Highlights from last weekend’s OUTA HAND end-of-harvest celebration always thrown by SLO COAST WINE and bringing out the BEST from Edna Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley with even smatterings of Paso and Cambria. ALL my stories are in highlights on Instagram as I tried to keep you LIVE all day, so if you really want a play-by-play,, click there and go watch. This is SLO Coast’s premiere event every year because while Roll Out The Barrels tends to be a fairly predictable gathering of Edna Valley’s finest pinot and chard producers, HARVEST seems to bring out a few more heavy-hitters and all the members from surrounding areas–often with some very surprising varieties.
TOLOSA WINERY promised to bring the good stuff and didn’t disappoint. Yes I know Primera is the blingy one and don’t get me wrong it is VERY good, but Hollister is still my favorite. Just a bit tighter-wound. Little vineyard right down there on Highway 227 by Greengate Barn at the corner.
A few locals may have a little weird taste in their mouth about the new corporate ownership of QUPÉ WINES (and yes, Verdad and Lindquist Family Wines were pouring at the event too) and this was my first opportunity to taste the newer stuff. Several of my friends and I have been cleaning up, vulturing the close-out sales, but I don’t think I have tasted anything since 2014. Yes, I realize Bob & Company still made these and so there still exists the possibility of quality going a different direction under the new owners, but for now, there is absolutely nothing, no reason to back away from his brand. Those two Syrahs are absolute FIRE, ridiculously *Qupé*, both the little Spanish Springs and the new label of Sawyer Lindquist (notice no “Sonnies”).
My first trip around the trailer park with Joshua Klapper’s Syrah went really really really well at the TIMBRE WINERY booth. Loyal readers know how much I love his many pinots and gewurztraminer, and you know what I always say: If someone makes great pinot, keep an eye open for when they make syrah. So many new world wine drinkers are trained to think Syrah a big, fat, warm-weather bruiser when in reality, it shows all of its greatest qualities and nuances when cooly-ripened and gently-treated like Pinot.
Been stalking the OCEANO WINES for at least a year and this was my first opportunity to taste them. I am not the only local to look quizzically at this brand. I mean–the owners are from Napa, no local tasting room or presence at all, the fruit is all from Spanish Springs in Pismo Beach, and there’s a little sandy town South of here called Oceano–a town positively NOT connected to wine-business! Several people have asked me what I though of them and I didn’t know! Until now. These are very VERY nice wines. They won’t be everybody’s style, but they sure are MINE. That Chardonnay is 0 ml, 100% neutral and a blisteringly good wine. Shrill and acidic, zesty and alive, the Pinot a nice, classic Spanish Springs–as *classic* as one can typify in this stellar vineyard’s short life.
No SLO Coast Wine event is complete without a little Lagrein, no? PIEDRA CREEK‘s table is always a must-stop, first to visit their perfectly-onion-skin-colored rosé, and then to stain your tongue black with the real deal. I’m not sure I have ever even had an Alto Adige rosé. Hmmm… probably need to change that statistic.
Was WOLFF VINEYARDS your first introduction to the Edna Valley? I know it was for me. When I moved here their Petite Sirah was in its second leaf and Jean-Pierre’s charisma and concern for the land were as strong as his pinot and chardonnay game. These days, you find Mark behind the counter, doing what they have always done: produce solid, inexpensive, biologique bottles from their beautiful property anchoring the center of the valley.
Just across the street, John & Yvonne Nivens’ stalwart EDNA VALLEY WINERY–which has changed corporate hands a couple times–most of us relate to inexpensive supermarket offerings but HOLD UP! What are THESE labels? I haven’t visited this winery in over 20 years, but it looks like I may need to, as these little darlings are poured exclusively at the winery–not distributed–and club-only. They are not cheap, and they are well-made and GOOD. Is it just me or do you see a little ‘Gallo Signature Sonoma’ in those labels? First thing I thought. There’s way more than just Pinot and Chard too, Gotta go check these out soon.
Up the road next to Stone Corral Vineyard, KYNSI always brings out the best. Funny thing this event: usually I look forward to tasting three, sometimes four different wineries’ versions of Stone Corral Vineyard Pinot. Didn’t see a single one this trip.
All the way down from Cambria, cool-climate favorites STOLO VINEYARD brought the BLACK LABEL STUFF!!! They have expanded their roster and production quite a bit in recent years to keep up with demand and palates, but these still come from the tiny little steep slope behind the winery, where yields slip below 1 ton/acre and the fruit shows the kinds of things true Syrah, Pinot, and Chardonnay lovers crave.
Edna Valley’s newest star is a little venture making only Spanish varieties from all over San Luis Obispo County. Come to CROMAVERA for the Albarino, cruise straight into their 2 or 3 versions of Tempranillo, stay for the Cabernet, but DO NOT miss the Grenache. This wine looks pretty typical for Grenache in the glass, but the bubble-gum flab which many versions suffer from has been replaced by lots of acid and briar. Wonder where this fruit is from. I mean: I KNOW Slide Hill isn’t the only Grenache grown in Edna, but it’s not exactly common. Have I ever HAD a grenache from anywhere in Edna Valley besides Slide Hill or Alban before???
I’ll bet you thought NINER was just a big Paso producer, right? One of those things you learn at events like Harvest At The Coast. They have a BUNCH of estate holdings at Jesperson Ranch in Edna, where all their Pinot and Chard come from–and a Syrah which I have never had but is FIRMLY on my radar now. I even see Jesperson lists some Grenache acreage. Hmmmm……
Mike Sinor is a PLACEMENT at any SLO Coast Wine event, having been with the organization since BEFORE day one. Today he was holding down the VIP tent, which was pouring exclusively SINOR-LAVALLEE wines. The beautiful Bassi Ranch Chards, Pinots and Syrahs aside, what we all really come for is the bubbles. Technically a pet-nat–and priced down in the basement like one–it is far and away the cleanest, most elegant, refined and consistent pet-nat I have ever had–and I try a LOT of pet-nats. 100% Avila Valley Pinot Noir, technically a blanc de noir or even a rosé, it exudes the kind of grace and sophistication reserved almost exclusively for Champagne or Sparkling Wine twice the price. It sells out every year too–earlier and earlier. Get on the list for some.
Ready to wrap up? These are my highlights. Sure, I tasted a bunch of other wines, but I can’t spotlightt EVERYTHING. These are the clear standouts of the afternoon. A great group of friends gathered around as the sun set over the ocean on the fringes of the live auction with an orphaned bottle of LAETITIA Brut Rosé, ice cold and compliments of the winery. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.
SLO COAST WINE have events all year of course, the two highlights of which are ROLL OUT THE BARRELS and HARVEST ON THE COAST, both weekend-long festivals with a myriad of satellite food, cooking, and wine-tasting events culminating in a Grand Tasting. Go to this page to stay informed>> www.slocoastwine.com/events and be sure to scroll to the bottom and enter your email to be notified of next year’s harvest celebration.