My favorite season is upon us and this year we are eager to soak it up, for we have actually had a winter season. And Summer in central coast wine country means it’s music season too.
At least four days a week, you can head out to a local vineyard, take in spectacular scenery, then pair it with a great bottle of wine and music on a warm wine country afternoon or evening. And most of the time, it’s free! (except for any food or wine you buy.)
Music season ramps up Memorial Day weekend and continues through Labor Day or the end of harvest season. Vintners offer up free entertainment in the hopes you’ll stay awhile and purchase wine while your there. However, most have no requirements to do so. You can even pack your own picnic at some, but almost all offer food options of some sort.
Here’s a short sampling:
StillWaters Vineyards started the fun early this year by kicking off it’s “Picture Perfect Sundays” in April. You’ll find a picnic paradise even in the heat of the summer under the canopy of shade provided by the ancient olive grove. There is no charge and you can bring your own picnic, but Stein’s BBQ serves up some pretty awesome grub. So unless you are a master picnic packer, you may find yourself with a little food envy if you don’t just purchase your meal there. The owners also offer up great wine discounts for these events. They happen the second Sunday of each month from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. through October.
Tooth and Nail jumped into the music offerings a bit early as well on Wine Festival Weekend with Dan Curcio and The Damon Castillo Band, but will continue the fun every Friday through summer starting at 6:00 p.m. T and N doesn't allow you to bring in your own food or wine, but does offer food for sale.
And with the arrival of June, you have options everywhere, especially heading into weekends. Claiborne and Churchill has its “Sips and Songs” series on Fridays from 5:30-7:30 and it too is free. Pomar Junction’s Train Wreck Fridays are going full steam. It will cost you $15.00 to get in if you aren't a club member, but they do have a great line-up of entertainment and put on a great party.
You’ll find free music at Kelsey Vineyard on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and Broken Earth Winery most Saturdays. Sculpterra winery hosts “Songwriters at Play” every Saturday as well. And enjoy music and the amazing view at Calcareous Vineyards for “Wine Down Wednesdays all summer long.
If you have a favorite place to kick back and enjoy some lazy days of summer, or are a winery blending music into the mix, share it with me. Just shoot me an email or post directly to the Ruby Shoes Wine Club facebook page. Just get out and enjoy, because only Central Coast Wine Country can offer up music venues like these!
Cheers my friends.
Love Cabs? Mark your calendars for Saturday April 26th. It's the CABs of Distinction Gala in Paso Robles, the very area named Wine Region of the World by Wine Enthusiast for 2013. Come taste the most sought-after collection of Cabernets and red Bordeauxs at this gathering of Paso Robles Cab Collective winemakers. The event happens at River Oaks Hot Springs in Paso Robles.
Love Cabs AND love to save money? Get your tickets now. The PRCC is having an early-bird special on tickets. You can get tickets to the grand tasting now for $67.50 ($90.00 regularly). The grand tasting includes a pairing of PRCC with cheeses from a local fromager, chocolate tastings, a barrel-making demonstration, complimentary lunch options from local restaurants, glass etching and live music.
You can get premium-reserve VIP tickets for $112.50 ($150 regularly) which includes early entry to the grand tasting as well as access to the VIP Lounge where desserts and drinks will be available throughout the day.
Luxury VIP tickets are available now on the early-bird special for $187.50 (regularly $250) which includes early access to the grand tasting event, an exclusive panel discussion, a multi-course gourmet lunch, and continuous access to the VIP lounge throughout the day.
Get 25% off all three ticket prices through the month of January by entering promo code CABERNET when you check out. Click here to learn more or buy tickets.
See you in April Ruby Shoers!
No one seemed to see it coming, including the man credited by many for putting Central Coast Wine Country on the map. But Gary Eberle says when he walked into his namesake winery at 9:30 yesterday morning, his world was rocked. "My sister-in-law and two of my best friends turned on me and basically kicked me out of my own winery." said a shaken and clearly emotional Gary Eberle last night. What does it mean? Even Gary isn't exactly sure. "I'm not in charge of my own winery anymore. I know that much." he says.
What is happening is a hostile takeover of the winery Eberle and a group of partners started in the 1970's. Yesterday he was effectively removed as general partner of the group that owns the Winery.
In conversations with at least a dozen people in the industry, and close to the Eberle history, family and operations, there was a sense of shock and disbelief from each and every one. Eberle started the winery in a partnership with his brother Jim Giacobine, and a group of other investors. In 1979 he produced his first bottle of Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon, and through the recognition of his Cabs on both the national and international level, he is credited by many in the industry as putting the Paso Robles wine region on the map. He is often referred to as the "Godfather of the Central Coast Wine Region."
Sources say over the years some of the early partners sold their shares to Eberle, his brother and other investors. Eberle says he and his brother owned nearly 80-percent of the winery. Giacobine has been in poor health and multiple sources say turned power-of-attorney over to his wife, Jeanne Giacobine. Eberle says it was Jeanne along with minority partners Abe and Rob Flory who launched the hostile takeover and today, the winery is being run by the trust, and a new manager.
Eberle does still own a significant percentage of the operation, but his future at the winery is very uncertain. Eberle says the winery had its best year ever last year and that all partners were making good money. Multiple other sources confirm 2013 was a very good year for Eberle winery, but a couple questioned whether returns on investments weren't as high as some partners had thought they should be.
Paso Robles Wine Country is getting some international attention again. We told you how WIne Enthusiast named it Wine Region of the World for 2013. Well, the big competitor to that publication, Wine Spectator has named Turley Wine Cellars Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel to it's top 100 wines of the world for 2013. In fact, it comes in at #12!
Wine spectator calls the Turley Dusi Vineyard 2011 Zinfandel "Rich and powerful, but focused like a lazer, with with wild berry and toasty briar aromas that lead to ripe but complex flavors of black cherry, licorice and spicy orange peel. The tannins are big but fleshy."
Wine Spectator says it will remain wonderful through 2022. Good luck finding any, though. There were only 900 cases made and Turley's tasting manager says they only had about 20 cases left when the list came out.
Every day. It happens every single day. The only question is whether I take the time to witness it.
I live near the beach and love heading down there first thing in the morning and at sunset. There's a different energy to both times of day but something special in both. What I am amazed at, is that no matter how many times I make the trek, mother nature puts on a show of some sort for me. Every single time. And particularly, it seems, in the morning when all the creatures stir and come to life for the day.
I am well aware of this phenomenon but was reminded just how much so this past week. Like most of us, my mornings can get rushed. So, sometimes I just make a fly-by past the beach on my way to yoga, a run, work, or wherever. On those days, I feel I don't have the time to go just sit with my cup of coffee and take it all in.
I'm talking about the show mother nature inevitably puts on. Even still, even on those days, the way the sun sits on the water....or how the cloud formations frame it's ascent into the sky can stop me in my tracks long enough to find a heart full or gratitude that I am getting to witness it. However, to really witness the show I think you have to sit...still enough...to let it unfold before you. I'm not talking long, but a matter of minutes and just observe.
Last week I was hurrying to get out the door and on the road for a meeting. I thought "I don't have time for beach coffee today." What I did feel I needed was to stretch my legs before I spent a couple of hours in the car and hours throughout the day, sitting. So, I thought, I'll just take the tiniest of walks...down along the bluffs by my house over the Pacific. It really isn't far...less than a quarter mile probably for the short loop to the beach and back. Hardly worth putting the sweats on for, but my legs needed something before they spent the rest of the day in a sitting position so off I went. And boy did Mother Nature teach me a lesson.
As I neared the water's edge, the way the sun was changing the sky and reflecting on the water made me smile immediately. The Pacific hadn't seemed to awaken yet. It seemed it was still sleeping, being rocked in the arms of the universe with only the slightest movement, and almost silent splashes on the shore. This magnificent body of water which I have seen appear downright angry during storms seemed simply to be resting. And the creatures it supports were playing in that serenity.
First a pool of seals, maybe 30 or 40 of them traveling as a group, splashed and surfaced and dove together. They seemed to be showing off for each other, each leaping completely out of the water at some point and diving back under. They looked like they were having a blast, and I wondered what prompted the party. The grin on my face spread through my body more as I felt lucky to have been here to witness the antics.
I continued on my mini loop, keeping my eye on the pod when right behind them, stage right...the dolphins joined the performance. Their movements were more majestic as they cruised above and below the water one right after another. They seemed more like graceful ballet dancers following the clowns up ahead in the parade. The smile grew wider on my face and down deeper into my heart. And then as I turned to head back for home, another group joined the performance: two humpbacks spouting first and surfacing moments after. I couldn't believe it. A beautiful trifeca in a 10-minute stroll. My smile was now an opened mouth laugh at the wonder of the show before me. "Thank you" I said out loud. To God. To the universe. To the beautiful creatures below.
The shows aren't always so spectacular. Sometimes it's a single otter cruising on it's back with a sea-crustacean of some sort on its belly. It's breakfast time for the otter and it's amusing to watch a seagull or two floating very nearby hoping for some "table scraps" or an opportunity to take the meal away completely. Sometimes it's a formation of birds flying by in formation, or a group of them scattered haphazardly simply playing in the wind currents. Or it can be the seals beached on a rock a little before or after the perfect tide conditions for a nap. It's amusing to me to see them arch their backs and work to hold their balance as the waves sweep over their "beds" and threaten to take them along for the ride.
The scenarios are endless. But they happen every single day and all I have to do is take the time to let the performance unfold before me.
It's been a good week of perfect conditions for these performances friends. I've seen whales every day for five days in a row. The water has been so calm and the sun is sparkling on it's surface. We are forecast to get some rain, which we desperately need on Thursday. So if you can get down to the water and take in the show.
It's true, and it's pretty darned exciting. The award will be handed out in New York in January, but Wine Enthusiast spilled the beans today. The powerhouse wine industry trade magazine has chosen Paso Robles as Wine Region of the World for 2013.
Yeah, you read that right. The world. This is a big deal. For the last six years this honor has gone to wine regions in Spain, Argentina, Italy and France. (Rioja-Spain, Mendoza-Argentina, Valpolicella-Italy, Rhone-France, Prosecco-Italy, and Ribera del Douro-Spain.) This year the finalists for this honor were: Stellenboch-South Africa, Walla Walla-WA, Duoro-Portugal, Rias Baixas-Spain, and Paso Robles, California.
In considering Paso Robles for the honor, Wine Enthusiast said: "Paso Robles is having a moment in the sun, attracting truckloads of dynamic young talent unafraid to experiment with grape varieties and winemaking techniques. Consistently high-quality wines, a vibrant food culture, and diverse travel experiences for adventurous wine lovers add to the package." Sound familiar Ruby Shoers?
What does this mean? It means the wine region that reflects the personality of its location--humble, happy and amazingly beautiful-is being discovered...big time. " When you consider the reach of Wine Enthusiast magazine, not just nationally but internationally, and the audience beyond the consumer but also the trade, this award brings a whole new awareness of Paso Robles as a wine grape growing region to the world", says Chris Taranto, Communications Director of the Paso Wine Alliance.
Ruby Shoes Wine Club couldn't be prouder. I started work to launch Ruby Shoes Wine Club two years ago because in my travels across the country, I was amazed how few knew about the wine treasures to be found along the Central Coast. Part of that has had to do with distribution limitations that are being sorted out slowly but surely, and largely through direct to consumer options like Ruby Shoes Wine Club. But when I traveled to wine regions in other parts of the world, I was amazed how many people DID know about Paso Robles and the amazing terrain that is perfect to grow wonderful wine grapes. It seems the discovery of our local wine country continues every day with new attention like this.
I'm so damn proud to call the Central Coast home and see the wine regions that exist here get the nods they deserve. I'm not just talking about Paso Robles, but Edna Valley, Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valley as well. California earned the Wine Enthusiast spotlight in 2006 when Alexander Valley was recognized, which is really cool for California. But to see Paso Robles make a list like this, you know it's not just hometown favoritism. The Ruby Shoes tasting board has been picking one Paso Winery after another to feature in our club, and those picks have been among the best on the Central Coast, and now the world.
To that, and to the winemakers making the magic from the field to the foil around each cork, I say a resounding “CHEERS! “. You did us proud and I'm proud as can be to call you all friends and partners.
***If you aren't a member yet of Ruby Shoes Wine Club, it's not to late to be a part of our next featured Paso Robles Winery, Tobin James Cellars. Our shipment goes out next week, which means you can be pouring lovely wines from the Wine Region of the World at your holiday celebrations. To sign up, click here.
And to purchase some of the wines we feel are among Paso Robles' finest, visit our shop and order up. Our supplies won't last long once this news gets out to the masses! (Remember, members enjoy 15-25% discounts!) Questions? We'd love to hear from you!
It was dry, but 2013 looking like it's going to be a good year for Cabernet.
It's looking like 2013 is going to be one of those years you want a lot of in your wine cabinet or cellar. Cabernet growers along the Central Coast say the harvest of 2013 revealed a lot of virtues of a good year. At the top of the list: an early start to the growing season, long hang-time and near absence of inclement weather.Members of the Paso Robles CAB Collective (PRCC), an association of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietal producers in the Paso Robles AVA, recently joined fellow vintners and growers across California in assessing this year's harvest. "The climatic conditions on our mountain during the growing season contributed to smaller berries and fewer berries per cluster," said Daniel Daou, Winemaker and Owner at DAOU Vineyards. "These conditions have allowed us to generate phenolics in our wines that are, on average, thirty percent greater than in previous years. This means darker and more intense wines that will age well. A great year for Cabernet
Michael Barreto, Winemaker at Le Vigne Winery says the early and warm spring got the growing season off to a quick start. "Some cool stretches in the summer allowed varieties like Merlot to coast a bit and be ready for harvest around the same as an average year. However, for us, Cabernet Sauvignon came in around two weeks earlier than normal. Our harvest size was about average with nicely-sized clusters that should provide nice flavor and concentration."
Calcareous Winemaker, Jason Joyce says you may have to use a little patience with the 2013 vintage but it will be worth it. "All in all, at this earliest of stages in the wines' life, I could not be more enthusiastic about this vintage. It may not be until 2016 that these wines are ready to taste, but if there is enough patience to let natural aging run its course, this vintage has all the requisite fundamentals for the production of remarkable Bordeaux varietals."
Jeff Meier, Director of Wine-making for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines added perhaps the most exciting vote of confidence about this harvest. "Given the phenomenal quality of our fermentations so far this harvest, and the color numbers we are recording, I'm reminded of the legendary 1997 vintage. While every vintage is unique, 1997 and 2013 were very similar in that we had ideal moderate weather from veraison onward with no significant heat events, factors that have contributed to the remarkable color of our red wines. This is especially true for our Cabernet Sauvignon, which is showing the voluptuous black currant and cherry flavors we love from warmer vintages. The fact that I'm even thinking about 1997 right now is a testament to how excited I am about this vintage."
Cheers to a very good year for your wine collection and the winemakers who make that possible!
To know more about the winemakers involved in the CAB collective assessment of 2013, click here.
My mom used to say it to my brother and I as kids when we started getting on each others' nerves and consequently hers. She did it I'm sure largely to get us out of the house, but at the same time, we usually got involved in some outdoor activity that would offer up instant amnesia about whatever it was we were bickering about. I was reminded of the importance of getting outside and PLAYING this past weekend.
I am blessed to have a job that gets me out and about a lot. I tell stories of all the cool places to see and visit on the Central Coast. What you may not realize is when we're shooting those stories, we're usually fighting a deadline. We're usually trying to get two or three done in one day, or trying to get back to the newsroom in time to anchor the 5 and 6 o'clock newscast. What that means is I often find myself saying "I need to come back here someday and just enjoy this." In reality, it doesn't happen often.
This past weekend I was attending an event in San Simeon. It was kind of a half-work/half play kind of deal. As I cruised through Cambria, I did what I always do...thought how someday I need to book a room at one of the adorable hotels along Moonstone beach and take a little "staycation" here. I've been feeling the strong pull since I paid and afternoon visit to this quaint community for the scarecrows last month. Well guess what? I finally just did it! After the event in San Simeon, I settled into my cozy quarters at the Sand Pebbles Inn and met some friends at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in the world, The Sea Chest.
We put our name in for dinner, cuddled up on the bench across the street to wait for our table and watched a beautiful sunset over the Pacific. Randy, and the boys behind the Oyster bar kept our plates full of local delicacies from the sea and the rest of the staff made us feel like we were eating at home with their welcoming attitudes (and in some cases patience with our antics.)
I loved being able to walk just down the road to my comfy quarters where I could hear the serenade of the surf across the street as I went to bed. The next morning, I lounged in bed with my coffee, waffles and strawberries from the kitchen below and finished a book I've been reading hit and miss for two months now.
The run I did later that morning didn't seem like work at all as I broke the mold of my usual route at home and cruised the boardwalk along Moonstone Beach. When I stopped to stretch my hamstrings on the sand below afterwards, the jade and shells at my feet ended up capturing my attention for another hour or so.
A late checkout allowed me a nice hot shower and a chance to sit and take in the surf-show that was happening across the street as the swells picked up some. I noticed as I watched couples and families checking out, how many were speaking different languages and I thought about the journey's they made to get to this place. As others with familiar dialects loaded up their cars with suitcases and golf bags I wondered where their journeys would take them this on this Sunday evening? To an airport? Up or down the coast? Inland? I had little more than a big purse to load and maybe a 40 minute drive home, but I felt as if I had managed a big escape.
If you haven't experienced the magic of a night or two away in Cambria, you're missing out. So if you're reading this from some winter climate and thinking of the chilly months ahead, get out your calendar and plan a mid-winter getaway to this oasis along the California Coast. There are "Stay and Play" packages for locals all winter long and though they sometimes want to see your ID proving your local, say you heard about it here and I bet they'll let you in on the deal. And if you're reading this from your desk or laptop from the comfort of home on the Central Coast, don't take it for granted. Get outside and go play!
It's so easy and so complicated at the same time. I'm talking about living in the moment. Virtually every self-help book (including the Bible), web-site or spritual leader will recommend doing it. I spend a few hours at yoga every week practicing doing it. But it still can be so difficult. Especially when we live in the crazy, fast-pasted, goal-driven, mutli-tasking world in which we do. But I am a believer it's the key to happiness, even if I am far from mastering the practice.
So it was beautifully ironic when about six months ago I set out to enjoy perhaps my favorite ritual of the day...sunset, and was reminded how important it is. I'll be honest. I was feeling a bit blue. I didn't feel like being around anyone. But I was drawn to a spot where I could overhear the guy playing music down the way a bit as I watched the golden orb's descent into the sea. And as I sat, I watched as a young girl came down, plopped down beside him and started singing away with him. I was moved by her lack of inhibition and confidence. It was sweet and made my heart smile at a time I needed it.
Over the following weeks, I would stop at that same spot and watch the people come and go to sing with the guy with the guitar. And I would hear the words to the song most often played. Moment. A song about the very thing we all could likely use some improvement on.
Sunset is the one time of day when I seem to have less of a problem sitting still and absorbing the moment. And because of that I met the music man named Brian Jeffrey Goldfaden, his wife Nikki, their neighbor-11-year-old Holland, Rick, Sue, Bart, Darrell, Bob, and the list goes on. The sunset serenades and jam sessions that happen around that song have opened me up to a new circle of friends, support for a new way of thinking, and reminders to approach not just heartaches or big decisions, but simple little rituals in the day...differently.
Because when we put the cell phone away, disengage from the stresses at the forefront of our minds, and engage with the people and things around us more often, who knows the little joys we can witness and benefit from. A bald eagle in the tree nearby, a child skipping across the crosswalk in front of us (at what moment in our lives do we decide it's no longer appropriate to skip?), or a guy singing a song you don't recognize at sunset. It really is as easy, and as complicated as that to find a little bliss moment to moment.
To see a story I just did on Brian Jeffrey and the power of finding magic in moments, click here.