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Booty Juice

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Greetings!

Made the rounds yesterday to some local vineyards in Edna Valley (SLO), Templeton and West Paso, talked to some vineyard managers, and swung by Tin City in Paso to talk to a few wine makers and taste their work. Since each post is limited to 10 pictures I’ll do these in two posts.

Although SLO and Paso are barely 30 minutes apart, the temperature difference can easily reach 20 degrees F.

You’ll notice a few pictures of old school bush vines, which are not uncommon around here. Most are dry farmed Grenache or Zin.

In the Central Coast there are hundreds of these commercial vineyards and what seems like the same amount of private vanity vineyards, so these pictures don’t even scratch the surface. As for wineries , again, hundreds – many grow their own grapes and many buy them under contract and on the open market.

Regarding home wine making here – as someone who moved here from NorCal where we have long-time friends and access to much of the best fruit, there are some things that are surprising about the Central Coast. There is only one home wine makers club, and to be kind it is sub optimal. The membership are all old dudes (no offense as I am one) who only took up wine making post-retirement and who all use the exact same widely published methods and products. There’s no interest in deviating from The Book, in fact deviations are mocked, ridiculed and feared. “Too risky”, “playing with fire” – really? This is a beverage we’re talking about, right? But here’s the kicker - the grapes that they source and offer to their members are from a very low-quality (relatively speaking) vineyard in Santa Maria. Compared to what is grown here, they might as well be from the Central Valley. It’d be like living in Belgium and making beer from a Bud Light recipe. Thankfully, some very high quality vineyard owners or managers here are kind enough to sell sub ton lots to pesky home gamers as long we pick it ourselves or arrive at exactly the right time. As a result, the grapes we can get our hands on here are really quite outstanding. With access to fruit of this quality, why would you NOT push the envelope.

While not directly related to wine making technique, I have always been interested in and made contacts with the local growing / making community. If anyone has any pictures of their local situations, I would be interested in seeing and learning about that. Finger Lakes? Pacific Northwest? Arizona / NM? Idaho? Colorado? Just about every region in the country / world has their own specialty or uniqueness.



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CDrew

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Very nice post and pics!

My wife and had a great weekend in SLO just before Covid hit and are waiting for the end of the pandemic to make it back. If you have any extra special small places we should visit, send them to me. Chamisal, Biddle Ranch and Wolfe were the small but happening type places we like. But if you know some off the beaten path places, please send me a PM with info. It would be much appreciated.
 

Booty Juice

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Thanks Drew - I took this yesterday. When I've made PN in the past, the vineyard manager was kind enough to give me access.

There are just so many small, special winemakers here....

Next time you make plans, lmk what style you're looking for.Chamisal.jpg
 
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CDrew

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Those "bush" vines are "head trained" which is prevalent everywhere in grape country. They require hand picking though, and in this day of declining ag labor, they will likely need to be replanted. I don't know if they can just be retrained onto a trellis type system or not.

My wife really liked Chamisal. They opened up extra wines for her that were not on the menu and I know for sure we are going back there! We bought a mixed case that day, and have not been able to go back. Now with Covid on the run, it won't be long!
 

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Great post! I am a Cal Poly grad, as are all my kids. Love SLO and the wines down there. Edna Chardonnay is hard to beat as are Paso’s Zin and Cab.

We have a very good wine club up in Sacramento area and some excellent winemakers that I’ve got to know. I try to stick to commercial vineyards and getting commercial grapes is all about the relationships. I always thank them, let the vineyard owner know what I’m doing with the grapes and return the next year with a few bottles of wine. I’ve always been welcomed back.
 

ibglowin

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We are currently out in SoCal playing with the grandkids in beautiful downtown Burbank this weekend but tomorrow we will give the kids a break and spend 4 days in SLO/Paso wine tasting and site seeing.

We are club members at Tolosa (Edna Valley), Adelaida (Paso) and Austin Hope (Paso). We have scheduled Spring allocation pickup and tastings over the next couple days.

New wineries that we have reservations for are Calcareous (Paso), Daou (Paso) and Niner (Paso).

Will post picks later in the week!
 

Booty Juice

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Thanks @NorCal - It's a great school and a great place. So many Poly grads would like to stay here, but the jobs........sadly they must leave. It is getting better though with quite a few tech companies. I wish someone like you would organize the local wine makers club - but it is a lot of work I'm sure.

Thank you @ibglowin - Sounds like you've got your wine planned out nicely. Vineyard Rd., Adelaida Rd., and Peachy Cyn Rd. wind through some very beautiful country with a ton of great wine. The Daou's will pour you delicious, big-ass cabs and their tasting room is always lively. The Niner tasting room is massive and beautiful, but I haven't tried their wines yet - please let us know. If you are staying in Paso you can't go wrong with the food at Hatch, Les Petites Canailles, or Alchemist Garden but you may need reservations. We live in Shell Beach and ride our bikes to Avila to people watch, drink wine (not necessarily good wine) and wine slushy's (there I said it) at Pier Front or eat at Ocean's Grille. Enjoy your trip the weather should be good.

Edit - If you want a very-off-the-beaten-path winery in Avila, try Kelsey (unless you are put off by the possibility of a little sediment!).
 
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ibglowin

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Thank you for the food/dinner ideas! Much appreciated. Will report back on Niner. I want to try Chamisal but not this time more than likely. Everyone in our party is fully vaxxed this time around so our visit should be much more enjoyable and relaxed. :r

Thanks @NorCal - It's a great school and a great place. So many Poly grads would like to stay here, but the jobs........sadly they must leave. It is getting better though with quite a few tech companies. I wish someone like you would organize the local wine makers club - but it is a lot of work I'm sure.

Thank you @ibglowin - Sounds like you've got your wine planned out nicely. Vineyard Rd., Adelaida Rd., and Peachy Cyn Rd. wind through some very beautiful country with a ton of great wine. The Daou's will pour you delicious, big-ass cabs and their tasting room is always lively. The Niner tasting room is massive and beautiful, but I haven't tried their wines yet - please let us know. If you are staying in Paso you can't go wrong with the food at Hatch, Les Petites Canailles, or Alchemist Garden but you may need reservations. We live in Shell Beach and ride our bikes to Avila to people watch, drink wine (not necessarily good wine) and wine slushy's (there I said it) at Pier Front or eat at Ocean's Grille. Enjoy your trip the weather should be good.

Edit - If you want a very-off-the-beaten-path winery in Avila, try Kelsey (unless you are put off by the possibility of a little sediment!).
 

CDrew

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Thank you for the food/dinner ideas! Much appreciated. Will report back on Niner. I want to try Chamisal but not this time more than likely. Everyone in our party is fully vaxxed this time around so our visit should be much more enjoyable and relaxed. :r
Take the extra hour and go to Chamisal. They were one of the early believers in the Central Coast, and make excellent (tho expensive) wine. Neither my wife or I are big Chardonnay fans, but the Chardonnay there had both of us surprised and happy. Several bottles followed us home and have already been enjoyed. Their Syrah was also a standout, even though they are known for Pinot Noir. I want to go back now!
 

ibglowin

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Had an excellent tasting yesterday afternoon at Tolosa (Edna Valley)!

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Lovely day with temps in the mid 70's.

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Tasted through the Chards (including a barrel sample) as well as all the Pinots (including several barrel samples). Were so impressed with the 2020 Drum Canyon (single vineyard) Pinot that we bit on a 3 pack (futures). Amazing juice. The tasting room is opening back up starting this weekend for indoor limited tastings (reservation only).

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Today we are north in Paso proper with tastings this afternoon at Austin Hope as well as Calcareous. Temps in Paso today are expected to hit 95........
 

ibglowin

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We had an excellent visit yesterday to Austin Hope for a tasting and Spring allocation pickup. Our hostess was amazing. We were welcomed immediately and they sat us out doors in a shaded cabana overlooking the vineyard.

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The pours were generous and we were offered lots of pours that were not on the list. If we asked for something it was immediately brought out for tasting. We left happy and with not only our Spring allocation but 3 extra wines to boot. The experience here was hands downing one of the best you could wish for.

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Had a quick bite before our last stop of the day at Calcareous Vineyard down the road about 10 mins away.

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So first visit to Calcareous. It did not go well. LOL Appointment for 3PM. Thy send you txt making you confirm your appointment. We show up on time and there was no one to greet us and nobody even acknowledged us standing at the checkin area for almost 10 mins......

Finally got noticed and checked in. Calcareous is known for the patio that overlooks the Templeton Gap. The view did not disappoint.

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Sadly our host just did not seem interested in his job, he was just going through the motions basically. No interest in chit chat. Only 4 wines were offered for tasting. When we threw him the lead of "tell us about your wine club" he still did not seem to be interested in trying to reel us in. Asked about tasting the 94pt Syrah and a 93pt Syrah/Petit Verdot blend and he said he would check and then came back with neither wine we requested to taste but some bait and switch wine that was OK but at that point we were pretty much ready to go. We ended up blind purchasing a bottle of the 94pt Syrah and the GSM blend that was excellent and left. The wines were good but our tasting experience was terrible.

Today after our morning walkabout we will hit Adelaida (which we are club members) and then Daou late this afternoon. Hoping for a good tasting experience at Daou......
 
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ibglowin

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Excellent visit to Adelaida yesterday (which is no surprise)!

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The weather cooled off nicely from the day before and there was a nice breeze out on the covered patio Our Hostess was amazing and very knowledgeable about any and all things Paso since she has lived here since 1982. The wines were all excellent. The Picpoul Blanc was as usual calling my name so an extra bottle of that came home as well as some more Syrah and even a Mag of their Pinot Noir. Our hostess asked where we were headed next and we said Daou and she said you need to get their charcuterie board its amazing.......

We headed down the road to Daou which was only a 5 minute drive. Online you will see reviews saying that Daou treats it's visitors with an attitude of sorts. We found our hostess to be very approachable and quite down to earth. If you thought the view from Calcareous was amazing, the view from Daou was 100X better..........

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The wines at Daou were all very good. Sadly none of them really stood out to be head and shoulders above some of the other wineries we visited. Their wines are some of the priciest in the Paso region as well. We did opt-in for the Onyx Mezze plate after seeing one go by our table. It was worth the price of admission for sure.........

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The Cabs were good and our Hostess even poured without hesitation a sample of the 2018 Soul of the Lion Cab Sauv. Again very good but it did not stand out over Austin Hope or Adelaida and it was 3-4X the price. Daou makes an entry level Cab that you can find quite often at Costco and it is very good and a steal if you should see one live in the wild at Costco.

All in all we had a wonderful visit and experience at Daou. We left happy (and full) and even though we did not make any purchases to take home we were treated just as if we had become a member.

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We decided to bag Niner Wine Estate for another trip. We are wined out for this trip and the back of the CRV is getting full!

We head back after today to beautiful downtown Burbank to spend the rest of the week with the kids and grandkids.

All for now!
 
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Cynewulf

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While not directly related to wine making technique, I have always been interested in and made contacts with the local growing / making community. If anyone has any pictures of their local situations, I would be interested in seeing and learning about that. Finger Lakes? Pacific Northwest? Arizona / NM? Idaho? Colorado? Just about every region in the country / world has their own specialty or uniqueness.
Unfortunately, these aren’t the highest quality photos but since you expressed interest in seeing different regions from around the world I thought I’d share these from the vineyards of Vin et Pic in the Côtes du Forez near my wife’s hometown in France. This vineyard is specifically in Écotay l’Olme and is planted with Gamay. Several years ago, I had been wanting to participate in a vendange and told the caviste I go to when I’m there as much. He looked at me sideways and said if I was sure to meet him at his shop that Monday at 5am. I only did it for a day but that was the hardest day of work of my life. You can see how low they train the vines and it was basically doing squats for 10 hours. I couldn’t walk down stairs for a week. For the last part of the afternoon I could no longer bend my knees so just scooted down the rows on my butt while the vigneron’s 80 year old father (I was 34 at the time) zipped by me. The ladies just laughed at “l’americain” while they cruised up and down the rows. Wonderful country people though. I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of lunch but it was everything you’d want: a communal table in an old farmhouse with rustic French country food and different folks sharing their homemade wine. I remember one of the things that surprised me at the time was all of the spiders in the grapes. The bins were full of them. I asked my caviste friend as we were driving to the crusher what they do about the spiders before crushing the grapes. He just laughed and said even chez Petrus they have spiders. Sure enough, leaves were removed but everything else went in. This is the kind of wine I love: old school, no additions, fermented just with the indigenous yeasts. It’s not a fancy wine but one I’d drink every night of the week if I could. And when I planted my own vines, I trained them 4 feet high.

‘On the attack’ in the morning. You can see how low everyone has to crouch or bend to get at the grapes:
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Beautiful Gamay grapes:
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It was a male. They checked.
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70% crushed and destemmed, 30% whole cluster. Pigeage à pied (punch downs by booted foot). BTW, for those with an interest in construction the walls of the barn the fermenters are in are pisé de terre, or rammed earth. Apparently it’s common in old buildings in the area as my wife’s grandfather’s house was constructed with them.
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Booty Juice

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Unfortunately, these aren’t the highest quality photos but since you expressed interest in seeing different regions from around the world I thought I’d share these from the vineyards of Vin et Pic in the Côtes du Forez near my wife’s hometown in France. This vineyard is specifically in Écotay l’Olme and is planted with Gamay. Several years ago, I had been wanting to participate in a vendange and told the caviste I go to when I’m there as much. He looked at me sideways and said if I was sure to meet him at his shop that Monday at 5am. I only did it for a day but that was the hardest day of work of my life. You can see how low they train the vines and it was basically doing squats for 10 hours. I couldn’t walk down stairs for a week. For the last part of the afternoon I could no longer bend my knees so just scooted down the rows on my butt while the vigneron’s 80 year old father (I was 34 at the time) zipped by me. The ladies just laughed at “l’americain” while they cruised up and down the rows. Wonderful country people though. I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of lunch but it was everything you’d want: a communal table in an old farmhouse with rustic French country food and different folks sharing their homemade wine. I remember one of the things that surprised me at the time was all of the spiders in the grapes. The bins were full of them. I asked my caviste friend as we were driving to the crusher what they do about the spiders before crushing the grapes. He just laughed and said even chez Petrus they have spiders. Sure enough, leaves were removed but everything else went in. This is the kind of wine I love: old school, no additions, fermented just with the indigenous yeasts. It’s not a fancy wine but one I’d drink every night of the week if I could. And when I planted my own vines, I trained them 4 feet high.
Excellent! So much good stuff here, love the pictures.

The closest I have been to Ecotay l’Olme is Lyon and its surrounding countryside. It looks like beautiful country. I would love to find some Gamay to ferment as I too obviously share your preference for fresh, lighter, fruit forward, approachable wines. Interesting about the 30% whole cluster. I have access to high quality Grenache (with which I make my favorite wine) which I usually ferment 100% whole berry, but I’m thinking this year I may go 75% whole berry, 25% whole cluster.

Are those fermenters closed top (looks like a CO2 bottle there)? Stainless? Is that red color a coating?

Do they ferment with an extended maceration?

Is this a commercial operation or a shared / family / community vineyard and winery?

One of my business’s is construction (commercial GC) so the picture of the rammed earth barn was also very interesting.

Harvest meals are such a treat. My last old country harvest was in Slovenia (Kobjeglava) in ’18 but the Italy harvests are similar – suckling pig, garden fruit and vegetables, home made pasta (Slovenian food is heavily Italian-influenced), home made bread / cheese / wine, and cellar cured meats – with friends and family. That’s livin’.

Sorry for the mediocre picture here - I tried uploading a video but .MOV or .mp4 files aren't accepted.

Thank you @Cynewulf for taking the time to post your situation!


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balatonwine

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old school bush vines, which are not uncommon
Just to say, "old school" does not necessarily mean "incorrect vineyard management". All too often the "new school" methods are designed to increase productivity, using modern machinery, but at time at the the expense of quality versus the "old school" methods. Just saying. :cool:
 

Booty Juice

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Just to say, "old school" does not necessarily mean "incorrect vineyard management". All too often the "new school" methods are designed to increase productivity, using modern machinery, but at time at the the expense of quality versus the "old school" methods. Just saying. :cool:
100% agree.
 

Cynewulf

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The closest I have been to Ecotay l’Olme is Lyon and its surrounding countryside. It looks like beautiful country.
Very cool, I’ve lived in Lyon twice: once as a student and once for work. It’s a neat city, but always nice to get out in the country which is beautiful in the surrounding environs.

I would love to find some Gamay to ferment as I too obviously share your preference for fresh, lighter, fruit forward, approachable wines. Interesting about the 30% whole cluster. I have access to high quality Grenache (with which I make my favorite wine) which I usually ferment 100% whole berry, but I’m thinking this year I may go 75% whole berry, 25% whole cluster.
I’d love some Gamay as well but it seems impossible to get out here on the East coast; even the vines don’t seem to be available at a reasonable price. I’d love to hear how your Grenache plan works out. I’m hoping I’ll get a decent harvest from my Marquette this year and plan to go with 40% whole cluster. Since it’s a high acid/low pH grape, I’m hoping the the intact grapes will catabolize a good bit of the acid while the potassium from the stems will take care of a bit more of it.


Are those fermenters closed top (looks like a CO2 bottle there)? Stainless? Is that red color a coating?
They have stainless fermenters but the red and white ones I believe are fiberglass. I don’t remember too well, but I think they had lids they could cover them with. I believe they do some straight carbonic maceration there so that may be one use for the gas, but I didn’t know enough at the time to ask more of the right questions.

Do they ferment with an extended maceration?
I guess it depends on what you mean by extended maceration. I think some folks may consider anything more than a week to be extended but the French winemakers I’ve either spoken to or researched seem to just refer to it as a 3-5 week fermentation or encuvage. The reds here are typically 3 weeks in cuve then pressed. I think the French would consider multiple months in cuve to be extended maceration but I don’t think they do that here.

Is this a commercial operation or a shared / family / community vineyard and winery?
I remember my impression at the time was that it was a sort of cooperative but as I’ve read through the website I think it’s more a family run thing. If everything works out I should be over there next month and hope to be able to stop by and see them and ask more informed questions than I could at the time.

Harvest meals are such a treat. My last old country harvest was in Slovenia (Kobjeglava) in ’18 but the Italy harvests are similar – suckling pig, garden fruit and vegetables, home made pasta (Slovenian food is heavily Italian-influenced), home made bread / cheese / wine, and cellar cured meats – with friends and family. That’s livin’.
Agreed! I’ve been to Slovenia several times for work and have loved every trip, though was mostly in Ljubljana; I’d love to spend more time in the country there. The closest I’ve been to Kobjeglava was around the corner at Koper seaport. I did get up to Lake Bled one day for lunch. Beautiful country!
 

Booty Juice

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I've had many good times in Trieste so I know the seaport in Koper. Here is a picture of Bled from the boat going to the island in '18. It's a great place to spend a long weekend or week with friends in the cabins, and I still love the hillside land luge - it's something impossible to replicate here due to law suits! Everything is so inexpensive there compared to here. Our relatives who travel here are always shocked at the price of wine ("the wine was more than the entree'!!").

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