We went up to Pismo Beach to join two other wine-loving couples for a couple of nights R&R on January 1st (I know, we just got back from Paso Robles on the 30th, but NYE was stressful). We stayed at the Kon Tiki Inn in Pismo (LINK), one of the better kept secrets in the area – no online registrations, you have to call!!!
We had some great meals – dinners at Avila Gardens Restaurant (LINK) and Guiseppe’s Cusina Italiana (LINK); and great lunches at the Los Olivos Cafe (LINK) on the way up; at Novo (LINK) in San Luis Obispo; and one at the Spyglass Inn in Shell Beach (LINK). All worth a visit.
But this is about the wine. And we did visit three, and only three wine tasting rooms on the trip. And the other couples brought some exceptional wines that we shared and took to dinner (a strategy: take your own bottle, but order a restaurant bottle first. It is likely that your bottle will then be served with no corkage fee – we did not aim for this, but that is what happened.).
The wineries, in order:
Baileyana/Zocker/Tangent/True Myth/Cadre (LINK): A tasting room outside of San Luis Obispo in the Edna Valley. All of the labels represented are made by a single producer and one winemaker. I am a fan of the Zocker label wines (and bought some) – a Grüner Veltliner, a Reisling, and a Late Harvest Grüner Veltliner. All are very true to the Austrian origins of these varietals. Light, crisp and refreshing – actually, great summer wines. The remainder of the 15 or so wines poured here are good, but not great. The tasting room and environs is very inviting, with boccie ball courts, picnic tables, etc., and there is a nice selection of wine-related gifts inside.
Talley Vineyards: An Edna Valley legend, Talley produces very good to excellent Burgundian-style wines. Their Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, especially the single vineyard productions, are wonderful. And their prices have hardly risen over the past decade. There is also a second label, Bishop’s Peak, with some nice red wines. The tasting room is beautifully appointed and overlooks some of the vineyards to the west. Out front, a beautiful courtyard has tables and chairs around a lovely fountain that has been converted to a succulent garden due to California’s drought.
Mike, our tasting room host, has been there a long time. He was curiously unwilling or unable to answer some basic questions about the winery, such as was there a map of the vineyards, etc. It was busy, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. We left with some single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Ken Brown Wines (LINK): Dorianne and I stopped at Ken Brown Wines in Buellton on the way back down to Agoura Hills. Ken is one of the founders of the Santa Rita Hills AVA, and is responsible for the Zaca Mesa and Byron labels there. He decided to step back from large production and specialize in managing a few vineyards and producing some very fine wines in limited production. He produces six single vineyard Pinot Noirs, four Pinot blends from various vineyards, a fantastic single vineyard Chardonnay, a single vineyard Syrah, and several other wines, all in very small quantities – nothing over 240 cases per year.
I blogged about a visit here last year (LINK), but Dorianne wasn’t with me, hence the stop on this visit. Well, we might have stopped even if she had been along on the earlier visit.
We had another very enjoyable trip through parts of California’s Central Coast with friends, great wines, wonderful food, and all of the natural beauty that goes with this special part of the world.
As always, your comments are welcome.
Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard