Yup. It was that time of the year again. It snuck up on me way too quickly.
A group of us caught the red eye (Hawaiian Airlines) leaving Honolulu on Saturday, January 11th, arriving into Los Angeles around 5:00am Sunday morning.
We then did the 3 1/2 hour drive up to Atascadero & our hotel–The Carlton.
After checking in & dropping of our bags off we went to see some vineyards.
We started of at Caliza to see Carl Bowker. Carl is such a nice guy (with Hawaii roots) & I really wanted to walk his vineyard with him & taste some of is newly or soon to be released wines. (I am sorry to say, I don’t know what happened to all of the pictures I took during our visit). I will say, as I had remarked to Carl that day, this was the best line-up of wines I have tasted from Caliza & we will certainly keep an eye out moving forward on what they are doing, that’s for sure.
We then took the gang right next door to Booker. (Again, for some unexplainable reason, I cannot find the pictures of that visit either). Many of the young sommeliers/wine professionals traveling with us, had not been to either Caliza or Booker, so it was quite the treat to see, walk the vineyards & taste each of their wines.
We then drove to Turley down the road, just to show them their vineyards as well.
Our final stop was to Linne Calodo. Although we did not walk any of their vineyards, we did taste several of their wines AND, I wanted to make sure they took a look at the winery–with its many sizes/types/shapes of concrete vessels & oak barrels/foudres/large format.
I was hoping each of these stops would create vivid memories/pictures for each moving forward.
After a quick stop to the hotel to freshen up, we then went to dinner at a terrific “new” restaurant in Paso Robles, named Les Petites Canailles. The food was really good….in fact some of the best I had eaten in the area over the 26 plus years of visiting the appellation. I wholeheartedly encourage visitors to check the place out!
More & more of the event SOMM team had arrived. It was great to see & meet all of the members.
from left to right–Ivy Nagayama (Corporate Director of Operations, DK Restaurants); Emily Edeen (sommelier, Canlis Restaurant); Matthew Dulle (Beverage Director, Lazy Bear); Madeline Triffon, MS; Chris Ramelb (Director of Fine Wine, SGWS Hawaii); Zack Musick (Corporate Director of Wines, Merriman’s Restaurants); my wife Cheryle Furuya & Sara Villers (General Manager, Sansei Waikiki). Others joined in throughout the day.
In addition, Nunzio Alioto, a legendary, long time Master Sommeliers later joined us for the day of touring vineyards, along with Rafael Santos (sommelier, Acquarello), Taro Kurobe (Wine Director, Hy’s Steak House); Sang Hyun Mun (Wine Director, The Pacific Club) & Ariana Tsuchiya (Beverage Director, Royal Hawaiian Hotel).
Epoch’s original consultant Justin Smith had taken me out to the vineyard before & as it was being planted to check it out. (Check out the slant/grain of their bedrock. It allows for the roots to burrow down easier in search for nutrients & water & drainage–some of the insights Justin showed before they started planting). It is amazing now to see it all come to fruition. It really is one of the special vineyard sites of the whole region. AND, what a winemaking dynamo Jordan Fiorentini truly is. It makes it easy to understand why this is a top level wine project. Epoch & epic.
When jumped in the van & headed to see Daou, just to give the group a “look” at Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordelais planted vineyards…..in Adelaida District. The view from the 1900 or so foot elevation tasting room was truly magnificent & the tasting room itself was quite THE hospitality venue to say the least.
As we drove to our next stop, since we were in the Adelaida district, we just had to also make a quick stop to Adelaida Vineyards & Winery to see our long time wine friend Paul Sowerby & a quick look at their estate vineyards, also reputed to be some of the highest in the Paso Robles appellation. (They too had acquired a large part of the HMR estate). Spectacular views & a chance to catch up to their wonderful wines. Definitely a worthwhile stop!
Our next stop was to James Berry Vineyard/Saxum to meet Justin Smith. I have quite a surprisingly long friendship with Justin & I am thankful & truly grateful it has endured all of these years. he has graciously provided me with so many insider’s insights, knowledge & information into the unfolding Paso Robles appellation that I would not have otherwise been able to get on my own.
What an amazing two days! Thank you to all!