Monthly Archives: September 2009

Grapelive Latest: Brandy’s Back in Italy

“Life Between Nature and Culture”–Prosecco Day with Isabella Spagnolo of Iris Vigneti
By Brandy Falconer,

iris_brgrapes.jpgThis week I traveled from Naples to Venice by plane to visit the heart of Prosecco country, and in particular the Iris Vigneti Winery (  For the last 10 years, husband and wife owners Isabella (Spagnolo) and Loris  (hence, the combined name of I-ris) have been realizing their dream of producing and selling high-quality Prosecco in the luxury market.  I emphasize high-quality here because in the last bunch of years there has been an influx of inexpensive, medium grade Prosecco which, like in the ‘70s with basket-bottle Chianti, makes it difficult for quality producers to distinguish themselves and sell at prices they merit.  Isabella tells me that to combat this, the area where Prosecco is produced is working hard to make funds available to producers to market and export their product, which in her case means constantly traveling the world to show her line of bubbly.  In a sense, Prosecco is the valiant hero of the people of this region, the “Zorro” representing these dreamers, and fighting for a fair share in the global market.

Prosecco, sparkling wine from this particular region in Italy is made from Prosecco grapes using the Charmat method, rather than Méthode Champenoise which means the fermentation occurs in the stainless steel tanks rather than the bottles; and without the processes of riddling, or turning the bottles, and disgorging the sediment as with champagne, these bubbles usually cost considerably less than champagne.  For those of us who like to celebrate just about anything, this is one nice advantage!  Another is the fresh, crisp fruit flavors (without sweetness) rather than the more complex yeast and cheese flavors found in most traditional champagne.

iris_grapesbottles.jpgAt Marco Polo airport in Venice, Isabella picked me up and we drove straight to the seat of Prosecco country, Valdobbiadene, which you have probably seen on labels of Prosecco with DOC designation.  This area is a sharp contrast from the Venice we know and love, with its rolling green hills and more area dedicated to grapevines than to houses and towns.  Out of this green wilderness, order takes shape as small parcels of rows of vines  appear like puzzle pieces fitting nicely together.  Vineyards are rolling up and over hills, around houses and groves of trees, and though the grapes have already been picked, the  vines are beautiful as the leaves start to change color.  Valdobbiadene has signs for the “strada del vino” or wine-road throughout the town pointing Prosecco pilgrims to the different wineries which helps make this a tourist-friendly experience not always found in other famous wine regions.  The calm and tranquility of this town offer a nice contrast to the spirit of celebrations of every kind that merit popping open a bottle of bubbly, and this gives me a sense that this is a treasure, understated, and worth the effort of discovery.

iris_tastingtable.jpgBack at the winery, a beautiful and modern complex which houses the offices, tasting area and production facility, I start to learn the history and the source of the passion behind Iris Vigneti.  Awards cover the walls of the offices, from shows in New York, London and Valdobbiadene, and after tasting the collection, it is easy to see why.  The tasting area is upstairs at an incredibly long table that seats 30.  As I look around, admiring the open space and light, Isabella tells me that this part of the building is inspired by her love of Kenya, and the lodges found there.

iris_oderzo1.jpgThat night and the next morning, I had the pleasure of visiting the nearby town of Oderzo, an old Roman town that has aged gracefully and welcomes visitors with beautiful architecture, frescoes and a river that winds through it.  I will surely return to this town, because I found everything here: relaxed atmosphere, beautiful cafes and stores, and friendly people, and in addition, the first question at the restaurants and cafes is “a glass of Prosecco?”  My hosts at the Postumia Hotel Design will definitely see me again, as they offered all the comforts of a sophisticated American boutique hotel (not easily found in Italy), in a 33-room package, steps from the city center, with a restaurant serving delicious Venetian specialties along the riverbank; perfect.

iris_ibgrapes.jpgBefore leaving for the airport, I would have the opportunity to see the harvest and production in action.  The press is filled with grapes picked that morning, and Loris starts the machine, extracting the first juice to become Prosecco, and little Alessandro, their son, looks on from the seat of the forklift, pretending to direct the action.  Inside, Isabella shares with me her “wine book” which expresses in beautiful fashion what compels her to follow her dreams of producing these beautiful, shining bottles of bubbly, and this for me adds something to the experience of tasting the collection of Prosecco, because I know that it is produced with passion and attention to detail.  And when choosing the right bubbly with which to really celebrate something, in the true sense of the word, isn’t this a great reason?

(Dedicated to Daniel Barduzzi, a generous friend and a life worthy of grand celebration)

Brandy Falconer 

Wine Writer & Guest Columnist for

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Grapelive Latest: Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest and New Release Update

Grapelive Latest:  Santa Cruz Mountains Indian Summer

By Kerry Winslow

kwafv09.jpgA mid September afternoon and I head up to the Santa Cruz Mountains to see the Pinot Noir harvest and catch up on some new releases at Alfaro Family Vineyards, the weather is warm and perfect, with blue sky a welcome sight after some Monterey fog. Richard Alfaro is fine tuning his talents and getting the best out of his estate in this special region, showcasing their interesting and unique terroir. His wines show remarkable class, depth and balance with out doubt he is making some of the best wine for the money in the central coast. His Chardonnay from the Lindsay-Page estate vineyard has been rocking my world and grabbing gold medals for a few vintages, then there is his Pinot Noir, which is getting better and better as the vines gain age here, and the new release of the estate Pinot is stunning with intense color and richness, and Richard’s newest project to be released is the estate Syrah of which I can say enough good things about.

Richard also buys select grapes from some big name vineyards, including the Garys’ Vineyard down in the afv09.jpgSanta Lucia Highlands and will for the 2009 vintage feature it as a single vineyard bottling under his own Alfaro Family Vineyards label, and he also gets some fruit from the Lester Family Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains of which he has worked with for many vintages under the Martin Alfaro label and was known as the “Deerpark Vineyard”, for those that had this wine know it was a secret find, giving a wine of density and charm, and I’m happy Richard is continuing with it. While on this visit, I saw the 2009 vintage must, pre-fermentation, and I can tell you that both the Lester Vineyard and the Garys’ with be fantastic wines to look forward to, I can’t wait to see them develop. Alfaro showed me around the cool jacketed bins of juice soaking on the skins and ran lab tests on sugar and PH levels, all which was really enlightening even to this wine geek and I can attest to the numbers looking great for the 2009 vintage, with all of the Pinot lots on track, and Alfaro’s own fruit which only partial lots have been brought so far is very impressive, and I was jazzed to see the alcohol looks set to be about 14% and can report on near perfect balance coming from this ra09juice.jpgharvest.

If you get to Santa Cruz, head down to Corralitos and check Alfaro Family Vineyards out, not only will you see beautiful landscapes and vines, you’ll be treated to some of the most intriguing terroir wines from this up and coming region. This is a special place and the wines are great here, especially the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, though I’m fond of the Syrah too. The nice thing about Santa Cruz is that it is very relaxed and laid back; everyone is open and friendly, especially at Alfaro’s place. People can taste wine and take in the winery or vineyards, as well as having a great spot to enjoy a picnic or cheese and crackers. The setting is peaceful and warm with a down to earth character that is steeped in local tradition and humor, I highly recommend a visit and know you’ll be getting quality wine and a huge bang for the buck here.

On the other side of the region to the very north is one of the legends of California wines, Ridge Vineyards, and they are just releasing their fall releases, include their flagship wine and one of the first growths of California, the Monte Bello, which in my mind is the great red of California. This Bordeaux style blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with the other varietals playing lesser, but important roles in support, making a for a classic wine that does the state proud, as has done since Paul Draper first made it. Ridge also is letting out their Monte Bello Chardonnay, same 2006 vintage as the red, and the estate Cabernet blend too, from the original vineyards high above Cupertino and the South San Francisco bay.

mb06.gifThe 2006 Monte Bello red meritage is exotic and fruit forward, shockingly easy to enjoy and love now, which is surprising for a wine that in most vintages takes years to unfold. The is bold red fruits and savory licorice and plum layers and then the finish which is mouth coating and long that gives the true classic flavors that you’ll be more accustomed to with Cabernet fruit, mineral, tobacco and subtle oak notes. This was for sure the most round and lush young Monte Bello that I’ve tried to date, so I’d say mark this vintage for early drinking.

06ridgechard.gifThe 2006 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay is vast and a wonderful wine that has it all and then some, just like last year this wine maybe just be the best wine coming out of Ridge Vineyards, with deep full flavors and stunning complexity. The wine has unique character and is not a Napa or Burgundy clone, though it does have Grand Cru like elements and class. The nose has pretty white flowers, matchstick, apple pie and peach notes before a huge palate of pear, apple, yellow peach, banana and butter cream that unfolds in smooth layers, but has bright fresh acidity that just gives a hint of lemon. The Chard has mineral, spice and a golden hue that all wrap it up, letting you know that it is something truly special.

ridgescm06.gifThen last, but not least is the other estate red, the Santa Cruz Mountains Estate 2006 that is the baby Monte Bello, a wine that sells in the $40 region and delivers great value and full flavors that will knock some of the Napa Cabs down a few pegs! All in all Ridge Vineyards delivers true California wines that can rival any wines from any region, well they have done for 40 plus years now and don’t look like stopping anytime soon.

Again, Santa Cruz has blown my mind, just when I think they have done it all, they bring something new out of the area that makes me take even great notice. This is a region that doesn’t seem to get media glare, but makes some of the states best wines year after year. All of which makes me very happy as it is very close to home and the people deserve massive props, and the wine will amaze you. I’ve been singing the regions praises for that last three or four vintages and I think I will keep doing so until I lose my voice! This is a great region with magical terroirs that highlight its wonderful character and location. Bravo Santa Cruz, keep rocking my world!

Grapelive: Wine of the Week

melville08vpn.gif2008 Melville Pinot Noir Verna’s Santa Barbara County
Melville and their talented winemaker Greg Brewer (Brewer Clifton & Diatom) continue to nail it with amazingly good wines at a great prices. This new release is even more interesting than last years, and 2007 was a great vintage! So you can get this wine now before other critics chime in and know you are getting a fantastic deal and wine. For your hard earned dollar, this is one of the best Pinots you can get, especially this vintage, as it has layers of rich fruit and silky classic Pinot texture, plus it is just plain sexy. Lush, full and focused wine with grenadine, cherry, cola and raspeberry cream ending with tea spices and sweet vanilla! ($26 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

*Available now at RANCHO CELLARS 831-625-5646

Grapelive Latest: Pisoni Rules!

glkwgp09.jpgGary Pisoni Shows His New Releases

by Kerry Winslow

Every time I see Gary Pisoni I tell him how grateful I am to taste his wine and I make sure I mention that I believe, with out a bit of doubt in my mind, he is the greatest thing to happen to Monterey wine ever! I thank him for his passion and for making the Santa Lucia Highlands a household name for wine lovers the world over. As a native and a local, I am profoundly proud of my region and I regard Pisoni the man who put us on the map. Before Pisoni, there was Chalone, Morgan and Talbott all making nice and interesting wines, but there was mostly bulk wine that deserved no merit and that defined Monterey as a whole, that changed when Pisoni starting growing Pinot Noir on his family’s ranch, for which he took a huge gamble at the time. His risk paid off, and now his Pisoni Estate is almost certainly regarded as the best Pinot Noir vineyard in California and might even be on par with the likes of Romanee-Conti, La Tache and Richebourg, the top Grand Cru sites in Burgundy.

glgpgrapes.jpgGary loves to hear me sing his praise, though he is far to humble and seems more amused than anything, always telling me that he just did it because he loves it. His legend has grown beyond the scale, though he may be even bigger in real life, his joy is infectious, his intensity is inspiring, his kindness and heart are not mere mortal. Gary loves his family, he loves his wines, he loves his friends, he would give the shirt of his back for a stranger, and lives large, I mean really large! No question, he has a reputation as a wildman, sometimes deserved I am sure, but I know him as a quiet spoken supporting person that always has a joke, a smile and something nice to say about everyone. Honestly, Gary Pisoni will be remembered as much for his generous nature, humor and class as he will for his amazing grapes.

It is early September and harvest 2009 has started for certain varietals including Pinot Noir in some areas and Gary Pisoni brought some freshly picked grapes from his estate for us to taste, they are sweet, dark and beautifully flavored. So there you have it, your first review of the 2009 vintage, even before Beaujolais! Look for an exceptional Pisoni Estate vintage for 09, mostly likely to be released in two years to the day. As well as his grapes, Gary has brought his line up of wines to try, all new releases from the 2007 vintage, some of which I previewed in March and for which the slightly more famous wine critic than me, Robert Parker just published reviews of this month. Mr. Parker was as blown away as I was, and even though I put my reviews up first, I must say he gets much more attention, as the wine world hangs on his every word, and those words about Pisoni and his wines were in a word, awesome. Most all got mid to high nineties ratings from Parker (and me too!) with the Pisoni Estate Pinot grabbing 96 Points, along with his Lucia Syrah Susan’s Hill Pisoni Vineyard, scored by Parker.

glpisoniwines.jpgMy latest reviews of the Pisoni wines with echo my first impressions from March, though at that time I didn’t get to rate the 2007 Pisoni Estate Pinot though I gave it 96-97 recently when a tried it a month earlier at the family winemakers show in San Francisco. This time my notes recorded a full 97 Points, and I am convinced that it might be the finest vintage ever. So the Pisoni family does the Pisoni label, of which to date is just the Pisoni Estate Pinot, and the Lucia Vineyards label that has a Rose of Pinot Noir known as Lucy, a fine Chardonnay, two Pinots (A blended cuvee Santa Lucia Highlands, and the Garys’ Vineyard) and two Syrahs that are the big surprise, one is from the Pisoni Vineyard called Susan’s Hill and one from the Garys’ Vineyard. All of Gary’s wines are made by his talented son Jeff Pisoni who once trained at Peter Michael Winery and who is getting a lot of praise in his own right as a top winemaker. These wines are world class and rival any wine from the same grape any place in the world, I can say that with no reservation at all, with no hesitation at all and all with a straight face, these wine are that good. My local pride no know bounds when it comes to the Pisoni wines, and I am even more certain that they get better every vintage!

Latest Pisoni Reviews

luciachard.gif2007 Lucia Vineyards Chardonnay (Pisoni Vineyard) Santa Lucia Highlands.
Pisoni’s Chardonnay continues to shine, even though the press is all about their Pinot Noir, and the 2007 vintage is rich and textured with massive appeal and charm, much like Gary Pisoni himself. I wonder if this beautiful wine will ever get the merit it deserves? This Chard is right up there with the likes of Aubert, Talbott, Kistler and Peter Michael with pretty pear, white peach, and tropical fruits, liquid mineral, cream, fig, butterscotch and spicy vanilla. When it was first released it had a lovely lemon tart layer that seems to be fading now into the background, but everything else about this wine pure heaven. ($40-45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive


luciaslh07.gif2007 Lucia Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands.
This cuvee of Pisoni and Garys’ grapes is very ripe and lush with intense fruitiness and bold flavors, I had rated it slightly higher in my earlier tastings, but it seemed a touch over the top this time, even though it is hedonistic and totally a pleasure to drink now. This vintage has Plum jam, wildflowers, cherry liqueur, blackberry and tea spices all mixed with classic Pinot character as well. This wine continues to be a great value for a big in your face Pinot that has many fans. This wine is fun and lush and should be drunk while young. ($40 Est.) 90-91 Points, grapelive



lucia07garyspn.gif2007 Lucia Vineyards Pinot Noir “Garys’ Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands.
This wine just gets better each time I try it, this highly impressive Pinot Noir has depth and density that is mind blowing with sublime flavors and focus. Jeff Pisoni is becoming one of the best Pinot Noir winemakers in the state and this Lucia Garys’ is proof in the pudding. This remarkable vintage has rich dark berry, plum and black cherry fruit with bramble, briar and sweet spices coming on after you take in a nose full of violets, roses and lavender. The oak is subtle and pure French though it leaves a hint of smoke, vanilla and mocha goodness. You can and I’m sure will enjoy this beauty now, though it should gain lots with a few years in the cellar as there is potential perfection here! ($50-55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


pisoni07.gif2007 Pisoni Vineyards Pinot Noir “Pisoni Vineyard” Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands.
This nearly perfect wine is a stellar Pinot Noir that is my all time favorite Pinot and surpasses the 1993 Romanee-Conti “La Tache” I had been holding on to in my memories, and I hope I’m able to save a few bottles for 5 to 10 years to revisit, as I’m sure that it will develop even more greatness in the cellar. It is amazing when a wine blows away the hype, and this wine surely does that in spades. The nose is lovely with fresh wildflowers and rose oil with blackberry and cherry fruit. This vintage has intense flavors and wonderful balance with layers of silky fruit, spice, mineral and pure French oak smoke, vanilla and caramel that lingers on the finish.  ($65-75 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive


luciagaryssyrah07.gif2007 Lucia Vineyards Syrah “Garys’ Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands.
If you try one new wine this year, let it be a Lucia Syrah, it will change all your ideas about the grape and where it grows well! I was blown away last year with these wines, but this year everyone is blown away with these wines! The Lucia Garys’ Syrah is a mammoth wine with deep color and layers with bright peppery spice. The nose is still closed on this young wine, but the palate explodes with fruit with black plum, blueberry, cherry and mountain berries unfolding in the mouth. There is a meaty and bacon essence along with the thick texture very much like the wines of Hermitage in the Northern Rhone, the spiritual home of Syrah in France. This wine should just get better and more complex over the next few years. With question this is one of my favorite Syrah wines and a unreal value! ($40-42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

luciasusans07.gif2007 Lucia Vineyards Syrah “Susan’s Hill, Pisoni Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands.
This young Syrah is very tight and fresh, but once it gets some air you know right away it is something very, very special with perfume and massive fruit. This wine is very much the Cote-Rotie type of Syrah from the Pisoni Estate with a touch more elegance and less pepper than the Garys’ with more refinement maybe and smoother in texture. That said this wine will really fill out and be a monster with some short-term cellar time and I look forward to seeing it develop, as I believe it has wonderful potential. The last two vintages were excellent, but this is something really special and Pisoni just might be even better known for Syrah than his Pinot! The mouth is full and rich with loads of black and blue fruits, cassis, licorice, cherry liqueur and bitter chocolate, hints of smoke, crushed rock, and vanilla. ($40-42 Est.) 94-96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Paso Robles Wine Country

Grapelive Latest: Paso Robles
by Kerry Winslow

kwpaso.jpgPaso Robles has a diverse and interesting mix of wines and terroirs, and after an in depth tour recently I was left very impressed with the regions passion, quality and potential. These people have a sense of common cause and unity that them together and sets them apart from other regions and this sense of purpose, even in this economic down turn is admirable, instead of fighting each other for every dollar they are sticking it out together and preparing for the future which they believe is brighter when looking ahead. From the outside looking in the market notes Paso Robles as a fine producer of ripe and easy Cabernet and Zins, as well as the hot region for Rhone style specialties, but Paso winemakers don’t want to be pigeon holed, they believe they compete for interest and quality on all levels from value priced table wines to the super high priced limited production boutique segment, plus they want to be free to explore new ideas and types of wines from their many micro-climates. Paso has many distinct soils and differing climates very close together, maybe because it a place where the tectonic plates crashed into each other and cool breezes have found small gaps in the Santa Lucia coastal range. These things change the character of the wines dramatically even from within the same vineyard. There is a friendly rivalry between the hotter eastside and the more severe degree changes that is found on the fashionable westside. While interesting wines are produced from both sides, I must admit I find the small estates on the westside the more deep and complex of the two. The soil is loamy on the eastside and ancient seabed, almost limestone like on the west, though there is some granite also mixed around the region as well, all which adds its own stamp on the wine too.

kwasseo.jpgReality check, while Paso has had some good success, like J.Lohr’s Cabernet Sauvignon becoming the best selling wine in North America in its category by volume and cult hero Tobin James having about 20,000 wine club members! There are uncertainties and problems still, and after tasting thousands of wines I personally am not convinced Cabernet Sauvignon is the way forward for Paso, and even Zinfandel looks shaky to me in some regard. Paso is trying to undo the stigma of being not Napa Valley, like every other region in California, and the desire to be lifted out of Napa shadow or stop being the ugly stepsister, and its efforts so far have been mixed. That said, I did get a chance to try a 1977 Estrella River Cabernet Sauvignon made by Gary Eberle and it was still youthful and rich in flavor and color, a complete marvel and revelation. While I am happy for Steve Lohr and his families achievement in Cabernet Sauvignon sales, I am not convinced that for quality and price Paso is the region to be for Cabernet, though there are exceptions of course, one being Stephan Asseo’s L’Aventure which does compete with any wine from anywhere, no question. And, while Paso has many fanatics for its Zinfandel, it kwjdusi.jpgwould be hard to say in my mind, that Paso is the best region for the grape for my personal tastes. Still, there are people that brave the heat of summer and miles of dusty highway to stock up on Tobin James, Peachy Canyon and be part of their “gang”. But, I do admit there is a new wave of Zins coming from Paso that will change the way people and critics view Paso and I am a fan of this new group and wish them all the success in the world, people like Four Vines, Lone Madrone (Neil Collins, winemaker from Tablas Creek) and Janell Dusi (J Dusi Wines), third generation winegrower, as these may lead a new Zin revolution here. Also, even Turley Cellars is enjoying the Zinfandel revival with his Paso Robles old vine Zins plus an estate Grenache and Rhone White blend.

The most successful side of Paso Robles to be me has to be the Rhone style wines and unique regional blends where you see the marriage of Rhone, Bordeaux and Zinfandel grapes and others, these to me are the future and the most interesting wines that I have tasted from Paso Robles. Though Gary Eberle and John Alban (in neighboring Edna Valley) made Paso a household name as part of the Rhone Rangers with stylish Viognier and deeply flavored Syrah, it might have been Tablas Creek that brought home the point when the Haas and Chateauneuf-du-Pape legend Chateau du Beaucastel family, the Perrin’s came to Paso in the mid nineties. Tablas Creek kwtobin.jpgfocused on vines and terroir and made a huge gamble on the region, and a noble investment that has helped the region in many ways. The Tablas vines have become the stuff of legend and have been the cuttings of choice for lots of new winegrowers in the region and beyond. Tablas Creek wanted a place to plant Mourvedre especially, like their Chateauneuf, and Roussanne for their white grape, and Paso Robles has been a great host for these varieties. Tablas remains an explorer and continues to try new grapes and refining their blends their commitment to Paso has never waivered, and they have become part of the family heritage there. Plus the up and comers like Booker, Denner, Saxum all making an impact with amazingly deep and seductive wines from Rhone grapes, mostly Syrah, but with Grenache, Mourvedre playing important roles as well. There is some Zinfandel crossover with the Rhone styles with Linne Calodo and Four Wines making Rhone plus Zin blends with super results. There is also a push in Rhone style whites mixed results, though most people are finding lots to love in certain grapes and blends with Roussanne and Grenache Blanc leading the way, though some of the Viognier is good too, but might be better as a minor player.

pasoview.jpgPaso’s history in winemaking and grape growing goes back to the California mission era and after that many pioneers continued to plant grapes in the region through out the centuries, both 1800’s and 1900’s, but the most successful period has been since the end of the second world war, including the Dusi vineyard plantings that started in 1945 and the dynasty that Dante and Benito build and that Mike and daughter continue today. In fact now for the first time there is a family label, J Dusi Wines that had their premier release with the 2006 vintage. The Dusi Ranch has the feel of the southern Rhone, almost like Chateauneuf-du-Pape with rocky vineyards and “old sisters”, head pruned vines, mostly Zinfandel of course, but there is some other things hidden here too, like some old Carignane that they are looking to bottle on its own at some point. Family history and culture are a big part of what makes Paso Robles such a welcoming region to visit, and almost every winery has family roots and are warm and are sincerely friendly in almost a Midwestern or Southern sort of way with a humble charm that is refreshing. This makes Paso Robles an easy place for new wine drinkers to visit and get an initial taste for many different wines from light and fruity, sweet and serious styles. Young and old are treated very well here and it is a true bargain area to visit that has lots to offer the day traveler and the multi-day visitor with hundreds of wineries and a wonderful selection of reasonable hotels, I stayed at La Bellasera and was very impressed at the service and comforts for the price.

pasovines2.jpgPaso Robles has a vast array of restaurants offering everything from sushi, old school country cooking to cutting edge culinary magic all though are easy to enjoy and casual laid back places with excellent service. I will give huge nod to Artisan, an awesome foodie experience with a local slant to farms and wines, all exceptional quality, a place I will return to many times! Then there is Villa Creek, another place that highlights the local scene and also has a winery, sort of like the Hitching Post, with better food and wine… The whole region is waiting out the economic crisis with hope, enthusiastic passion and undoubted talent. The future is in their hands, and while there are some painful times ahead they are as a region only just scratching the surface of what they can do and achieve. and it is an exciting time for the winemakers and wine lovers alike. The whole community is buzzing here and the togetherness is heartwarming to see, the loyalty, values and earnest nature are very much in the air here in Paso. I want to thank all the wineries and vintners, plus the Paso Robles Wine Association for the candid discussions and their remarkable hospitality that they and the whole wine community showed me over my visit to the area. It was a real pleasure to finally give Paso the attention it surely deserves, again I give thanks to all those that helped make this trip special, way to many people to mention, but to all I owe a great thanks.


*Wine reviews  to follow