A SLEEPOVER IN ARROYO GRANDE
It had been blistering in Los Angeles for weeks and weeks, so when our friends, Candace and Craig, invited us for a sleepover at their lovely weekend home “up north,” we were packed and in our car in a NY minute. “Up north” was Arroyo Grande (AG), a charming little town near San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach, set among rolling vineyards...
... and wonderful wineries and tasting rooms.
When we left that Saturday morning, the temperature was already in the 90’s (at 9:30 a.m.!), and as we drove through the Valleys toward Santa Barbara, it peaked at 103. Folks down south and back east always smile when So. Californians complain because our heat is “dry” heat, they say… Well, not this summer. Humidity covered Los Angeles like a wet dog who had no intention of leaving. Who says there’s no climate change? If I wanted humidity, I’d have never left Manhattan.
But, as we passed Santa Barbara and headed into the mountains, we forgot the heat and humidity (we were in an air-conditioned car, after all) and gazed at the beautiful scenery. We made a pit stop in the quaint town of Los Olivos and checked out the latest wines in the Wine Merchant Café, our favorite little wine shop/restaurant in town.
We arrived in AG just in time for lunch and hung out in the cooler climes till it was wine tasting time.
Our first stop was Chamisal Vineyards. In existence since 1973, Chamisal is the first vineyard planted in the Edna Valley.
The tasting room is in a big red barn affair in the midst of one of its vineyards.
The tasting room was crowded...
...so we, along with Candace and Craig’s beautiful daughter, Liza, opted for a table outside overlooking the vineyard.
|(oops - where's Richard?)|
|There he is!|
First in flight was the 2011 Estate Pinot Gris ($24) - as advertised this is a Pinot Gris, not a Pinot Grigio. It’s the same grape but is produced in the Alsace style, making it richer and fuller, which I prefer. I liked it.
Next up was the 2010 Califa Chardonnay ($40) made over 14 months (and lots of tastings) from the wineries very best blocks and clones. I really loved its density and rich citrus flavor with a hint of butterscotch. Yum.
Moving to “reds” – we sipped the 2011 Stainless Pinot Noir ($24). No oak or malolactic fermentation (converting tart tasting malic acid found in grape must to softer tasting lactic acid), it’s fresh and fruity with hints of pepper. It’s said to be similar in style to a Beaujolais Nouveau, and I agree. Just slightly chilled, it’s awesome.
We followed up with the 2010 Califa Pinot Noir ($60), a classic pinot noir filled with rich ripe fruit and spice flavors. And, I love the classics.
Last, but certainly not least since it was my favorite tasting at Chamisal, was the 2009 Estate Grenache ($38). Doing the ritual ‘sniff” before sipping, I felt I was Brer Rabbit – “don’t throw me into the strawberry patch” when he was really thinking “throw me in.” The strong strawberry scent, mixed with tastes of cedar, red cherries and touches of pepper and anise, put me in red wine wonderland. I really loved this velvety wine.
Our smooth flight over, it was time to see what our next landing would be like.
7525 Orcutt Road
San Luis Obispo, California 93401
805-541-9463 - 866-808-9463