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2015_PasoWineFest_Webheader 10[1]Starting in April, the Central Coast grows abuzz with many, many festivals that celebrate the best things in life: wine, beer, food, music, and friendship. One of our all-time favorite festivals at Parker Sanpei is the Paso Robles Wine Festival, now in its 33rd year, May 14-17.

Paso Robles Wine Fest spans four days with tastings and seminars to interest wine lovers of every stripe and color:

  • paso_wine_festOn Thursday, May 14, Thomas Hill Organics and Il Cortile Ristorante welcome you to join them along with several participating winemakers for delectable winemaker dinners. During each Winemaker Dinner, multiple Paso Robles wineries are at the same table, with wines perfectly paired with each course. Get your tickets quickly: seating for both winemaker dinners is extremely limited.
  • On Friday, May 15, select wineries feature their Library, Reserve, White/Rosé, and Futures complemented by fresh and local gourmet bites at the RESERVE Event.
  • Start your morning on Saturday, May 16 with a fun and educational Winemaker Seminar. Following the seminar, more than 70 wineries come together in the Paso Robles Downtown City Park to showcase their wines during the Grand Tasting. Be sure to also check out the Educational Experiences by the Rhone Rangers and CAB Collective within the park, all included in your ticket price! There will also be a Garagiste Lounge where you can taste from some of the small-lot producers in Paso Robles. And in a new, expanded band and picnic area of the Grand Tasting, the Damon Castillo Band will provide the perfect music to complement your wine tasting experience.
  • On Sunday and throughout Wine Fest weekend, travel beyond the Park to explore more than 140 winery events throughout the weekend including live music, barrel samplings, library tastings, and more!

For more information on how to join Wine Festival, please visit pasowine.com.

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Seeking foodies and artists: Historic town of Harmony revives.

Harmony,ca_townsignThe tiny coastal community of Harmony, California, population 18, has been many things to many people over the years—dairy town, artists’ colony, picturesque pit-stop on the road to and from Hearst Castle, Central Coast Wine Country and Big Sur—all of which the town’s new ownership embraces and plans to incorporate into the town’s future.

Purchased for an undisclosed amount in 2013 by a third-generation California dairy farmer and San Luis Obispo local, the town of Harmony is currently being scrubbed down and dolled up in preparation for the addition of the Harmony Valley Creamery Dairy Shoppe that will showcase locally-sourced dairy products, a farm-to-table restaurant and gardens for large gatherings from corporate parties to weddings.

A drawing of Harmony from 1883

A drawing of Harmony from 1883

Harmony’s heritage as a haven for music and visual arts will be preserved with galleries and studios like Harmony Glassworks, Harmony Pottery Works and the Painted Sky Recording Studio continuing their leases.

Harmony’s new owner, Alan Vander Horst—a dairyman by trade and a Cal Poly Agriculture graduate—fell in love with Harmony and the Central Coast while attending school. Today, his dream of reviving Harmony’s dairy-processing past is in full swing.

“Harmony has always been a special place for many people,” said Vander Horst. “Given its background as a dairy town, we’re looking to bring that element back and expand it a bit while keeping Harmony’s authenticity, charm, and artists’ studios intact.”

HarmonyCreameryA long-established fixture of California’s Central Coast, the town of Harmony has a rich supporting history. Founded in 1869 around a burgeoning local dairy industry, Harmony served as the capital of Central Coast dairy production for nearly half a century.

6605170713_e0459902fdFollowing the ultimate closure of the creamery, Harmony’s population steadily waned as the community saw much of the state’s dairy production transition from the Central Coast to the Central Valley. While undergoing periods of relative dormancy in the years leading up to its current renovation, today the 2.5-acre, 1-block town of Harmony looks to bustle once again. Currently the town is undergoing needed renovations and proper ADA access, and the creamery courtyard is being expanded to accommodate the new storefronts.

Harmony looks to attract the region’s local foodies and visitors traveling scenic Highway 1 as well as brides and grooms searching for the perfect wedding venue.

IMG_2618“The Harmony Chapel has seen a lot of weddings in its time, and we’re not about to change that,” said Vander Horst, adding that chapel weddings can host up to 60 guests and up to 100 outdoors once the garden grounds are completed. A limited number of dates to rent the entire town—including the Dairy Shoppe, restaurant, and gardens—for weddings and events of up to 250 guests are planned.

For more information about Harmony’s revival, please contact Elissa Wiese, Parker Sanpei, at 805-543-2288 or elissa@parkersanpei.com.

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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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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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TASTE: Gourmet Popsicles

parkersanpei:

This post may seem slightly out of place the week before Christmas, but to be true to our “most popular posts of all time” theme, we had to include these recipes for gourmet cocktail popsicles from August, 2011. Perhaps the Pink Champagne Popsicles would work for your New Year’s Eve party?

Happy holidays, to you and yours from Parker Sanpei!

Originally posted on THE DISH by PSPR:

The weather is balmy and the days are long: It’s summer!

While we believe in taking time for ourselves during a relaxing vacation (preferably somewhere tropical and far, far away), we are also realistic and know that not every summer can support a big getaway.  So when we’re stuck at home, fantasizing about soaking up the sun on some distant beach with a cocktail in hand, the next best thing to do is – what else? – channel that inspiration into a delicious popsicle.  We love these new machines like the ZOKU seven-minute popsicle maker that freeze our treats with lightning speed.  So, without further ado, here are the popsicles that we’re making – and tasting – this summer.

ROMAN HOLIDAY

If you like Prosecco – fizzy, bubbly, and a little bit sweet – then you’ll love this popsicle.  Lick this while imagining yourself in Amalfi, watching the waves.

Blackberry Prosecco Popsicles

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TASTE: Heirloom tomatoes

parkersanpei:

Continuing on in our theme of celebrating FOUR YEARS on The Dish, here is our #3 most popular post of all time: a discussion of heirloom tomatoes including recipes for gazpacho, pico de gallo, and our favorite, tomato jam.

Originally posted on THE DISH by PSPR:

If your garden is anything like ours, you are seeing a lot of red these days.  Hooray for tomato season!

And not just any old tomatoes.  The latest and greatest varieties are actually heirloom tomatoes: unhybridized, open-pollinated cultivars with flavor concentration and texture to put that wan, mealy tomato in your grocer’s produce aisle to shame.  And with names like “Brandywine,” “Black Krim,” “Arkansas Traveler,” and our personal favorite, “The Mortgage Lifter,” it’s impossible not to wonder about the stories behind these characterful, pretty fruits.  They are living history.

Our friend, Gary Ibsen, ofTomatoFest is our go-to expert on all things heirloom tomato.  For this season, Gary offered a whopping 600 varieties of certified organic heirloom tomato seeds from his online shop, and every single seed was harvested by hand at the TomatoFest Farm.  That means he personally tastes every single tomato plant on…

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Plumping up for Fat Tuesday

parkersanpei:

Keeping with our celebration of FOUR YEARS blogging with The Dish, we are re-posting our all-time most popular posts, including this history of Mardi Gras (which ends with a recipe for King Cake). Enjoy (again)!

Originally posted on THE DISH by PSPR:

I didn’t grow up celebrating Mardi Gras.  All it’s ever really meant to me is New Orleans, debauchery, beads, and college kids throwing up on my front lawn. 

But lately I’ve been intrigued by the roots of this strange holiday that’s celebrated the world over.  This year’s festivities take place this coming Tuesday, March 8th.  So, in preparation, here is a little history, care of my own curiosity and The History Channel website.

First, the origins of Mardi Gras:

According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance…

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