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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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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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Rhone Rangers

“Wine … offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than possibly any other purely sensory thing which may be purchased.” Earnest Hemingway

As a winery owner it is my job to get out there and experience what other wineries are doing. So, I was happy to dive in and taste wine for two days at the Hospice du Rhone. I attended one of the lectures, two days of tasting, and Farewell Dinner.

I enjoyed the lecture, and the wines were delicious as well. Jeb Dunnuck, was the moderator, and he really gave us extra insight on the St. Joseph area of France and the wines that are crafted from the region. After a taste, I was sold, so delicious, and vibrant. The minerals of the area are in the background notes of the wine too.

I met one celebrity wine maker. I had never heard of him until that day, and just made it a goal to have a photo taken with him.

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He wasn’t thrilled to have his photo taken with me. Geez, I didn’t ask him for his autograph. Whatever, I got a photo with him. It was a fun challenge.

These were the stand outs for the weekend. The 2010 was my absolute favorite. So smooth, and had such a long decadent finish. Chateau St. Nabor, Cotes Du Rhone, is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault.  Raspberries, and blackberries immediately hit the nose, and the palate is clean and so damn refreshing. I was so bewitched by this Rose.

At the end of the evening of the 2nd day, I met a couple from the area. I so enjoyed their conversation and shared wines and food. I even ate a cricket. IMG_0767

It was crunchy, and super spicy. Not really sure I will ever have another one, but at least I did it once.

 

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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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Thomas Hill Organics

We have a wonderful restaurant here in Paso, Thomas Hill Organics. I was recently invited to a private pairing. Wines from four different wineries were paired with food that the chef made. Each one of us also had the opportunity to talk to the journalist that were visiting the area. The other wineries had their wine makers there, and I was the only one that was an owner. Everyone was so engaging and it was an excellent atmosphere for the journalist and all of us. The seating arrangement was intimate, and the exchange wasn’t just about us, but about the pairing of the food. How food changes the taste of the wine, and how all the different aspects of the dish change the taste of the wine. I was the first one there, so here is what the seating arrangement looked like before everyone got there…

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Our first course was paired with an Albarino. It truly is a seafood lover wine. IMG_0304.jpg

Salmon, jalapeno peppers, olive, tomatoes, and wafer slice of watermelon. It was so delicious!

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This was paired with our Zinfandel. This is a prime cut of grass fed beef, topped with a clove of garlic. Polenta is the side dish for this course. I usually don’t eat beef, but I was surprised how well it paired with the Zin.

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Out and About

“Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creativity” Marty Neumeier

One of the biggest aspects of branding is making sure that people are aware that you exist. This has been an issue for a long time, but we are working hard to change all that by getting out there, and engaging with people that enjoy wine.

Recently, I was at our 2nd annual charity dinner. All of us on the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail, host a dinner at Hartley Farms. We hired Trumpet Vine Catering, and we were very pleased with their food. We pair the foods with the wine, and sell tickets for people to join us “Under the Estella Sky”. We then gave our money to the Pleasant Valley School, so they could have computer equipment. Here are some photos of our shenanigans after the party…

 

Then, I was off to Petaluma for a Polo Match, and pouring wine…

 

Pouring wine in Pismo…

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Pouring wine in Fresno for Wine and Wishes…IMG_0283.jpg

This next month, is full of pouring at more events, and meeting more people. We love being out there and engaging with an audience that enjoys wines!

 

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Harvest Season

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

There’s something magical about harvest season when you live in wine country. It’s a current of electricity that runs through the everyone and everything. I always think of Dr. Seuss. Ya know those giant machines that come in to clean up after “It 1 and 2 and the kids? Well, there are grape. Picking machines driving on the roads at this time, and Dr Seuss is at the forefront of my thoughts…I kind of giggle like a child when they get in front of me. I can take it for a mile or so, but then I have to pass them, but not without waving like a deranged lunatic. It is just exciting!!

We don’t use machines to harvest our grapes, we have to hire people. My husband as well as our winemaker get out in the field and pick with all the other people working in our fields. Just this past week we have already processes several tons of grapes, and pressed them. So, the fermentation process is already starting for the 2017 wines. I believe the Merlot for this year has already been picked, destemed, and pressed. 

These were photos of the grapes before some of the fruit was dropped. We have to drop fruit so the healthiest grapes will get the most water, and the best sunshine. Depending on the variety, canopy may have to be cut back to get the right amount of sun, or less sun. We want to pick at just the right amount of Brix, which is the sugar content in the grapes, too high, and the wine is too sweet, you want just the right amount to make great wine.

 We try to maintain a sustainable vineyard, and keep the dropped fruit for compost. Once the grapes are pressed the must will be used for more compost to mix back into the soil and boost the soil with microbes that recondition the soil.  Our ducks are always in the vineyard taking care of the slugs, and soon we want to introduce babydoll sheep and chickens. The sheep will help with the grass and cover crops, and the chickens will take care of the insects in the vineyard. The chickens will also give us fantastic eggs to eat. It all makes for better wine every year. A wine that you can enjoy and feel good about drinking. We look forward to getting closer to becoming more biodynamic! 

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San Jose Jazz Festival

“Jazz does not belong to one race or culture, but is a gift that America has given the world.” Ahmad Alaadeen

Just a few weeks ago I attended the San Jose Jazz Festival, and it rocked! I was pouring wine in the “Blues” section, and other were pouring our wine in the VIP section. Here is my booth…

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I was just so excited to be a part of the festival, and the city was just buzzing with energy. Since I was a vendor, I got to go behind the scenes, you could feel the city waking up…

This was the longest amount of time that I had ever spent in San Jose, and I loved it. Additionally, I visited the San Jose Museum of Art, St. Joseph Basilica, and did some people watching at a cafe.

One of the most exciting aspects of the whole trip was going to the Mayor’s Brunch, and he even thanked us at the brunch. A view from the rooftop at Scott’s Seafood, and the crowd coming in that day.

We donated 25 cases to San Jose Jazz Festival, and all the pours that were sold went to the festival, so we were happy to help.