Monthly Archives: January 2015

This Year’s Top Three Wine Travel Destinations In U.S.

When it comes to wine destinations, there are all kinds of places folks might think of. Certainly most of California could be considered in the forefront of thought when traveling. And in fact wine travel in the Golden State is wide open with a plethora of great wine locations to visit.

However, there are many great places to enjoy wine in the United States. As far as Wine Enthusiast magazine is concerned, the top three places to go are the Finger Lakes in New York, Orlando, Florida, and Mendocino, California.

Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes

Just as Paso Robles was last year, the Finger Lakes region (New York) became the current top wine region in the world. Upstate New York has produced some of the great Riesling’s on the planet, and now the rest of the world is finding out what experts have known for years. However, the aromatic grape isn’t the only reason folks come to this part of the Empire State.

The Finger Lakes has long been a popular tourist destinations. While now being acknowledged as a promising wine-producing destination, the region also has a blossoming food culture. Combine this with some impressive natural beauty with the many Finger Lakes and four distinct seasons – it’s no wonder why the area was well thought-of as a top wine travel destination.

Orlando

Orlando without doubt comes to mind when thinking travel. Heck, say just two words: Disney World, and it’s obvious why people would want to come to Florida. Also, let’s face it, Florida is on many folks minds when thinking of travel, including warm sunshine and a multitude of things to do.

However, wine destination? Isn’t this place for kids? In short, a grand assortment of top-notch eateries just outside of theme parks has helped put the popular tourist destination on the wine travel map. And don’t forget the fact the place is a golfers dream. No, there aren’t very many wines from the Sunshine State though there are many boutique vinos available and the overabundance of prime restaurants have more than their fare share of great wines to pull from.

Mendocino

With some of the most stunning coastline anywhere in the world, Mendocino jumps up on this list as already excellent wine region with splendid and magnificent views. Relaxing environs everywhere you turn offer a distinct calm and restful place that few destinations in the world can present. In other words the Mendocino region is laidback.

Infamous redwoods give way to a spectacular coast with dramatic sights that will leave you breathless. Cool weather wines like Pinot Noir along with Champagne (oops, sparkling wine) are in abundance – as is marijuana. Did I say it was laidback? Less than three hours north of the Bay Area, the region should be on anyone’s agenda if you’re into wine and travel.

In Vino Veritas,

Daryle W. Hier

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New Wine Barrel Artists

Just as our business came from a simple idea with no thoughts of a business, so too have these brand new artists and parents, with a another take on making wine barrels into art.

A year ago, Monte and Melissa Martella of Livermore, California, were awaiting the birth of their first child with no plan on creating a business. Yet, shortly after the birth of their daughter Audrina, with Monte staying home to care after both the Melissa and the newborn, he took a some old wine barrels and made a rocking chair out of the wood.

Then Monte created an American flag that has become a focal point of the new entrepreneurial project. Like our story, plus showing people on Facebook their work, there was a clamoring for the new products that has led to a booming business of sorts, taking old wine barrels and making art of all different types. Martella’s Wine Barrel Art Shop (Etsy) is now something the two teachers do in their spare time.

The idea of making art and products out of wine barrels isn’t new, but the Martella’s have a twist on the idea and offer both products they make or something a customer might custom order.

They work with other artists and one company will be reproducing the popular American flag, exactly to Monte’s specifications. And note, every other flag will still be produced by the Martella’s.

Check them out.

Additional source: Martellas.com

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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What Is The Best White Wine?

A lot of talk about red wine dominates our blog, but I realize, white wine is just as popular and in fact in some cases, is more popular than reds. I don’t personally have a great palette and it seems when it comes to the lighter shades of vino, my taste buds lack any real interest. Still, it’s easier on a hot day to uncork a nice white wine than heavier reds like Zin, which I love.White wines: keep these affordable winners, from both the New and Old World, chilled for any occasion.

But enough about my thoughts: what is your favorite white wine varietal?

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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The Whistler Tree

I was reading about yet another article on the cork versus screw cap debate – which I too have opined – when a comment about one particular cork tree producing 100,000 corks in a year, caught my interest. I had heard about the oldest cork tree but didn’t pay close attention until now.

The Whistler Tree

The Whistler Tree is the most famous and prolific cork oak in the world.

Amazingly, the oldest known cork oak tree is called the ‘Whistler Tree’ and does indeed produced that much cork … and more.

A renewable resource and naturally biodegradable, cork comes from the bark of a particular evergreen oak (quercus suber) and has been used as wine stopping material for nearly five centuries – corking bottles to keep microorganisms from ruining wine. Western Mediterranean climate seems to benefit cork and as such, rows and rows of groves in places like Spain, Algeria and most notably Portugal have produced a vast majority of the somewhat spongy stuff.

That brings us to the Whistler Tree; the oldest recognized cork oak in the world. It is 231 years old, which is well beyond the age of most cork oaks lifetime. Typically, a cork tree lives about 200 years. The rich fertile region and stand the tree grows in is a vast open countryside called Alentejo with its characteristically warm dry Portuguese climate. More specifically, this particular forest of cork oaks is near the Sado River, not far from the countries capital city of Lisbon.

Cork is not harvested every year and in fact in younger trees, there’s a dozen years or so between harvests. Once they’re as old as the Whistler Tree, the dark grey cork is harvested every nine years; so, the next harvest will be in the summer of 2018. It should be noted, the thickness of the bark cut off is roughly two inches.

Cork Oak grove in Portugal

Cork Oak grove in Portugal

Its record-breaking haul happened in 1991 when well over a ton of bark was taken from the giant tree. The Whistler Tree’s haul in 1991 was as much as some cork oaks produce in a lifetime. It’s estimated that the famous tree will have produced over a million corks for a final tally.  By the way, if you’re wondering why it’s called the Whistler Tree, it’s because of the hundreds of songbirds that use the tree as a home. Also, the reason they don’t cut above a certain height has to do with laws prohibiting the length that can be cut off.

One last tidbit, you may never have heard or even thought of. As a renewable resource, because cork oak trees are regularly harvested, the tree uses additional carbon for restoration of its bark over that of an unharvested oak.

So drink up and make sure you ‘pop’ that cork – you’re keeping our air cleaner.

Additional sources: Cork: Biology, Production and Uses, Cork Oak Woodlands on the Edge

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Central Coast Wine Country Is More Than Paso

It’s easy to be lulled into thinking the world rises and sets in wine country on the California Central Coast with Paso Robles. Considering Paso was the worlds number one wine region, it’s no wonder why I or anyone else would regard the North County of San Luis Obispo with such high praise and even reverence. Ah, but that would reduce the significant contributions from the rest of San Luis Obispo County.

San Luis Obispo

More pointedly, the city of San Luis Obispo and surrounding area have more than their fair share of wine producing vineyards and tasting rooms. Just a handful of miles from the Pacific Ocean, vineyards in places like Edna Valley on the southeastern part of town to more south into the Arroyo Grande Valley are unique and produce fine wines. Other than Avila Valley to the west, tasting rooms mostly are in or around the city itself.

Varietals such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir along with Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are what the region produces the most of. Cool ocean air makes growing grapes like Pinot Noir ideal. It appears wine has been produced in the area for 150 years or more.

All of these areas including Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County to Santa Cruz County in the north, are part of the larger Central Coast AVA. The Monterey Bay region has wonderful wine districts and of course Santa Barbara is now well known in part because of the movie ‘Sideways‘. When folks visit the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara, they often will then head up an hour and a half away to Paso Robles, often skipping places, driving right by cities like San Luis Obispo … but it’s worth the time to stop and take in the southern part of the county.

Edna Valley

Edna Valley is only a half-a-dozen miles from the Pacific Ocean, but is just far enough that it allows for a very long growing season.

The growing season is one of the longest in California and offers an array of wines that should be checked out by anyone interested in finding the newest upstarts in the viticultural business. So as you can see, the county of San Luis Obispo is more than just the North County and Paso Robles – check here to find out more.

And don’t forget, starting in Morro Bay, there’s no coastline as beautiful as the Central Coast with one of the greatest driving tours in the world. Oh, and did we mention weddings?

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Top 20 National Ranking For Paso Robles

Between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, on the California Central Coast where wine is prominent, quietly sits the town Paso Robles.

However, there’s another prominent entity in town and more directly the high school, has reached new heights with their football program. The Bearcats’ gridiron squad, which at one point was for a short time ranked in the Top 10, ended the year 19th overall nationally among small schools (MaxPrep).

Coached by Rich Schimke and led by San Luis Obispo County’s top athlete in Bailey Gaither, Paso Robles went to their first bowl game and in the fact was the first team from the Central Coast to be represented in the state championships.

The Bearcats went the entire magical year undefeated before losing to their North County rival Atascadero Greyhounds at seasons end, making them co-champions with the ‘Hounds and Arroyo Grande Eagles in the PAC-5 League. Paso then pounded Royal of Simi Valley 42-14 in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs and turned around and easily beat a good Palmdale team 49-16.

Bailey Gaither

Bailey Gaither helped lead Paso Robles to a fantastic season. He’s San Luis Obispo County’s top football and baseball player.

In the semifinals, the Bearcats slugged out a 28-21 victory over Arroyo Grande to make it to the finals against a very good Newbury Park squad. Before a packed house on a wet and muddy field at War Memorial Stadium in Paso Robles, the Bearcats were able to run Gaither right, Gaither left and Gaither up the middle, battling their way to an epic 13-10 win.

With an incredible 13-1 season, Paso went to their bowl badly beaten up – for instance they were playing fourth-string running backs – and without their star do-everything player, Bailey Gaither. The magic came to resounding thud as the team had to travel half a day to Lakeside, California in San Diego County to play against 13-0 El Capitan. While losing their star kicker/punter Brice Pasky and standout wide receiver Ty Jones in the first quarter to injuries, there was too much to overcome and the Bearcats lost 41-0.

It should be noted, Gaither is heading to San Jose State to play for the Spartans next year along with his Bearcat teammate Josh Oliver – who was also a two-way star on the Paso Robles football team.

It was a great season and unprecedented year for Bearcat football. The town is very proud of them and in fact, it was a common occurrence when in or around town, folks of all sorts would start talking about the football team in any conversation.

War Memorial Stadium - Paso Robles

War Memorial Stadium was the place to be in 2014 … and any year for that matter.

So the next time you’re in our quiet hamlet, during the late summer or fall enjoying your favorite countryside tasting our world famous wine, check out another favorite here on the Central Coast.

Congratulations to the Paso Robles football team on their national ranking.

Go Bearcats!

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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