop the I had to hit up in the area was Tablas Creek Winery. Going from the “Meca” of Zin to the “Mother” of the Rhone for California. I was able to take a tour of the winery and vineyard and it was enlightening to hear the story and history of this property and winery. Tablas Creek Vineyard is the result of a decades-long friendship between the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and Robert Haas, a longtime importer and founder of Vineyard Brands. The families picked Paso Robles for its similarities to Châteauneuf du Pape: limestone soils, a favorable climate, and rugged terrain. They are responsible for a lot of the cuttings or bud wood that most California wineries use when they plant Rhone varietals (Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Counoise for reds, and Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc for whites), which they imported and propagated on their on-site nursery at the winery. My favorite wines were the Esprit de Beaucastel white and red. These wines are traditional Rhone blends that are a tribute to the family’s winery in France.
The next stop was Santa Maria Valley to check out Foxen Winery. I have had a couple of their wines in the past and I was excited to check out there digs. This was one of the most surprising regions for me because I love a lot of the Pinots out of this area but the topography did not match what I am used to seeing from Burgundian regions. There is an extensive amount of agriculture in this area and most of it is produce other than wine grapes. It is close to the coast so the weather is right for cool climate varietals but the views were not overwhelming. Although the coast of California is a beautiful place overall, I felt like the wine country in the Central Coast was not quite what we have in the North Coast (I may be a bit partial).
Another wine region checked off of my bucket list and I do feel like the wines were outstanding! The views, although not as gorgeous as other wine regions, were pretty but the proximity to LA, Santa Barbara, and Monterey make it a great wine destination.