Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Savoring the SLO Life in the Edna Valley

California's Central Coast - located halfway between the sprawling suburbs north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco - is dotted by historic towns, ocean views, rural roads, oak studded hillsides and rolling vineyards. Within this amazing backdrop lies the Edna Valley appellation - a thriving wine region in south San Luis Obispo County home to two dozen wineries producing handcrafted, award winning wines from many of the region's historic vineyards.

The San Luis Obispo Vintners Association includes 27 members from across South SLO County, which produce a diverse array of Burgundian, Bordeaux, and Rhône varietal wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and other varietals and blends. The Edna Valley is known for producing Burgundian varietal wines that are classically distinctive for this cool climate region, which affords an extended ripening period.

A growing number of wineries and vineyards in SLO Wine Country are SIP™ Certified, meaning that these establishments have incorporated sustainable practices in the vineyard and winery to ensure the highest quality wines with the least impact on the environment.

Chamisal Vineyards is located on a picturesque stretch of Orcutt Road in the Edna Valley.  The historic property is one of the first planted vineyards in the Edna Valley appellation featuring a range of clones across five grape varieties - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Gris.

First impressions can make or break any experience.  Fortunately for me, Chamisal Vineyards, which formerly operated under the name Domaine Alfred, exceeded all of my expectations and set the the tone for a perfect wine tasting experience in the Edna Valley.  While the winery produces an average of 18,000 cases annually, including 7,500 cases of the non-estate Stainless Chardonnay, each wine is crafted to near perfection with distinctive fruit characteristics and flavorful expressions that reflect the hands-on approach of the winemaker, as well as the cool climate, terroir and signature "Chamisal Spice."

The Chamisal Vineyards tasting room features nine wines from the Estate and Califa (Reserve) collections priced between $18-$60, with most wines averaging under $30.

Chamisal Vineyards
7525 Orcutt Road, San Luis Obispo
(805) 541-9463
Open daily, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tasting fee: $9 for Estate Flight, $15 for Califa and Small Lot Flight
Facebook: Chamisal Vineyards
Twitter: @ChamisalVyd

Chamisal Vineyards, Orcutt Road
Chamisal Vineyards, Tasting Room
Chamisal Vineyards, San Luis Obispo
Chamisal Vineyards, Winter 2010/11

Saucelito Canyon Vineyards specializes in Zinfandels from their historic dry-farmed vineyard in remote Saucelito Canyon.  The original 1880 Zinfandel Block featured three acres of head-trained Zinfandel vines located in the upper Arroyo Grande Valley.  A century later, the abandoned vineyard was restored and grows fruit that is used to produce the winery's trademark wine - the 1880 Old Vine Zinfandel.

Saucelito Canyon also specializes in Estate Zinfandels, Speciality Zinfandels from Central Coast vineyards and Rhône and Bordeaux varietals, including Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, and other varietals.  The winery produces an average of 3,500 to 4,000 cases, with most of the sales coming from the tasting room and growing wine club.

The tasting room is located on a bucolic stretch of Biddle Ranch Road between Orcutt Road and Highway 227 surrounded by vineyards, agricultural fields and rolling hills.  The 1880 Old Vine Zinfandel is a wine worth experiencing - mature, complex and distinctly characteristic. Unfortunately, the limited production wine is nearly sold out so you may not score a tasting (or bottle), but its worth thinking about buying a bottle for that special occasion if there is a case left behind the counter.

Saucelito Canyon
3080 Biddle Ranch Road, San Luis Obispo
(805) 543-2111
Open daily, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tasting fee: $6 for five wines (complimentary with purchase of 2+ bottles)
Facebook: Saucelito Canyon Vineyard
Twitter: @SaucelitoCanyon

Saucelito Canyon, Biddle Ranch Road
Saucelito Canyon, Tasting Room
Saucelito Canyon, Tasting Room

Wolff Vineyards is a family owned winery situated on 125 acres of estate grown vineyards, including 55 acres of Chardonnay and 37 acres of Pinot Noir.  Twelve additional acres are planted in Teroldego, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Riesling.  Owners Jean-Pierre and Elke Wolff apply sustainable wine growing practices in the vineyard and winery.  Wolff Vineyards also sells estate fruit to other wineries in the Central Coast.

The scenic drive along Chardonnay Road up the hill to the tasting room offers sweeping vistas of the estate vineyard and rolling hills in the Edna Valley.  Wolff Vineyards produces estate grown varietals including a nicely crafted Old Vine Chardonnay from a historic block within the vineyard.

Wolff Vineyards
6238 Orcutt Road, San Luis Obispo
(805) 781-0448
Open daily, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tasting fee: $5 (waived with bottle purchase)
Facebook: Wolff Vineyards

Wolff Vineyards, Orcutt Road
Wolff Vineyards, Tasting Room
Wolff Vineyards, Chardonnay Road

Claiborne & Churchill is a small, family owned winery founded in 1983 and located on Highway 227 in the heart of the Edna Valley.  Upon your visit, you may be thinking, okay, another winery that produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  But you will soon find that this winery specializes in Alsatian varietals (Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat), as well as handcrafted Rhône and Bordeaux varietals and Dessert wines.  Is there anything else left for C&C to produce?  Put it this way; if you are looking for it or if you like your wines in a certain style, Claiborne & Churchill has it.

Claiborne & Churchill produces an average of 10,000 cases of diverse wines sourced from local vineyards.  Varietals include a Dry Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Dessert wines and a Sparkling Brut Rosé.  Wine tasters will enjoy the Edna Valley Chardonnay, Twin Creeks Pinot Noir and the collection of Dessert wines.

Claiborne & Churchill
2649 Carpenter Canyon Road, San Luis Obispo (Highway 227)
(805) 544-4066
Open daily, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tasting fee: $5 for six to eight wines (waived with bottle purchase)
Facebook: Claiborne Churchill Winery

Claiborne & Churchill, Highway 227
Claiborne & Churchill, Tasting Room
Left or Right?

SLO WINERIES (Tasting Map)

Kynsi Winery
2212 Corbett Canyon Road, San Luis Obispo
(805) 544-8461
Open Thursday-Monday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tasting fee: $5 Standard Flight, $10 Reserve Flight
Facebook: Kynsi Winery

Stephen Ross Wine Cellars
178 Suburban Road, San Luis Obispo
(805) 594-1318
Open Thursday-Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Facebook: Stephen Ross Wine Cellars


Gather Wine Bar
122 E Branch Street, Arroyo Grande
(805) 474-4771
Open Tues-Thurs, 1pm to 10pm; Fri-Sat, 1pm to 11pm; Sun, 2pm to 8pm
Facebook: Gather Wine Bar
Twitter: @GatherWineBar

Tastes of the Valleys
911 Price Street, Pismo Beach
(805) 773-8466
Open Sun-Thur, Noon to 9pm & Fri-Sat, Noon to 10pm
Facebook: Tastes of the Valleys Wine Bar
Twitter: @TastesWine


Unknown said...

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