Tag Archives: Laetitia Vineyard & WInery

Your 2015 Travel Punch List

Last year, we at Parker Sanpei had a lot of fun developing an international punch list for 2014, and this year, we thought we’d try it again. Here are the places and experiences we are most excited about this year, broken up by season.

WINTER: Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah

sundancefilm-parkcityThis January 22 through February 1, Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival will once again draw thousands of film-lovers to experience the release of hundreds of new indie movies. Film festivals are often thought of as private affairs for insiders, but tickets are available to Sundance films at just $20 each – a steal when you consider that the directors and actors in the films take the stage after each show to discuss their work. Add to that the charm of Park City, its accessibility to the Salt Lake City Int’l Airport (just 30 minutes away), and its home to some of the world’s finest ski resorts – and powder! – and you have the makings of a dynamite getaway.

SPRING: James Beard House Dinner with Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, Thomas Hill Organics Bistro, New York City

2011-06-09-minidiningroom3When James Beard, the godfather of American cuisine, passed away in 1985, his colleagues and friends sought to purchase his Greenwich Village townhouse and convert it into something of a performance space for chefs. They enlisted the help of a talented young chef from California, Wolfgang Puck, to craft a multi-course dinner, the proceeds from which would benefit the renovation project; Thus was the James Beard House dinner series born. Today, the James Beard House hosts 250 events each year, one of which will be a dinner celebrating the bounty of California’s Central Coast (Parker Sanpei’s beautiful home) including wines from Laetitia Vineyard & Winery and cuisine from Chef Christopher Manning at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro. The date for the dinner is Sunday, April 27, at 7pm. Tickets are $130 for members and $170 for the public. Reservations will be available mid-January by calling 212.627.2308.

SUMMER: A Taste of Stockholm, Sweden

20100608-lola01Between The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Wallander, and The Killing, the world clearly has an obsession with the dark side of Scandinavian culture of late, and we’re no exception. But what about the bright side? That’s where A Taste of Stockholm comes in. From June 3 through 7, this culinary fête takes place in downtown Stockholm’s Kungsträdgården park with bites from two-dozen of the city’s best restaurants, classes, demonstrations, and performances by top musicians. Afterwards, go back to the dark side with a (Volvo) drive to Ystad and walk in Detective Kurt Wallander’s footsteps…

FALL: 84th Annual International White Truffle Fair, Alba, Italy

alba-international-white-truffle-fair-italy_57135_600x450Worshipers of the elusive tartufo bianco flock from far and wide to the small city of Alba in Italy’s Piedmont region for the International White Truffle Fair each fall. In 2015, the festival will be held October 11 through 16 with a line-up of international chefs, sensory analysis sessions, wine pairing demonstrations and cultural happenings (e.g. a choral competition and a palio for donkeys in the style of Siena’s more famous one for horses) to tickle the heart of the most devoted gourmands and oenophiles. Just remember to bring your wallet. And you might want to take out a loan first.


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Seven sparkling wines = seven days a week.

iStock_000014163835Small-holiday-champagne1As the holidays approach, our friends at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery are preparing, as always, to sell heaps of their beloved mèthode champenoise sparkling wine. Sure, sparkling wine is a perfect choice for festive occasions, but dressed up or dressed down, it pairs well with nearly everything. So instead of popping a cork on Saturday night only, why not celebrate the rest of the week, too? After all, Laetitia makes seven different styles of sparkling wine from their coastal estate vineyard in the Arroyo Grande Valley appellation. Coincidence?

  • PRT_BLABBOAD11_PRTMIDPIC_20140227_112719Sunday: 2009 Laetitia Brut Coquard ($35) – At 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, the Coquard shows aromas of freshly baked nectarine tart topped with rich mascarpone, candied lime rind and macadamia nuts. Pair with pumpkin soup.
  • Monday: 2010 Cuvée M ($35) – A 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Cuvée M offers notes of lemon shortbread, lime blossom and bread yeast, along with structured apricot jam nuances. Pair with shrimp jambalaya.
  • Tuesday: Non-Vintage Brut Cuvée ($25) – Gala apple, streams of bubbles and soft melon notes meet to create this festive sparkling wine comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, respectively. Pair with fried chicken.
  • Wednesday: 2011 Brut de Noirs ($30) – 90% Martini 13 Pinot Noir grapes and 10% Chardonnay clones 76 and 4, this sparkler shows luxurious mocha, fresh-baked croissant, and dried cherry nuances. Pair with grilled steak and pepper sandwiches.
  • Thursday: 2011 Brut Rosé ($30) – As pretty as it is delicious, this sparkling rosé offers notes of strawberries, watermelon rind, fresh brioche and spices. Pair with salad Niçoise.
  • Friday: Non-Vintage X D ($25) – With just a kiss of sweetness, this wine opens up with aromas of honeysuckle, strawberry rhubarb pie and orange zest. Pair with apple crisp.
  • Saturday: 2011 Brut de Blancs ($30) – Grapefruit pith and almonds shine in this beautifully golden-straw colored sparkling wine composed of nearly 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Pair with salmon or tilapia.

Laetitia sparkling wines are available for purchase in their tasting room, open daily from 11 AM to 5 PM. For a festive and delicious holiday outing, be sure to check out Laetitia’s annual Holiday Open House when the winery invites guests to sip wine by the fireplace and get their shopping done early, December 5, 11 AM to 7 PM. This year will feature new releases, light snacks, wine gift packs for sale and live music from 4 to 7 PM.

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Three Wines for Three Wedding Styles

Perhaps we’re just wedding-crazed around here, but lately, it seems that trends for the Big Day are seriously rolling high. We at Parker Sanpei recently investigated a few common wedding styles – contemporary, rustic, and modern – and paired wines from one of our favorite wineries, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery. Have a look.

Classic Glamour

GlamourFor their big day, some couples go truly big with timeless glamour and touches reminiscent of old Hollywood or a night at the Ritz: ruby red lips, white roses, long trains, and tall cakes. For a classic nuptial, the best wine is a classic sparkler like Laetitia Vineyard & Winery’s Brut Cuvée. Tiny streams of bubbles bring convey notes of red apple, lemon chiffon and juicy pear laced with aromas of fresh-baked challah bread. This festive sparkling wine – comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc – is delightful sipped alone, paired with hors d’oeuvres, risotto or vegetable dishes, or poured specially for a toast to the happy couple.

A Rustic Affair


A rustic-chic wedding can feel as comfortable and authentic as a favorite pair of blue jeans. Maybe the bride wears vintage; maybe the reception is held beneath twinkling lights hung high in a country barn. But however rustic the event leans, wine from Laetitia’s sister brand, NADIA, is always an elegant match. Comprised of the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard’s finest Bordeaux and Rhône-variety grapes, NADIA Wines eloquently express the remarkable high-elevation terroir of the Sierra Madre Mountains in limited-production lots. For flavor-forward cuisine like charred meats or grilled pizza, go for the NADIA Cabernet Sauvignon, which offers notes of concentrated dark fruits, a hint of clove and toasty graham cracker, balanced tannins and a long finish.

Thoroughly Modern Marriage

MODERNToday’s contemporary weddings blend high design with playful touches that run the gamut from brightly-colored and patterned cakes to outlandish tropical floral arrangements. Fresh, locally-sourced cuisine that’s big on flavor pairs perfectly with Laetitia’s Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir. Marked by notes of juicy red berries and rich earthiness, the Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir boasts flavors and aromas of vine-ripened boysenberry and smoked truffle flavors that contribute to the wine’s firm structure and supple grip. Pair this playful Pinot with succulent veal or fresh ratatouille for a meal – and a day – not quickly forgotten.

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Seductive Wine and Cuisine Ideas for Valentine’s Day

When it comes to romance, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery has the wine covered. Beautifully, we might add.

45_1bfa589a1e7e8eaa18eb401498656fe5From its ideal position on California’s picturesque Central Coast, Laetitia offers a wide array of wines from estate fruit that have been seducing palates for over thirty years. Whether it’s their traditionally-crafted sparkling wine or lusty Pinot Noir, Laetitia knows how to flirt. And with February 14th swiftly approaching, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery employees have weighed in on how they’re planning to woo their Valentine with a special meal paired with (what else?) Laetitia estate wine.

  • Sara Nesper, Vineyard Accounting and Contracts Manager, plans to pick up a freshly-baked baguette and a wedge of Abbaye de Belloc sheep’s milk cheese to pair with the nuanced flavors and aromas of Laetitia Single Vineyard La Colline Pinot Noir.
  • Vice President Vineyard Operations, Lino Bozzano, cooks up homemade chile rellenos with pasilla peppers grown in the Laetitia employee garden. After fire roasting and peeling the peppers, he stuffs sharp cheddar into each and fries them in a light batter before serving alongside the well-structured and aromatic Laetitia Whole Cluster Pinot Noir.
  • Viticulturist Dave Terry goes cozy and casual with a bottle of sumptuous NADIA Trio (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot blend) and orders a pizza.
  • Randy Wilkerson, Senior Accounting Associate opts for pink bubbles – Laetitia Brut Rosé – with surf and turf, a baked potato and green beans.
  • And don’t forget the chocolate! Kylie Burd, Hospitality & Vineyard Accounts Payable likes her dark chocolate fondue paired against the dark fruit and spice notes in the Laetitia Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir.

To celebrate this Valentine’s Day in effervescent style, Laetitia is offering a three-year vertical of its popular Brut Rosé (2008, 2009 and 2011, as the Brut Rosé wasn’t made in 2010) for $76.50 plus tax ($69 for Wine Club). Visit the Laetitia Vineyard & Winery tasting room or www.LaetitiaWines.com to order.

MAMA_WalnutTruffleThe winery is also holding a chocolate and wine pairing on Feb 13th featuring San Luis Obispo artisan chocolatier, Mama Ganache. On Thursday, February 13, from 6 to 8 P.M., guests will taste ten chocolates made especially for pairing with Laetitia and NADIA Wines, including: 

Tickets to this indulgent event are $25 or $20 for Wine Club members. Guests must be 21 and over. To reserve, please call 805.474.7641.

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A Knack for Sustainability

An entrepreneurial family champions sustainability at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery

Selim Zilkha and Nadia Zilkha

Selim Zilkha and Nadia Zilkha

Selim Zilkha has spent a lifetime searching out sustainable solutions to life’s everyday complexities. With a background in such varied industries as retail for mothers-to-be and their babies, natural gas exploration and renewable energy, Zilkha’s most pleasurable pursuit by far has been implementing sustainable methods at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, on California’s Central Coast.

Born into a banking family in Baghdad, Zilkha bought the Laetitia property in 1998 with high hopes of moving the winery toward self-sufficiency. His first order of business was amassing a team of people who caught the vision, starting with his own daughter, Nadia Zilkha, in marketing.

“I grew up discussing business with my dad and learned a lot,” says Nadia, “watching him make decisions, take risks and encourage his employees to be autonomous and empowered.” Nadia has focused on marketing, conveying the Laetitia message of elegant Pinot Noir and sparkling wines crafted from the best of both ancient and modern sustainable methods.

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery

As for sustainable farming practices, Vice President Vineyard Operations, Lino Bozzano, has worked closely with Zilkha to employ creative methods such as cover-cropping and goat grazing, which preclude the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides or tractors that run on fossil fuels. President and Head Winemaker Eric Hickey has been instrumental in completing and championing the Vineyard Team’s progressive Sustainability In Practice (SIP) certification process, of which Laetitia is a founding participant.

One of Zilkha’s next dreams for the Laetitia property is better energy efficiency. “We are always looking into various ways to grow our own energy,” he says. “Specifically, we are looking at utilizing the land between the rows to grow alternative energy crops such as Camelina to make biodiesel, which could offset our diesel usage on the ranch.”

“Other pursuits in the ways of sustainability on the ranch include a complete analysis/retrofit of our irrigation system to ensure that we are accommodating the needs of the different soil types on the ranch, as well as more mechanization (to assist in the labor shortage) and employing bio control strategies, such as raptors and falcons to hunt and feed on animals which attack the grapes.”

The Laetitia goats

The Laetitia goats

Today, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery and its sister brand, NADIA, are thriving benchmarks by which many producers are measured.  “Differentiating our wine from others in the region while still honoring its similarity is both challenging and exciting,” says Nadia.

Since moving to New York several years ago Nadia’s role with the winery has changed slightly, though she still represents the Laetitia and NADIA brands on the East Coast.  “I’ve really enjoyed working alongside my father, who has taught me a great deal. He’s fascinated with technology and encourages our team to apply it both in farming and in winemaking.”

She adds, “I also love working alongside our team, learning from Eric and Lino, and working to improve our portfolio with each vintage.”

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A Few of Our Favorite Things

We at Parker Sanpei consider ourselves fortunate to work with some of the most thoughtful innovators in the  food, beverage, hospitality and lifestyle industries.  Here, we profile a few of our favorite things from several clients.

Cocktails at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant

la-cosecha-menu-21La Cosecha, in downtown Paso Robles, was launched by respected Chef Santos MacDonal of Il Cortile Ristorante.  The style? Laid-back Latin cuisine and progressive mixology.  We are totally smitten with the Peruvian Fizzare cocktail and Manchego cheese fondue with plantain chips.

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Les Galets Pinot Noir

les galets

Laetitia’s Les Galets Pinot Noir is consistently incredible, and we don’t use that word lightly.  Lately we’ve been enjoying the 2010 vintage with pork roasts and braised lamb.

The stones indigenous to the Galets Vineyard perfectly describe the wine produced, rich in mineral driven notes of chalk and wet limestone, with prevalent dark berry aromas and dried black cherry. The palate shows flavors of tobacco and root beer spice, with structure of lingering velvet and finishing with a gorgeous floral flavor.


Julie 1

Thomas Hill Organics Chef Julie Simon

If you’ve never dined at Thomas Hill Organics in downtown Paso Robles, we think it’s safe to say you haven’t lived.  Chef Julie Simon is an ace with fresh ingredients, and what she lacks in years (she’s only in her 20s) she makes up for in verve.  Born and raised in France, she comes by her kitchen mastery honestly, with inventive dishes like her Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut, Arugula and Carrots Salad, Cara Cara Oranges, Roasted Kumquats, Kumquat Olive Oil, Spicy Harissa, Coriander-Crème Fraiche, and Cumin Almonds.

Villa San-Juliette Sunday music series

villa-san-juliette-patio-sf13So often, we find ourselves at home on a Sunday afternoon wondering what to do, where to go.  Enter Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery in San Miguel, where their outdoor Sunday music series includes easygoing tunes from top-rate musicians, beautiful views in all directions, $1 off wine by the glass and 10% off bottle purchases off VSJ’s featured wine along with a complimentary bread and olive oil appetizer plate with the purchase.

Sanpei Optics Eyewear

glassesEver wanted to design and live out your own personal soundtrack?  Enter Sanpei Optics, sunglasses with a patented ear bud docking station so you can look suave (we like the wayfarer style) and enjoy audio like music and podcasts or talk to a friend via BlueTooth.

Hammersky Vineyards & Inn

hammersky-vineyards-farm-house-sf12When we really start to fantasize about the perfect staycation, Hammersky Vineyard & Inn is the place to be.  As a member of the Paso Robles CAB Collective, Hammersky produces estate Bordeaux varietal wines and boasts a restored 107-year-old farmhouse that welcomes guests to enjoy a gourmet kitchen, large dining room, Wi-Fi, satellite, barbeque and phenomenal outdoor living space.

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A Pearl Anniversary for the Pearl of Central Coast Wine Country

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery turns 30!

Laetitia's Sparkling Winemaker, Dave Hickey

Laetitia’s Sparkling Winemaker, Dave Hickey

Thirty years after its first vintage of  Old World-style sparkling wine, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery is popping open a bottle of bubbly and celebrating with friends.

Sparkling Winemaker Dave Hickey has been on the team almost since the beginning, albeit in roles as varied as cleanup crewman and cellar hand. And his son, Eric Hickey, who started out observing winery operations as a kid on the fringe, is now President and Head Winemaker of the venerated brand.

“When I started here, the winery was empty,” said Dave Hickey. “The tasting room was built but had never been used.”

The inception of Laetitia Vineyard & Winery is woven into the history of Central Coast winemaking, though sparkling wine was something of an anomaly for the area at the time. In the early 1980s, French viticulturists came to California to seek out a New World outpost for growing vines and producing wines similar to those of their homeland in Champagne’s Epernay region. Their search ended just south of Arroyo Grande, nestled among the foothills that stretch parallel to Highway 101. The property soon boasted several acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, as well as a production facility equipped with two traditional French Coquard presses – still, the only two in North America.

As Maison Deutz Winery (the original name for what is now Laetitia) a culture of respect for Old World methods was established with the Coquard presses and méthode champenoise, a traditional, labor-intensive and time-consuming approach to making sparkling wine. And even after the property changed hands and the name became Laetitia Vineyard & Winery several years later, that culture remains.

“When it comes to sparkling wines, the only difference between Old World wine and Laetitia sparkling wine is the use of New World grapes,” said Dave Hickey. “I was trained by French winemakers who were, themselves, trained in Champagne. They wanted it done exactly the same way here as it was there. And to this day, one of the highest compliments anyone can pay me is to say that my wine reminds them of Champagne.”

Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard

Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard

Today, Laetitia’s estate vineyards have expanded to include over 600 acres and more than a dozen varieties, in addition to the 1,100-acre Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard in eastern Santa Barbara County which sources all fruit for the brand’s sought-after NADIA label.

Both properties are sustainably farmed under the purview of Vice President Vineyard Operations, Lino Bozzano. “With a large addition of new Pinot acres just before I started here eight years ago, there was a lot of unknown,” said Bozzano. “Today, these vineyards show several different expressions of Pinot Noir. Being here to watch these terroirs develop has given me a great personal connection with the property.”

But no matter how the Laetitia Vineyard & Winery domain grows, its backbone will always be pure, complex and utterly festive sparkling wine. To celebrate the brand’s 30th year, Laetitia will offer a limited edition etched magnum series for purchase. Additionally, the winery will host an intimate and formal Dual Winemaker Dinner on Saturday, September 14 at 5 PM. Winemakers Dave Hickey and Eric Hickey will pour their coveted library wines from over the course of their time with the winery, accompanied by dishes from the culinary genius of Chef José Dahan of Et Voilá Restaurant. Tickets are $145 per person, $125 for Laetitia Wine Club members. For more information on the 30th anniversary etched magnum or to make a reservation for the dinner, please call 805.474.7641.

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