Monday, September 22, 2008

Marinating in Wine in Paso Robles

In the face of destruction in the stock market, a teen son boiling over, and all of the stress that inevitably follows back-to-school time, I took off for the weekend with Joanna to do a little (OK maybe a lot of) wine tasting in Paso Robles. Poor Steve got left behind to tend to the kids, but before we left was able to score us a free place to stay in Cayucos. In case you aren't familiar with San Luis Obispo County (Pismo Beach and ALL the clams you can eat!) Cayucos is a little beach town just off Highway 101 that you could glance east to take in the view of the hillsides and miss all together. The breathtaking view of Morro Bay from 101 makes is pretty unlikely that you would look anywhere but west (or southwest for those of you analyzing my post with compass and map in hand (Julia!)).

On the way in on Saturday we stopped first in Paso Robles to pick up six bottles of wine from a tiny winery in an industrial complex. Joanna belongs to the wine club at Hug Cellars and rather than pay for shipping, she had opted for this road trip as a good excuse to get out of town and do a little tasting. Armed with all the El Pape and Pinot Noir we could carry, we headed off to Tablas Creek where the pours were generous, the list was long, and the wine was incredible. Since it was early in the weekend we managed to walk a straight line back to Joanna's little Subaru with a couple of bottles of Cotes de Tables. Our next and final stop was Dover Canyon where many of the lables feature the winery dog. Pours were also generous and the list was equally long, so after tasting here we were a bit unsteady on our pins as we headed to the car with a couple bottles of Cujo Zinfandel and some old vine zinfandel.

At this point it was clear that our tasting day was over and we headed, carefully, down the hill to Cayucos where we spent the rest of the afternoon warbling drunkenly along with SingStar 80's for the PlayStation. We made it through almost the entire song list by the time we needed to get our faces on and head to dinner. A bit more sober, we headed to Hoppe's for some more fine wine and some grub. The food was great, and the locals were drunk and friendly to a fault. Nothing like hearing about someone's colonoscopy to work up an appetite for something chocolaty for dessert!

Sunday, after downing a couple of Alka-Seltzers and a protein-packed breakfast to line the stomach, we were back in fighting form. On the way back to San Jose we stopped at Hunt Wine Cellars where the prices were high, the bottle jockey was enthusiastic, but we were very underwhelmed. After divesting ourselves of our $10 tasting fee we left empty handed for Booker Vineyard. The wines were expensive here as well, but of a much higher quality, so we ended up purchasing a bottle of their cheapest offering, a "pink" wine consisting of a Syrah, Grenache blend. With tired palates our final stop was Terry Hoage Vineyards, owned by a former football player turned wine maker. Like our earlier stops the wines at Terry Hoage (all named with football themes such as Hangtime and 5 Blocks) were very pricey, but good so my final purchase of the day was a "Skins" Grenache.

Back in San Jose now and wringing my liver out for a few days. If we had a bunch of extra cash on hand or won the lottery, I think Steve and I would spend next weekend looking at real estate in coastal SLO County. The only question would be beach, or inland where we could plant some vines, buy some goats, and start making wine and fine cheese. Cheers!


Julia said...

One of these years we need to do a wine tasting of Morgan Hill, i.e. down my road since I have not done this yet except for Clos La Chance. I think there are at least six wineries between here and Gilroy. And this DUI thing is not so good!!!! :) I just could not resist.

I For One..... said...

I totally agree. I'd love to go wine tasting in your area, and I know there are a couple of good ones around there.