On our last day there, Monday, I slept in until almost 10a.m. And I mean slept. We were at Lisa and Ted Plemons' home until after midnight and got to bed somewhere around 1ish. I didn't even open my eyes until almost 10a.m. This is astounding because it's 9 hours of sleep--amazing enough--but I'm also pretty sure it's the first time I've slept that long straight through since cancer and chemo robbed me of that ability. So the day started off pretty darn good. We had time for coffee (me) and a blueberry muffin (Chris) and scone (me) before heading over to meet Judy Starr at the Starr Ranch. Judy is a well known, well-respected grape grower. Her grapes are used in many of the wines of the area. She gave us a private tasting and I thoroughly enjoyed her Rousanne, and also her dried persimmons (pretty and tasty!). The blog header photo was taken as we drove away from Starr vineyards (I'm pretty sure it's her property).
We left Starr and drove over to her neighbors, the Dubosts of the Dubost Ranch and Winery, for a spectacular lunch of grilled vegetables, chicken, boar sausage and ribs. Wow. Curt Dubost's family has owned the farm for over 90 years. His wife Kate, and both of their sons were all active in turning the farm into a vineyard and winery. Kate's son Jake is the winemaker and joined us for lunch to share and discuss his delicious wines (Chris loves their Negrette and I love the Alexandrine--a Viognier/ Rousanne blend...you see a pattern with my wine loves?). And, they had the most adorable dogs.
After Dubost we headed over to Carmody-McKnight where owner Gary Conway Carmody (he of "Land of the Giants" TV fame) gave us a tasting of his wines. Gary is passionate, to say the least, about his wine and his land. He and Chris literally "drank the soil"--Gary's demonstration of the mineral richness of his soil. Gary is also an artist and I loved his paintings (you can see them on the website; I had to refrain from purchasing however...we're still supposed to be on a budget and um, there was wine being purchased.)
Then (I napped in the car) we headed over to Sylvester Winery where winemaker Michael Barretto gave us a tour and a tasting (including a barrel tasting ) of his Barretto wines. Iberian wines from California grapes. Cool. Very interesting wines and while I normally have allergies to red wines and have to be careful...I had to indulge.
Continuing on our very difficult day we headed back over to Cass Winery to see it during the day. (okay, about here you're wondering who the heck is driving. The answer is Chris, because I was sleeping in the car constantly. Oh, and Chris is way better at sipping and spitting than I am. My motto is "Spittin' is Quittin'").
Steve Cass gave us a tour of their tasting room and winemaking facilities (the link is to a YouTube video of Steve discussing Paso Robles as an AVA). And, of course, we tasted more wine (love the 2009 Viognier...some came home with me but did not last long, so now I've joined their wine club). And we met their South African winemaker, Lood, and Meg , the Boston terrier,who is one of the dogs featured in Winery Dogs of Central California. Shockingly, I didn't get a photo of her! In fact, the wine must have kicked in because the only photo I did get was of the private tasting room. We were just chit-chatting and tasting away so no photos. Next time!
Chris had the arduous task of then driving us home (it's about a 5 hour drive and we left at about 5pm). But we stopped for a classic steak and baked potato dinner in Buellton (about an hour and a half into the drive) at The Hitching Post 2 (made more famous in the movie Sideways). Mmmmm. Did I mention I slept the entire way home?
The owner, Frank Ostini, stopped and chatted with us and we're looking forward to bringing the Forgotten Grapes tour group back in April for dinner there as well. Oh, and at the table next to us was Jim Fox, the color commentator for the Los Angeles Kings ( Chris recognized him and his voice) who, as it turns out, is also a wine lover and kindly shared some of his wine with us when he and his wife didn't finish their bottle. Did I mention I slept the entire way home?? ;-)
This was really a memorable trip. My favorite things in the world are books, dogs, wine and travel and this had it all. Besides several bottles of wine, my souvenirs also included two books: Winery Dogs of Central California and Wine Dogs USA 2. (I already have and love the first Wine Dogs USA and Winery Dogs of Napa Valley--I think this makes me a collector). Needless to say, I cannot wait to return in April!!