So often the meal we prepare for holidays seems like the easiest thing compared to the most intimidating factor: what wines to serve our guests? Obviously, it is best to choose a variety of wines for guests including a sparkling wine, a red wine, and a white wine; it’s so easy — right? Nonetheless, at times the task can become quite daunting and we (host or guest alike) don’t want to look cheap or unsophisticated with our choice of wine. Here are some recommendations on sparkling wines, red wines, white wines and gift wines within varying budgets:
Sparkling Wines and Champagnes: I am content to have hors d’oeuvres and dessert – I can happily skip a main course all together and I like to accompany both courses with a sparkling wine. Thanksgiving starters of charcuterie, nuts, fruit, cheese, crackers, savory spreads and breads pair perfectly with sparkling wine and Champagne. Brut, a drier sparkling wine is a lovely accompaniment to the oils and salt in most appetizers and the beauty of Champagne – is just that Champagne is always beautiful with everything on every occasion:
Gruet Blanc de Noir
Julien Fouet Crémant de Loire
White Wines: The holiday menu, which often includes seafood and pork as well as poultry and beef, pairs beautifully with crisp and refreshing white wines such as Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Grenache Blanc, and the elegant and reliable Chardonnay:
Chardonnay: Carlson 2014
Chardonnay, Center of Effort 2012
Chardonnay, Mattina Fiore 2012
Pinot Blanc: A subtle wine with almond and apple aromas; butter, cream, hazelnut, vanilla and mineral notes of slate, flint and smoke.
Kysni Pinot Blanc Bien Nacido Vineyard 2014
Viognier: The peach, apricot, and wood aromas of Viognier are perfect for holiday appetizers as well as with the main course.
Jaffurs Viognier Bien Nacido Vineyard 2015
Sauvignon Blanc: A dry, light, crisp white wine with herbal, olive, citrus and soft smoky flavors. This wine is perfect to serve with roasted turkey and all of the traditional side dishes. Sauvignon Blanc, particularly the ones listed below, are a personal favorite of mine; I find it to be thirst quenching and refreshing.
2014 Storm Sauvignon Blanc
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris: A dry white wine with fruit flavors of pear, apple, and hints of lemon; pairs well with most holiday foods as well as vegetarian dishes.
Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Gris 2015
Grenache Blanc: Grenache Blanc, a wine with fine acidity, aromas of tangerine, mandarin, honeysuckle and floral notes that pairs well with both appetizers and the main meal.
2015 Curran Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc
Red Wines: Red wines can be the most confusing and intimidating to select especially when we are dealing with guests that seem to have sophisticated palates and discriminating tastes causing quite a lot of “wine anxiety” for hosts or for guests that ask the “what can I bring?” question that is answered with the “nothing really – just bring a bottle of wine” response. Okay then…
Pinot Noir is an excellent and natural choice for poultry like duck, turkey, chicken, and Cornish hens. Pinot Noir pairs very nicely with salmon. Characteristically, Pinot Noir is delicate, slightly spicy with subtle hints of smoke, red berries, plums, and cherries – a beautiful choice.
Kynsi Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard 2013
Syrah/Shiraz – Syrah’s flavors of spices, berries and hints of black pepper surprisingly, pair easily with holiday foods that include grilled, roasted or smoked poultry and game as well as red meat. (Syrah is also called Shiraz).
Tempranillo – This Spanish grape wine variety can easily be a good holiday wine. It pairs well with heavy and intense dishes. The flavors of Tempranillo include rich red fruit of plum, cherry, and strawberry mixed with hints of leather and spice; a leathery mouth feel, tart fruit and tannins make this wine very food friendly.
2011 Haka Tempranillo Paso Robles
Zinfandel –Red zinfandels, a hearty red wine native to California, pair well with roasted meats and poultry. Many guests prefer an intense wine and this is an excellent choice for Thanksgiving and guests that possess the California “new world” palate. Zinfandel is rich, dark and often jammy, featuring the flavors of blackberry, cherry and black pepper.
2013 J. Dusi Zinfandel
2014 Adelaida Estate Zinfandel
Now let’s deal with the “just bring a bottle of wine” dilemma. If purchasing wine as a gift to bring to the holiday festivities, fear no longer – I have an impressive array of wines for gifting in every budget:
Up to $25: 2013 Sanford Pinot Blanc
2015 Meiomi Pinot Noir
$25-$45: 2008 K. Furtado Syrah
2013 Center of Effort Chardonnay
$50+up: 2012 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Isabelle
2013 Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir
When serving wine to your guests, wine glasses should be filled no more than two-thirds full (however, this does not necessarily apply to the host who may require a bit more for various reasons). Red wines taste best at a cool room temperature of 62 to 65 degrees; white wines are best served a bit cooler at a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees; and sparkling wines serve well at 52 to 54 degrees. But more importantly, when you serve your guests, smile, enjoy and partake in the holiday festivities with them as well. If you burn the bird, drop the pie, make lumpy gravy or overly salted potatoes – remember, that a happy host always makes the party and that good wine washes away a multitude of culinary sins!
Join us for Holiday Harmony, a FREE fun-filled family event on Friday, December 2, 2016, from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm and take place at the Pismo Beach Pier. Kids activities include fresh snow, photos with Santa, cookie decorating and bounce houses. Adults 21 and over can enjoy Pismo Beach’s downtown winetasting rooms, brewery, and pubs.
The Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at the Pismo Beach Pier at 6 pm. For more information, please contact the Pismo Beach Parks & Recreation Department at 805-773-7063 and join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/1483879788294942/
Working in a tasting room, I always like to have a few fun wine facts to share when visitors are interested in learning more about wine. Here are some of my favorites.
The Wine Thief
This sounds like someone who sneaks into your winery and steals wine. Which isn’t too far from the truth. A wine thief is a long plastic or metal tube with a handle, a little like a turkey baster. By inserting it into a barrel of wine, winemakers can extract a small amount of wine for tasting or testing.
If you’ve ever had to remove a few dozen grapes from their stems, you know how long it can take. Now imagine doing that for 10,000 grape clusters. A grape destemmer is a piece of equipment that quickly and efficiently extracts the grapes from their stems. The destemmer is a cylinder which rotates at high speed. Inside the cylinder are a series of metal paddles that rotate in the opposite direction, knocking the berries off the stems.
Wine Grapes Look and Taste Different from Table Grapes
If you love the delicious Thompson seedless grapes you get at the supermarket, you’ll be surprised at how different wine grapes are from these. Wine grapes are much smaller, about 1/4 of the size of their table grape cousins. They tend to have less water, which results in more concentrated juice. Plus, you’ll almost never find a “seedless” wine grape, since the seeds in the grape along with the skins are needed to add tannin to the wine.
Tasting Rooms Vs. Wine Bars
There are several important differences between wine tasting rooms and wine bars. One important difference is that you can bring your kids to a tasting room (as long as the tasting room is family-friendly and your kids are well-behaved). Another difference is that a wine tasting room only serves the wine made by the winery, while a wine bar can serve many different types of wines.
Avila Beach – A Wine Destination
Avila Beach has become a regional wine destination. There are seven wineries and one wine bar in the area, five of which are within a five minute walk of each other in downtown Avila Beach. These wineries make up the “the Avila Wine Trail”, and they include:
- Alapay Cellars (wine tasting room) – 415 1st Street
- Avila Wine Company (wine bar) – 53 San Miguel Street
- Croma Vera Wines (wine tasting room) – 445 1st Street, just opened
- Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards (wine tasting room) – 1947 See Canyon Road
- Morovino (wine tasting room) – 468 Front Street
- Peloton Cellars (wine tasting room) – 470 Front Street
- Silver Horse (wine tasting room) – 6985 Ontario Road, just opened
- Sinor-LaVallee (wine tasting room) – 550 1st Street
Visitors from across California now regularly make Avila Beach their destination while wine tasting. Come explore the award-winning wineries in Avila Beach.
Mindy Oliver is the owner of Croma Vera Wines, one of the newest wineries in Avila Beach. You can find her in the Croma Vera Tasting Room Fri and Sat 12-6pm and Thu, Sun and Mon, 12-5pm.
Some things to consider when wine tasting are as follows:
ENJOY: Probably the most important thing to remember about approaching a wine tasting is to simply have fun. No one cares about how much knowledge you do or do not have about wine – what matters is that you enjoy it, want to discover it and try new wines from new winemakers and different regions. Tabula rasa (blank slate) is a great way to approach wine tasting and you will always learn something new no matter how much wine education you have (by all means, avoid being the pretentious boor of your wine tasting party — it makes others that may not know as much about wine feel uncomfortable, self-conscious, and make it hard for them to enjoy the experience). Blank slate: someone or something that is still in an original state and that has not yet been changed by people, experiences, etc. Boor: a churlish, rude, or unmannerly person.
LEARN: Approaching winetasting from merely a point of appreciation for the tradition of winemaking is a perfect place to begin. Appreciating the area, learning about the particular producer, the different grape varieties in a wine, and, again, enjoying the experience are probably the most valuable things you will derive from winetasting.
EXPLORE: So many people drink wine but have never stood in a vineyard, let alone touched the leaves, let the soil run through their fingers, picked up and sniffed the rocks and the surrounding earth, examined the stalks, and if possible (depending the season) tasted a grape before it becomes wine. It’s amazing and gives you an entirely new perspective on the wine and wine production. Note: Always ask for a vineyard tour or if someone is available to take you to see the vines. If someone is available, they are usually happy to oblige an interested guest. Do not go it alone.
SELF-PRESERVATION: If no one in your party is abstaining from drinking, then consider hiring a driver or taking a wine limo or bus. All of you can enjoy the experience together and no one has to be worried about the driver either becoming inebriated or not having fun. Also, it is important to eat something substantial before beginning your wine tasting. Taking a picnic basket is fine, fun and romantic if you are visiting wineries with picnicking areas. Now, some wineries and tasting rooms offer cheese plates and the like, however, it is strongly cautioned that you do not begin winetasting on an empty stomach. Equally important is to know that you do not have to drink the entirety of every pour and you can taste and spit if you wish (that’s why the buckets are available on the bar – it is not vulgar or insulting). Note: This may be stating the obvious, but it is not recommended that you “spit” wine while eating food. Although you do not have to finish a pour during a pairing, food and wine pairings usually involve tasting the items together.
For more details on Wine Tasting room etiquette, read on at Rules For Visiting A Tasting Room by Wine Enthusiast Contributing Editor Matt Kettmann; visit http://www.winemag.com/2015/08/13/14-rules-for-visiting-a-tasting-room/
Throughout the Central Coast of California, Pacific Coast Highway is a scenic drive any time of year. With the majestic Pacific Ocean on one side and massive oak trees dotting rolling hills on the other, you get a sense of how diverse and rich the state of California is and has remained for decades throughout this region.
But if you are one of those who believe California doesn’t have seasons, then you haven’t visited California’s Central Coast in autumn. In much of coastal California, both desert and mediterranean plants make up the majority of foliage across the California landscape, leaving it virtually unchanged around the year. However, on the Central Coast of California, the winter is mild and comfortably cool. The spring offers dewy, verdant hues and summer is warm with golden hills surrounding the fresh, lush green vineyards. It is in these vineyards that California’s fall colors are revealed painting the hillsides with brilliant garnet, scarlet, ruby red and saffron.
Visitors can enjoy the fall colors on the Central Coast throughout October and November while visiting both the vineyards and the beachside resorts throughout the area.
Definition of center of effort. : the point on a sail at which application of the whole propelling force of the wind would produce an effect identical with that produced by its distribution over the whole sail. (Source: Merriam-webster.com)
“The focus of Center of Effort is skillful cultivation, artful winemaking and a passion for excellence. These forces intersect to create wines without parallel.”
The origins of the Center of Effort (COE) estate date back to 1978, when it was established by Jim Lawrence, one of the area’s first vintners to grasp the great potential of the Edna Valley. The Lawrence estate became an “epicenter” of the local wine community, and served as a touchstone for some of the region’s brightest winemaking talents, including COE’s present day winemakers Mike Sinor and Nathan Carlson.
Later, Rob Rossi and Bill Swanson acquired the COE estate because of its potential to produce high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. They believed the COE vineyard’s lean soils, nuanced terrain, and ocean-cooled climate was a most “pristine environment combined to create incomparable growing conditions for Burgundian varietals.” Today, they have established an artisan winery that maximizes the estate’s timeless potential, and have assembled an elite team to help them achieve their vision that includes top vineyard consultant Kevin Wilkinson of Coastal Vineyard Services leading the cultivation, and winemakers Mike Sinor and Nathan Carlson directing production.
Today, the Center of Effort estate’s skillful cultivation, artful winemaking and a passion for excellence come together to create their “magic” in the bottle. Read more about their award winning wines in the news and visit centerofeffortwine.com.
Tastings are by appointment only; COE requests a 24 hour notice. Call to reserve your tasting at 805.782.9463 or email email@example.com
Center of Effort, 2199 Corbett Canyon Road, Arroyo Grande, CA, 93420
Do you every wonder why your favorite wines have certain symbols on their labels. Though, you shouldn’t buy a wine based on the label design, wine bottle label art (and choices) is fascinating. In the Edna Valley, one of the favorite wineries for both wine craftsmanship and as a destination for tasting is Kynsi Winery located in the heart of the Edna Valley on Corbett Canyon Road in San Luis Obispo Wine Country. The distinct Kynsi Winery label has an illustration of a hauntingly, regal barn owl.
Kynsi Winery is a family run operation focused on producing distinguished wines in limited production. Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and unique red blends are carefully sourced from highly regarded cool climate vineyards along with Pinot Noir from their Estate Stone Corral Vineyard in the Edna Valley.
Owner/Winemakers Don and Gwen Othman have been immersed in the Central Coast wine industry for over 30 years with their specialty wine equipment business Bulldog Manufacturing. (Don is widely recognized for his creation of The Bulldog Pup in 1986, a gas pressure racking wand that transfers wine from barrels without agitation or oxidation).
The Kynsi winery resides in a renovated, old dairy, that had ceased operations for decades prior to its reincarnation by the Othmans and is now regarded as one of the Edna Valley’s most prized wineries. Today, both visitors and patrons appreciate the history and distinctive story, told by the land, the architecture and Kynsi’s exquisite wines.
When the winery was first started in the old dairy, it had been decades since it had ceased operations and the grounds had been cared for. There was a gopher problem, and not your average garden infestation, but a plague of historic proportions. In search of wisdom, it was discovered that barn owls are gopher’s number one predator and that a nesting pair can process up to forty gophers a night when feeding their young.
Since barn owls were not nest builders, the Othmans built two wooden boxes and installed the boxes in the old barn. Within a couple of weeks, a nesting pair of barn owls took up residence in the Kynsi Winery barn. By that first spring, the barn owl couple had produced four owlets and had proceeded to wipe out the breeding gophers. As the pellet pile grew under their nesting boxes, nature was being put back into balance on the Kynsi property. Since the owls single handedly saved the ranch, the wise female in her preening pose was chosen to represent the Kynsi brand, a pedestal duly earned. To honor the Othman family heritage, they chose the Finnish word “Kynsi” meaning talon to go with the beloved barn owl depiction to represent their brand.
To find out more about Kysni Winery and their highly-prized wines, visit kynsi.com.
The Classic California beach town of Pismo Beach, is situated on California’s celebrated Central coast halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Offering 26 miles of uninterrupted, pristine ocean views, Pismo Beach is one of San Luis Obispo County’s most sought-after vacation destinations and no stranger to beautiful weather, and Wine & Waves. In autumn, Pismo Beach’s Indian Summer is one of the most picturesque, peaceful, and affordable times of year to experience California’s Central Coast. During this period, the days are warm and mild, and hoteliers are able to offer a wide range of accommodations at pleasing seasonal rates.
Additionally, Pismo Beach hosts a multitude of annual food & wine festivals and outdoor events that celebrate the bounty of the local region, bringing together food and wine lovers, surf aficionados, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Visitors come to enjoy experiences that are unique to Pismo Beach, such as viewing the “butterfly trees” at the Monarch Butterfly Grove, home of the largest gathering of Monarch Butterflies in California during their migration from October through February, or sampling chowder at the annual Pismo Beach Clam Festival, a community tradition since 1946. Pismo Beach is renowned for its proximity to award-winning wineries and its vast outdoor recreation opportunities. In the fall, visitors can enjoy blue skies and warm sunny days while surfing and kayaking, hiking a myriad of trails across varied terrain with breathtaking views, and visiting the celebrated winemaking regions of Edna Valley, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande Valley, Santa Maria Valley and Avila Valley. Downtown Pismo Beach offers even more for visitors to see and do, with a diverse collection of boutiques, surf shops, gift and collectibles markets, and wine tasting rooms, with all roads leading to the famous Pismo Beach Pier. Excellent shopping opportunities are close by at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets, which boasts over 40 top retail brands such as Calvin Klein, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger and Coach.
After a day of exploring this amiable beach town, visitors are happy to find many restaurant options that are sure to satisfy a variety of tastes and cravings. Pismo Beach offers a wide range of dining experiences from exotic cuisine to seaport-inspired coastal fare, all inspired by the local California farmlands and wine country.
Pismo Beach’s proximity to the ocean allows nearly every hotel to be situated right on the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Pismo Beach offers lodging for all types of vacations and lifestyles, from luxury suites to charming inns to vacation rentals. Oceanfront rooms are plentiful for guests seeking a luxurious escape, while fully-equipped RV parks provide a more natural experience for visitors with adventurous spirits. From surfing events to culinary festivals, Pismo Beach has something for everyone, every budget and every vacation this fall. Pismo Beach is also noted for being one of the most dog-friendly towns in America. See our wide variety of lodging choices accommodating every budget and lifestyle, by visiting Classiccalifornia.com.
Pismo Beach’s upcoming Autumn events include:
Still Frothy: Saturday, Sept. 24 – Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016
Still Frothy Surf Festival is a contest to fire up and motivate the youth in California to get off of their computers & video games and go surfing and once surfing — never stop.
Surfing for Hope: Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016
The Surfing for Hope Annual Longboard Contest Weekend is an event designed to help inspire people challenged by cancer through the positive energy of surfing.
All proceeds from Surfing for Hope will benefit the Hearst Cancer Resource Center.
SLOPOKE Western Art Rodeo: Saturday, Oct. 8, – Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016
The 6th Annual SLOPOKE Western Art Rodeo is a juried art exhibition, sale, and live auction to promote the work of the best contemporary artists available to art buyers and collectors. The SLOPOKE Western Art Rodeo is an experience for art lovers and collectors, which many now believe has the legs to become a legacy event half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
City to the Sea Half Marathon: Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016
Since 1995, the City to the Sea half-marathon race has been organized to raise funds for the Cuesta College track and field and cross-country teams. Your race registration helps ensure that the athletes can continue training and racing in one of the California junior college system’s best programs. The City to the Sea event is family-friendly, so if 13.1 miles is not your preferred distance, you’ll love their 5k race which takes place in beautiful Pismo Beach.
Celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Clam Festival in Pismo Beach which includes regional food, music, entertainment, parade, Wine Walk, Chowder Contest, Clam Dig, Surf Contest, Clam Bake, and so much more. Tickets sell out early.
Jubilee by the Sea: Thursday, Oct. 27 – Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016
Jazz and Wine Lovers gather to celebrate the 40th Annual Jubilee by the Sea Jazz Festival featuring New Orleans-style jazz, big band performances, dancing, food and beverages.
Late October marks the arrival of thousands of Monarch Butterflies migrating from the north. The butterflies cluster in the Eucalyptus grove at our easily accessible Pismo State Beach. This natural wonder is beautiful, enjoyable and educational.
On August 5, 2016 the Baileyana Tasting Room will be open until 7pm. From 5pm, guests will enjoy live music by Jim Gentry and take in the sunset over the vines while sipping on their favorite wine. Also, guests will experience a special appearance by the ultra-cool Small Room Collective pop-up shop.
The tasting room is at the historic Independence Schoolhouse, built in 1909. Guests can taste five wines chosen from 30 different white and red offerings, and browse their enticing shop stocked with gourmet foods and charming gifts, as well as the entire lineup of Niven Family wines: Baileyana, Tangent, True Myth, Zocker and Trenza. There is have plenty of outdoor seating with views across the vines from the valley to the mountains, plus two regulation bocce ball courts. Guests can also bring a picnic or buy cheese, salami and crackers from the shop while you sip and enjoy the ambiance of the Edna Valley.
The Baileyana Tasting room is open daily from 10am to 5pm, 6pm on Fridays and located at 5828 Orcutt Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 805.269.8200 Tasting fee: $12 (waived with purchase of $25).
Every Sunday this summer at the picturesque Sextant Edna Valley Tasting Room at “Old Edna” from 1pm-4pm, visitors can enjoy tunes from local artists Chris Beland, Les Beck and Martin Paris while tasting exquisite Sextant wines and gourmet deli delights.
Sextant wines are sure to please even the most discerning palate with handcrafted wines offered from their vineyards stretching from San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles and Monterey. The highly acclaimed Sextant Wines features powerful Zinfandel and Bordeaux styles of wine, Sextant’s Founder’s Collection of rich Burgundy and Rhone style blends, and the notable Windemere Pinot Noir from MacGregor Vineyards – the oldest vineyard in Edna Valley. Additionally, the Gourmet Deli at Old Edna offers sumptuous wine country cuisine and picnic basket selections.
Summer Tunes on the Patio – Chris Beland
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Sun, Aug 14, 2016
Chris Beland is a Central Coast favorite with his folk inspired original songs and classic covers. He’s sure to have you singing along and clapping your hands as he strums his guitar, stomps the kick drum, and plays the harmonica. His presence always inspires a joyous and entertaining day so be sure to come out enjoy his music.
Summer Tunes on the Patio – Les Beck
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Sun, Aug 7 & 21, 2016
Les Beck has been playing at Sextant for several years. Les’s acoustic covers of classic rock and popular ballads set the perfect mood on a summer afternoon of sipping wine. Bring your friends and swing by for a glass of wine, cheese platter, and little acoustic guitar for a great way to end your weekend.
Summer Tunes on the Patio – Martin Paris
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Sun, Aug 28, 2016
Martin Paris has been playing at Sextant for years. Martin is an acoustic finger-styling guitarist with a knack to get your toes tapping and your heart smiling. His style is the perfect complement to a summer day, sipping wine on the patio.
Sextant Edna Valley Tasting Room
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday 10am-5pm
Sextant Edna Valley Tasting Room
1653 Old Price Canyon Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Contact: Concierge 805-542-0133, firstname.lastname@example.org