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Paso Robles Goes Big-Time with Napa-Style Hotel Development

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New Paso Robles Development

Proposed Pine Street Promenade in downtown Paso Robles.

The Pine Street Promenade will fill a welcome niche in Paso Robles

Paso Robles has been primed for a big-time development downtown for sometime. The recession only postponed the inevitable. A large-scale hotel, shopping (public market) and performing arts center project that will extend the reach of downtown Paso Robles was unanimously approved by city planners this week. The Pine Street Promenade is to be built at Pine and 10th streets at the site of the old Hayward Lumber yard. The project received a 7-0 vote of approval from the city’s Planning Commission with no opposition. The performing arts centers will seat 500 and the public market is inspired by the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. The entire project is engineered to LEED standards.The second phase will include a much needed parking garage. This new jewel just a block off the square will be a welcome addition for locals as well. In fact much of the growth in the area is directly related to the burgeoning wine industry and all the delicious trappings that go with it: high-end restaurants, entertainment, art galleries, resort hotels and bed and breakfasts. Oh, and lets not forget the Beer industry! That is a subject onto itself and will have to be left for another blog. Cheers!

Tribune Full story

September 3, 2014 |

Wine Harvest is in Full Swing!

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Don't be afraid to get a little sticky!

Lend a foot to the wine harvest!

Autumn Wine Festivals in California

The 2014 Wine Harvest is underway! Beginning in early August and ending in late November, the time arrives for harvesting ultra premium wine grapes. This is always an exciting time for the wine enthusiast for one can experience up close, just how the process works and to see how the quality control may differ with each vintner, -who, as you know, are all competing for your available wine budget! For the pickers, tractor and truck drivers, winemakers, lab assistants and cellar rats it is long, hard days usually resulting in little sleep and little in the way of socializing. We call the spouses and significant others of winery workers “Harvest Widows/Widowers.” Unfortunately for them, but happily for us, the harvest season is also a fine time for a wine festival! Autumn in California features the best weather for wine tasting and stashing cases in your vehicle without boiling your wine. Events may include a winemaker dinner, special reserve/barrel tasting, blending sessions and discounts in the tasting room. Some even have grape stomping, and as Lucy showed us, you have to try it at least once! Many wineries will team up with local farms and restaurants so you can unleash the foodie within. Of course music should alway be part of a celebration; from relaxed acoustic soloists to reggae, country or blues dance grooves, there is a wide range of options to enjoy. Make your reservation asap, for these events book up quickly as does the lodging/dining options. -Pro tip: if you get a chance to chat with one of these overworked souls, Don’t judge them on their faraway look and mumbling replies, they are sacrificing their sleep for your appreciative taste-buds! So thank them and raise a glass to the 2014 Wine Harvest with new insights that will only deepen your love of wine.

Paso Robles Garagiste Wine Festival November 6 – 9
  California Garagistes

Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend October 17 – 19  Paso Harvest Wine Weekend

Amador: The Big Crush October, 4th – October, 5th  The Big Crush

Santa Barbara: Celebration of Harvest Festival October 11 Celebration of Harvest

Sonoma County Harvest Fair OCTOBER 3rd – 5th  Harvest Fair

Mendocino Beer, Wine & Mushroom Festival Nov 7 – 16  Taste Mendocino

Temecula Valley Wine Country Harvest Celebration November 1 – 2  Harvest Celebration

September 3, 2014 |

Taste Paso Robles History

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Pioneering Paso Robles Wineries
Historic wineries were just getting started nearly a century ago, dry farmed and producing wine under primitive (to today’s standards) conditions. But these early settlers knew something that it took most of us another 70 years to figure out; The terroir was perfect! Paso Robles was going to be a real player in the world wine market. These wineries have link to those trailblazers either in spirit or in bloodline.  Part 1

Le Cuvier Winery
3333 Vine Hill Lane, Paso Robles (one mile west of the Lake Nacimiento/Adelaida Road intersection)
805-238-5706
John Munch is one of only a few people I’ve met in my life that could truly be called a Renaissance Man. He is part mad-man, part genius and usually has his tongue firmly planted in cheek. The wine however, is serious and consistently delicious no matter the vintage. Wild yeasts and ideal terroir are the base that Munch gently guides to enophile perfection.  Munch is also the original winemaker/owner of Adelaida Cellars which was one of the modern wineries that showed the potential of the region. Le Cuvier is known for everything from seductive Pinot’s to ravishing Rhones and masculine Cabs.

Adelaida Cellars
5805 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446
800-676-1232
Situated on the Westside nestled in the Santa Lucia foothills, this winery has a lot of history. Featuring the oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in the region, the famed HMR Estate vineyard. The Pinot Noir is outstanding! They also make bold Bordeaux varieties, lively Rhones and a big Zinfandel. Starting with John Munch, they have employed a roster of rock-star winemakers including current winemaker, Jeremy Weintraub.

Zin Alley Winery
3730 West Hwy 46, Templeton, CA 93465
805-238-0959
Frank Nerelli is the grandson of Frank Pesenti who founded one of Paso Robles’ first wineries, Pesenti Winery in 1923.  The dry-farmed boutique estate vineyard features head-pruned vines which are grown in the old world tradition to produce a rich and very complex Zinfadel. Only 500 cases are created, so get the current vintage before it sells out! They also make a wonderful Zin-Port.

Wild Horse Winery
1437 Wild Horse Winery Court,Templeton, CA 93465
805-788-6300
Wild Horse Winery was one of the first Paso Robles Appellation wineries that showcased the diverse varietals could be made well in Paso Robles. Founder, Ken Volk had a passion for Pinot Noir and it is still their flagship. The reserves and single vineyard designated wines are amazing. They also make a fine Chardonnay, but there are plenty of heirloom varieties to explore, you may find a new favorite!

May 29, 2014 |

Tips for Wine Tasting with the Family

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kids enjoying the petting zoo

kids enjoying the petting zoo

To help you have a successful wine tasting trip with your family, we’ve put together some suggestions to help you be prepared for your adventure.

1. Designate a Driver

Before you even turn in the driveway designate a driver.  The designated driver should keep the children occupied and away from the wine tasting area. Go outside if at all possible.  The gardens, vineyards and natural scenery are sometimes worth the trip in itself.

2. Bring Supplies

Don’t expect a winery to have everything your family needs for your outing. Bring your own supplies: water, milk, snacks, diapers/wipes, sweaters, small toys, games, (coloring)books.  We have a filter for tasting rooms who sell food/snacks if you want to fit them in your trip and not have to worry about packing lunch, but as all parents know, kids can be picky eaters and you know best what snacks to bring to keep your crew going.

3. Respect the (Adult Centered) Environment

As with most places of business, you want to be respectful to the people and the property you are visiting. This is amplified when around alcohol as many visitors expect only adults to be present.  Many of the tasting rooms have lovely and fragile gift shops.  Before going in, layout some ground rules for the gift shop: Make them understand that there are delicate and expensive items on display. Enforce “Looking not touching” or institute the one finger rule, always supervised. It is not acceptable to let your children browse on their own in most of these gift shops that usually have fine art and fragile glassware.

4. Take Turns

If there are two adults traveling, a divide and conquer mentality works well.  Inquire as to what is available for the children then one of you step away from the bar while the other tastes. This website should provide most of what you need to know about what family friendly things each winery offers.  Many tasting rooms have animals, tours, gardens and even games for you to enjoy while the taster gets their turn. When the wine tasting session is over, the taster can share what they liked and what the other adult(s) may prefer. This is the time to switch roles and the designated driver gets to Sniff, Swirl and Taste  a couple of selections. (-BUT PLEASE SPIT! Sober is sexy and so are responsible parents.)

Some tips for specific age groups in wineries:

Babies/Toddlers: You’ll be able to find a nice spot to nurse somewhere on the grounds, if not there is always the car. A walk around the grounds or vineyard usually calms a fussy baby. Please, take your dirty diapers with you, for some reason the smell conflicts with the wine “Hmm, I detect a hint of loaded nappy…yuck!” Toddlers love texture, let them touch all the different leaves and flowers in the garden. Hunt butterflies and lizards!

Pre-adolescent: This is the curious age. Sometimes wineries will offer grape juice, coloring books, sidewalk chalk, farm animals to visit. For the young explorer, a tour of the winery and vineyard. I always keep a ball and Frisbee in the car for just these types of situations.

Teens: This is a great opportunity to teach teens about moderation and how wine pairs with food. If the winery is slow, they may let an older teen stay with the wine taster to learn about wine and take in the aroma. But in no circumstance should any child be allowed to taste any wine in a tasting room — no matter what you do at home. Of course if the teen has no interest in wine and you’ve exhausted all the other options the winery offers, there is always their smart phone, tablet or perhaps an actual book! Photo journalism: Just imagine, all your winery visits documented by your talented teen! Can you say blackmail? Seriously though, there are usually quite a few interesting photo ops around the grounds, from micro shots of flowers to macro shots of the vineyards and surrounds.

 

What tips can you share that have made your winery visit with kids work?

May 10, 2014 |

Family Tips for Event Season at the Wineries

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The vines are growing that grassy green first growth of the new season and that means special event season has started at the wineries! Sure, people get married at wineries, I did (and it was the best), but what I’m focusing on here are the events that are open to the public: Wine Festivals, Concerts, Cooking Demonstrations, Food and Wine Pairings, BBQ’s, Art Shows. even Plays and Melodramas. If you are lucky, you may find a winery or region that is showcasing many of these attractions on the same weekend.

20120506-b-paso-robles-wine-festivalFestivals and Concerts
Wine Festivals that are taking place at a central location are really more of an adults only event, but there is usually much going on at individual tasting rooms as well. These events sometimes cost a few dollars, but you can typically get a discount for the designated driver. Check FamilyFriendlyWineries.com in advance to find the wineries that are the most welcoming to kids and make the wines you prefer. Then you can pick and choose where you will eat and where you might want to stay for the live music. Many wineries have complimentary live music on the weekends. The kids really love concerts, the energy is palpable and we love to expose them to different styles of music. Get there early enough to find a spot under some shady trees. I suggest sitting near the back of the crowd. That way the kids can get loud and dance around and you won’t spend the afternoon apologizing. The businesses really appreciate the courtesy and you will have a more relaxing time of it.

Be Prepared
Always bring lots of water! Take snacks for the kids as well, you never know if they will like what is available to eat or when the caterer will run out of food. Keep some sweatshirts in the car just in case a cool breeze starts blowing off the Pacific. Hats and sunblock are mandatory at any outdoor event on the West Coast. Bring folding chairs, a blanket if the show goes into the evening. Is it picnic style? Some wineries allow you to bring your own sustenance. Just don’t bring your own wine! Speaking of, I aways buy a bottle to support the winery and if we really like it, more to take home. Remember, most wineries discount by the half and full case. I know of a few that take a little more off with a multiple case orders as well. If you are smitten, try their Wine Club. You’ll be given a heavier discount and receive wines delivered to your door (most states) several times a year.

It’s about Family Fun
          Don’t forget to stop by FamilyFriendlyWineries.com to make your winery event choices painless and easy. With a little pre-planning and preparation, you will create a memorable event for the whole family.

April 24, 2014 |

Paso Robles Wins Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of the Year Award

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Eberle Vineyards

A beautiful view of Eberle’s Estate vineyard in Paso Robles, Ca.

Congratulations are in order as the Paso Robles wine region has finally received the deserved recognition that many of us have acknowledged for years. http://www.winemag.com/Web-2013/2013-Wine-Region-of-the-Year-Paso-Robles/

The wine region grows over forty varietals in the fifth largest American Viticultural Area in the country. Blessed with a  long growing season peppered with hot days ensures peak ripeness and the cool evenings help retain the acidity ultra premium wine grapes require. Over the past year the region has added 11 sub appellations to better reflect the variance of climate and terroir. This demarcation can greatly serve both the winemaker as he knows what grows best in what location and the consumer, so one can focus the search for a favored varietal and flavors a specific terroir imparts.

Of course we care about quality and innovation, but we will always apply the family focus to Family Friendly Wineries, in essence giving the vacationing family the chance to visit an oasis on the sometimes bumpy holiday road. When visiting a winery tasting room we want to be welcomed as potential clients and not having to feel like we are walking on eggshells. Parents have enough stress in our daily lives without accruing more on vacation! Many of the Wineries in this innovative and creative region are very appreciative of visiting families and are happy to make sure the whole of the family is entertained, not just the adult guinea pig sampling the wine. Eberle winery, mentioned in the article is one such establishment. Gary Eberle was one of the first winemakers in the state to plant Syrah when everyone else was lost in a Cabernet/Chardonnay stupor. Younger and smaller wineries, many which are members of the Garagste (renegade small-lot wine makers) are equally inviting. The Vines at the Mary Crest encapsulates this renegade spirit with zestful charm.

As with many other wine regions, Paso Robles is endowed with a plethora of delectable eateries as well as a wide range of lodging options. There is a burgeoning craft brew movement as well, but we’ll save those details for another posting.

Whether you are on a family vacation or just passing through, make Paso Robles one of your destinations or pit-stops, you’ll enjoy the quality of the hospitality the Paso Robles wine region can offer.

November 14, 2013 |
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