Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wine Tasting on the Central Coast

LAST week my wife and i made a trek to california's central coast to visit wineries and olive farms. more on the olives and oils later. and what a beautiful time to be up there, with its rolling, deep green hills and plentiful wildflowers.

we had time to visit only three wineries, tho it's quite impressive how many of the local juice ends up on menus of san luis obispo restaurants like big sky and novo.

the three places we visited below:

halter ranch is a relatively new winery that's generating attention. it's just past the end of paso robles' vineyard drive, a truly remarkable setting, and because it's toward the west side of paso, it's a bit cooler than most of the region's wine country. wines were strong all around; we picked up the grenache-syrah-mouvedre but i was tempted by the sauv blanc and a dry, earthy, complex syrah as well. sweet picnic area outside.

lone madrone should be more widely celebrated: it's the personal label of tablas creek's winemaker. quite an informed pour girl, extremely refreshing and unusual white blends, very fine nebbiolo (!), an english west-country style cider and big, heavy bordeaux blends with goofy names. i hit this place every year.

tolosa is down a dreary highway outside SLO but is as lovely a winery as i've seen, with gently hilly vineyards dramatic under the day's cloudy skies and a stylishly modern tasting room. we bought a bottle of the pinot, though the rhone blends were quite fine as well. i did not love the "no-oak chardonnay" as much as i'd hoped but this has a real following.

my favorite under-the-radar winery in the area, which we did not have time to visit this time, is linne calodo, which  turns out to be expanding its tasting room and facilities. they specialize in rhone blends and blended versions of zin. i can still remember tasting their big but nuanced wines two years ago.

i'm sorry those are all blandly positive reviews, but i tend to check these places out ahead of time to see if they're to my taste. and indeed, these were. just wish i'd time for more like adelaida, tablas, c&c and others.

Photo credit: Flickr user D LeRoy

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