Saturday, June 26, 2010

California wines from Spanish and Portuguese varietals

Spanish and Portuguese varietals grown in the U.S. include a wide range of both white wine and red wine grapes, some which should be very familiar. The white grapes include Albarino, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Malvasia, Torrontes, Verdelho and Viura. The red grapes include: Garnacha, Graciano, Mataro (a.k.a. Monastrell, Mourvedre), Sousao, Tempranillo (a.k.a.Tinta Roriz), Tinta Cao, Touriga Francesca, and Touriga Nacional. In addition, there are many more varietals that are planted in very small quantities in the U.S.

Domestic producers of wines from these grapes tend to be concentrated in the Western U.S. with wineries located throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Texas.

Even though the Southwestern U.S.A. was originally settled by the Spanish, wine producers in Spain were reluctant to let their precious grapes be transported to the New World. Thus the winemakers in the Southwest were left to make wines with grapes indigenous to the land. It was not until recently that U.S. winemakers discovered the unique character of Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) varietals and started planting and producing wines from these grapes.

UNWINED hosted a special wine club tasting of several California wines made with Spanish and Portuguese varietals. Hatcher Winery 2007 Mourvedre from Calaveras County has a dark red color with a black cherry aroma mixed with Tootsie Roll, rhubarb notes and hints of white pepper. On the palate, the black cherry is paired with plum and pluot flavors and a pleasant earthiness that one would expect from Mourvedre. This wine would pair nicely with a BBQ hamburger on a summer evening. The price is $24.

Mourvedre was introduced to Catalonia in Spain by the Phoenicians. While it is called Mourvedre in France and the U.S., it is also known as Mataro in Portugal and Monastrell in Spain.

The Odisea Wine Company 2007 “Temporary Insanity” Tempranillo from Clements Hills has a dark, ruby color and a nose of juicy black cherry fruit with a touch of violet, mineral, white pepper and toasty oak. On the palate these same flavors come through with touches of vanilla and spice that linger through a long finish. This wine will pair with ribs and tri-tip. The price is $25.
Odisea (O-di-say-a) is derived from the word “Odessey, meaning a long wandering and eventful journey.

The Michael Martella 2007 “Fiddletown” Grenache from Amador County is made from almost 100% Grenache which is unusual. It has a dark garnet color and is amazingly rich in body, flavors and texture. Aromas include toffee, prune, dark fruit, floral and spice. Flavors include cola, coffee, dark dried fruits and a wonderful savory umami quality. This Grenache would pair nicely with meats and poultry or a cheese platter with figs and honey. The price is $26.
Michael Martella has been the winemaker for Thomas Fogerty winery since it was founded in 1981. He makes small amounts of wines at that facility for his own label, sourcing fruit from the best vineyards throughout the state.

For more information:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Examiner Bio Clos LaChance Winery - Nature's preserve and fine wines in Santa Clara Valley

Clos LaChance Winery was started in 1987 in the Saratoga backyard of founders Bill and Brenda Murphy. The name is derived from Clos (meaning vineyard) and LaChance (Brenda Murphy’s maiden name). As the winery grew they eventually opened a new 60,000 case winery production facility in San Martin in 2001, with the hospitality center opening the following year. The tasting room offers a variety of wines while visitors take in the expansive views of the Santa Clara Valley wine country from the patio/picnic area behind the winery. They have also installed a Bocce court and the winery facility is a popular wedding venue.

Surrounding the San Martin facility are 150 acres of sustainably farmed Estate Vineyards. Bill and Brenda Murphy are strong advocates of working with nature. They utilize natural biological controls with natural predators. The natural area surrounding the vineyards is home to hawks, owls and even a pair of eagles who manage the rodent population. Using a variety of cover crops they protect and even enhance the soil, even fertilizing with chicken manure and mushroom compost from local farms. Grape skins, stems and seeds are also returned to the soil after fermentation. Water used to process the wines is recycled in a series of onside reclamation ponds to irrigate the vineyard.

They have established a protected Wetlands area across from the vineyard blocks to enable runoff water to percolate back to the soil. The Wetlands are now home to a number of birds and animals including ducks, snowy egrets, herons and endangered Tiger Salamanders.

Clos LaChance wines are sorted into three classifications. The Special Selections Series is a limited production from exceptional sites. The Estate Series are selected wines produced exclusively from the Estate Vineyards and CK Vines Santa Cruz Mountains sites. The Hummingbird Series is a line of quality affordable wines form Estate vineyards and selected sites and each wine is named after a species of Hummingbird. The hummingbird is the symbol of Clos LaChance selected both for its aesthetic beauty and its ability to keep other birds away from the grapes.

The recently released 2008 Biagini Vineyard Chardonnay from the Special Selections Series is produced from grapes found in the small Biagini Vineyard hidden in Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Corralitos. It has the aromas of butterscotch with pear and apple and lingering toast. On the mouth the same flavors carry through with a bit of caramel and creamy butter on this full-bodied wine. It has a nice blend of acid and fruit that continues into the balanced finish. Price is $35.

The 2006 Estate Grenache from the Estate Series is sourced from the Estate vineyards in San Martin surrounding the winery facility. The dark rich color invites you to breathe in the aromas of strawberry, plums, spice and vanilla. On the palate the same flavors shine through along with raspberry and red cherry. It is a nicely balanced wine with a medium plus finish. Price is $30.

A shining example of the Hummingbird Series is the 2006 Colorful Puffleg Meritage. The Colorful Puffleg is an endangered hummingbird found in Colombia where fewer than 250 birds are believed to exist. A portion of the sale of each bottle of the 2006 Colorful Puffleg Meritage is donated to the Hummingbird Society specifically for its efforts to save the Colorful Puffleg Hummingbird. This Meritage is a blend of 55% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petite Verdot and 3% Malbec. You will enjoy the rich aromas and flavors of blackberries, plums, black cherries and chocolate. Also detected is licorice and vanilla. It has a beautiful long finish. The price is $25.

You can find Clos LaChance just off Watsonville Road on Hummingbird Lane in San Martin. 

Nottingham Cellars - A taste of Livermore Valley

Nottingham Cellars is one of newest wineries in Livermore Valley. This small boutique winery was established in the summer of 2009 by the father and son team, Jeff and Collin Cranor. Jeff had been involved for several years in a Wine Buyer’s Club that produced a variety of California wines. But they were developing a passion for the wines that can be produced by the fruit of Livermore Valley and Nottingham Cellars was formed to focus on premium grapes of this valley. They chose the name Nottingham, a name that Livermore was once known as, to pay tribute to its rich history as an agricultural area. 

Jeff’s son Collin came aboard this new adventure as the wine maker. While Nottingham concentrated on wines from Livermore Valley, the wines from Jeff’s wine buyer’s club continued on as the Satyrs Pond brand.

The Nottingham Cellars 2007 Viognier from Livermore Valley delivers the intense aromas you expect from a fine Viognier with a floral and tropical fruit nose. On the palate you will enjoy the melon and peach flavors with a distinct variety of spices. This wine would pair nicely with Asian or Indian dishes but I would also suggest pairing it with a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie! The price is $18.

The 2007 Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon shows you all that a great Livermore cab can deliver. The dark red fruit and cassis show up first on the nose and you inhale the aroma and continues on the palate with a complex blend of black cherry, blackberry, plum, cinnamon and clove followed up with a long finish. The price is $27.

An interesting fine wine is the 2007 Ralphi’s Red Blend composed of 60% Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Napa Valley Merlot in a traditional left bank Bordeaux blend. The dark fruit and spices are evident on the nose and the flavors include black cherry, raspberry, and blackberry with a touch of coffee and chocolate. The price is $29. Ralphi is Collin’s nickname.

The Nottingham Cellar’s tasting room is at 2245C South Vasco Road in Livermore, near Lawrence Livermore Labs, and next door to Occasio Winery. They are open Friday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Stop by to taste this bit of Livermore. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tour of Temecula Valley - Foot Path Winery

Foot Path Winery, formerly Foote Print Winery, is located on the east side of the Temecula Valley along Glen Oaks Road. This winery is a step into the agricultural roots of California, producing not only wine, but also a variety of Certified Organic fruits and after you drive up the long road to the metal barn winery, you are greeted by a pair of horses. This is not a winery designed for fancy weddings with large a large parking lot for limos, it is a winery dedicated to producing fine wines by the owner/winemaker Deane Foote and his family. The 20 acre farm has 3 acres of vines. As you walk into their barn/winery you are greeted like one of the family.

Deane Foote was originally a home winemaker who went on to help the Ponte winemaker. In 2005 he opened Foote Print Winery and recently changed the name to Foot Path Winery.

The 2007 Estate Footeage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It has a dark ruby color and aromas and flavors of dark fruit, spice and a touch of oak. The flavors are bountiful and it has a nice balance of fruit, tannin and acids. The price is $32.

The 2007 Krazy Foote is a blend of Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. This is a smooth drinking wine with a boost of tannin and spice to make it very interesting. The finish is long and delivers fruit and toast.

The 2007 Red Foote includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. It has a light floral note on the nose with blackberry, blueberry and licorice. The flavors include these same fruits and you will love the thick, chewy texture with multiple layers of fruit and spice. The finish is medium in length and this wine should go well with many foods. Price is $32.

Finish up with the 2005 Zinfandel Port. It has aromas of roasted nuts and dark fruits and plenty of chocolate. It is a medium bodied port delivering luscious fruits and concentrated flavors. 
For more info:  Foot Path Winery

Murrieta's Well Winery - legendary wine

The legendary Joaquin Murrieta, know as the “Robin Hood of El Dorado”, was both an outlaw and a popular folk hero. He roamed California during the Gold Rush days rustling cattle from the rich and returning them to his compadres in Mexico. His legend grew over the years. Lore has it that he and his men often stopped to water their horses at this artesian well bubbling up from the floor of Livermore Valley.

Louis Mel from France purchased the land where Murrieta Well presently lies in the 1880s and build a gravity-flow winery into the hillside and planted Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon on his land. He later sold the land to his neighbor, Ernest Wente in the early 1930s. In 1990 Ernest’s grandson Philip Wente teamed up with winemaker Sergio Traverso to bring the winery back to life. Philip grew up near the winery and Sergio was the chief winemaker at nearby Concannon. They decided to remain true to the heritage of the winery and create “old world” style field blends from the unique combination of grapes that thrived in the gravelly soils. Thus, they produced legendary wines from a legendary estate.

The 2007 White Meritage from the estate brings back the legendary Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon that were originally planted by Louis Mel. This blend has 52% Semillon and 48% Sauvignon Blanc. You will detect the beautiful honeysuckle and passion fruit on the nose leading on to flavors of melon, crème soda, green apple, vanilla and butterscotch. This creamy wine has a nice level of acidity and provides a long finish. The price is $24.

The 2007 Red Meritage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc. Each varietal was aged separately before blending. You will love the aromas and flavors of dark fruit including blackberry and blueberry with distinct notes of chocolate, clove, cinnamon anise and graham cracker with the toastiness coming through on the finish. Price is $38.
The Los Tesoros wines are barrel select wines specifically chosen by winemaker Sergio Traverso. The 2006 Los Tesoros Red Meritage is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. The exquisite aromas and flavors of the dark cherry, blackberry and cassis is enhanced by the soft texture and balanced acidity and tannins. You will love the notes of chocolate, clove and cinnamon along with the perfectly balanced toast on the finish. It is definitely new world fruit driven wine with an old world balance and texture. 

For more info:  Murrieta's Well Winery

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tour of Temecula Valley - Miramonte Winery

Miramonte Winery is a small family-owned and operated winery in Temecula Valley, founded in 2001 by Cane Vanderhoof. Cane has a passion for his wine and it shows through not only in his wines, but in his blog and social media that has made this small winery legendary. Cane feels that Temecula Valley is where Napa Valley was over 25 years ago, on the verge of becoming a major winemaking region in California.

The winery is set high on a hill overlooking Temecula Valley. As you drive up the road you feel like you are really off the beaten path. But as you enter the tasting room you are welcomed by a friendly informative staff. The winemaker believes that his job is to not harm the great flavors that are natural to the grape. Let the grape show through and deliver what the wine was born to deliver.

The 2007 Temecula Valley Riesling from McKay Vineyard is one of their most popular white wines. This small 2-acre vineyard is fully dedicated to producing grapes for this wine. You will love the aromas and flavors of mangos, apricots and tangerines with a honey note to it. This is a nicely structured wine that has great acidity and will go well with most foods. Price is $21.95.
The 2005 Opulente is a red Meritage blend from Temecula Valley. You will admire its dark rich color and the aromas of dark fruit including black cherry, blackberry and blueberry. There are hints of coffee on the nose and toast. It is a joy to drink with the same delightful flavors in a complex blend that delivers a fine balance of fruits and tannins. This wine has won multiple awards. The price is $38.95.

The winemaker focuses on Rhone varietals and the 2005 Estate Syrah from Temecula Valley shows just what Temecula wines can deliver. It is bold and spicy with aromas and flavors of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, coffee and both black and white pepper. The excellent balance of tannins and acids with the bountiful fruits and soft oak characteristics makes this wine a joy to drink. The price is $40.

Be sure to check out Cane’s Fruit Forward blog to lean more about Miramonte. 
For more info:  Miramonte Winery

Pelerin Wines - exceptional fruit with traditional winemaking results in premium wine

Pelerin is French for pilgrim and it symbolizes the journey of Chris and Cathy Weidemann. Chris left school at the age of 20 and started painting houses in Connecticut until he landed a job at a wine shop and discovered his passion for wine. He then moved to California with little money and got hired at Freemark Abbey winery in Napa as a cellar worker.
His passion for wine grew and he enrolled 1994 at U.C. Davis in the Viticulture and Enology program. There he met his future wife Cathy. Chris went on to make wine for several wineries in Napa valley and eventually to Morgan winery in Monterey, while Cathy pursued her MBA at San Jose State and worked as marketing director for Paraiso Winery.

Finally in 2002 they finished their pilgrimage to live their dream and established a small artisan winery in the premium wine region, Santa Lucia Highlands. 

They follow the time-honored plan of purchasing exceptional quality fruit and use traditional winemaking methods to create well-balanced wines with multi-layered complexity. Their fruit is sourced from organic vineyards.

Pelerin 2008 “Les Tournesols” Roussanne blend is produced with 72% Roussanne, 19% Viognier and 9% Chardonnay from Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine is finely balanced with apple and stone fruit aromas and flavors with notes of butterscotch, spice, vanilla, jasmine and roasted almonds. It has nice acidity and a good minerality leading to a finish with honey and ginger.

The 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is sourced from three vineyards in Santa Lucia Highlands, including 60% from Paraiso Vineyards, 20% from Tondre Grapefield and 20% from Fairview Road Ranch, wow, now that is location, location, location! The wine delivers the aromas and flavors of ripe cherry and strawberry with cola, cedar and spice notes. It even has a bit of a red bell pepper flavor for interest. The fruits come together beautifully leading to a long enticing finish.

The 2006 Monterey Syrah is 100% Syrah with 48% from Paraiso Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands and 52% from Mesa del Sol vineyard in Arroyo Seco. It is nicely balanced with flavors of black raspberry, pepper, spice, white pepper and roasted garlic and even a note of leather. It has a nice finish that will want you wanting more.

Pelerin’s most famous wine is the 2007 “RTW” (Red Table Wine) Red Blend, consisting of 50/50 Zinfandel and Syrah. In this vintage all the grapes came from the Arroyo Seco Mesa del Sol vineyard. Anne Hougham’s Mesa del Sol vineyard is a haven for heat-loving varietals. The sandy, gravelly soil above the Arroyo Seco gorge with the dramatic differences between night and day temperatures stresses the fruit and delivers the bright fruity flavors. You will definitely notice the dark fruit, black raspberry, and blackberry fruit mixed with clove, cinnamon and allspice plus a chocolate aroma.

For more information:  Pelerin Wines website

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stop H.R. 5034 - support free and fair trade of wine

The H.R. 5034 bill winding its way through Congress right now has been the subject of many discussions on wine blogs, wine associations, boutique wineries, and small retailers throughout California. The Specialty Wine Retailers Association has even established a website to fight against this bill.

Here in California we are lucky to have so many wines to select, from large wineries to thousands of small boutique wineries from one end of the Golden State to the other. Many other states have restrictions on wines from California being shipped direct to customers. While larger wineries have massive wholesalers to distribute their wines across the country, smaller boutique wineries that make California special have no such access. But in the age of the internet, these wineries have websites reaching out to customers from coast to coast, offering wine lovers a chance to taste these unique California wines.

In 2005 the Supreme Court case Granholm vs. Heald decided that states cannot prohibit wineries from other states from sending in their wines direct to consumers, if those same states allow their own wineries to disseminate wines direct to consumers, bypassing the large wholesalers. That was a great development for the smaller wineries and the consumers, but shipping direct to consumers can remove the wholesalers/distributors from the process.

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and the National Beer Wholesalers Association have banned together this year to convince Congress to introduce H.R. 5034 that will reverse this Supreme Court action by allowing states to again enact discriminatory bans on wine shipping.
Who is against H.R. 5034? The Specialty Wine Retailers Association (consisting of smaller wineries and retailers), the Wine Institute, the Family Winemakers of California and the Free the Grapes, a leading group in favor of direct interstate shipping of wine, are all working to fight this legislation.

To learn more about H.R. 5034 and see what you can do to stop this act, check out the Stop H.R. 5034 website for updates and how you can write Congress.
For more information:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Windy Oaks Estates opens their doors for vineyard tours during the summer

For many winemakers, a love of wine, a trip to a famous winegrowing region, and a passion for the grape leads to a life commitment to craft an exquisite bottle of fine wine. For Judy and Jim Schultze, owners of Windy Oaks Winery in Santa Cruz Mountains, their love of wine and travel took them from Australia to Europe, but particularly many visits to one of their favorite areas, Burgundy in France.

In 1996 after acquiring the land next to their home in the Corralitos area of Santa Cruz Mountains they planted the first three acres of Pinot Noir. Their research had shown that their area in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was ideal for growing the Burgundian varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Those three acres have now grown to 15 acres.

Windy Oaks Winery use classic Burgundian techniques with gravity feed and minimal handling of the delicate Pinot Noir grapes to produce a wine that is complex, full bodied and delicious with ripe fruits, integrated tannins and a long finish.

Judy and Jim are now inviting visitors to tour the Windy Oak Estate beginning this month and continuing on into September. The location of this winery is wonderful with the redwood forests reaching up the slopes to Mt. Madonna on one side and a 1,000 foot high ridge overlooking the blue Pacific on the other. The morning fog often makes you feel like you are on top of the world.
Visitors will taste the wines, learn about Windy Oaks unique organic/sustainable vineyard practices, and much more. Each tour will include wine tastings, paired with snacks or a gourmet box lunch on the vineyard ridge. “This is an opportunity to experience our vineyard during the height of the growing season,” says Judy Schultze, co-proprietor of Windy Oaks Estate with her husband and winemaker Jim Schultze.

Personal vineyard tours at Windy Oaks are for 2-6 people and will be scheduled daily, by reservation only, between 11am to 4pm. Each tour will last one and one-half to two hours. Cost is $25 per person including wine tasting and light snacks, or $35 per person which includes wine tasting and gourmet box lunch.

In addition to vineyard tours, Windy Oaks is open to the public for tastings every Saturday, Noon-5pm, through September.

For tour reservations contact Judy Schultze at 831.724.9562 Visit the Windy Oaks Estate website at

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tour of Temecula Valley - Oak Mountain Winery

Oak Mountain Winery is located along De Portola Road in Temecula Valley. The Spanish-style winery is 1,450 feet above the valley with views to the south and east. With plenty of parking, friendly tasting room staff, room to spread out along the tasting bar, and outdoor space where you can sample the wines and take in the views makes this winery a pleasure to visit. It was established in 2006 by Stephen and Valerie Andrews who are also the founders of nearby Temecula Hills Winery. Both Stephen and Valerie are often seen at the winery and the weekend this reporter was there, Stephen was outside at the pavilion offering special barrel tastings.

The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from Temecula Valley has great acidity with bright fruit including tropical fruit flavors combined with an intense aroma. This wine would go very well with fruit salads and veggie dips. The price is $16.

The 2007 For Pete’s Sake Red is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. On the nose you are rewarded by an intense aroma of cherries, plums and red fruit with an enticing mixture of spices and a touch of vanilla. On the palate the same fruits and vanilla flavors shine through this elegant silky wine, leading on to a pleasant long finish. The price is $28.

Oak Mountain’s 2006 Cabernet Franc has a deep dark color. Your nose detects the bright blackberry and black cherry fruit with a toastiness and touch of bramble that you expect in a Cab Franc. As you taste this wine you will enjoy the same dark fruit plus a baker’s chocolate content. The toastiness lingers on the palate and the finish. The price is $24.

Oak Mountain winery also includes an underground cave cellar. The beautiful views and the outdoor pavilion make this an ideal location for weddings with plenty of room for guests. Oak Mountain is located at 36522 Via Verde off De Portola road. 
For more info:  Oak Mountain Winery

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kokomo Winery - a part of Indiana in Dry Creek Valley

As we listen to Jim Nabors singing “Back Home in Indiana” at the Indianapolis 500, one winemaker in Dry Creek Valley, Erik Miller, might not be thinking of the sycamores and new mown hay, or the moonlight on the Wabash, as much as he is thinking of budding Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay vines.
Erik grew up in Kokomo, Indiana and graduated from Purdue University in 1999. But upon graduation he felt the pull to “Go west young man” and headed off to Sonoma County, trading cornfields and soybeans for vineyards and rolling hills. He started working crush for Belvedere Winery in Russian River Valley. With this taste of winemaking, he knew he wanted more and enrolled at UC Davis to study enology. He landed a position as cellar worker at Amphora Winery in Dry Creek Valley. In 2004 he started Kokomo Winery, named after his hometown. He convinced his college roommate to join him as assistant winemaker and by 2006 they moved into their own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley.

The 2008 Chardonnay is from Peters Vineyard in Russian River Valley. This is a very surprising Chardonnay exhibiting a high quality Burgundian style with great levels of acidity and aromas of vanilla, pineapple and a touch of tropical fruits. This is not a buttery Chardonnay but rather a true exhibition of the fruit of the vine with the classic citrus and green apple flavors, and full body texture and followed by a long clean finish. Only 520 cases were made and the suggested price is $29.

The 2007 Sonoma County Zinfandel comes from three vineyards in Sonoma County, ranging form Martorana Vineyard high above Lake Sonoma to Timber Crest Vineyards on the benchland of Dry Creek Valley to Perotti Vineyards, a small one acre site that has proven to deliver a fruit forward aroma. This is a big jammy wine rich in aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry and plum with chocolate and spice to deliver a well rounded wine with an earthiness that you expect from Zinfandel. They produced 800 cases and the suggested price is $22.

For more information:  Kokomo Winery website

Paso Robles Wine Country - Part 2

Grapes important to Paso Robles include Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Rhone varietals such as Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and Roussanne, to name just a few. However, there exist numerous unique microclimates that enable the successful growing of a wide range of varietals, including Italian grapes such as Sangiovese and Barbera. In recognition of this diversity, there are plans to create 11 sub-appellations inside the Paso Robles AVA, each with its own unique growing conditions.

The large diurnal swing of temperatures in this AVA results if significant differences in climate in the various parts of this huge region. Daytime high temperatures can easily reach 85 to 105 degrees during the summer days. But as the cool marine air flows east through the Templeton Gap and south along the Salinas River from Monterey Bay, these hot temperatures are cooled in the late afternoon giving the vines a chance to rest at night.

Rainfall also varies greatly over this region. In the City of Paso Robles the annual rainfall is 15.5 inches, yet in the warmer eastern regions they might only see 8 inches in a year and in the higher western ridges they often see 45 inches.

Christian Lazo Wines is a small winery started by Steve Christian and his wife Guadalupe. Their Christian Lazo 2006 Petite Sirah is unusually delicate for a Petite Sirah and easy to drink. It is jammy with plenty of aromas and flavors of dark fruit, raspberry, cherry and blackberry. The real delight of this wine is the undertones of cinnamon, clove and allspice. The typical bramble quality of Petite Sirah is also evident.
Steve produces 125 cases of this wine and it is 100% Petite Sirah. The price is approximately $27.
Maloy O’Neill Vineyards 2006 “Hillside” Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of their experimental hillside vineyard that has extremely low yields resulting from intense canopy management and hand manicured farming techniques. The result is a wine with concentrated flavors and aromas while being very approachable now and for years. This wine has a dark, rich crimson color and exhibits all of the aromas and flavors you expect from a fine Cabernet, including dark cherry, cassis, cranberry, blackberry, and various spices such as cinammon, clove, and black pepper.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is produced by winemaker Shannon O’Neill. He produces 170 cases and the price is approximately $27. 
For more info: