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The Regions – Paso Robles {April}

June 8, 2011 The Regions 1 Comment
The Regions – Paso Robles {April}

Paso Robles. A city with a long history of pioneers and entrepreneurs, outlaws and hucksters. In Paso, the wine history runs deep too, with vineyards being planted by Spanish Conquistadors and Franciscan Missionaries as far back as the late 1790′s. Andrew York, a settler from Indiana, brought commercial grape growing to the area in the 1880′s and the last thirty years has seen a once sacramental operation exploded into a full-fledged and world renowned wine industry.

Today, some of the most revered American producers (Tablas Creek, Saxum, Linne Calodo) call El Paso de Robles home.

In more than one way Paso is a town of true grit, it always has been. Famed outlaw Jesse James briefly found refuge in Paso Robles before making a hasty getaway when the law caught up with him. Merchants hocked Paso Robles as the home of California’s finest natural hot springs and mud baths which, for a time, made the tiny Central Coast town a destination for tourists the Country over. So there should be no surprise that Paso winemakers know a thing or two about marketing and selling their wine while still doing whatever the hell they want. It’s in their blood. … Continue Reading

Millennials – Things They Actually Say III: Brandi Stansbury & Matt Six

May 26, 2011 The Press 1 Comment
Millennials – Things They Actually Say III: Brandi Stansbury & Matt Six

This is the third installment of our mini-series talking to fellow young wine consumers, see also here and here. Today, we have a West Coast and East Coast perspective.

I met Brandi a few months ago at a winery in Paso Robles and we hit it off right away. In addition to her obvious love of wine, Brandi shares a love of hilariousness that is only processed by a small group of people.  I call these people Hilarians.

Although not exactly a Millennial, she is right in-between Gen-X and Millennials, so I thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of someone who has enjoyed wine for more than a few years.  Brandi also brings hands on experience working on the hospitality side of wine. What isn’t mentioned in her response though, is our mutual plot to take over the internets by means of a series of well timed Tweets, several viral videos, a troop of well trained talking cats, and the aid of Tony Danza, who although offered very few skills or ideas to our world-wide plot, really needed a job. Hang in there Tony, we’ll show them who the real boss is.

Also, Brandi can write real nice, whereinto, this is be a plu$. … Continue Reading

The Regions – San Luis Obispo & Paso Robles

May 4, 2011 The Regions Comments Off
The Regions – San Luis Obispo & Paso Robles

For March (yes I know it’s May), we moved further North to San Luis Obispo County home of some of the best vineyards in California.

In the extreme south of the County is the Edna Valley, a cool climate paradise that produces brilliant Pinot Noir, crisp Chardonnay, and other gems like Riesling and Gewurztraminer. It is also home to famed producer John Alban and his highly sought after Rhone wines. It is also one of my favorite regions to visit. (Wolff Vineyards, Claiborne & Churchill)

As you continue North on the 101 and over the Questa Grade, the temperatures rise and the vineyards become dominated by Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, Rousanne, and a few dozen other Rhone and Bordeuax grapes. Paso Robles, about 30 miles North of San Luis Obispo, has built a name producing wide range of styles and varietals, a fact that is reflected in its diverse group of growers and styles (Tablas Creek, JUSTIN, Barrel 27. A March trip to the area is also detailed here). … Continue Reading

Changes: Linne Calodo & Tablas Creek

April 6, 2011 The Press 2 Comments
Changes: Linne Calodo & Tablas Creek

Paso Robles, finally! Not since last July had I spent any reasonable amount of time in the Central Coast land of Syrah and Roussanne.

A few Sundays ago, in some of the worse rain Central California saw all season (and it has seen a lot), we braved the wind and water and headed north. The storms were no joke. We passed flooded farmlands and barns, tempest swollen rivers, and a number of micro-mudslides (not a good sign) along the way. But the wine was good, the conversation lively, and with my wife and our Beagle along for the ride, it was a perfect day. As it turns out, the timing as it was perfect too. … Continue Reading

Alta Maria Vineyards – Antithesis of Common Sense

August 12, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks 3 Comments
Alta Maria Vineyards – Antithesis of Common Sense

James Ontiveros and Paul Wilkins have impressive resumes.

James Ontiveros is a 9th generation Californian. His great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Juan Pacifico Ontiveros, the son of a Spanish soldier and a one time Corporal at San Gabriel Mission. His family originally settled in what is now Orange County on Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana (modern day Anaheim), which Juan Pacifico Ontiveros’ father was granted by the Mexican Government in 1833. A connection to wine came early to the Ontiveros family, when Ontiveros sold 1,165 acres of the land to the Los Angeles Vineyard Society in September 1857 for the cultivation of wine grapes. It was the first commercial vineyard in California.

In 1855, Ontiveros purchased the 8,900-acre Rancho Tepusquet from his father-in-law Tomás Olivera, who acquired it in a land grant in 1837. In 1957, he relocated to the Ranch in what is now the Santa Maria Valley, constructed an adobe, and lived there until his death in 1877. During his time there he raised cattle and horses and even planted wine grapes. Rancho Tepusquet, which today includes famed vineyards such as Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills made up the north side of the Santa Maria Valley. The south side was Rancho Tinaquaic, some 9,000- acres that were granted to Benjamin Foxen, another son-in-law of Tomás Olivera and Ontiveros’ brother-in-law. Ontiveros and Foxen were the first two Anglos to settle the region (Foxen, is the namesake of Foxen winery, which was co-founded by his great-great-great great-grandson Dick Doré). … Continue Reading

JUSTIN – Lions, Triangles, and Goats, Oh My!

July 1, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks 1 Comment
JUSTIN – Lions, Triangles, and Goats, Oh My!

When I started A Long Pour I had a few goals. Learn about California wine, become famous, meet the Queen of England, and interview someone at JUSTIN. Now, only the Queen is left.

A big part of my obsession with wine came from the Paso Robles based JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery. Two wines sparked my current passion. The 2006 River Run Carignane from J.P. Pawloski and a Reserve JUSTIN Isosceles that a couple of complete strangers offered me a few years ago. My friends and I passed it around with glee totally immersed with its fruit forward goodness. It was quality we had never enjoyed. JUSTIN makes wines that are as opulent as they are sought after and I was instantly enamored. The shift from drinking $8.00 grocery store Merlot to something like JUSTIN is dramatic and I was determined to find more wines that gave my mouth such a happy feeling. Somewhere over the grocery store rainbow, good wine existed and I was on a mission to find it.

Late last year as I was planning ALP, I would cite and write lists of wineries I wanted to work with: Tablas Creek, Costa Brown, The Ojai Vineyard, Sine Qua Non, Barrel 27, and others. The list grew and changed, but JUSTIN always stayed in the top five. … Continue Reading

Barrel 27 – Wine Amongst Friends

Barrel 27 – Wine Amongst Friends

Two weekends ago was a big weekend for me. To understand why, I need to go back to the fall of last year.

My initial short list of wineries that I wanted to work with included Tablas Creek, Kosta Browne, Sine Qua Non, JUSTIN, Barrel 27, The Ojai Vineyard, and a few others. As I re-wrote my list a few times, JUSTIN, Barrel 27, and The Ojai Vineyard were consistently part of the top five. So, the weekend of April 23rd was a big one for me. On Friday, I spent several invigorating hours with Adam Tolmach and his assistant at The Ojai Vineyard. The following morning was spent on a tour at JUSTIN, where I had the opportunity to meet Justin Baldwin. We concluded the day down the hill, on the other side of the 101 freeway in Paso Robles, at Barrel 27. Three of my top 5 in less then 24 hours! Oh, plus I got engaged the next day, but that’s another story… … Continue Reading

Claiborne & Churchill – Vikings, Riesling, and Crossword Puzzles

April 1, 2010 Fifty-Two Weeks 2 Comments
Claiborne & Churchill – Vikings, Riesling, and Crossword Puzzles

The road into wine is a varied path. Some are born into it and it is only a matter of time before they take the wheel. Some buy their way in, successful tycoons with enough personal drive and ego to play the high-risk game of world class wine production; often hiring others to do the driving for them. Still, others are drawn away from entirely different careers and career paths by the siren call of the fermented grape. Tragically, some are dashed against the rocks of reality even as others slip past the dangers to collect their reward. Milla Handley gave up a potential career in commercial real-estate, Paul Clifton was a firemen, Dave Potter was on his way to becoming a lawyer, Ryan Carr a graphic designer.

Of the people I have met over the past five months, Claiborne “Clay” Thompson has one of the more interesting paths into wine. Before he made a name producing Alsace wines of balance and charm, before he was a cellar rat at Edna Valley Winery for $6 an hour, Clay earned his Ph.D. from Harvard. So how did Clay and his wife go from Professors at Michigan State (he being a Professor of Medieval Literature and Languages and she of German) to producing award-wining wines on the Central Coast of California? … Continue Reading

Hahn Wines – Sustainability in the Highlands

Hahn Wines – Sustainability in the Highlands

Born out of the decrepit and vile heart of Los Angeles near Hollywood, where stars are born and even occasionally meet their destruction, the 101 marches north, passing through some of the most fantastic regions of California, Oregon, and Washington. Away from The City of Angel’s congestion, violence, and vanity. Along sun bathed beaches and into the rolling hills of the Central Coast it roams. Through vineyards and ranches, farm towns, and military bases. Through the land of John Steinbeck novels and across the Golden Gate Bridge. It winds through the rugged coastline and massive redwoods before it leads you away from its birth state, imploring you to discover the unknown that lies ahead in Oregon and later Washington.

On drives to the Bay Area, there is a stretch of the 101 freeway that always catches my attention; it is about an hour north of Paso Robles. Here the landscape is open and desolate. Although desolate really isn’t the right word, since it is a vibrant farming region. None-the-less, I have always been intimidated and enticed by desolate places, whether they are actual or imaginary. As I drove through here a few weeks ago, it felt particularly desolate and enchanting. I watched rays of sunshine burst through the patchwork of somber clouds, illuminating the green of the hills with vibrant bursts of color. It was a perfect day, the sky was unsettled and moody and there were little man-made distractions around to take away from its beauty. … Continue Reading

Tablas Creek, The Long Road to Success

Tablas Creek, The Long Road to Success

“Would you like to try it?” Jason asked.

“Sure.” I replied.

We were in a large green house at Tablas Creek Winery. At full capacity, as many as 200,000 grape vines call it a temporary home, before moving into shade-houses, and then finally their permanent homes in vineyards all across the west coast. However, at this time of year, the vast space is all but empty, other than the gray plant racks and the lone grafting table that we stood before.

The grafting tool, one of the originals at Tablas Creek, allows a varietal, such Grenache, to be grafted onto a specific rootstock. This process is known as bench grafting. Jason Haas, General Manger, and son of Robert Haas (Owner of Tablas Creek), walked my friend Jordan and I through the steps. … Continue Reading

{Archives}

Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

September 22, 2011

Bonny Doon: Day of the Doon IX {Photo Essay}

We have grown rather accustomed to long trips for short stays, so much so that a 500 mile weekend is not such a big deal anymore. There are a lot of events we are invited to and we can only attend a few of them. But when Randall Graham asks you to attend, you attend. [...]

Secret Project {the reveal}

August 17, 2011

Secret Project {the reveal}

A few weeks ago I posted the “Secret Project” with some shots of  a friend’s new winery taking shape. At the time, the space was still in a raw state, holes in the ground, bare walls, cut concrete. In terms of photographing a new winery, one might say there was not much to see, no [...]

{People We Like}

Studio Holladay
Municipal Winemakers
Kunin Wines