Fri, Feb 23rd: South American Wines


Hernando Cortes must have been a wine connoisseur. 

In 1524, he issued an edict that ordered all new Spanish settlers to plant vines on lands that had been granted to them. 
From Mexico, the spread of viticulture followed the Spanish conquests to Peru,
who became the first country in South America to have inspired organized winemaking. 
This Friday we'll be pouring some great wines from our neighbors to the south. 
Que vivas durante todos los días de tu vida!


Happy Hour!

Rough day? Boss yell at you? Was the foam on your double macchiato this morning not up to snuff? We've got the antidiote! Monday-Thursday from 4-6pm we do $10 tastings. 

Friday Theme Nights

Sign up for our weeky email blast here and dont miss our weekly specials, events. and information about our our Friday theme nights. It may be a visiting winemaker, a fun wine tasting (Girl Scout cookie pairing anyone?) or maybe a blind tasting. Whatever the event, there will be wine involved! 

Mark's Paso Trip

We headed out from the South Bay on a beautiful morning in search the perfect zinfandel. Instead of going someplace close like UncorkedI was headed up to Paso Robles to meet some friends for a weekend of wine tasting, in the town where I first learned to drink wine. Well, I already knew how to drink wine (btw, it’s pretty easy), but it’s the place I first started going after getting into wine, at my brothers behest.

Before going to our accommodations, we drove over to the west side (a mile down the 46 off the 101) to meet some friends who were members at Turley. Turleys long been known for their zins (although they make other wines) - one of the things I loved about Paso when I first started getting “serious” (can you ever really get serious about a hobby that involves drinking?) about wine.

 Larry (Turley) likes old vines. Real old vines (“Old Vine” is used as a marketing “phrase littéraire” which can mean…well nuthin). In fact two of his zins are from the Dusi and Pesenti vineyards, two of the oldest in Paso. I remember going to my aunts place (she had married some rich dude who owned a ranch on Peachy Canyon road that would be worth half a billion today) when I was a kid and there was pretty much one winery: Pesenti.

 The big deal was you bought a bottle of wine and it came with a little red sticker around the neck with your name on it. The quality of the wine was never really a consideration. Now that I’m all grown up (well…sort of) I’ve got my name plastered on many a bottle of crap Pinot Noir gracing the shelves of your local supermarket (check out the $7.99 Mark West Vineyards Pinot Noir next time youre at Pavilions). We tasted several Zins and a Petite sirah. Turleys are amongst the best (if not the best) zins in Paso in my humble opinion.

Next we headed north up Vineyard drive just a few miles to Oso Libre (Vines-Wines-Angus). In addition to wine, they are a traditional San Luis Obispo cattle ranch, and they raise organic, sustainable, solar powered cows, well… the last claim may not apply to the cows. But their philosophy about farming embraces organic, solar, all that good stuff you hear about. You can check out their website here.


It was heading towards evenening so we headed to our accomodations- a lovingly restored 4 (or 5?) bedroom house circa the 30’s I think. Looking at the outside I didn’t think much of it but once we got inside, as I said, it was lovingly restored, they had a huge kitchen where we made dinner, and there was a hot tub out back. It was a 10 minute bike ride from downtown. But you don’t need a bike when you hire….


…Crownlimos805.com. The next morning (well, 11ish, which is morning if you were drinking wine the afternoon and evening prior) our bus from Crown limos showed up. Our driver was awesome, full of fun stories, and amused when we all took advantage of the pole in the middle of the bus, demonstrating our pole dancing skills, or lack thereof. Note to self: guys do not in any way shape or form perform well on a pole.


 Anyway, we proceeded to our first stop: Halter Ranch. Fortunately one of our group was a member so we got the royal treatment. After the tour of the facility, we retired to the wine club tasting room for a “relaxed seated tasting” with windows overlooking bothe the vineyards, and the inner workings of the winery. We were served some nice appatizers to boot. We got to taste a vertical Cabernet tasting, among others. Halter Ranch is a beautiful state of the art facility on the west side of Paso-in case you don’t know, in general Paso is divided by the 101 and the different wineries are referred to as on the west side or east side (of the freeway).


After we left the wine club tasting room, we sipped a few whites at a little tasting bar they had set up outside and enjoyed the crisp weather, my pretentious wine banter (well, maybe not “enjoyed”) and waited for the party bus and a chance to redeem ourselves on the pole, now that we were a little more lubricated.


We headed over to Opolo for lunch. We sat outside in the crisp air (but still warm enough to, well, sit outside) and chose from the 3 courses they offered up. I picked the barbeque plate to help soak up the wine. It hit the spot. After lunch we went inside to their comfortable, casual tasting room and tried out their wines- they’re mostly known for their big Zins, Cabs, and Merlots. They didn’t disappoint, and we stumbled out to find our ride.  


The party bus moved on, the pole dancing was in high gear. Everyone gave it a shot, somehow no one broke a hip. After tending to our wounds and listening to an eclectic mix of hip hop and Neil Diamond on the sound system of the party bus, we arrived at Rotta in the afternoon. Christian Tietje is the winemaker here. He started Four Vines in his garage, sold it, and created Cypher where he’s also the winemaker.


Rotta has a small, intimate tasting room, stacked high with barrels. It’s got that wine soaked oak smell that lets you know you’re in for some fun. We were treated to a flight of mostly reds- Cab, a blend, a Zin, maybe a Malbec- the memory is a little fuzzy. After buying a few bottles we walked out into the bright sunlight and into the party bus, and headed to Penman Springs.


I have a soft spot in my heart for Penman Springs- they were one of the first wineries I visited in Paso. It was also a favorite of one of our group. Their small, non-ostentatious, craftsman style tasting room surrounded by vineyards is a beautiful spot to do a tasting, then slip outside, sip some wine, and take in the beautiful glow of the afternoon, and good friends.


Finally we headed over to La Vigne. I was looking forward to this place; research indicated there was a haunted train car parked aside the winery. Added bonus- the fabulous, sexy, pole dancing chick who coordinated our trip (thanks Katrina!) picked this place because they did cheese pairing- they have an attendant cheese monger.  We feasted on Irish sharp cheddar and a three milk blend from cow, sheep, and goat’s milk, amongst others. The wine was not an afterthought either. Nice and rich, kinda’ like how I like my women. Well, they don’t have to be nice.

I ran over to the train car but it was locked. I found out later it was kept locked to keep the homeless dudes out. Or was it to keep the ghosts in..??? By the time we had finished our tasting it was dark. Still no ghosts. So we headed back to our last stop, Pappy McGregor's Irish Pub for a beer. The place was crowded, we hunkered down and got some beers and a few Jack and Cokes, and took in the local color.


After not too long we caught our limo back to our place, said our goodbyes to our driver, and settled in for a little more wine, ordered in Chinese food, and enjoyed the hot tub out back, getting to know each other a little better. Life could be worse than sharing a fun weekend drinking wine in a beautiful place with people you love. 

Now Tasting

Wine Tasting List

Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris

2015 Willamette Valley, Oregon

Also known by the name Pinot Grigio in Italy, this wine has beautiful aromas of Asian pears mixed with sensual notes of ripe peach and cantaloupe. The bouquet continues with tropical fruit including mango, guava, pineapple and orange blossom, with a subtle flinty character. A slight tingling sensation on the front palate leads to a bright and refreshing citrus-driven mid palate. Mouthwatering! $18.99/btl


Kieu Hoang Rose of Pinot Noir

2016 Carneros, Napa Valley, CA

The cool climate of the Carneros allows the Pinot Noir to mature evenly, and the reward is aromas of cherry juice, citrus, guava accented by floral notes. The bright cherry flavors are refreshing. Even though the body is light, or we could call it elegant, it holds a firm richness across the pallet into a clean flavorful finish. $21.99/btl


Smith & Perry Pinot Noir

2015 Willamette Valley, Oregon

This certified sustainable vineyard produces a balanced Pinot Noir with tart red cherry and cranberry flavors and floral, earthy aromas. French oak influence adds texture and depth. Absalom Smith & William Perry produce only one wine – this gem! $19.99/btl


Raidis Estate “Billy” Cabernet

2014 Coonawarra, Australia

This Cab is hand selected from a dry farmed vineyard on Terra Rossa (red) soil in South Australia. Their farming practices include weed abatement by their pet goats who are rewarded with wines named for them. This wine has lovely notes of tart black cherry, eucalyptus, and minerality. A wonderfully different style of Cabernet! $22.99/btl


Plough Family Vineyards Petite Sirah

2014 Suisun Valley, CA

A beautiful, dark, inky wine. It welcomes you with fresh blackberry and plum aromas on the nose with hints of blueberry pie, cedar wood, licorice and herbs.  On the palate, concentrated, ripe black fruits with notes of black pepper, dried herbs, baking spice and chocolate that fill the mouth with a long, coating finish. $29.99/btl

Premium List

Kieu Hoang Winery Estate Pinot Noir

2014 Carneros, Napa Valley, CA

The Estate grown 2014 Pinot Noir is a Rich, full bodied yet elegant wine. Complex aromas that range from Blackberry, Raspberry, and Dried Black Plum. Enjoy by the glass or with your favorite meal. Kieu Hoang Winery is located in Napa Valley in the Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Carneros District is the southernmost grape growing region in Napa Valley. The fog and evening breezes off nearby San Pablo Bay make the Carneros AVA the coolest wine producing region in the valley, ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. $39.99/btl


Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Napa Valley, CA (95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot)

Inviting aromas of toasted walnut, cedar, black cherry, blackberry, ripe fig and warm notes of nutmeg. A medium to full bodied wine full of robust flavor and balance. Bright fruit flavors of blackberries, damson plum, chocolate ganache and blackcurrant are layered with notes of molasses, date, coffee, cocoa and tobacco. Enjoy now and over the next 5-8 years. $54.99/btl

Acumen Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, CA

This full-bodied wine opens with aromas of violets, lavender, fresh rosemary, and espresso. On the palate we find flavors of black cherries, red plums, mountain blueberries, mission figs, and chocolate covered orange peel with sweet clay, freshly turned earth, and pencil shavings giving way to ripe, mouth-coating tannins on the long and powerful finish. An elegant and well-balanced combination of fruit, tannic structure, and acidity, this is our finest Mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon to date. 93 Points Wine Enthusiast. $61.99/btl