California Wino on the Loose!

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California Wino on the Loose!

Follow me as I journey through California Wineries.

Friday, August 12, 2011 The EndWell, if you have been following you know that this time last year I started this blog with the intention of visiting as many California wineries as I could in a year to celebrate my 50th birthday. It went fast, and I had fun! I didn't get to visit as many wineries as I had hoped, but I think I visited more than I would have if not for the blog.

I started my tour last year at San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles so I decided to finish at the San Antonio Winery. And wouldn't you know it - I bellied up to the bar and the same wine bar attendant, Marshall greeted me! I loved it! I had a fabulous time tasting wine, having lunch, and listening to traditional Italian music.

While I was there I pondered over whether or not to just keep writing the blog, simply because there are still so many wineries to visit. But, I've decided to move on. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences at the wineries and will be encouraged to come and visit for yourselves. You will not be dissappointed if you do.

I will start a new blog, I just haven't decided on subject matter yet. I ran into a couple at one winery who were on a quest to find the "best Chardonnay." Now that sounds like fun and it gave me some ideas. Whatever I decide, I will add the link to this page, and I hope you will continue to follow the wino.....
No comments: Sunday, July 10, 2011 Sanford Winery and Vineyards, Santa Rita Hills, BuelltonAs I continue my journey through the Santa Rita Hills on Santa Rosa Road I find myself at the last winery on the road. Sanford Winery and Vineyards.

Wow! As I turned up the drive way I am awestruck by the winery facility. It is absolutely gorgeous. Built in 2007, a two-story building made out of 100 year-old Washington State barn wood. It was designed to resemble the style of California missions.

Sanford Winery was founded by the Sanford's in 1971 and is now owned by the Terlato family as of 2005.

The wine tasting room is large and airy. There was a birthday party happening when I arrived, but that did not stop Chris and Natalie from taking the time to talk with me. They were pouring the following:

2009 Sauvignon Blanc - Santa Ynez Valley. Passion fruit and pink grapefruit. Pairs well seafood, dishes with goat cheese.

2008 Chardonnay - Santa Barbara County. Full-bodied, nice acidity. Pairs well with most seafood, poultry, and pasta with lighter sauces.

2007 La Rinconada Vineyard Chardonnay - Santa Rita Hills. Melon, and candied lemon peel. I could do this one all by itself just fine.

2009 Pinot Noir-Vin Gris - Santa Rita Hills. Watermelon and Orange blossoms with tangy strawberry flavors. Pairs well with most foods, especially great for summer picnics and holiday dinners.

2008 Pinot Noir - Santa Rita Hills. Raspberries, black pepper and sage. Pair with risotto, salmon.

2008 La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir - Santa Rita Hills. Spicy cherry and raspberry with hints of earth and anise. Pairs well with pork.

I met a very nice couple from Rhode Island, which is unusual. Not unusual because they were nice but because they were from the east coast. Mostly I run into people from L.A. and Orange County when visiting Santa Barbara County wineries. People from other states tend to head for Napa/Sonoma. I picked up some restaurant advise from Joy, one of the birthday party attendees, like Grappa in Santa Ynez and Route 246 in Solvang.

I told Natalie that she reminded me of Natalie from "One Life to Live." Yes, I watch the soaps, and I am none to happy to hear that two of the soaps that I have been raised on are cancelling. Poo!

I had a great time at Sanford Winery and all the wineries on Santa Rosa Road in Santa Rita Hills. I hope you get to visit them sometime.....No comments: Sunday, July 3, 2011 Lafond Winery, Santa Rita Hills, BuelltonJust down the street from Alma Rosa Winery on Santa Rosa Road is Lafond Winery. As I turn up the drive way I notice vines to the left and a small field of crops to the right. I drove around to the back where there is a very large patio and nice picnic area.

As I enter the building I feel an immediate "Welcome!" The gift shop is the first thing you see and it is gorgeous. The wine tasting room manger has a real flare for space and display of merchandise. I love to take my wine tasting glass and walk around a shop like this while I take my time to taste each and every wine offered.

As it turns out Pierre Lafond graduated from McGill University of Montreal with a degree in Architecture. So this explains why the building is so perfect - he designed it. He founded Santa Barbara Winery in 1962, and then in 1971 established Lafond Vineyards (65 acres). Bruce McGuire, wine maker joined him in 1981. In 1996 added 30 more acres dedicated to Pinot Noir and Syrah. In 1998 designed and built the winery and opened in the Spring of 2001.

Bobbie has been hosting the wine bar at Lafond Winery for 10 years and she was pouring the following:

2008 SRH Chardonnay (SRH = Santa Rita Hills) - Bobbie calls this the "come home and take off your shoes wine." Light, soft, creamy, flavors and aromas of lemon cake and fresh cream. Pair with shellfish.

2007 Sanford Benedict Vineyard Chardonnay - full-bodied, expected to peak in the next three years. Pair with seared scallops.

2008 SRH Pinot Noir - Flavors and aromas of rhubarb, strawberry, lavender and jasmine. You can pair this with just about anything; appetizers, pasta with olive oil and fresh tomatoes.

2006 Arita Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir - YUM! Bobbie has paired this with wild mushroom risotto and found it was a perfect match! Other pairings; tea-smoked chicken, Peking duck, soy-glazed pork roast and mild cheeses such as Teleme, Taleggio and Brie.

2006 Lafond Vineyard Pinot Noir - bold, husky tannins and rounded, juicy acids. Pair with peppered Fillet Mignon au Poivre!

2007 Lafond Syrah/Grenache - Received a 92 point rating from the Wine Spectator. Full-bodied blend pairs well with char-grilled steak, wild boar ragu and grilled vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes.

I had a great time talking wine and history with Bobbie. I just love spending time with people who have been working in the wine industry for long periods of time. They know what's what and they obviously love wine!

I wish much success to Lafond Winery!No comments: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 Alma Rosa Vineyard and Winery, Santa Rita Hills, BuelltonJust down the Santa Rosa Road from Mosby Wines is Alma Rosa Winery. I wouldn't drive too fast or you might miss your turn. I made a left into the drive way lined with vines. I was driving up hill past a tremendous amount of brush and trees, past little tiny homes tucked right into the brush and just when I thought I must have made a wrong turn...there it was. A shack.

It's fabulous! This tiny little shack surrounded by great big cactus at the top of a gorgeous hill. There is a rock patio right to the side of the wood plank steps. A great place to sit, sip, and take in the awesome view. As it turns out, it was originally a milking barn built in 1920.

The inside is done in very light wood with Mexican tiles on the floor, with a real working pot belly stove to keep them warm during the winter. The wine tasting bar sits in front of a large picture window that allows tasters to treat their eyes as well as their taste buds.


Now for a little history....
In 1965, Richard Sanford graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Geography, was drafted and served in the Vietnam war as a Naval officer until 1968. Thank you for your service Richard!

In 1970, relying on his knowledge of geography and love for the Burgundy wines of France he planted the 1st Pinot Noir grapes in the perfect region for them called the Santa Rita Hills and founded Sanford Benedict Vineyard.

In 1981, founded Sanford Winery.

In 1983, planted the El Jabali Vineyard.

In 1995, planted the La Rinconada Vineyard.

In 2000, planted the La Encantada Vineyard.

In 2005, separated with partner of Sanford Winery and founded Alma Rosa Vineyard and Winery.

In 2006, first release of wines.

A little known fact....if you are a fan of the Sideways movie, you would be interested to know that the 1st winery the boys visited was not Sanford Wines, it was Alma Rosa and that really was Richard Sanford hosting the tasting.

Sharon was hosting bar that day and she recommended the Pinot Noir Flight tasting:

2008 Pinot Noir - La Encantada Vineyard. Reminiscent of certain French Burgundies. Will blend well with most foods, but Richard likes traditional French cuisine with this.

2008 Pinot Noir - El Jabali and La Encantada Vineyards. Bright raspberry and Bing cherry notes. Sassy and spicey. Pair with Mediterranean style dishes.

2007 Pinot Noir - blend of estate vineyards, Santa Rita Hills. Fresh crushed berries, floral-spice and beet-root-meets-cola essence. Smooth texture. Pair with roasted or grilled meats, bbq shrimp, salmon....yum..

2008 Pinot Noir - La Encantada Vineyard. Dark spice, dark fruit. Pair with Steak Diane, pommes frites, and Caesar....wow...

I learned that Sharon not only works a few days a week at Alma Rosa but has her own business called Soap Works where she makes Vegan soaps, candles, lotions, etc. http://www.lompocvalleysoapworks.com/

I really enjoyed my time at Alma Rosa with Sharon and a few other wine enthusiasts on their quest to find the treasures of California....the wine....I wish the Sanfords much success with Alma Rosa Winery.No comments: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 Mosby Wines, Santa Rita Hills, BuelltonThere are four wineries in the Santa Rita Hills located on Santa Rosa Road right off the 101 freeway. All are worthy of a visit. Mosby Wines is the 1st winery on the road. As I drove up I noticed the vines along the driveway were full and green, flowers and cactus are everywhere, very attractive. And, of course, I couldn't miss the great big red barn which happens to be the tasting room.

For 50 years Bill Mosby has been intrigued with the wine and vines. He loves the Italian varietals. He also has a great appreciation for art and fell in love with the work of a Viennese-trained artist named Robert Scherer. One day in Italy over some bread, cheese, and wine Bill and Robert started designing wine labels.

Gregg was pouring wine that day. He has been working at Mosby for 19 years. While serving our country in the Air Force he worked part-time for the first 5 years and then full-time once he retired from the Air Force. He is quite the character, very charming and he was pouring the following:

2010 Traminer - Estate grown. Crisp, dry white. Flavors of lychee, citrus, and Bartlett pear. Pair with smoked meats, stir fry.

2010 Orange Muscat - Estate grown. Soft aroma of orange blossom. Dry finish. Pair with stir fry, grilled scallops, Thai.

2006 Ossessione - From the Marche, Italy, this is the varietal Montepulciano. Maple and brown spice nose, red currant, soft vanilla finish. Pair with red sauce pastas

2005 Primativo - The italian clone of Zinfandel. Jammy, spicy aroma and dark fruit flavors with spicy finish. Pair with grilled meats, tri-tip.

Roc Michel - Rhone blend. 100% estate Fremir Vineyard. A blend of 60% Syrah, and 40% Mourvedre with dark berry fruit, chocolate and vanilla notes. Pair with Thai, b-b-q.

Sofia - raspberry dessert wine. Must serve 40 - 42 F. Serve over ice cream, fudge brownie, or straight from the glass!

Mosby also offers some fine Italian-style brandies, two of which are Kosher. For more information check out their website.

The Mosby property is so enchanting. I would love to sit with a glass of wine under a tree and just take it all in all day long.No comments: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Thornton Winery, TemeculaI have been visiting wineries in Temecula for about 20 years and no matter who I go with we always start at Thornton Winery.

John and Sally Thornton established the winery in 1988. John has had and continues to have a very successful business career. Sally is an accomplished author and holds memberships on countless committees and Boards throughout San Diego.

The Thornton Winery facility is quite lovely. It has a mansion or castle like feel to it. The grounds are endless and serves well for their summer events like the Jazz concert series and the Father's Day hot air ballon festival.

This winery is unique when it comes to tastings. It is a "sit down" affair. You sit down at a table and are presented with a menu of tasting flights. You choose the flight that interests you, they bring all four glasses of the wines to your table and place them on a placemat that lists the wines on your flight.

You can either sit in the tasting room where they have a limited food menu or enjoy your tasting with a full menu in the Cafe Champagne 5star restaurant. You can sit inside or out on the patio's of either venue.

Now, as a rule I like to be able to talk to someone about the wines as I taste, but I have to say that sitting quietly while enjoying the wines can be quite satisfying. I have also had quite a bit of fun sitting with a large group while tasting wines and discussing amongst ourselves.

I chose to taste in the restaurant and enjoyed a Roasted Tomato, Eggplant, and Garlic Pizza while Joanie poured the Reserve Flight:

2004 Brut Reserve - Thornton winery adhers to the "Methode Champenoise" to produce their wines. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pino Noir. Delicate apple and toasted yeast aromas.

2006 Estate Syrah - Dusty berry and black cherry aromas with a touch of white pepper. Plum and anise flavors with cocoa and berry fruit nuances.

2007 Nebbiolo - Black fruit and spice in the nose, rich fruit and mocha notes in the mouth, finishing with a burst of cherry, plum and fresh leather in the mouth.

2006 Late Harvest Zinfandel - Dessert style, berry aromas, coat the palate with blueberry pie and white chocolate flavors. Finishes with black fruit overtones and hints of toasty oak. A pefect match with chocolate or a fine cigar. I say why not both?

It was a lovely afternoon and I wish I could have stayed longer, but I know I will be back....1 comment: Orfila Vineyards and Winery, EscondidoBack in September while tasting and dining at the Hitching Post II in Buellton, I met the Beckers whom were traveling the area on their honeymoon. They were just married at the Orfila Vineyards in Escondido and hoped I would put the winery on my list to visit.

Well, here I am! I can see why they picked this particular winery for their wedding. Aside from the majestic view and picture perfect background, the property is large enough to accomodate such an event.

Alejandro Orfila is from Argentina where his father established Jose Orfila Limited Wines in 1905, which still exists today.

Ambassador Alejandro Orfila bought an existing vineyard in 1992 and changed the name to Orfila Vineyards in 1994. "Ambassador" is a real title! Please check out the website for his history.

In the tasting room is a large barrell where pictures are displayed of the Ambassador from his political career with people like; the Pope, President Carter, President Bush, Sr., President Nixon, President Reagan, Jackie "O", if that gives you any idea about the fabulous life this man has lead.

Tours are daily at noon, so I arrived at about 11:30 to take a quick look around, get my bearings, and then of course stepped up to the bar to get the tasting going!

Tania and Scott were pouring and I decided on the following:

2008 Sparkling Moscato Bianco - Muscat Canelli grapes which are also used to make Spumante in Italy. Harvested in French Camp Vineyard in San Luis Obispo. Aromas of peach and nectarine. Tania suggests pairing with a simple fruit and cheese plate, brunch, or custard type desserts.

2008 Estate Viognier, Lotus - Aromas of apricot, pear, apple and lemon zest with tropical flavors of mango and breadfruit. Scott says you have to have lobster with this one!

2008 Ambassador's Reserve Chardonnay - Ripe green apple in the nose, followed by luscious tropical fruit and pineapple on the palate, finish with toasted French Oak and vanilla flavors. Tania suggests grilled fish like a swordfish with fruit salsa or shrimp scampi.

2007 Estate Sangiovese - Ripe cherry and strawberry fruit with subtle cedar and spice notes on the palate, fragrant vanilla and maple on the finish. Pair with pizza!

2008 Estate Ambassador's Reserve Merlot - the flagship Merlot. Flavors of cherry, mocha and blueberry with hints of violet. Tania says to enjoy with lightly seasoned steak, or duck breast with cherry reduction.

2007 Estate Ambassador's Reserve Syrah - Wow. Enjoy with lamb, barbeque is best.

2008 Estate Ambassador's Reserve Syrah - Not available to the general public just yet. Ripe berry and plum followed by soft tannins. Aromas of white pepper and licorice. Pair with pot roast or lentil and sausage stew.

2007 Estate Petite Syrah - Rich plum color and subtle hints of cocoa. Overtones of blueberry and blackberry with underlying notes of juniper and sandalwood. Just give me some dark chocolate to go with it!

At noon Tania lead the tour. What I liked best about the tour other than Tania's obvious love for the vineyard as well as her knowledge of wine in general is the fact that she took us out to the vineyard. I've been on many tours over the years and never had any of them included a tour of the vineyard. Bravo! I mean it's the vines that gives us the giggles is it not?

While tasting and enjoying the company of other tasters I met the Allbrights who happen to be part owners of a winery in Temecula. So stay tuned for my visit with them later this month!

I want to thank Tania for her hospitality. I look forward to visiting Orfila Vineyards and Winery again in the future.No comments: Older PostsHomeSubscribe to:Posts (Atom)FollowersBlog Archive 2011(8) August(1)The End July(2) June(2) February(2) January(1) 2010(14) September(8) August(4) July(2)About MeBabzView my complete profile
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