How fortunate we are to live in this area with its rich sand and soils nestled beneath rolling hills and coastal air meeting valley sunshine. We inhabit the perfect environment for growing grapes, remarkably similar to the Tuscany region in Italy. Our local offerings are not just earning a following among wine connoisseurs, many are bringing home awards from prestigious competitions. An idyllic 50th birthday week was spent recently, partaking of some of our area’s bounty from talented winemakers. We sampled out of the barrel, nibbling on cheeses and charcuterie while admiring paintings of cows, under an authentic Portuguese wine garden trellis, in a place graced by God not exclusively on Sundays, and in the luxurious abode of an immensely informative and welcoming hostess. We wanted to pick a few of the “must try” bottles and varietals to share with 110° readers. It was a hard task, but we are always up for a good challenge (oh, who are we kidding, this was such a great assignment)! We learned so much about the wine-making process, but beyond that, we gained insight into the heart and soul conviction and love poured into each bottle. Tricia says, “That’s the difference, when you come here and do some wine tasting, you will come across the people who make these wines come alive. You will have the opportunity to learn the story behind each bottle. This elevates the experience to one you will not have in Napa or Sonoma.”
Becky Bloomfield’s passion for wines is evident the moment she starts to pour. She educated us on the grapes, told tales of the hours spent in the field hand picking vines, and beamed with pride over the many awards her wines have garnered. We indulged in flights of white first, accompanied by a locally sourced peach bruschetta that Becky had prepared as a pairing. The clean whites are aged in stainless steel barrels, leaving a clean citrus taste unmasked by oak. Homemade chocolate brownies accompanied the reds, a perfect way to sample. Becky shares that the hints of flavor in the wines will bring up memories. One, in fact, conjured up memories for one of her patrons that they couldn’t pinpoint. She filled in the blanks for him, it was Juicy Fruit gum. Sure enough, the moment she said it, I could recognize just the essence she was talking about! My favorite quote from Becky was “I know what I’m doing when I’m blending.” Indeed, it shows. “I have more of a preference for chardonnay, but this sauvignon blanc was crisp and refreshing with its guava and tropical fruit notes. I fell in love with it and it’s especially something I would want to drink all summer,” said Tricia of her glass. Favorite Pick: 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, winner of gold at the Orange County Fair and Central Coast Wine Competition. Winner of silver at California State Fair and San Francisco Chronicle.
We have attended quite a few events at this vineyard, they always leave a lasting impression. The grounds are magnificent, replete with a trellised stage, overlooking a man-made lake. There are two event halls for hosting any sort of celebration, small to large. The smaller hall contains a handmade wall that looks like a giant wine barrel strewn with fairy lights. Inside of the newly remodeled tasting room, we were met to indulge in their wine offerings. Any bride would be proud to host their guests with the McCauley selections of sparkling wine, sauvignon blanc, and mourvèdre made of zinfandel and syrah grapes. Favorite Pick: Sparkling Wine, this is a place for effervescent events, what better way to party.
Peter Peterson welcomed us onto his picturesque property with arms wide open. He was eager to share his many varietals with us and escorted us into his adorable wine tasting room. Peterson Vineyards grapes come from ancient European vines, but the aging process is modern, done in stainless steel barrels. Peterson’s wines are exceptionally clean, with no added sugar or additives, and low sulfites. Peter is clear that taking out all the leaves and wood upon harvest makes a difference. It was apparent to us that after close to 12 glasses, we should be feeling something more than buzzy. But we felt so good! Next, we went to the barrel room where we tried the many ports that Peter specializes in. It was hard to pick a standout winner. We pondered our favorite while nibbling cheese and crackers under the natural trellis in the traditional Portuguese wine garden. Many events are held here as evident by the outdoor stage, they also offer a Sunday picnic brunch under the magical grapevine canopy. Tricia summed up the winner perfectly, “I’m a port girl at heart, there’s nothing better than a tawny port after dinner. But I have never had the pleasure of tasting a light port before. This chardonnay port is on the sweet side, yet refreshing and smooth. A perfect combination of two of my favorite wines, it’s absolutely delicious chilled!” Favorite Pick: Pura Vida, which is Costa Rican for Good Life.
HARRY’S WINE TAVERN
Harry’s Wine Tavern serves hard-to-find beer and wine from around the world. The owners, Tammy and Tim Zickhur, search far and wide to bring the taste of many worldwide regions into our own. Their selection is almost exclusively continental. Tammy’s excitement about wine was infectious as she poured flight after flight for us to try. Tammy shares, “I am not in competition with the local vineyards. I wanted to bring something to our area that was different, a different taste than the grapes we have here.” Tricia shares, “I love the atmosphere at Harry’s. Tammy and Tim did an amazing job with design. I love gazing at the whimsical cow paintings as I am nibbling on treats from my favorite deli next door, Roadees. The setting is small and intimate, yet the glass windows give it an outdoor feel, there’s also a back patio!” We tried champagne, chardonnay, rose, merlot, muscat, and beer barrel aged pinot noir, while dining on munchies from Roadees. This pick was a toss-up. Tricia swears by the champagne which she buys in bulk, so we are awarding it an honorable mention, it’s called Blanc de Chenin Vouvray Brut by Gilles Gaudron. Favorite Pick: Muscat, it is ridiculously good and is nearest in taste to the exclusive Castello di Amorosa Fantasia of years past.
CAMPOS FAMILY VINEYARDS
What can we say about this blessed place that cannot be seen and felt from the moment you set foot within? This is hallowed ground. The Campos family bought this vineyard because they were led there by their hearts. They opened their facilities as a place of worship, and let the grapes fund their good works. “The Campos’s are the biggest hearted people in this community. The stories of giving back that go with each of the wines tells the tale best. Their wine quality has grown to winning awards and accolades that are well deserved, they are knocking it out of the park.” Their grandchildren make up the inspiration behind many of their label names. One notable red, Gigi’s Blend, was named after their granddaughter with autism. Proceeds of the wine go toward helping others with the condition. That blend won a silver at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition this year. Favorite Pick: 2016 Red Blend Barbera – Reserve Estate Blend, Winning Best of Class at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and setting the bar high for any big, robust red coming out of California!