For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

SLO Fuzion

The Universe knows me well. As it gently nudges and provides direction to my inner instincts, my quest to seek out the exceptional creations of San Luis Obispo County continues to unfold. This weekend, on a whim, a minor impulse led me to drive into the warmer temperatures of Paso Robles, down the scenic, vineyard-strewn stretch of Highway 46 West. Although my ultimate destination was clear—an intriguing, mysterious winery I’d recently heard of that claimed wines “infused with spirit”—little did I realize what exceptional unexpected novelties, tailored to my personal tastes, awaited me.

After pulling into the vineyard’s parking lot, the flourishing backdrop of rolling acres of grapevines surrounding the charming farm-style buildings set a welcoming tone. Wandering past the grassy lawn towards a tall, ominous crooked tree-house, I knew I’d stumbled on something out of the ordinary. I continued on my path of discovery, meandering along a pathway of pink stone slabs that guided me to the genius of Vinfuzion Wines.

Pleasantly greeted outside by Vinfuzion's humble servant, Mark Pietri—a musician in a former and current life, also known as the Vin-dude—I was invited in to their austere tasting room, where immediately I felt a sense of East meets West, a balance of yin and yang (reminding me of the shops I used to frequent while living in Japan). Noticing the light wooden tasting bar adorned with gemstones, the smooth stone sculptures set on either side of the room, and the serene artwork hung throughout, I seated myself on a planked wooden seat and relaxed in this tranquil, peaceful setting. Mark encouraged me to take my time through the tastings and “dance with the wine.”

Over the next hour, my slow dance with the nuances of Vinfuzion’s cleverly-crafted, well-balanced creations, allowed me to savor and learn about eight of their wines, some of them delicately infused with enlightening botanical substances, all of them fined over energetic gemstones. Mark explained that their wines remain "fruit first" and the essence of botanicals doesn't change the flavor, but enhances the taste, adding an extra "note." The use of finishing their wines over crystals softens the tannins, shifting the "mouth feel" and adding energy. These unique techniques stem from the creativity and diverse background of his sister, Pamela Pietri—the Proprietor and Vin-Alchemist. A former writer and acupuncturist who stumbled upon the art of winemaking several years ago after attending a harvest, her newest endeavor as a Paso winemaker extraordinaire has resulted in a fusion of her Eastern-based medical training combined with the process of transmuting grapes into wine.

Although infused wines and the use of stones date back centuries (Ancient Greeks put amethyst in their goblets, thinking it would keep them sober), Vinfuzion’s unparalled creations of the spirit are a modern marvel. Producing 1200 - 1800 cases per year, their wines are crafted from organic, bio-dynamic grapes, contain minimal amounts of sulfites, and their vineyards are carefully watched over by Steve Brown—the Source du Vin—who oversees 33 acres of Viognier and Syrah vines.

Much to my delight, I learned that all of their white wines hail from their Estate-grown Viognier—my favorite varietal! This Northern Rhone grape, typically exuding tropical flavors and a creamy mouthfeel, is crafted in small, carefully-monitored batches by Vinfuzion. My first taste of their Isla VI ($32), a delectable stainless-steel aged 2006 Viognier fined over Peridot crystals (used as a “power stone” for centuries), radiated a light hue and soft peach nose, creating a feast for the senses. Dry, and exuding exotic flavors of vanilla and citrus with a clean almond finish and soft feel, this enchanting Viognier was unlike any other I’d ever experienced.

The next pour led me to the graces of Archangel VI ($38), another luscious Viognier. The infusion of Angelica, a botanical touted in ancient scripts to foster longevity, imparted a refreshing fragrance and rich golden hue. The syrupy feel and undertones of caramel flavor, along with its dry, clean mineral finish with hints of lingering botanicals, left an elegant impression. Archangel VII ($38), Vinfuzion’s newest release of Angelica-infused Viognier, was fined over Celestite (a crystal touted for its harmonious properties). This fragrant, fruity yet dry, smooth wine with a light finish, hinted of peaches in the background.

Next we forayed into the unusual—their Rosé—a blend of free-run Syrah and one percent splash of Petite Verdot. Romeo VIII ($18) romanced me in its glass, showing off a lustrous caramel, orangish hue. The nose of berries, fragrant roses, and a light essence of rich caramel readied me to imbibe, where I found its dry charcoal qualities offset by floral undertones. This one-of-a-kind wine left me stymied for food pairing ideas.

We moved on, my palate now warmed and ready for reds. Vinfuzion’s Estate-grown Syrah, blended with Clarksburg Petite Syrah and elegantly infused with Mimosa flowers for serenity and calmness, resulted in Om VI ($46). Fined over Herkimer diamond, a quartz crystal renowned for manifestation energies, this unified mix chanted notes of an alluring medium-berry hue; a light, fruity and flowery scent; flavors of blackberry, cherry and spiced chocolate with a hint of Petite Syrah popping in the background; and flowers lingering on the finish. “Om really is where the art is,” as Mark suggested.

The use of Clarksburg Petite Syrah was artfully blended again, this time with Paso Robles Petite Verdot. Obsidian VI ($58), fined over the jet black layers of Obsidian glass, resulted in a velvety concoction, emanating a gorgeous deep purple hue. The waft and taste of berries, as well as lingering hints of smoke, chocolate, and warm spices, was sublime. And if that wasn’t enough, Mark further tantalized my senses by introducing me to some of Vinfuzion’s dessert wines.

Solstice IV ($45), a “Cigar Wine,” crafted from barrel-aged Cabernet Sauvignon from the Adelaida region, resulted in a medium-hued, caramel-colored, after-dinner wine exuding a nose of berries. Not overly sweet, leaving a delicious chocolate berry finish, I conjured up images of dark Swiss chocolate. The next and final wine, Telos VI ($75), was pure heaven. This slightly syrupy, sweet late harvest Viognier, exhibited all the divine nuances of honey, with enduring hints of exotic spices on the tongue. Named for the Lemurian city located inside Mt. Shasta, Telos truly lives up to its meaning: Communion with the Divine.

In ancient times, alchemists sought the transmutation of common metals into gold as well as transpired to achieve wisdom. I found a contemporary version of this philosophy at Vinfuzion. My impromptu North County SLO tasting adventure led me on a destined journey, where I encountered genuine hospitality, allowing me to truly "dance" with these wines and rediscover my favorite varietal. I learned how the metamorphosis of carefully-tended grapes, infused and fined with exotic, ancient traditions, brilliantly transforms into energetic, spirited innovations. The talented trio at Vinfuzion make a difference by embracing the values of spirited wine...promising to infuse your core!

Now in its fifth vintage, Vinfuzion is the oldest bio-dynamic vineyard in Paso Robles. Their organic grapes receive no pesticides or chemicals and all of their natural grasses are left in place, leaving the soil intact. Hence, there is no need to net their grapes to keep the birds from devouring their crops; with the complete eco-system intact, the birds are provided with their natural fodder and have everything they need.

Visit Vinfuzion's peaceful tasting room Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 11am - 5pm.
Tasting fee is $10 for 6 tastings, waived with the purchase of two bottles.

Located at 2485 Highway 46 West in Paso Robles, this barn-style building is home to both Vinfuzion Wines and Lone Madrone Winery tasting rooms.

Join Vinfuzion on the lawn the evening of Friday, September 11, for a screening of "1 Giant Leap," an ambitious project that travels the world collecting inspirational music, images and insights from musicians, poets, writers, philosophers, etc. In association with Hopedance Films, admission is $7 dollars. Wine is available by the glass for $8 and bottles are available for purchase at 10% off. Food is also available for purchase, provided by Pier 46 Seafood. Don't forget to bring a lawn chair!

Vinfuzion is the Spirit of Wine!

All Text and Photos Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.


Pam said...

Your blog is really nice. The grape photo's looks so good!

Congrats. on the foodie blogroll!

Alisa@Foodista said...

Great post,the vineyard looks beautiful, and the tree house looks like it came out of a storybook.I'd love to guide our readers to your site if you won't mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it's all set, Thanks!

Devon said...

Cool, you're getting messages from foodista!

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