LOCAL LOVE, LOCAL FLAIR: Downtown San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Gets An Upgrade

 

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Three decades after its inception, the world-famous Downtown San Luis Obispo Thursday Night Farmers’ Market is stepping up its game.

Over the next six months, the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association will unveil several improvements that build on the market’s success, including better access and infrastructure; technology that puts shoppers in real-time contact with farmers and their produce; and augmented hands-on educational opportunities for people of all ages.

the-crowds

To celebrate the refresh, on Thursday, April 9th from 6- 9 p.m., the Farmers’ Market is kicking-off with a free, all-city street party that starts with the unveiling of the new Downtown Association farmstand and market information booth. At 6 p.m., Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson will be on hand to christen the farmstand with seasonal produce from the market at Chorro and Higuera Streets, offering drawings and giveaways of new Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market merchandise like trucker hats and tees.

Then at 6:30 p.m. the market’s mascot, Downtown Brown, will lead the way to the first of the Downtown San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market “Fresh Picked” Concert Series presented by the San Luis Obispo Collection featuring local favorite, The Damon Castillo Band, at the Harvest Stage located in the Union Bank parking lot.

“After an internal review, we realized that there were a few things that we could do to really take our market to the next level,” says Downtown Association Executive Director, Dominic Tartaglia, whose organization oversees the Farmers’ Market. “After thirty-two years holding this event we had to dig deep to see what those improvements were but, ultimately, we developed a strategy to make the user experience more pleasant and the vendors’ experience more profitable. We want this to be a market that locals continue to attend each week and be proud of when they bring guests with them.”

While improvements roll out, the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market will forever remain:

  • all about LOCAL
  • DIVERSE in its offerings and appeal
  • dedicated to HEALTH and WELLNESS
  • honoring of its rich HISTORY
  • an unforgettable EXPERIENCE, and
  • the HEART of San Luis Obispo and the week.

Established to provide the community with a positive gathering space that also supports local businesses, “Thursday Night Promotions” (as it is officially named) began in 1983 when the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association closed six blocks of Higuera Street from 6-9 p.m. to offer entertainment, special activities, food and shopping every Thursday night. Not long after, farmers were invited to sell their harvest and the event soon became known as the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market.

Since then, Thursday Night Promotions has developed into a weekly, year-round street fair that is consistently named among the nation’s best, complete with top-shelf entertainment; abundant local produce, proteins and grains; family activities; delectable prepared foods; value-added products; and a bicycle valet.

Pierre Rademaker

Pierre Rademaker

“Higuera Street is truly this community’s ‘living room,’” says Pierre Rademaker, longtime resident and owner of Rademaker Design, “and Thursday Night has become our way of sharing it with family, friends and visitors.”

Amber Bixler

Amber Bixler

“Every week, I look forward to Farmers’,” says Amber Bixler, owner of Elevenses Mind & Body Therapy. “My senses are stimulated by the aroma of delicious food from the street vendors, the sound of local musicians and the bright colors and textures of locally-grown foods. This is one reason I love SLO: We are a community that fosters family-run farms and businesses. There’s no better way to showcase that support than through our Thursday Night Farmers’ Market.”

Ken Hampian

Ken Hampian

“The Farmers’ Market is an economic and tourism juggernaut, to be sure,” says former City Manager for San Luis Obispo, Ken Hampian. “But more than that, it’s a civic gathering place, an opportunity for local residents to interact.”

Mike White

Mike White

“From day one, the Farmers’ Market has meant so much to us,” says Mike White, owner of Boo Boo Records, one of Rolling Stone magazine’s top record stores in the nation. “Aside from the statewide (and beyond) spotlight it brought to SLO that has resulted in year-round attention, the actual Thursday night spike in business has been huge.  Really, the Farmers’ Market took SLO to the next level in terms of our ranking among small towns in America and Boo Boo’s is forever grateful.”

For more information about improvements to the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market or the April 9th kick-off party, please visit DowntownSLO.com/Farmers-Market or call the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association at 805-541-0286.

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“Why Gewürztraminer?” And other good questions.

Clay Thompson & Fredericka Churchill

Clay Thompson & Fredericka Churchill

Full disclosure: We at Parker Sanpei represent Claiborne & Churchill Winery. But it’s equally true that we absolutely love their Alsatian-style dry white wines and cool-climate Pinot Noir. So when we heard that the 2014 Dry Gewürztraminer was being released, we caught up with Founder, Clay Thompson, to get the skinny on the foibles and triumphs of this fascinating, outlier grape. After all, Thompson is known as “The Godfather of Gewürz.”

What does this crazy German word Gewürztraminer mean?

Clay Thompson: “Gewürztraminer” is actually TWO words. The first part (“Gewürz”) is a normal German noun, meaning “spice.” The second part (“traminer”) is not a normal noun but a variant of a place-name, a town called “Tramin,” located in the German-speaking area of Northern Italy.

What are Gewürztraminer’s origins?

For decades we’ve all been spouting the party line that the Gewürztraminer grape originated in Tramin/Termeno, and in fact there are thousand-year-old records of a wine there called “Traminer.” Now along comes DNA research showing that Traminer is actually a variant of a somewhat obscure grape called “Savignin Blanc” (not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc), and its home is northeastern France and Southwestern Germany rather than northern Italy.

How and why did you get into Gewürztraminer?

My wife [partner, Fredericka Churchill] and I were always rather “European” in our wine preferences. We were both very fond of German and Alsatian wines, so when we got this wacky idea to leave our comfy jobs in academia and move to California “to start a winery” (as if that were a simple thing to do), we took our inspiration from those wines. In the summer of 1983 we went to Alsace and hiked along the “Wine Road” from village to village, tasting the wines and talking to the vintners. We came back inspired and in the fall bought eight tons of Gewürztraminer and Riesling grapes from a local vineyard and made the first vintage – 550 cases – of Claiborne & Churchill.

How does Alsatian-style Gewürztraminer differ from, say, German Gewürztraminer?

Dry_Gewurztraminer_no_vintage_lIt’s generally agreed that the Alsace versions of this wine are more aromatic than their German or Italian cousins. But historically there is another major difference between Alsace wines and the German wines across the border. In a nutshell: Germans make ‘em sweet, Alsatians make ‘em dry. Everybody knows how lovely the delicate sweet Mosel wines are (and how cloyingly sweet the inexpensive versions like Liebfraumilch are). And everybody knows how firm and dry and well-structured an Alsatian Gewürz or Riesling is. For years we have explained our C&C wines in this way. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said, “try it, it’s fruity but dry,” I could have retired long ago.

Where does C&C Gewürztraminer come from?

In the early years, our Gewürz came from here in the Edna Valley, then from neighboring Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties, finally settling on the latter; especially the Arroyo Seco area, where a very cool microclimate produces wonderful aromatics.

What are the typical aromas and flavors associated with wine made from Gewürztraminer?

Some common descriptors are quite flattering (“damask rose” as one wine writer said of ours), and some, really weird (“cold cream”). The most common is probably lychee. Sometimes Gewürz goes through a grapefruity phase as it develops, and takes on rich and heady notes of ginger, allspice, and other baking spices.

What are the challenges of making it?

As Gewürz ripens on the vine, the famous spicy flavors and aromas start to develop just as the acidity starts to drop. It is important to catch this moment and harvest it before the acid disappears, leaving you with a very flabby wine. In the cellar, fermentation should be temperature controlled (i.e. cold), so you don’t lose all those aromatic esters.

How long between harvest, bottling, and release?

At C&C, it is always the first wine to be bottled, soon in the new year. It can be released after a few weeks’ bottle-aging, although there is something very special about an older (five to ten years) Gewürz, when it has acquired the rich and complex patina of age.

How do you enjoy Gewürztraminer best?

I enjoy Gewürztraminer best in months that contain a vowel, preferably on days that contain a “d.” But seriously, it is not only a great aperitif wine, but is also a great wine to pair with spicy, exotic, foods like Thai, Indian, Szechwan, and Japanese. It also matches up well with those in-between dishes, like pork, ham, turkey and salmon.

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Laetitia x THO x NYC = OMG

Stop the presses: Our friends at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery recently announced their invitation to join Thomas Hill Organics Bistro’s Chef Christopher Manning to present a dinner at the iconic James Beard House in New York City on Saturday, April 25. (Want to join us? We’ll be there.)

Eric Hickey

Eric Hickey

“A chance to share a taste of the Central Coast at the James Beard House is a true honor,” said Eric Hickey, Laetitia’s President and Head Winemaker, “especially in collaboration with a talent like Chef Manning. His cuisine and Laetitia wines say so much about the beauty and bounty of this place we call home.”

Chef Christopher Manning

Chef Christopher Manning

“Cooking at the James Beard House is a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Chef Manning, who presented a dinner there as Executive Chef of Domaine Chandon’s étoile Restaurant in Napa. “I feel lucky to be invited back, this time representing the Central Coast and partnering with Laetitia and their phenomenal wines.”

The menu for the evening will include:

 Hors d’Oeuvre

Big-Eye Tuna Crudo with Zucchini, Roma Tomatoes, Osetra Caviar, and Lemon Cream on Toasted Brioche
Jamón Ibérico with Manchego Cheese, Olea Farm Olive Oil, and 100-Year-Aged Balsamic on Crostini
Saint Angel Cheese with Pea Tendrils and Bianchetto Truffles in Phyllo Cups
Cognac-Glazed Jumbo Prawns with Piment d’Espelette
Kusshi Oysters with Laetitia Brut Cuvée, Pink Peppercorns, and Lemon Mignonette
LAETITIA BRUT CUVÉE NV

 Dinner

Pan-Seared Dayboat Scallops with Sunchoke Purée, Blonde Frisée, Spring Garlic Vinaigrette, and Oyster Mushrooms
LAETITIA ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013

Skuna Bay Salmon with Ramps, Marble Potatoes, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Heirloom Carrots, and Saffron Aïoli
LAETITIA ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2013

Liberty Farms Duck Breast and Leg Confit with Beluga Lentils, Montana Huckleberries, Navel Oranges, Petite Salad
LAETITIA RESERVE DU DOMAINE PINOT NOIR 2013

Wildflower Honey Olives, Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Red Bell Peppers, and Rosemary Glace de Viande​
LAETITIA LA COLLINE PINOT NOIR 2012
LAETITIA LES GALETS PINOT NOIR 2012

D’Anjou Pear Mille-Feuille with Pear Mousse, Pear Brandy Butterscotch, and Almond Toffee
LAETITIA BRUT ROSÉ 2012

The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Converted from the home of the influential American gastronome whose name it bears, the James Beard House continues to be a center for celebrating taste, skill, and artistry in American foodways, including a kitchen and dining room to feature up-and-coming talents and as an important meeting place for America’s food community.

Tickets for the dinner are $130 for James Beard Foundation members, $170 for non-members. For more information about Laetitia Vineyard & Winery and Thomas Hill Organics Bistro’s Chef Christopher Manning at the James Beard House on Saturday, April 25, please visit http://www.JamesBeard.org/Events.

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Wedding season field trip: Rings and wines and gowns, oh my!

Olivia, Elissa, Nathan (our bodyguard), and Kyndal

Olivia, Elissa, Nathan (our bodyguard), and Kyndal

In celebration of the upcoming wedding and awards seasons, the Parker Sanpei team recently took a field trip to San Luis Obispo’s Marshalls Jewelers to try on jewels and Starlette O’Hara to try on gowns. And then, just to round-out the festivities, we tasted several Central Coast wines to match. (Tough work, but someone has to do it.)

Marshalls Jewelers

This beautiful jewel of a shop is actually the oldest continuous shopfront in San Luis Obispo, established in 1889. Owners Jeff McKeegan and Steven deLuque continue Marshalls’ heritage of fine quality service and artistry with beautiful baubles to tempt any bride- or groom-to-be. Marshalls Jewelers, 751 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805.543.3431

Starlette O’Hara

We passed this formal dress boutique on our way to the Parker Sanpei offices for years and had to stop ourselves from pressing our noses against the glass, so appealing are the gowns on display in the window. Owner Shelly Schafer offers a wide selection of mostly imported gowns to brides looking for something very unique, as well as those seeking fun, one-of-a-kind glamour for special occasions. Heads up: Shelly also offers mobile teeth whitening for a fraction of the normal cost using organic products all made in the USA. She caters to those of us who love red wine (hello, Parker Sanpei!) and are looking to lift stains for a cleaner, more confident smile. For more information, call Shelly at  805.453.6894.
Starlette O’Hara Formal Dress Boutique, 641 Higuera Street #101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805.305.1577

…And now, for the dress/ring/wine pairings! Click on each collage for the full picture.

MODERN FUN

 

 

CLASSIC

 

 

OLD WORLD

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One-stop shopping for Central Coast vintners and growers.

Wivi Central Coast Tradeshow offers wine producers a convenient roundup of industry vendors

UntitledThis year’s WiVi Central Coast Wine Industry Tradeshow, taking place March 18 at the Paso Robles Event Center, will include more industry exhibitors and vendors than ever, making the event the most valuable and convenient place for wine producers to learn about the latest products, services, technologies and equipment.

Hosted by the wine industry’s leading trade publication, Wine Business Monthly, and regional viticulture consulting group, Precision Ag Consulting, the WiVi Wine Industry Tradeshow offers an important opportunity for vendors eager to share new products and technology with the rapidly-growing Central Coast wine community.

Becky Zelinski

Becky Zelinski of WiVi

“Our exhibit spaces have been sold-out for months,” said WiVi Director, Becky Zelinski. “The tradeshow is really a win-win for Central Coast wineries and their staff, who get to meet with their preferred vendors and learn about new ones in the span of one day, right in their own backyard.”

Jennifer Porter of the PRWCA

Jennifer Porter of the PRWCA

“Many of Paso Robles’ wineries and growers can’t make it to the big out-of-town tradeshows,” said Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance Executive Director Jennifer Porter. “We’re really fortunate that Wine Business Monthly and Precision Ag Consulting have brought WiVi to Paso Robles, where we can meet with so many big-name vendors and learn about the latest technologies and trends.”

The 2015 WiVi Central Coast Wine Industry Tradeshow will feature approximately 150 local and international suppliers, showcasing everything for the vineyard, winery and tasting room. From bare root vines to glassware, there’s something for everyone in the wine industry to see.

…And the list goes on. To discover all of the products and services exhibiting at WiVi, please visit the Exhibitor Directory at www.wivicentralcoast.com.

The tradeshow is part of the larger WiVi Central Coast Wine Industry Conference, held March 17th and 18th, which offers educational and networking opportunities for every member of the wine industry, from winemakers and grape growers to winery managers and hospitality staff. It also provides valuable continuing education credits for pest control advisors and certified agronomists. Furthermore, WiVi is California’s largest industry networking opportunity south of San Francisco.

Tickets for the tradeshow only are free to Central Coast wine trade association members before February 28 (but must be reserved at wivicentralcoast.com), after which admission is $30 per person. For non-members, tickets to the tradeshow are $30 before February 28 and $40 thereafter. Early registration discounts are available on session passes if purchased before February 28, 2015. There is also a discount offered on session registrations for two or more people from the same company. For more information on this as well as tickets to the larger WiVi Central Coast Wine Industry Conference, please visit www.wivicentralcoast.com or call (888) 974-WIVI (9484).

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The Darker Side of Claiborne & Churchill

CC_Pinot_Noir_2012_cropThough the name Claiborne & Churchill Winery is synonymous with Alsatian-style dry Riesling and dry Gewürztraminer, the pioneering Edna Valley AVA producer has also developed a reputation for complex, layered Pinot Noir that bears out in the recently-released 2012 Classic Pinot Noir, 2012 Runestone Pinot Noir and 2012 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir.

Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia

Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia

“All three Pinot Noirs are very different in flavor profile, but similar in style,” said Winemaker, Coby Parker-Garcia. “At Claiborne & Churchill we do not produce an extracted, heavy Pinot Noir. Instead, we try to reflect Pinot Noir’s inherent elegance and complexity. All our grapes are grown within 3.5 miles of the Pacific Ocean, which helps when it comes to balance between acidity and fruit, as well as aging potential.”

2012 Classic Pinot Noir (1,222 cases produced, $28)
Since the late 1980s the “Classic” Pinot Noir has been a staple of Claiborne & Churchill’s repertoire, and has always been made to showcase the elegance and complexities of Pinot Noir from the Edna Valley. With fruit sourced from Wolff Vineyards and Twin Creeks Vineyards, the 2012 vintage balances flavors of ripe cherries, herbs and spices and aromas of vanilla, cherries, and lightly toasted oak. The Classic Pinot’s smooth mouthfeel, silky tannins, and good acidity makes this wine a perfect match for wild Alaskan salmon, lamb chops, duck breast, and an assortment of cheeses.

2012 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir (236 cases produced, $42)
The coveted Twin Creeks Pinot Noir is distinguished by its source: a collection of small vineyards on and around Twin Creeks Way, just down the road from the winery. These vineyards’ special soil and clonal selections help give the Twin Creeks its famous bold and spicy flavors, vivid cola and earthy aromas, and outstanding ageability. Pair it with lamb, duck, or beef bourguignon.

2012 Runestone Pinot Noir (173 cases produced, $48)
To produce the Runestone Pinot Noir, sold exclusively to members of the Claiborne & Churchill Cellar Club, Coby Parker-Garcia selected eight standout barrels from the 2012 vintage, which he blended together to create a remarkably elegant yet complex wine. Fruit was sourced from Twin Creeks Vineyard, located on the west side of the Edna Valley, where the cool, coastal climate and heavy clay soils provides exceptional quality; as well as Wolff Vineyards, on the east side, which grows Pinot Noir that yields undeniably fleshy fruit-forward flavors. Together, these vineyards produce a wine that balances its soft tannin and velvety mouth feel with ample fruit notes. The 2012 Runestone Pinot Noir offers vivid aromas of cherry, dried strawberries, and hints of oak. The palate is complex, layered with bright cherry, sweet raspberry, dark fruit and baking spice, with a finish that is ethereal and long lasting. A quintessential wine for pairing with winter fare, the 2012 Runestone Pinot Noir complements rack of lamb, sage-brushed turkey, and wild Alaskan salmon, and will continue to develop and improve over the next 8-10 years.

For more information on Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Noir, please visit http://www.ClaiborneChurchill.com.

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Where the Central Coast wine industry goes to LOOK, LEARN and CONNECT.

UntitledPart of the beauty of living and working on California’s Central Coast is watching the wine industry grow into a powerful generator of jobs, innovation and wines that can (and do) compete on the world stage. That’s where WiVi Central Coast Wine Industry Conference & Tradeshow comes in. Taking place March 17-18 at the Paso Robles Event Center, WiVi is the only comprehensive wine industry conference and tradeshow on California’s Central Coast – and the largest industry networking opportunity south of San Francisco – and is hosted by the industry’s leading trade publication Wine Business Monthly and Precision Ag Consulting, a regional viticulture consulting group.

“The Central Coast is still a young wine region but growing rapidly. Education and access to resources is important to its continued growth and success,” said WiVi Director, Becky Zelinski.

“As the region grows, so does the importance of a conference like WiVi, which is the only one of its kind here. In just two days, anyone in the wine industry can learn from our panels of experts, network with peers, and connect with suppliers at the WiVi trade show. It really is a one-stop shop for the entire Central Coast industry,” said Zelinski.

The event – which offers educational and networking opportunities for every member of the wine industry, from winemakers and grape growers to winery managers and hospitality staff – is comprised of a two-day conference with educational sessions; and a one-day tradeshow featuring exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge products.

A sampling of topics for this year’s WiVi conference educational sessions, held March 17 and 18, include:

  • An “Update on Recent Changes on Ground Water Rights” and “The Effect of Water Availability on Property Values”
  • “Tasting: Phenolics in Winemaking,” examining how phenolics measurements can be used as an objective indicator of wine quality, led by Halter Ranch Vineyard & Winery Winemaker, Kevin Sass.
  • “Top 10 Success Tips for Tasting Room Sales,” including factual data points from the Wine Business Monthly Tasting Room Survey and Mystery Shopper results, hosted by Lesley Berglund of the Wine Industry Sales Education (WISE) Academy.

At the WiVi Trade Show on March 18, nearly 150 exhibitors will showcase products and solutions for the modern winemaker, grape grower, or member of winery management, including companies whose innovations were voted as the “coolest new products” by Wine Business Monthly. Examples include:

  • Toneleria Nacionale: Mistral Fermentation Barrels (www.Toneleria.com/MistralBarrels.php) “The new Fermentation Barrel from Mistral Barrels, Inc. garnered the most votes [for the 2013 People’s Choice” award, as chosen by readers of Wine Business Monthly]. The barrel has a port in the head and has the option to come with wheels that can be attached to the barrel rack so that the barrel can be rolled over on its axis.” (Curtis Phillips, Wine Business Monthly, March, 2013)
  • P & L Specialties: Consista-Hopper (www.PnLSpecialties.com) “The Consista-Hopper is a grape receiving hopper designed to evenly deliver grape clusters dumped from half-ton picking bins to a destemmer. What’s Cool: Converting the intrinsically batch process of dumping half-ton bins of grapes into a constant and even delivery of clusters to the destemmer is crucially important if one wants to minimize the amount of “jacks” that are thrown in with the destemmed berries. I like the high degree of adjustments allowed by the P&L Specialties design.” (Curtis Phillips, Wine Business Monthly, March, 2014)
  • Bucher Vaslin: Costral Galaxy 3000 Bottling Line (www.BVNorthAmerica.com) “The Costral Galaxy 3000 is made for the European wine industry which requires that bottles be sterilized prior to being filled. The Costral is designed to give the bottles more drying after sanitizing than is typical. What’s Cool: The integrated bottle rinser-santizer is handy even where it isn’t required by law. The rinser-santizer also can be used as an inverted bottle-sparger. The Costral Galaxy 3000 comes with a multihead corker/capper which allows a small winery to use both corks and screw caps without putting an additional screw cap turret on the bottling line.” (Curtis Phillips, Wine Business Monthly, March, 2013)

bottles

Furthermore, WiVi is California’s largest industry networking opportunity south of San Francisco, with social events like the WiVi launch party, the evening of March 17, and an exhibitor-sponsored luncheon the afternoon of March 18. Additional networking opportunities will be announced as they are scheduled.

Registration for WiVi is open to the public and tickets can be purchased online at http://www.WiViCentralCoast.com. One- and two-day general registrations tickets and tradeshow-only tickets will be available online beginning January 6th. Early registration discounts and special discounted prices for wine industry association members are available through February 28, 2015, as well as free tradeshow passes for association members. For more information about WiVi, please visit http://www.WiViCentralCoast.com, email info@wivicentralcoast.com or call (888) 974-WIVI (9484).

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