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Sunday, 24 November 2013 20:08

Il Cortile Debuts Fall Menu in Paso Robles


Il Cortile Carole and Santos MacDonal PicmonkeyCarole and Santos MacDonal of Il Cortile

November 25, 2013 (Paso Robles, CA) - Il Cortile’s Chef Santos MacDonal is highlighting fall flavors with his new menu, including those of white truffles.

The Paso Robles restaurant's new seasonal menu was created to emphasize locally and regionally-sourced ingredients for their homemade pastas, seafood and meats. Gnocchi and risottos are made from scratch daily. These can include Kabocha squash gnocchi (homemade kabocha squash gnocchi on a bead of parmesan fonduta with a brown butter sage sauce), Fettuccine di coniglio (fettuccine with slow roasted rabbit in a white wine herb sauce), Cervo e cotogna (pan-seared venison medallions with a red wine sauce and quince) and Vitello ai funghi porcini (veal chop with porcini mushroom sauce, finished with truffle oil).

White Truffles de Alba PicmonkeyItalian white truffles from Alba Il Cortile is highlighting truffle season with three dishes. Their Carpaccio, made of thinly sliced sirloin, is complemented with truffle cream sauce and shaved black or white truffles over the top; the homemade fettuccine dish is made with a parmesan fonduta, a drizzle of white truffle oil and white or black shaved truffles on top; the risotto also features a parmesan fonduta, a drizzle of white truffle oil and white or black shaved truffles over the top.

" I love the white truffle season because we get the white truffles from Alba in Piedmont, Italy and you can just taste the old world influence,” said Chef MacDonal. “They are fragrant and delicate at the same time. The flavor is so unique. I like to express them in many ways, with a traditional dish like White Truffle Risotto or make them with our homemade Fettuccine. Our carpaccio dish is a different way to use the truffles and makes that dish so rich. It is real comfort food! "

Located in downtown Paso Robles, the restaurant pairs its Italian cuisine with wines from a substantial list including selections from Central Coast wineries, along with Italian, Spanish and South American varietals.

Editor's note: Before starting your trip to the Paso Robles area, or anywhere on California's Central Coast, it's a good idea to visit Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to wineries and craft beer emporiums.


Wilson Banks Matteis Tavern PicmonkeyChef Robbie Wilson and wife Emily Perry Wilson join Ali and Charles Banks in toast to new venture. (Kara Block Photography)

Los Olivos, CA November 13, 2013 - Los Olivos, the small township at the heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country, recently celebrated the opening of Mattei’s Tavern, a restaurant housed in an historic stagecoach stop originally founded in 1886. Felix Mattei, the property’s first restaurateur and hotelier, provided sustenance to travelers in the early days of the Southland.

New owners, Charles Banks and wife, Ali, (Terroir Selections, Mayacamas Vineyards) and Chef Robbie Wilson and wife, Emily Perry Wilson, have re-imagined Mattei’s Tavern, the result of which is a modern, warm and inviting interior that marries a luxe country aesthetic with contemporary design elements.

The new Mattei’s Tavern menu, conceptualized by the highly creative Robbie Wilson, features two culinary chapters, if you will, highlighting fare inspired by Felix Mattei, under the title “1886” and whimsical, modern fare under the chapter “2013”.

The “1886” chapter of the menu features, among other dishes, a thirty-two ounce, dry-aged Cote de Boeuf for two. The “2013” chapter of the menu features “Morro Bay’s Greatest Hits,” a dozen fresh oysters served on a vintage turn table with sweet shrimp, hamachi and a Tabasco “slushy”; “Crunchy Sea Creatures”, featuring a selection of fresh seafood prepared in a masa tempura, is served in an informal seaside sand bucket, with an uni tarter sauce, among other contemporary creative selections.

A born and bred Texan, Managing Partner and Chef, Robbie Wilson, has manned the stoves of some of the globe’s most lauded restaurants, including Maison Troisgros, Craft, and The French Laundry. Wilson also served as Executive Chef of Matsuhisa in Aspen. Under him, this branch of the world-renowned brand secured its highest Zagat rating.

In 2010, Wilson was sought by an emerging restaurant group in Nashville, Tennessee—M Street Entertainment Group--to head the culinary development of several yet-to-be-opened restaurants, and improve upon those in existence. From inception, Wilson designed, inspired and created the culinary aspects of celebrated spots Kayne Prime and Tavern, and enhanced the local favorite Whiskey Kitchen and decade-old Virago. As Culinary Director of the company, Wilson helmed this collection of diverse concepts as each one flourished in the press and with patrons.

Joining Wilson on the floor at Mattei’s Tavern is wife, Emily Perry Wilson and General Manager, Jason Smith both whom set the tone for friendly, warm hospitality.

Wine & Beverage Director Stephane Colling has created an international wine list, featuring local wines, as well as rare and coveted wines from around the world. Colling, who was born in Alsace, near Stasbourg, France, studied at Oxford University. His pedigree includes successful stints at the Michelin three-star Waterside Inn in Bray, England, The Castle in Tarrytown, New York, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, and The Modern, where he served as Wine Director. In 2006, The Modern earned the Wine Spectator “Best of” Award of Excellence.

The restaurant property includes bocce ball courts and an outdoor pizza oven, as well as a dining area situated romantically within a small cornfield. “My wife Ali and I arrived here in the Santa Ynez Valley 13 years ago, says Banks. “Since then, we’ve planted some deep roots here. There are tremendous resources in this area for locally grown vegetables, fruits as well as great local purveyors of olive oil, meat, eggs, honey…you name it. It will be exciting to see what Robbie can create from the bounty Santa Ynez Valley provides,” he continues.

Wilson adds, “Our collective vision is to add to the food, wine and lifestyle culture of Los Olivos in ways that will honor its history, while also adding value to its vibrant future. This is a great American town, and it’s been a privilege to become a part of this community.”

Editor's note: If you'll be visiting Santa Barbara County, you may want to check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of area wineries and craft beer specialists.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 12:40

A Knack for Sustainability


Laetitia Vineyard  Winery Nadia and Selim PicmonkeyNadia and Selim Zilkha

October 30, 2013 – (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) Selim Zilkha has spent a lifetime searching out sustainable solutions to life’s everyday complexities. With a background in such varied industries as retail for mothers-to-be and their babies, natural gas exploration and renewable energy, Zilkha’s most pleasurable pursuit by far has been implementing sustainable methods at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, on California’s Central Coast. Originally founded by an established French Champagne house in 1982, the Laetitia estate carries on in the longstanding traditions of Burgundy and Champagne with a focus on small-lot Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.

Born into a banking family in Baghdad, Zilkha bought the Laetitia property in 1998 with high hopes of moving the winery toward self-sufficiency. His first order of business was amassing a team of people who caught the vision, starting with his own daughter, Nadia Zilkha, in marketing.

“I grew up discussing business with my dad and learned a lot,” says Nadia, “watching him make decisions, take risks and encourage his employees to be autonomous and empowered.” Nadia has focused on marketing, conveying the Laetitia message of elegant Pinot Noir and sparkling wines crafted from the best of both ancient and modern sustainable methods.

As for sustainable farming practices, Vice President Vineyard Operations, Lino Bozzano, has worked closely with Zilkha to employ creative methods such as cover-cropping and goat grazing, which preclude the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides or tractors that run on fossil fuels. President and Head Winemaker Eric Hickey has been instrumental in completing and championing the Vineyard Team’s progressive Sustainability In Practice (SIP) certification process, of which Laetitia is a founding participant.

One of Zilkha’s next dreams for the Laetitia property is better energy efficiency. “We are always looking into various ways to grow our own energy,” he says. “Specifically, we are looking at utilizing the land between the rows to grow alternative energy crops such as Camelina to make biodiesel, which could offset our diesel usage on the ranch.”

“Other pursuits in the ways of sustainability on the ranch include a complete analysis/retrofit of our irrigation system to ensure that we are accommodating the needs of the different soil types on the ranch, as well as more mechanization (to assist in the labor shortage) and employing bio control strategies, such as raptors and falcons to hunt and feed on animals which attack the grapes.”

Today, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery and its sister brand, NADIA, are thriving benchmarks by which many producers are measured. “Differentiating our wine from others in the region while still honoring its similarity is both challenging and exciting,” says Nadia.

Since moving to New York several years ago Nadia’s role with the winery has changed slightly, though she still represents the Laetitia and NADIA brands on the East Coast. “I’ve really enjoyed working alongside my father, who has taught me a great deal. He’s fascinated with technology and encourages our team to apply it both in farming and in winemaking.”

She adds, “I also love working alongside our team, learning from Eric and Lino, and working to improve our portfolio with each vintage.”

Editor's note: Thinking of visiting the wine country of California's Central Coast? Visit the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of wineries and even craft beer specialists.

LosOlivosCafeWineMerchantInterior2010 PicmonkeyInterior at the Los Olivos Cafe

October 24, 2013 Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County, California – The Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café has been named one of the “Top 100 restaurants with the most notable wine lists in the USA” by Opentable.com diners.

Owned by Sam and Shawnda Marmorstein, The Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café was also the winner of the 2012 Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence”— one of only 878 restaurants in the world that received this coveted ‘two wine glass’ award.

Of the latest Opentable accolade, Sam Marmorstein said, “We are so proud to be honored as the only restaurant in Santa Barbara County; and one of only 21 restaurants in California out of 100 nationwide to be recognized this year. This is our second year in a row to be named to this prestigious list.” The Opentable award reflects the opinions of more than 5 million reviews for more than 15,000 restaurants between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013. (entire winners list)shawndasam marmorstein--owners of Los Olivos Cafe PicmonkeySam and Shawnda Marmorstein

The casual yet elegant Café (as seen in the 2004 award-winning movie Sideways) serves fresh, local wine-friendly cuisine for lunch and dinner daily. The Wine Merchant features over 500 local and international vintages and is the exclusive distributor of owner Sam Marmorstein’s Bernat Wines.


Editor's note: Planning a visit to Santa Barbara County? In Taste California Travel's Resource Directory you'll find a link to the website of the Los Olivos Café, as well as links to the sites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as those of Central Coast wineries and craft beer specialists.



CharlesBanks BobLindquist ByJeremyBall PicmonkeyCharles Banks and BobLindquist in photo by JeremyBall

Santa Barbara County, CA October 14, 2013 - Charles Banks and Terroir Selections have acquired a majority stake in Santa Maria Valley’s iconic Qupé winery, long considered one of America’s finest Syrah producers. Founder and winemaker, Bob Lindquist, will assume the role of partner, while Louisa Sawyer Lindquist will continue to assist with sales. Moving forward, both parties are committed to improving quality at Qupé.

“I am thrilled to work alongside a gifted winemaker and legend like Bob Lindquist,” says Banks. He continues, “Bob has been a steadfast visionary of Syrah for decades. Few have done as much as Bob to advance awareness for Syrah in the United States. I love Syrah and have wanted to work on a meaningful Syrah project for a number of years now. With an infusion of capital from Terroir Selections, Bob and I are both confident that we can strengthen Qupé’s future allowing it to remain the benchmark in American Rhone-inspired wines.”

Lindquist has long been considered one of Santa Barbara wine country’s visionaries. While a tour guide in the late ‘70’s at Zaca Mesa, Lindquist learned to make wine from his co-workers and friends; Jim Clendenen, who at the time was assistant winemaker, Ken Brown, who was winemaker, and Adam Tolmach, who was the enologist. All three, who became successful winery owners themselves, worked at Zaca Mesa during Santa Barbara wine country’s nascent era.

Founded in 1982, Qupé will continue to share a winery with Clendenen’s Au Bon Climat on the esteemed Bien Nacido vineyard; an agreement that was made between Lindquist and Clenenden in1989, when they brought their winery projects together under one roof. Lindquist and Clendenen continue to mentor a new generation of winemakers, including Paul Lato, Gavin Chanin, Gary Burk, Josh Klapper and Rajat Parr, among many others.

Banks adds, “My wife, Ali, and I have been in Santa Barbara County for 13 years, and we’ve set down some roots here, first with Jonata, and later with Sandhi and Mattei’s Tavern (a four-way partnership between Ali and Charles Banks, and Emily Perry Wilson and Chef Robbie Wilson) and now with Qupé.

Qupé Winery will join Banks’ Terroir Selections portfolio, which includes Sandhi (Sta. Rita Hills, with celebrated sommelier-turned-winemaker, Rajat Parr), Mayacamas and Leviathan (Napa Valley), Wind Gap (vineyard designates throughout California), Mulderbosch, Fable and Marvelous Range (South Africa); Maison L’ Oree (France), and Cultivate, a philanthropically-minded brand sourcing fruit from around the world.


Editor's note: Planning a trip to Santa Barbara wine country? You find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory, as well as links to the websites of all the wineries. In fact, we also have links to all the craft beer specialists in the area, too!

Friday, 11 October 2013 01:08

October 11, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week



shark red-sm Picmonkey

2001 Shark Red


Producer: Greg Norman Estates

Appellation: Paso Robles

Alcohol: 13.9%

Suggested Retail: $15


“For readers who haven't followed golf in recent years, we can tell you that Greg Norman has been one of the most prominent exponents of that international game. Reputed to be an extremely successful businessman, his Greg Norman Estates wine operation is a by-product of that success. The company produces wine from his native Australia, as well as Argentina and the United States. The fair-haired Aussie has been dubbed “The Great White Shark” and his PR arm says that he's an ardent diver who has indeed swum among Great Whites.

“Fruit for the 2011 vintage of Shark Red comes from Paso Robles on California's Central Coast. The composition is nearly half Syrah, the grape known as Shiraz in Norman's native Australia (48%), with smaller amounts of Petite Sirah (25%), Mouvèdre (11%), Grenache (9%), Merlot (5%) and Malbec (2%). Paso Robles is a great growing region for these grape varieties, most of which are native to the Rhône in France.

“Shark Red is an agreeable California red wine. The nose is beguiling—there is the aroma of white pepper, dried flower petals and maybe some raspberries. The promise of this olfactory sophistication isn't fully realized in the taste of the wine, but the rest of it isn't bad. There are very decent flavors of blueberry and blackberry fruit, but their application is either minimized—or maximized, depending on your taste--by the relatively sweetish finish. It's actually borderline lush on the palate and is a good bottle of wine at the suggested retail price of $15.”

Food Affinity: “With access to the ingredients ingredients and time to cook, we'd try this with moist, oven-roasted rabbit prepared with onions, morels and a few green olives. A simpler alternative would be the meal we enjoyed after tasting this wine--broiled lean ground sirloin, accompanied by fresh red and golden beets.”

Rocky Point fish plate and ocean PicmonkeyDr. Peter Wang, owner of Rocky Point Restaurant and founder of The Wang Foundation, stands ankle deep amongst an invasive pest that covers the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Ice plant has taken over the ground, covering the land which it has since evicted indigenous vegetation. "Here I make my stand" Wang says in humble defiance. "I took over Rocky Point Restaurant close to a year ago with the goal of polishing this beautiful gem of a property...one of the challenges I face, is my ongoing commitment to the rehabilitation of its surrounding natural landscape". When Wang says, "rehabilitation," he refers to the act of fixing and returning of land to its natural state. "Rehabilitation is the act that must occur after conservation has run its course."

The Rocky Point Restaurant was first opened on the cliffs of Big Sur overlooking the Pacific in 1947. This iconic destination just 12 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea fast became the destination for food and drink by locals and travelers, including many Hollywood Stars, making their trek North and South on California Hwy. 1. Dr. Wang, and his wife, Grace, (both Chinese immigrants who came to the US as students) made this acquisition back in January of 2012 for over $4.75 million and have invested close to one- million dollars into its renovation.

The restaurant re-opened in March of 2013 and has realized solid steady growth in sales and with numbers of patrons wishing to sample not only the good food, but also wanting to take in a view that is arguably one of the greatest on the Pacific coast in California. Wang's commitment to the property is not only limited to landscape, where he has already re-introduced close to 500+ native plants, but to the employees of Rocky Point.

"....I am a man of deeds, not only words" (to quote an ancient Chinese proverb) Dr. Wang smiles with a glint of knowing sparkle in his eyes. I am committed to the success of Rocky Point and a great deal of that success comes from my staff. I am committed to creating a platform for them. A platform that can create opportunity for those whom I employ to grow just like the new plants I have recently planted here on our grounds...Rocky Point is also the platform to grow commerce through education and cultural exchange between Chinese and US students."

The Wang Foundation which Dr. Wang founded a number of years back is committed to the development of opportunity in the cultural exchange and education of Chinese students here in the US. Many Scholarships have been subsidized by The Wang Foundation.

Wang shares his main philosophy, "I truly believe the solution to war and poverty is education of our youth and the growth of commerce...When people work together and create commerce, war stops and poverty begins to be alleviated. When commerce stops, war begins and poverty becomes prevalent... I want Rocky Point Restaurant to play ongoing active role in this by generating scholarships for students who will follow this belief in their careers."

Editor's note: Information for this article was provided to TASTE News Service by Travmedia sources. At Taste California Travel's Resource Directory readers will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options on the Central Coast. Also in the directory are links to wineries and craft beer specialists.

 Magenta ArroyoSeco PicmonkeyMorning sun rises over Arroyo Seco vineyard.

(Monterey, CA) September 17, 2013—With world-renowned terroir ideal for producing complex and concentrated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco district celebrates its 30th anniversary as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) this fall.

One of the first areas in Monterey County to be distinguished as a unique winegrowing region, and one of the smallest in California, the Arroyo Seco AVA had already been recognized for growing outstanding wines – Chardonnay in particular – since the 1960s. Factors such as a cool climate influenced by nearby Monterey Bay, well-drained rocky soils, extreme winds, and experienced growers have combined to make wines from the Arroyo Seco AVA some of the most sought-after and awarded in the country.

“As one of the pioneers of Monterey County, Jerry Lohr planted his first grapes in the Arroyo Seco in 1972 knowing that the region was destined for producing high quality Chardonnay and Riesling,” said J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines President and COO, Jeff Meier. Since that time, Jerry Lohr’s passionate efforts to instill farming practices that bring out the best from the terroir have prompted his namesake and family owned company to expand varietal programs with Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Valdiguié. “Celebrating thirty years as an AVA is a milestone for the region and we at J. Lohr look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead for all of us who will continue to have a presence in the AVA over the next 30 years.”

“There just are not many places in California – or the world – where all of the elements that make Arroyo Seco unique can exist,” said Rich Smith, owner and founder of Valley Farm Management, one of Monterey County’s pioneer wine producers. “We began growing the forty-two acres of vines at Cobblestone Vineyards in the Arroyo Seco area in 1975, and have added about eleven-hundred acres of vines over the past thirty-five years on four other properties in Arroyo Seco. If imitation is the best compliment, we obviously believe in complimenting the Arroyo Seco.”

Fourth-generation winegrower and Chief Executive Officer of Wente Family Estates, Carolyn Wente, recalls how her father, Karl Wente, came to plant vineyards in the Greenfield area of Monterey County in 1963. “He was attracted to the unique soils and climate he found along the Arroyo Seco river and bench lands, and became an advocate for others to plant in the region. At that time, there were no other vineyards in the area, which was widely planted to vegetables and row crops such as sugar beets.”

backhoe view Arroyo Seco Picmonkey Roots of Chardonnay vines live in rocky Arroyo Seco soil.Wente went on to describe how additional winegrowers gradually purchased and planted in Arroyo Seco, learning how different rootstocks, clonal selections and varietals excelled in the region with the experience of multiple vintages. Eventually, it came time for recognition of the district’s excellence. “My mother and I drafted first the Monterey and then the Arroyo Seco appellation petition and championed them with other vineyard and winery owners in the early 80s. Since then, our belief in the unique attributes of the appellation has only strengthened with the outstanding quality of the wines produced through the years. This AVA is clearly a hidden gem in the coastal winegrowing valleys of California!”

In 2007, the Arroyo Seco Winegrowers & Vintners Association was established to promote the district’s distinguished terroir and wines. Headed by Michael Griva of F&G Vineyards, the association has made great strides in defining and celebrating what makes this district so special. “I grew up among the greats of the Arroyo Seco AVA,” said Griva, “people like Karl Wente, Rich Smith and Jerry Lohr. It’s been a pleasure to promote their vision for what makes Arroyo Seco stand out, and to support their legacy of incredible wines grown by people who are passionate about its terroir.”

Editor's note: Material for this article was supplied to TASTE News Service by the Arroyo Seco Winegrowers. More information on the winegrape growers and wines from the Arroyo Seco AVA can be found at www.ArroyoSecoWinegrowers.com. If you're planning a visit to Monterey County you may want to visit Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to wineries and beer-centric establishments.

Visitors seeking a unique wine region have flocked to the Paso Robles area for years. With more than 270 wineries to choose from, there’s no shortage of wine experiences in California’s “Rhone Zone.” And now that experience starts the moment guests enter their rooms.

Robert Hall room at Paso Robles InnRobert Hall room at Paso Robles Inn.The Paso Robles Inn has launched a unique wine partnership with local wineries. The concept involves infusing various winery characteristics into the décor, ambience and amenities of each of the deluxe mineral spa rooms – starting with the unique naming on the guest room door.Eighteen deluxe mineral spa rooms at this Central Coast property are dedicated to the winery-branded project, coinciding with the hotel’s major renovation. Winery partners have provided representative touches in art, furniture and accessories to create a different theme for each room. Guests receive complimentary tasting vouchers at the winery sponsoring their room, as well as a glass of the featured wine in the hotel’s Steakhouse Restaurant. The suites feature a variety of decorative items, from a real grape vine in the Ancient Peaks Winery room, to wine barrel chairs in the DAOU room, to murals over the spa tubs and glass lamps filled with corks. Other touches include wine barrel art, sculptures, coat racks and photography from the vineyards.

“There certainly is no lack of creativity demonstrated by our wine partners,” said Noreen Martin-Hulburd, CEO of Martin Resorts which owns and operates the Inn. “This is a really exciting and interactive way for us to help tell the story of Paso Robles, and to celebrate our region’s reputation for wine, travel and hospitality,” said Nina Leschinsky, Direct to Consumer Sales Manager for Ancient Peaks Winery. “Each of the winery themed deluxe rooms has been transformed into a unique experience for guests. We put a lot of thought into decorating our room, so that it is tasteful, educational and entertaining.”

Robert Hall, owner of Robert Hall Winery, says “The Martin Family has always been such a strong supporter of local wineries. We are proud to be part of the Paso Robles Inn’s wine branded deluxe suites and decorating the room for guests with Robert Hall Winery images and furniture made from barrel staves was a very fun project.”

who’s who of area wineries represented in the rooms

Those familiar with Central Coast wineries will know most of the participants. Ancient Peaks Winery, Broken Earth Winery, Castoro Cellars, DAOU Vineyards, Donati Family Estate Winery, Eberle Winery, Hope Family Wines, J. Lohr Winery & Vineyards, Le Vigne Winery, Peachy Canyon, Rio Seco Winery, Robert Hall Winery, Sextant Wines, Tables Creek Vineyards, Tobin James Cellars and Vina Robles are among the winery partners. (Paso Robles Inn’s dog-friendly rooms were chosen by Eberle Winery and Rio Seco Winery.) Because Paso Robles has a growing craft beer movement, the Inn also selected a brewing partner for the concept; Firestone Walker Brewing Company.

wine tradition in Paso Robles

Commercial winemaking can be traced to the 1870s when Indiana farmer transplant Andrew York planted vineyards on his homestead. In the 1920s and 30s several families immigrated to the area to establish family vineyards and wineries.

The Paso Robles region and the establishment known today as the Paso Robles Inn, gained more notoriety when Ignace Paderewski, the famous Polish statesman and concert pianist, visited Paso Robles Hot Springs. He sought the healing mineral waters which brought relief to his ailing hands, fell in love with the area, purchased 2,000 acres, and planted Petite Syrah and Zinfandel on his Rancho San Ignacio vineyard.

In the past decade, the number of wineries in this American Viticultural Area (AVA) has swelled from 50 to more than 270 bonded wineries, ranging from nationally distributed, to mid-size and boutique. The area’s Zinfandel grape historically gave the area its start as a wine grape producing region and is celebrated annually with its own festival in March. Today the region is touted as California’s “Rhone Zone” for its production of Syrah as well as Viognier and Roussane, though Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordelaise varietals remain king, comprising 50% of the region’s total acreage.

Editor's note: A link to the website of the Paso Robles Inn, as well as links to hundreds of Lodging and Dining options are found in the Central Coast section of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. Also in that directory are links to area wineries and “beer-centric” establishments in the region.

(Information for this article supplied to TASTE News Service by Travmedia sources.)

Friday, 26 July 2013 18:35

July 26, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week


Jekel 2011 Chard bottle Picmonkey

2011 Gravelstone Chardonnay


Jekel Vineyards

Appellation: Arroyo Seco, Monterey

Alcohol: 14.4%

Suggested Retail: $15.99


“Aromas of pineapple and guava prominent, with some white peach, too. From first sip, this Gravelstone Chardonnay exhibits a lush, creamy personality. Flavors of melon and a bit of citrus predominate. The winemaker says he used mostly neutral oak barrels, but there's still a vanilla presence from that smaller amount of new oak cooperage. This is a big wine (14.4% alcohol) and is a relatively inexpensive option for those who favor the full-blown California treatment of this variety.”

Food Affinity: “Seared scallops finished in brown butter and served with mandarin orange sections. Boiled/steamed halibut served in a white sauce with chopped, hard-boiled egg and fresh parsley. Spicy green curry chicken.” 

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