Just this weekend, Monterey, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz,
El Dorado and Amador County wineries and tasting rooms
flung open their doors to tasters!
Yes, exhale with joy!
Winemakers and their staff are as eager to see you as you are to see them.
After almost four months of sheltering in place, California is starting to open up wineries.
Before you plan your customary day of tasting, here are a few tips on what’s happening in the tasting room scene:
When you arrive for your tasting appointment:
Your favorite wineries are anxious to see their tasting fans again!
Contact them if you have any questions about their current—and evolving—tasting practices.
And bringing a note of thanks, a big air hug, or a treat to your best loved winery is always in style.
A toast to the new ways of sipping!
Gain more from your next tasting with Nose & Palate wine traits...
If I had to taste at one winery before home became my new world,
I'm glad it was at Puma Road Winery.
My husband and I had a few days to get away for our wedding anniversary. It was our last vacation to enjoy each other and some wine outside the confines of our house—just before the shelter-in-place.
Owner, Ray Franscioni, produces Bordeaux varietal wines in the Salinas Valley. The valley's history includes flood rains which washed soil down River Road tearing out row crops of potatoes, beets, and beans. So in the 70's Ray started planting vineyards. That seemed to be the ideal time to plant grapes instead, since the area offers ideal weather “it doesn't get too hot, or too cold.”
Native to the Salinas Valley, Ray is a business man, wine advocate, and neighbor all rolled into one.
He has an easy, straight forward way about him and grew up on the Puma Road property.
The winery reminds me of a village pub: it's a landing place.
It's a close knit community with family, friends, and neighbors rolling into the
tasting room like clockwork. Around 4:00 pm, people stop in to taste, talk about the day,
then move on down the road to Pessagno Winery, Ray's other winery and tasting room.
Susie, the Puma Road Tasting Room Supervisor, shared “What you see is what you get.
No one is trying to be anything they aren't.” It was refreshing to be in that kind of setting.
Ray grows his own grapes for his wines.
Since my dad's background is in the nursery business, and my childhood was surrounded by agriculture,
I have a heavy respect and appreciation for growers and farmers.
Ray's hospitality is matched by his fastidious care for his wines. He shared with me that barrels are expensive, but he doesn't want to compromise on quality. A winery can spend as much on barrels as fruit. Olivier Rousset and Rodney Whitlock are Puma's dynamic wine making team.
Puma Road wines go down easy-like.
Not too acidic, tannic, sweet, or sharp, I was tempted to drink the tastings, not sip them.
At home, Puma Road wines are charming on their own as I'm cooking or while reading a book.
And they pair easily with foods; from bread and cheese to grilled meats and veggies.
I felt as if this was what wine should be doing.
For my tasting...
Puma Road and Pessagno Winery offer a myriad of wines to choose from;
Tannat to Chardonnay to Vintage Sparkling Wines. Explore! (Order online.)
Thank you Ray, Susie, and Puma Road staff for the terrific tasting
and overview of your wines and selections.
With a glass of Puma Road wine in our hands
and a prayer on our lips...
For tips on how to store your wines & not waste a drop visit my post on
"Closures, Keeping a Lid on Your Wines".
Pierce Ranch Vineyards' tasting room is within slingshot distance to Cannery Row and
bucket list hotels right on the Monterey Bay.
I've had the chance to taste there a few times, but was eager to pick up some wines again.
The Iberian varietals are a welcome change from the California rinse-and-repeat varietals you often see. These wines are terrific on their own or with food.
Just before the SIP, I messaged Josh and let him know I was in the area and
hoping to come by for a tasting.
He pinged me, and fast forward, there was a glass of Pierce Ranch wine in my hand
as my husband and I were chatting it up with his amazing staff.
Owner, Josh Pierce, is often sharing and pouring his wines at
Monterey County Vintners & Growers events, such as: trade tastings, winemaker tastings, and more.
His tasting room is a relaxing place to savor the wines and enjoy a leisurely chat with a friend.
While I've featured Josh's wines a way back, I do love the chance to taste current vintages.
Here's a look at my tastings.
While we're waiting to get back to the tasting rooms, Pierce Ranch Vineyards (Link) can be found online, with available curb-side pick up.
Health to you and yours!
Do you have wine questions during SIP?
Or do you wish you had your own wine guide?
CalWineJaunt.com offers Personalized Wine Consulting for your shelter-in-place wine needs.
Wine is meant to be shared.
It's the liquid for celebrations, community, and for gathering with friends and family.
I want to acknowledge that all of this has come to a screeching halt.
We all are, to some degree, dealing with Covid-19.
Some are instantly without work. Others are on the front line.
And hopefully, all are making efforts to shelter in place for everyone's health and safety.
It's difficult to be separated from our loved ones and experience this much change at once.
For a piece of bright news, Bay Area wines are, thankfully, still available. At this time, wineries are not allowed to be open to the public for purchases in the tasting room or wine tasting on site.
But winemakers are being creative and resourceful in an effort to keep their businesses--
and to keep sharing their wines with tasters.
If you're still in a place to purchase wine and enjoy it, now is the time.
For a list of wineries and their current offerings and shipping, visit the following links.
The specials will likely vary and change as needed.
Wineries of Santa Clara Valley
The site currently lists their winery options for delivery, curbside, shipping, and specials.
Visit Santa Clara Wines.
Monterey County Vintners & Growers
Find wineries in Carmel, Soledad, and Monterey. Contact the winery directly for current offerings.
Visit Monterey County Wines.
Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrower Assoc.
Find a listing of pick-up, delivery, and discount options by winery.
Visit Santa Cruz Mountain Wines.
Health to you and yours in this time, and a few words of comfort...
God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
'Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!' Psalms 102:1
Blessings to you,
Travel from the comfort of you home and snag a few ideas from this Home-Tasting of 3 Reds...
I had the pleasure of a private tasting hosted by Kristen Barnhisel at the
J. Lohr Wine Center, near Downtown San Jose.
Kristen's resume reads something like an international wine journal.
Along with a B.A. In Italian Literature, Kristen's winemaking and world experience extends to three continents. Adding to that, she is the ASEV President for 2019-2020.
As J. Lohr's white wine maker, Kristen pours two decades of winemaking into her line of wines.
Her winemaking style is stamped on each of her wines—pleasing mid-palate textures, wines that finish with a lasting impression, and fresh aromatics.
J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines is quintessential Californian. Founder Jerry Lohr and team have been crafting wines from California fruit for over 50 years. With a focus on sourcing grapes from noteworthy growing regions, wine enthusiasts can enjoy white wines from the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands regions in Monterey County. Or tuck into J. Lohr reds, grown and produced in Paso Robles, as well as Carol's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley.
J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines produce and bottle all of their wines. That control in the vineyard leads to quality wines. And with bottles ranging from $10-60, there are options for everyone. For J. Lohr's reds and additional selections, visit their site at: (Link.)
For the Wines
As with any fine wine tasting, J. Lohr Wines offers a dessert wine.
2017 Late Harvest White Riesling, Arroyo Seco.
Kristen cleverly called this “the noble rot dessert wine.”
Meaning, the influence of Botrytis on the graves gives this dessert wine beautiful textures as it softly coats the mouth. Flavors of honey, apricot, stone fruits, and marmalade would pair seamlessly with a cheese board, Medjool dates, or semi-sweet chocolate.
From J. Lohr's select vineyards to its savvy and knowledgeable wine staff,
the end results are wines that leave a lasting impression.
With a tasting room in San Jose, and one in Paso Robles,
you're bound to find an opportunity to taste J. Lohr Wines.
Here's to the wines that start & finish well.
Looking for Wine Beyond the Tasting Room? Read on...
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