Sunday, March 20, 2011

Family Winemakers Southern California

Family Winemakers of California headed south on March 13 and 15 to pour 500 wines from over 200 wineries at two tastings in San Diego and Pasadena.  Southern California welcomed the attention from notable and award-winning wineries representing Santa Barbara County, Paso Robles, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma County, and Napa Valley, among other appellations. Over 2,000 people attended the San Diego Tasting at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and hundreds more at the Pasadena Convention Center for the exclusive trade tasting.

Family Winemakers of California was founded in 1991 to give voice and presence to small, family wineries in the public policy arena.  FWC advocates the rights and interests of its members to freely produce, market and sell their products, and is dedicated to preserving the diversity of California wine. Family Winemakers also sponsors three tastings each year in San Diego, Pasadena and San Francisco for its members to market their wines to consumers and the wine buying trade.  Follow Family Winemakers of California on Facebook and Twitter

The FWC San Diego Trade & Consumer Tasting was the most comprehensive with the largest number of wineries.  It was no easy task picking and choosing which wineries to visit and which wines to taste. There were quite a few wineries from the Central Coast pouring a vast selection of Rhône, Bordeaux and Burgundy varietal wines, including Tercero Wines, Clos Pepe, Melville Winery, Terry Hoage VineyardsFiddlehead Cellars, Hearthstone Vineyard & Winery, Villa Creek Cellars and Barr Estate Winery.

There seemed to be a dichotomy between my selection of wines at the two tasting events, in favor of acid driven wines ("food friendly" wines) at the San Diego tasting and more fruit forward wines at the Pasadena tasting.  Winemaker Larry Schaffer is producing some fantastic Rhône varietal wines including the soon-to-be-released Tercero Wines 2008 Cuvée Christie - an impressive and uniquely expressive Santa Barbara County interpretation of any of the finest CdP wines.

Of all the wineries, Benovia Winery was my overall top selection for their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel wines.  As a wine consumer, I know what I like even if it's difficult to describe, and Benovia fits the mold perfectly - superbly crafted wines with expressive fruit characteristics and balanced acidity.  Don't worry Central Coasters; I am still a fan of the Rhône and Burgundy varietal wines from Santa Barbara County, Edna Valley and Paso Robles.  But I am new convert to the wines of the Russian River Valley, including wines from Fog Crest Vineyard.  Below are a few of the most notable wineries and wines from my tasting experience in San Diego and Pasadena.


Costa de Oro Winery (Santa Maria)
Appellations: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County
Wine Picks: 2008 Estate Chardonnay, 2009 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County, 2008 Dijon Selection Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley

Dragonette Cellars (Los Olivos)
Appellations: Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County
Wine Picks: 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Valley, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Volgezang Vineyard, 2009 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, 2009 Pinot Noir Hilliard Bruce Vineyard

Zotovich Cellars (Lompoc)
Appellations: Sta. Rita Hills
Wine Picks: 2007 Estate Pinot Noir, 2008 Estate Syrah


Benovia Winery (Santa Rosa)
Appellations: Russian River, Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley
Wine Picks: 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay La Pommeraie, 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2008 La Pommeraie Pinot Noir, 2008 Sonoma Coast Zinfandel

Fog Crest Vineyard (Sebastopol)
Appellations: Russian River Valley
Wine Picks: 2007 Estate Chardonnay, 2008 Laguna West Chardonnay, 2008 Laguna West Pinot Noir, 2008 Estate Pinot Noir

L'Aventure Winery (Paso Robles)
Appellations: Paso Robles
Wine Picks: 2008 Côte à Côte, 2008 Estate Cuvée

Villa Creek Cellars (Paso Robles)
Appellations: Paso Robles
Wine Picks: 2008 La Boda (50% Grenache, 50% Mourvèdre), 2008 Avenger (70% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre)

Save the Date: Family Winemakers San Francisco Consumer & Trade Tasting, Sunday, August 21, 2011 at Fort Mason Center.


Xochitl said...

Great to finally meet you this last week at the Pasadena event. I also really enjoyed the wines from Fog Crest, L'Aventure and Villa Creek. Missed Benovia though. So much wine, so little time!

Central Coast Uncorked said...

Great meeting you too! I'll keep my eye out for more of your posts at "I'll Drink to That!"

sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Benovia Winery said...

Benovia Winery's "Bounty of Sonoma County" Spring Open House is Saturday, May 7 from 11am - 3pm...all "Central Coast Uncorked" fans are invited to attend this free even which will feature complimentary tastings of Benovia's 2009 vintage spring release wines...along with the artisan wares of four great Sonoma County food producers. Hope to see you all there!

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