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
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 | apalmer
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)
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.
5805 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446
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
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
May 29, 2014 | apalmer
1437 Wild Horse Winery Court,Templeton, CA 93465
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!
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.
Festivals 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.
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
April 24, 2014 | apalmer
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.