With a dozen craft distillery tasting rooms to visit and a new speakeasy downtown, Paso Robles, on California’s Central Coast, is swiftly becoming a cocktail mecca. Most of these distillers are winemakers, as well, which is one reason you’ll find so many distilleries inside of or attached to wineries.
We started planning this in early spring 2018. As TV veterans, “In Wine Country” host Mary Babbitt and I (executive producer) thought a podcast would be much easier than TV. Ha! We had lots of technical issues to overcome, audio editing to learn, and working around both our very busy schedules. But finally, we present to you “Sip, Sip, Hooray!” the podcast where wine is always fun.
Two miles up a mostly unpaved, twisty road with corkscrew turns, Mount Eden Vineyards‘ estate vineyards and winery are slowly revealed to visitors making the drive up from Saratoga. Similarly, the rich, layered history behind the wine label has been developing over the past 75 years.
Here, perched on a mountaintop 2,000 feet above Silicon Valley, grape grower and winemaker Jeffrey Patterson crafts some of the most exquisite, most critically acclaimed wines in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with a distinct “taste of place” that shows regional character.
There is one bottle in my wine collection I may never open. The 1999 Meeker Winemakers’ Handprint Merlot sat on my desk at NBC pretty much the entire nine year run of “In Wine Country,” the show that I created and produced. The bottle, wrapped in colorful handprints made by winemaker Charlie Meeker, was too cool to open.
What I love most about the holidays is the ample opportunities for a festive toast. And there’s no better drink for that than Champagne and sparkling wine. Bubbles pair perfectly with just about any holiday food, from turkey and stuffing to roast ham, and of course oysters and lobster.
As a drinks destination, Paso Robles just keeps getting better and better. The wine scene has exploded, with more than 200 wineries calling this former cowtown home, and the city is becoming well known for its local craft spirits, as well. Here’s what’s new and notable in Paso right now.
As the season changes from late summer to early fall, my tastes in wine change too. Sure, I still want a crisp, cool white on those warm autumn days, but as the sun sets and a chill develops, I’m reaching for lighter, brighter reds too. You probably think that means Pinot Noir. Nope, I want something exciting and different. That’s why I turn to Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor to show me the way.
In his October 2018 list, Dan puts the spotlight on seven Napa Valley producers, some you may know, and others worth discovering. I’ve been a Neyers fan for a long time, especially of the Rhone varietals, but a $60 Napa Cab? Yes please!
You wouldn’t expect to find a wine bar inside a glass factory — or would you? Visit Annieglass in Watsonville, on the California Coast, between Santa Cruz and Monterey, and you’ll find local wines being poured among shelves of just fired glass platters, bowls, vases and more. Annie Morhauser, the brainchild behind the design, launched her artisan, sustainable glass studio 35 years ago. Her unique techniques and organic designs have garnered a loyal following, not only for their beauty and collectibility, but also for their functionality for day-to-day living. Two of Annieglass’ iconic pieces — from the frosted and sandblasted Shells series,— are on permanent display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Annie’s factory has been open for tours and shopping, but in May 2017, she added Craftbar, a wine bar and crafts workshop mashup. On weekends, you’ll find local wine and beer at the bar, offered along with a…
September is California Wine Month, a celebration of all varietals made up and down the state. With roughly 4,500 wineries producing wine, how do you choose? Fortunately we’ve got an insider to turn to, who has swirled, sniffed, sipped and spit his way through dozens and dozens of wines in a quest to seek out great values. Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor September 2018 list (#DDWA) boasts 45 fantastic wines, none of them the usual suspects. Super bonus – most are amazing values. Who says you have to spend big bucks to drink well?
Follow Dan’s lead, it could take you a month or more to work you way through his list, but you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic glasses of wine to share.
Ok, the list includes wines outside of California and the United States, and those international wines represent some of the best values. But you can find a couple of Napa Valley Cabs for around $50 too (Cufflinks Howell Mountain ($50) — wow! — and William Hill “Benchland Series” ($53)). Here are my highlights from Dan’s recommendations.
When you swirl, sip and taste wine, you may know the grape variety and vintage, but do you know where—and how—those grapes were farmed and why that matters? There’s way more in that glass of wine than grapes and alcohol.
Throughout Silicon Valley, many grape growers are farming organically and sustainably. Some of these hardworking farmers sell their grapes to local wineries where they are made into acclaimed wines. And some of the growers have become distinguished winemakers. What they all share is a passion for wine growing that runs deep. We visited to two ranches—an old-vine vineyard in Gilroy and a newer Bordeaux varietal vineyard in Los Gatos—to find out what it takes to farm great grapes for great wine.