Category Archives: Wino Events

the freaky-lookin’, soily, green crowd

A handful of Santa Barbara County’s (and beyond) green conscious winemakers….some are organic, some are bio, guess which one was natural.

All wines are available at Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant


2013 J Brix Carignan, McCormick Ranch Vineyard, San Diego County

2013 J Brix Carignan, McCormick Ranch Vineyard, San Diego County (!?) ///// Winemaker: Jody Brix Towe (yes that’s his middle name) /////

2013 Lo-Fi Cabernet Franc, Santa Ynez Valley

2013 Lo-Fi Cabernet Franc, Santa Ynez Valley – $26 ///// Winemaker: Mike Roth /////


2013 Amplify Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley – $20 ///// Winemaker: Cameron Porter (also the somm at Los Olivos Cafe)

2013 Roark Wine Co. Chenin Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley

2013 Roark Wine Co. Chenin Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley – $18                  Winemaker: Ryan Roark   

2013 Solminer Syrah, Estate Reserve 'Nebullite', Santa Ynez Valley - $38

2013 Solminer Syrah, Estate Reserve ‘Nebullite’, Santa Ynez Valley – $38 ///// Winemaker: David deLaski /////

2012 A Tribute to Grace Grenache, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County

2012 A Tribute to Grace Grenache, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County – $75 ///// Winemaker: Angela Osborne /////

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A Trip To The Vintners Market

I went to the Vintners Market event a while back on a rare, sunny, SF November day.

A few wineries stood out from the crowd:

Deux Punks Wine

Deux Punx – a partnership of two, ahem, punks Dan Schaaf (le punx above) and Aaron Olson. First off, I love the labels. As for the wine:

2012 Pinot Blanc (label with dapperly dressed gentlemen, with a reel-camera as his head) – super concentrated and rich, almond and marmalade. This was my fav wine of the bunch, grapes sourced from Russian River. $22
2012 Viognier (cat label) – crazy tangerine flavors, a crisp note of acidity, unlike any Viognier I’ve tried, in a good way. From Scribner Bend Vineyard in Clarksburg. $18(!)
2011 Pinot Noir (the tree label) – Cherry pip, quite crisp too with some elegance. Grapes are sourced high off the 101 in Humboldt County from a vineyard called Elk Prarie. $36
2011 Grenache (owl label) – Savoury black olive and ripe blackberry. From Tejada Vineyard in Northern Lake County. $22

Thralls Wine

Thralls Family Cellars
2008 Alder Springs Vyd Syrah, Mendocino County – $34
There’s great depth to this wine. Rich blackberry, and a whole bowl of blueberries; crunch spicy fruit with a hit of minerality too. Ed, the man himself, makes this on the side of his marketing job at Flowers. He wants to concentrate on Pinot…too bad because his Syrah is pretty f’in awesome.

Wesley Ashley Wines

Wesley Ashley Wines
This is a pretty small project with only a few hundred cases a year and the grapes are sourced from that huge vineyard in what is best known as Santa Barbara highlands, a massive vineyard up near the Los Padres.
2011 Intelligent Designs – Santa Barbara County Cuvée
Rich blackberry and cherry, some licorice but quite herby and juicy.

Larner Vineyards

Larner Vineyards
This quite dapper fellow is Michael Larner, patriarch of the vineyard (and hopefully own estate winery) of the same name. Michael was one of the main drivers of the newly appointed Ballard Canyon AVA….he is also on the front of the line battle against the SB County planning commission to get his winery approved….it’s been a few years.
Regardless, the Rhône varietals grown on his property have fast become one of the more sought after in the county.
2009 Larner, Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley – soft berry jam fruit, quite an easy drinker but full, $38

As massive consumer tastings go, I quite liked this one. Apparently, the wineries are separated in tiers, with the first part of the hall being the less expensive ticket, and two supposedly more exclusive tiers after that…. oddly and slightly surprisingly a gorilla-like bouncer stopped me from entering the top-tier, maybe it was my unshaven, disheveled look, or just the fact that I had a press pass….I will never know.

The next one is on April 12th and 13th — it’s worth a go.

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Wino events worth a tipple

Open House in Santa Rosa

Two Shepherds is having an open house this coming Saturday – November 2nd from Noon to 6pm! I met William Allen (ex-blogger now winemaker) about a year ago and have tried his Sonoma Rhônes a few times.

Two Shepherds Grenache<br /> Blanc

Most impressive are his whites, but his straight grenache is nothing to scoff at either. Recently I tried his (rare) straight 2012 Marsanne from Saralee’s Vineyard just south of Santa Rosa. It was one of the most pure and minerally wines I’ve come across, lots of almondy flavor and an amazing (almost addictive) waxy texture. It’s about $30 and available only to club members……so join up!!

harvest party

His tasting room(mates) will also be pouring their wares. The event is free and you’ll get 10% off if you register below:

Tickets and Info here:

3rd Annual Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles

November is also the time for the third annual Garagiste Festival, one of the only good things coming out of Paso, hahahahhaa. Sadly I cant make it this year but I must admit the last two have been quite impressive. One of my favorite California wineries (who happens to be in Paso, of all places) Ambyth Estate will be in attendance. They are one of the few natural/biodynamic in our great state.

2013 Garagiste<br /> Festival Paso Robles

Also in attendance are Ranchero Cellars, who make a very nice Carignan sourced from giant vines in Mendocino. Casa Dumetz with
the ever amiable winemaker and owner Sonja Magdevski (I interviewed her celeb fiancée, Emilio, for wine-seacher, great guy!). Also
Paix-sur-terre who are making some nice Rhônes style wines out of Paso, I met them last year.

New to the Garagiste this year are Harrison-Clarke.  A winery located deep in the (newly designated) AVA Ballard Canyon. I’ve walked
their vineyard and was so impressed with the estate grenache…I am sure it will be poured, and it is awesome! My buddy Lee Tomkow
(who hosts great walking vineyard tours in Santa Barbara County) has a great tasting for their estate syrah, click on his photo:

Harrison Clarke Syrah

The 3rd Annual Garagiste Festival takes place in Paso Robles at Windfall Farms, November 7-10th, 2013

All ticket information is on the site

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