Love my sojourns with Richard to Arroyo Grande (affectionately referred to as AG) - not only do we get to have a fun sleepover with good friends, but we get to explore the beaches and countryside... including new wineries.
Our last trip to AG was no exception as we discovered the Niven Family Wine Estates (no relation to the wonderful actor David Niven - at least to my knowledge). Founded by Jack and Catharine Niven, the winery is managed today by multi-generations of Nivens who have farmed the vineyards with a commitment to the surrounding environment and have been certified SIP (Sustainability in Practice) which makes me feel I'm doing my part in helping the environment when I sip their wine.
The tasting room is in the Independence School House, an 850 square foot, one room school house, with 18 foot ceilings, built in 1909.
Garden tables and chairs are just outside the building for tasting under blue skies...
There are even lanes for a game or two of bocce...
Enrique, our barista, kept our "pour" flowing...
The 2011 tangent Grenache Blanc ($17.00) had a light melon-y taste w/ bits of caramel to balance the acidity. This wine would go wonderfully with spicy Thai food.
Next was a 2010 Trenza Blanco - 64% grenache blanc/36% albarino ($20.00) - Trenza (Spanish for braid in case you're curious) is a winery which produces wines in the Spanish-inspired New World blends. The Albarino portion is citrus-y, while the grenache blanc is more full-bodied. I really liked it.
The 2012 Zocker Riesling is a new release ($18.00). It was crisp and grapefruit-y with a taste of orange blossoms. I'm not a big fan of wines w/ a grapefruit flavor, but if you are, this is a nice wine for the price.
Staying with whites, we moved onto 2012 Zocker Gruner Veltliner, also a new release ($20.00). This wine also had hints of grapefruit with a lemon/orange finish.
Another new release was the 2012 tangent Albarino ($17.00), a wine that had notes of tangerine, ripe peach and grapefruit. The winery recommends that this wine be paired with shellfish and I can see a glass standing beside a nice shrimp or lobster dish.
I enjoyed the 2010 Baileyana El Gordo Chardonnay ($30.00) - besides the obligatory tastes of fruit (melon and pears in this case), it also had a delish taste of vanilla and marshmallow.
Moving to the "reds," we started with a 2009 Trenza Tinto - 50% syrah Edna Valley/33% tempranillo, Arroyo Grande/17% grenache Paso Robles ($30.00) - I liked this wine with its hints of fruit, tobacco (giving it some 'husk'), maple syrup, a bit of black pepper and an aroma that reminded me of autumn leaves on Long Island where I grew up.
The 2009 Cadre Pinot Noir - 32% Firepeak Vineyard, Edna Valley/28% Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley/22% La Encantada Sta., Rita Hills/18% Laetitia Vineyard, Arroyo GrandeValley ($50.00) - a mix of flavors including cherries, cola and vanilla, I thought this wine was a bit sharp for my taste.
My favorite wine in the flight was the new release 2011 Baileyana Firepeak Syrah ($30.00) - yes, I could taste the plums and cloves, but the undertone of chocolate just made this smooth as velvet.
Last, but not least, was another new release, a 2010 Baileyana Port ($20.00) - full-bodied with plum, boysenberry and cherry notes coupled with hints of vanilla, spice and cinnamon, this is a nice port for the money.
Our tasting over, it was time to head out to dinner. But if you're ever in San Lus Obispo or AG, drop in at the Niven Family tasting room, you won't be disappointed.
NIVEN FAMILY WINE ESTATES
5828 Orcutt Road
San Luis Obispo, Calif. 9340
Tasting Room Open Daily: 10AM - 5PM
Check out the wine club online... it gives discounts.