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Halter Ranch

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. Marilyn vow Savant

Recently, I was given the assignment to interview and wine taste my way through Halter Ranch for SLOW Wine. Slow Wine and Slow Food is a movement that was started in Italy, and has made it’s way over to the states. It’s really an old idea, one that our ancestors used to value… food that is good, clean and fair.

I was delighted to meet Kevin Sass, the winemaker. Kevin was extremely generous with his time, and spent so much time taking me to locations throughout the ranch, and answering questions that he has probably answered thousands of times. I was very appreciative that he met with me, and spent so much time tolerating my interrogation.

Besides the wines being beautiful, so is the property. The iconic bridge is relatively newer. I love that the bridge gives the property a distinctive old character.

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Inside one of the buildings in the corner are artifacts that were found on the site. IMG_0590

These vessels were most likely used to pound acorns. Which were a common staple food of the Native Americans in California. Maybe even some the acorns came from the Ancestor Tree. IMG_0584.jpeg

The Ancestor Tree is the largest Oak tree on the Central Coast. It is even documented in the California Department of Forestry. Halter Ranch even has a wine that is named after the iconic tree. It is such a source of pride for them that they hold special picnics under the tree, and excursions in a jeep are made to the spot. It really is a special area. One can almost feel the reverberation of ancient history the tree exudes.

Down in the caves, there is a special dining table for gatherings that are intimate. Plus, the intoxicating aroma of all those barrels that are stored in the caves. IMG_0597.jpeg

Halter Ranch doesn’t only care for the environment, their quality wines, but also their employees and the community.

The owner recently gave a BILLION dollars to conserve land around the world. The ranch includes corridors for the animals that pass on the property. Their wines are made with care from the time they hang on the vine to bottle. The ranch is SIP certified, and they won the green medal for  sustainable wine growers. IMG_0601.jpeg

The wines I tried were 2017 CDP (Cotes De Paso), it is a cuvée, that marries Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Tannat in the most elegant manner. The aroma of strawberry jam, cinnamon, lavender, waken your olfaction. One of those wines that is better when you’re taking your sweet time to really enjoy and savor. It has a long lasting finish, and is jazz smooth.

I also tried the Vin de Paille. The production of this wine is done just as it is in France. The grapes are dried on straw beds for 40 days, and then they are pressed. After pressing out this golden juice the wine is fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels. The aroma of the honey hit me first, and the essence of orange and bergamot seem to seduce you into taking more of the wine into your nostrils for another deep inhalation. The taste lingers in your mouth, and it was instantly one of my favorites. I haven’t been able to find this kind of flavor outside of France or Hungary.

Did I mention that Halter Ranch even has several different types of accommodations? Well, they do. I am providing a link to Halter Ranch, so you can check out the website yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tablas Creek Winery

…conservation of land and conservation of people frequently go hand in hand. Eleanor Roosevelt

I recently visited Tablas Creek Winery, where I met up with Jason Haas. He is a very gracious man, and he was very kind to take me on a tour of the grounds and discuss vines, soil health, compost, maps, and of course the wines.

I was super excited knowing that I was going to spend time with Jason, he is very articulate, and very knowledgeable about soils, microclimates that effect the vines, vines, soil, managing the soils, compost, and wine. I was lucky enough to hear him speak about Paso Robles and the climate sister of Rhone area of France. I wish he had a lecture series, I would attend each of them!

This was my first time visiting the winery. Once I was near the door I was greeted by water bottles that are on ice. The winery has fill up stations so no plastic bottles are brought on the grounds. IMG_0602

I must say I just loved the layout of the tasting room. A tasting area is set up right in the front a glass where everyone can see the giant barrels. The barrels are really beautiful. IMG_0621-2991670544-1563567627146.jpg

The selection of gifts they offer in the tasting room is nice too, because it is different. One thing that humorously caught my eye was a copy of “This is Paris”, which is a children’s book, and one that my children loved. We still have the book…I may have giggled out loud when I saw the book on the shelf.

After Jason and I met in the tasting room, we went outside for a walk in the vineyards. As we walked and talked, I took a few photographs of how lovely it is out there in the vineyard.

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During the winter they have sheep and llama that go through the vineyards and munch on the cover crops and kindly give back to the earth as they work/enjoy their day.

All the compost is collected in one area, and they utilize their own compost. IMG_0613

Really, the photo doesn’t do it justice. It really is a large pile. Tablas Creek has crops for all the employees. Their philosophy of doing right by the employees is fantastic. Even the employees that work the land are kept on throughout the year so that they always have job.

They don’t just grow grapes, they also grow olives, and a variety of flowers for the bees. Having other crops on the property not only help the animals, but the land itself. More bees, and more diversity in the other insects and animals are all aspects that contribute to a more sustainable “farm”. It’s a beautiful thing!

The wines are delectable! Here are the wines I tasted..

Patelin de Tablas 18 The strawberries and white blossoms keep you coming back for more “nose in the glass”. The aromas are captivating and uplighting…I could just smell this all day long! The acidity is crisp and has a velvety mouthfeel. This is a food friendly wine, and belongs in my summer picnic basket.

Esprit de Tablas 2016 Blended with Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah, and Counoise, the smell of rich earthiness, tabacco and leather with mineral notes. The fruit is luscious black fruit, cranberries, and some violets.

Esprit de Tables Blanc 2016 is a blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul. Herb de Provence is the best description of the aromas lofting out of the glass. The medium plus body has a little oily texture with some racy acidity. The flavor of apricots, apples and peaches will remind you home in the summer. 

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Get over to the winery and have a great time. It’s not only beautiful and has delicious wines to offer, but they are taking care of the land they occupy.

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The Circle of Life

Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die there is no plant. Bread results from the death of wheat. Life lives on lives. Our own life lives on the acts of other people. If you are lifeworthy, you can take it. Joseph Campbell

When my children were young, we taught them through the Montessori method. They did experiments, created art, made their own play dough. It was as much fun for me to teach them as it was for them to learn.

One of the aspects of doing all the different activities that contributed to them being grown, is our red wiggler box. We had a box of red wiggles that was visited every night. We collected the coffee grounds, left over coffee, shredded paper, apple cores, banana peels in our little closed bucket under the sink. At the end of the day after the kitchen was all clean, we would walk our little bucket up to the worm box and one of the children would add the scraps and paper to the worm box. After all these years we still have a worm box on the farm.

We have three of them now. I give some of the worms to our chickens, and help create environments for the chickens to have more yummy food through the circle of life. We have a few ducks, and I have a shallow kiddie pool for them. Everyday, the kiddie pool is filled with enough water for the ducks to splash around. They do their business in the pool. I dump the pool in the straw that has already been used by the goat, so now I not only have the mater from the goats, chickens, and pool water to make an insect soup. The chickens get yummy meals of grubs, earwigs, and other microorganisms that have now been created from the environment. In a few months I will then add all this old straw to the compost pile, which will then give me a rich consistency of soil that I can use on the farm.

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The chickens have a great time search for the right insects. I move the kiddie pool around, so that insects have a little time to develop.

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The water is clean for at least a couple of hours before the ducks start enjoying it too much.

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The payoff for our family, and our dogs eat an omelet in the mornings.

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Giornata Wines

Recently, I was out on an excursion, and visiting wineries. It is something I have not been able to do as often as I would like to do. Plus, the rumor is that we have over 200+ wineries here in Paso Robles alone.

I called to make an appointment to visit with Brian and Stephanie Terrizzi to talk and taste some wines. Their winery is located in Tin City. A little district that is becoming a little hub of activity. The wonderful couple also own a Etto, a pasta shop full of wonderful Italian goodies. They even have a selection of their Giornata Wines, for sale at the shop, in case you don’t make it over to the winery. The two of them are very passionate about their wine and food.

When I arrived at the winery, I was talking to Brian about wine and production, as well as Italian foods we love. Stephanie came in about 20 minutes later, and we talked about growing food organically. She is a strong advocate of not wasting water, no pesticides, and keeping the land clean. The two of them were so engaging and I could have stayed so much longer, but we all have lives to live too. They were very gracious to me as I talked, listened, and sampled their wine.

One of my favorites was the Falanghina. I have never tried a Falanghina wine…ever, so I really didn’t know what to expect, but guess what? This is exactly why people need to try different wines…the tasting room is called a “tasting room” for a reason. IMG_2509

Here is how I perceived the wine… it is a mouth watering joyful experience, with subtle hues of stone fruits, apple and pear with a mineral finish. The alcohol is subdued, while the flavors of the grape are allowed to sing in exaltation! It was my favorite! I purchased a bottle, and the family had it with our dinner. 

The winery isn’t open everyday, so check the website for more information about both the winery and pasta shop. Brian and Stephy19

This is in the winery area of their building. Brian and Stephanie are in front of their egg, which is an inert vessel.

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2nd Round of Chickens

“Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn’t hiss or boo me.” James Dean

We have been country people for 5 years now. When we lived in the city we had lists of all the things we wanted to do once we lived in the county. One of our goals, was to have free range chickens. We went big too, we purchased beautiful chicken houses from the Amish. They are big, and they have room for the chickens to roost, two windows, big door, and a door to collect eggs.

We did everything the books told us to do. We raised them for the first three months in the garage. They had little waterer, and it was changed twice a day. The had a feeder that we filled twice a day, and they had a heating lamp. For the first few months the heating lamp was on all day and night to keep the little chicks warm. By the third month, we unplugged the heating lamp during the day, but turned it on in the evening.

After the third month we kept them in their new homes for two weeks, checking on the them, feeding them, and giving them water. Once their feathers were grown in, we allowed them to go outside their house. During the day, they would stay just outside the door, some of them didn’t even want to leave the house. For the first couple of weeks they would stay close to their house, and not go far from it.

As they grew, they became more bold. Since they were free range, they would go all over the place, but mostly like to be close to our house. Which created a disaster…poo everywhere on the porch. I spent so much time cleaning the front porch, and the back porch. Sometimes, we would even see the chickens way down the hill. This is 42 acres, and they have tiny legs. By evening, all of them would come back home, and get inside their homes.

Then, football season started. We would go to the football games with the kids. They were in high school, so they would hang out with their friends and my husband and I would go for romantic walks downtown holding hands. We would come home, and it was late…we would lock the chicken doors. In the morning we would let the chickens go free. Since we had 100 chickens, it was hard to tell that some were missing. It was only after a few games later we discovered…every time we go to a game, there are fewer chicken.

There was one fox that boldly came right by the house. He had the most beautiful red fur coat, and a black peak on his tail. He was super healthy looking, and just strutting right by the house. I thought to myself, honestly, if he came to the door, knocked and asked me for a chicken, I would give it to him. Anyway, a couple of times there were even coyotes that would stalk the chickens during the day.

We finally lost all of our chickens. They were captured by the foxes and coyotes. If we have raccoons near by, I have never seen one in our area. So, now we are starting all over again. We still have the houses. This time, we are building them a lovely fence to protect them from predators. The eggs that come from farm chickens are just so much better than grocery store eggs. I’m always a little embarrassed when I shamefully have to carry a dozen eggs to the check out. By July, I won’t have to carry eggs to the check out, because we will have our own eggs.

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Community Giving

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” Booker T. Washington

Sundays are usually family days. We like to cook all day, and do whatever we feel will be enjoyable for that day. The third Sunday of every month is a special day at the winery. We allow people that are artists and makers of items come in, set up their booth or table and tell other people in the community about their projects or art.

The first one we had two ladies, and this last time we had three artists. I hope this continues to grow, and the community comes over to the winery to participate. This give us a chance to help out others in our community help themselves.

Our next “Artisanal Market” will be June 18th, 2018.

The ladies do such a nice job putting together their tables.

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Nearly Complete

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.” Wayne Dyer

I am still busy with loads of paperwork and finishing touches on the “little house” at Terreni D’ Oro Estate Farm.

Now, I just need to double check the status of internet, and make sure I get Direct TV to set up their systems, and I am all set to have guests for the rest of the summer. I am pretty excited to see people having fun, and we can give them some of our luscious goat milk soap that we make here on the farm. IMG_7433

They have so much later, and they are so creamy. We milk the goats, and we utilize it to make soap and or body butter.

Here is our newest baby goat with her mom (Jasmine). We haven’t named this little guy yet. Mufassa is one of our little black barn cats. Belle gets outside the gate every single day. We hear her crying as soon as we get home. Crazy little goat!

Here’s to the hope that everything comes together and next week is a most productive week.

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American Girl Dolls

“Just don’t pretend you know more about your characters than they do, because you don’t. Stay open to them. It’s teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. It’s that simple.” Anne Lamott

It seems like yesterday my daughter packed up her 20 American Girl Dolls. We moved to the country, and she started collecting animals.

In the last five years that we have lived in the country, we have had chickens, cats, ducks, cows, goats, miniature donkeys, sheep, and dogs. She and I have stayed the night in the barn (very cold, and very uncomfortable) to make sure the baby goats make it. Got up earlier than we ever wanted to warm up bottles and go feed the babies. She has been a trooper through it all. Embracing country life like it was something that is meant for her.

She has even saved countless little lives of birds, dogs, cats, and even a deer.

We fed it some goat milk until it was strong enough to walk, and then took it to a refuge. They wrote to us to let us know that it was getting stronger, and they would release it when it was more mature.

She graduates soon, and will be heading off to college. The years of her polo playing, powder puff, and hanging out with her high school friends will be in the rearview mirror.

Some of the animals…

I know my husband and I are so happy that her high school years have been everything that she always wished. I loved teaching her how to drive, and make soap. Now, as this chapter of her life comes to close, and she is about to embark on her next chapter. I just want to say what an honor it has been to raise you into the young lady you are now!

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Wine Club

“Good wine is a good familiar creature if it well used.” William Shakespeare

We like to take good care of our wine club members. At San Marcos Creek, we are showing off our second label to our club members. Usually, this label is for distribution only, but we are also doing some extra special with our second label… we are donating our proceeds to the arts. IMG_0844

We just met with some non profit organizations to start to lay down the foundation of how we will go about giving money to the arts. We want young and old to benefit from this project we are embarking on in the coming months. We know we want to start by giving to our local area in San Luis Obispo County. We want all the arts to be included in the plan, from painting, sculpture, dance and drawing. We want projects that include alzheimer’s, because we are aware of studies that have shown that the dance (learning steps), and painting help keep the mind active. Art therapy for young and the elderly, something that needs more attention and study.

It makes me feel good that we are sharing this aspect of what we are doing with our members, and allowing them exclusive access to our second label. Our members also get 20% off their stay at the inn and crush pad. Which have scored 9.6 from booking.com 2 years in a row.

 

IMG_0854 Our newest farm vacation rental at Terreni D’ Oro. It’s not online yet, but if you email me @kimberly@sanmarcoscreek.com I can set you up on the calendar.

Our Plus, a little extra gift is a notebook with our logo in their shipment this month, along with our newsletter. IMG_0845

We sell our wines online San Marcos Creek. 

 

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Everyday Art

“I like to convey the idea that art is important in everyday life.” Georgia O’ Keeffe

Since the day I had our children, I have tried to live my life as though every aspect of every moment is a gift. When we linger long enough to appreciate a moment in time, it can become a work of art.

Just yesterday, I spent most of the day reading, and spending parts of the day with everyone. It was fabulous! It was also very restful, I didn’t even look at my email. Remember when email was fun? Now, it is work, and I really wanted and needed a day to disengage with the rest of the world.

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My daughter made me perfect eggs, biscuits, and bacon. I love my eggs with plenty of pepper, and the biscuits pipping hot from the oven. The eggs were over medium with no hint of the whites of the eggs runny. Coffee was hot, with one sugar, and just enough milk for a hint of color. If it is black, that’s fine too, but I prefer a hint of cream.

My husband wen to the hardware store to buy me some flowers. I do enjoy flowers, but they are not necessary. I appreciated that he took the time to go and buy them for me. IMG_0813

I enjoyed a cup of tea, while I read my books in the family room. Oh, it was so delightful! IMG_0814

While I spent most of my day reading and visiting chatting. My husband washed my car. I hate washing cars, but love it when my car is beautiful and clean. He even took the time to blow it dry with the leaf blower. IMG_0815

When it came around to dinner time, we had a couple of wines. With our appetizer, we had IMG_0820

A crisp clean wine with hints of lemon zest, and green apple. Just enough acidity to have you longing for more. Delicious! IMG_0821

To accompany our dinner we had Four Brix 2015 Grenache Rose”. It paired very well with our pork lion wrapped in bacon, and rolled in herbs and delicate spices, spring veggies, and Milanese risotto, and croissants.

Citrus blossoms on the nose, clean and refreshing, medium on the acidity, with a delicate finish. One glass was not enough.

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My Mothers Day was yet another day that was so delightful from the moment I woke, to when I retired for the evening. My children and loving husband gave me a perfect day!