Tag Archives: Paso Robles Wine Country

Our favorite “little rascal.”

2013-ArneisOur friends at Burbank Ranch Winery recently received gold medals for their 2013 “Little Rascal” Arneis from two prestigious competitions: the 2014 Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition and the 2014 Central Coast Wine Competition, Five County Fairs.

Despite its floral aromatics and appealingly full body, Arneis is a white wine that is too rarely found in New World winemaking. In fact, Burbank Ranch is one of only two known producers of Arneis in the Paso Robles American Viticulture Area (AVA).

“Arneis is called a ‘little rascal’ in Italy’s Piedmont region for being challenging to grow,” says Fred Burbank, proprietor of Burbank Ranch. “In Paso Robles, however, Arneis grows like a weed. It’s surprising that we don’t see more of it here, considering how well it does in this climate and what a terrific wine it produces.”

Typically a medium- to full-bodied white wine, Arneis is upstaged by Piedmont’s more famous red wines, namely Barolo. But many consumers don’t realize that a small portion of Arneis has historically been used to soften the tannins and concentration of Nebbiolo grapes in Barolo, much like Viognier seasons Syrah in traditional Côte-Rôtie wines from the Northern Rhône. Since the 1990s, varietal Arneis has gained a following for its often gregarious aromas of ripe pear and white blossoms, plush texture and generous weight.

PiedmontGrapes for the 2013 Burbank Ranch Arneis were harvested from the estate early, in September, and fermented in stainless steel to preserve focus and acidity. The result is a dry, full-bodied white wine with aromas and flavors of bright pear, apple, honeysuckle, and white peach, with a structured, mineral finish.

A perfect transition wine between seasons, Arneis pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, including, notably, the cheese plate at Burbank Ranch Bistro in downtown Paso Robles. The “Little Rascal” Arneis would also beautifully complement a simple pasta with butter and fine white truffle shavings or any number of delicate seafood dishes.

For more information about Burbank Ranch Winery and Bistro, please visit http://www.BurbankRanch.com.

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INSIDE TRACK: Paso Robles Wine Festival

Calling one’s self an expert is both bad form and an invitation for ruin. But if we at Parker Sanpei are experts at anything, it’s navigating Paso Robles Wine Country.

PRWCAAttend the annual Paso Robles Wine Festival to celebrate the taste, tradition and triumphs of wine ambition in Paso Robles Wine Country.

 – www.PasoWine.com

The 32nd annual Paso Robles Wine Festival is May 15 through 18 this year, and events take place across Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of 2013, the diverse and beautiful Paso Robles AVA.

Events run the gamut from winemaker dinners to educational seminars, a Grand Tasting, and myriad open houses at over 130 wineries across the appellation. Here are a few of our must-attends:

  • Winemaker Dinners at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar and Il Cortile RistoranteHow does one choose between a dinner of Grilled Quail Ras El Hanout paired with a 2012 Austin Hope Grenache and Braised Buffalo Short Ribs paired with The Farm Winery 2009 “The Big Game???” That’s exactly what you’ll have to do if you’re interested in Wine Fest’s winemaker dinners on Thursday, May 15.  Two of our favorite eateries, Thomas Hill Organics and Il Cortile will be offering sumptuous menus paired with Paso Robles wines sure to reinforce your love for all things Paso.
  • Reserve Event and Auction at City Park, Paso Robles: On Friday, May 16 from 4 to 6:30 PM, you will find us sipping reserve wines from over 40 participating wineries paired with fare from local restaurants. We think the charm of downtown’s City Park, the warm weather, and the company will push the good vibes over the edge.
  • Winery Open House: Barrel 27 and McPrice Myers: We are huge fans of these somewhat off-grid producers, and we’re pumped that they’re opening their doors throughout the weekend to share elegant wines alongside tri-tip, pinquito beans, and more cooked up by the godfathers of Santa Maria-Style BBQ, the Santa Maria Elks. Don’t expect rolling vineyard views or posh digs. These guys are young, obsessed, and legit.

For prices, tickets, and more information on any of these events and others, please visit www.PasoWine.com. See you there!

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Racing for Good Reason

Team Il Cortile

Team Il Cortile

We at Parker Sanpei are so proud of our friends at Il Cortile Ristorante in Paso Robles. Last weekend, 13 riders from the restaurant, including Owner and Managing Partner, Carole MacDonal, raced with 150 cyclists in the Tour of Paso to raise funds for the Central Coast Cancer Support Community. Nearly doubling their contribution from last year, the team at Il Cortile Ristorante raised a staggering $20K in support of the Cancer Support Community’s free resources to local cancer patients and their families. Charitable contributions for the event totaled over $100K, up $30K from last year.

Fundraising at Il Cortile included proceeds from a special “reverse wine dinner” menu crafted by Chef Santos MacDonal and his kitchen, as well as proceeds from the sale of complementing wine, L’Aventure Optimus 2011 Zinfandel. Additionally, servers at the critically-acclaimed restaurant generously donated all tips from the dinner toward Il Cortile’s efforts in support of the Cancer Support Community.

Santos & Carole MacDonal

Santos & Carole MacDonal

This year marks the third that Il Cortile has contributed toward and participated in the Tour of Paso. In 2012, the team raised over $5K, and $12K in 2013.

Thank you so much to all of those who participated in the event, especially our friends at Il Cortile. Your generosity is making a difference in our community. Bravi!

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A Refreshing Take on Winemaker Dinners

Il Cortile Ristorante’s “Reverse Winemaker Dinners” Put Wine Front and Center

827bb6b412944a9c43a307a5d7f7650eOur good friends at Il Cortile Ristorante in Paso Robles Wine Country will once again welcome top local wineries to offer guests a unique take on food and wine pairing this winter season.

Each Wednesday in January and February, the downtown Paso Robles fine dining establishment will hold “Reverse Winemaker Dinners,” in which Chef Santos MacDonal crafts seasonal three-course menus to complement a handful of very special local wines.

Carole and Chef Santos MacDonal

Carole and Chef Santos MacDonal

“Unlike a traditional winemaker dinner, where the winemaker selects wines to pair with a meal, we wanted the food to come to the wine, so to speak,” said Owner, Carole MacDonal. “We are fortunate to live in a region that boasts such wonderful wines and talented winemakers. This is our way of honoring their craft.”

The Reverse Winemaker Dinners will be held on Wednesday evenings, and each Wednesday will feature a different local winery. Once guests select a varietal from the featured producers’ handful of wines, Chef Santos will then “reverse” it and create a three-course meal to complement the flavors and textures of the wine chosen. This unique evening is offered at $40 per person, plus the cost of wine which will vary depending on the varietal chosen.

See you there!

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A Harvest for the Books

Our friends at the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux) Collective recently breathed a sigh of relief as Harvest 2013 wrapped up. And the good news? By all accounts, this will be a vintage to remember for Paso Robles.

Jason Joyce

Jason Joyce

 “The 2013 vintage is a classic example of why Paso Robles is such an exceptional location for growing Bordeaux varietalsBeing weather-obsessive as most winemakers are, I knew this was going to be a year for dense Cab. Dry conditions like this year usually produce small berries which have a concentrated skin-to-juice ratio. This provides the wine with ample color, fruit and depth. But these are typically a given when producing Cabernet in Paso. Nowhere else is the richness and fruit of Cabernet so consistently expressed as in Paso Robles.

In an almost inverse challenge to other regions, the structure elements of acid and tannin are what I’m most concerned with capturing each vintage. Also, the heavy seed tannin concentration is high enough that I won’t need wood tannin from new barrels, so I’ll use less new oak than the pre-harvest plan called for. With this commitment to producing a wine that needs aging comes another requirement (and here is where the true miracle of this vintage has shown itself): With each lot of rich, ripe fruit harvested last week, I expected to see the berries sapped of their acidic strength by the warm September sun. Not the case at all. The pH and total acidity readings have been incredibly high. This is an absolute necessity for the creation of age-worthy wines, as without this acidic backbone, these dense ripe wines can be too easily off-balance, flabby, and without real character.

So all in all, at this earliest of stages in the wines’ life, I could not be more enthusiastic about the vintage. It may not be until 2016 that these wines are ready to taste, but if there is enough patience to let natural aging run its course, this vintage has all the requisite fundamentals for the production of remarkable Bordeaux varietals.”

Jason Joyce, Winemaker, Calcareous Vineyard

Ethan Ray

Ethan Ray

“This year is turning out to be fantastic for Paso-area fruit in general, and I think many grape farmers in the area would agree. For us, we have been blessed with both a large, healthy crop-load, and amazing quality as well. Some of the clones that usually seem to struggle somewhat with fruit-set and the development of sugars have shown up in full-force this year with an impressive fruit-set, terrific flavor, and ideal sugar development. The berry size is small, with an excellent and ideal skin-to-pulp ratio, which we can already see will beautifully impart its luxurious colors and flavors unto this year’s vintage.

The talk of the town this year is the timing of these crops. I believe that most farmers are seeing their crop’s development as being weeks ahead of the last few years, due to good weather early on, and not having to battle much in the way of frost problems around bud-break. Also, with the fruit’s development being ahead of the expected schedule, it means that we will be able to comfortably develop the sugars we need, as well as the flavors we want, before the rainy season hits us. This is an unusual, but huge, blessing for us and our harvest.

We are very excited and enthusiastic about this year’s crop and believe it will produce an excellent harvest, and in turn, some very special wine.”

Ethan Ray, Assistant Winemaker/Assistant Vineyard Manager, Parrish Family Vineyards

Michael Barreto

Michael Barreto

“An early and warm spring got the growing season off to a quick start. Some cool stretches in the summer allowed varieties like Merlot to coast a bit and be ready for harvest around the same as an average year. However, for us, Cabernet Sauvignon will be coming in around two weeks earlier than normal. Our harvest size should be about average with nicely-sized clusters that should provide nice flavor and concentration.”

 Michael Barreto, Winemaker, Le Vigne Winery

David Galzignato

David Galzignato

“Jada Vineyard is located in a unique mesoclimate. 2013 is looking to be a perfect vintage for our vineyard site. I wouldn’t label our vineyard as a ‘cool’ site, because of our total degree days, but it does prove to be cooler than others in the area. This has factored into our 2013 harvest, allowing flavors, color, and tannin to develop at a slower and more even pace. In late September, we were just starting to pick some of our blocks.

The challenging side of the 2013 vintage is dealing with uniformity issues within each block. The key to rock star wines this year, for our vineyard and location within the AVA, is patience and picking extremely small sections of each block, and only when they are ready.If I were to pick the entire block at the same time, it could jeopardize the wine quality.”

David Galzignato, Winemaker, Jada Vineyard

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Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery’s Matt Ortman tackles harvest in a brand new production facility

 

It isn’t every harvest that a new winemaker gets a brand new production facility and a near-perfect growing season for his first vintage, but that’s exactly what Villa San-Juliette Winemaker, Matt Ortman, enjoyed this year.

“I’m pretty amazed at how lucky we’ve been,” said Ortman, who joins fellow Central Coast vintners and growers in proclaiming the virtues of 2013. “This year’s dry conditions and consistent heat made for long hang-time and nicely-developed flavors in the fruit.”

Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery has been on the Paso Robles wine scene since 2008, but it wasn’t until this year that a new production facility was built to receive the winery’s estate-grown fruit.  Phase I of the facility, which was designed with input from Ortman, includes state-of-the-art web-based technology that allows him to monitor cellar operations from his Smartphone.

When completed, the expanded winery building will comprise about 16,000 square feet, including a 4,000 square-foot covered crush pad, 2,400 square feet of administration offices, and a 1,400 square-foot mechanical yard.  The project will include a 3,200-square-foot fermentation pad for new tanks, a 2,300-square-foot crush pad, and 1,200 square feet of mechanical buildings, as well as a wastewater pond to handle Villa San-Juliette’s long-term production needs.

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Expanding a modern classic: Meet the new Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Lounge

Chef Julie Simon

Chef Julie Simon

If you’ve ever dined at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro in Paso Robles, you probably remember your meal very well. Julie Simon is one of the most talented and original young chefs on the food scene today, and her vibrant, eclectic dishes crafted from locally-grown, organic ingredients tend to linger in the memory long after the last bite.  We’re talking:

  • Roasted Beet and Strawberry Salad with Butterleaf Lettuce, Oranges, Kumquats, Orange-Sesame Vinaigrette, and Sesame Brittle
  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Black Rice, Baby Bok Choy, Green Onion and Ginger Relish, Pickled Cherries, and Fried Egg
  • Contadina Pizza with Crushed Tomato, Mozzarella, Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Beef Sausage, Candied Jalapenos, Arugula, and Basil

Given the demand for their cuisine, Thomas Hill Organics recently expanded into an adjacent space which is now the Thomas Hill Organics Wine Lounge.  The acquisition also redirected the location of the popular restaurant’s entrance, which is now directly on Park Street in Paso Robles’ charming Park District.

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Featuring a comprehensive and creative wine and beer list, the new THO Wine Lounge now offers table service overseen by sommelier and Wine and Service Director, Serena Harkey.  Regular specials and wine by the 3-oz. or full glass allow diners to explore the full array of Harkey’s wine list in the same rustic-chic ambiance as the original Thomas Hill Organics Bistro.

 “Expanding into the wine lounge space is a response to the popularity of what we’ve done over the years, the freshness of the ingredients and the creativity of Julie’s menu,” said proprietor, Debbie Thomas, who opened Thomas Hill Organics in 2009 as a delicious way to show off locally-grown organic produce, grains, and proteins.

Thomas Hill Organics also continues to cater for a wide array of functions including birthday celebrations, wine events, weddings and holiday parties. Chef Julie and her team work with clients to design seasonally-inspired menus that create a one-of-a-kind experience, whether on the THO fully-covered outdoor patio, in a private home, or among the vines at one of the Central Coast’s beautiful wineries.

Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Lounge is located at 1313 Park Street in Paso Robles, California.  For more information please visit www.ThomasHillOrganics.com or call 805.226.5888.

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