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.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

SLO Wine Country: 24th Annual Roll Out the Barrels

Blue skies and glowing temperatures brightened San Luis Obispo County's recent summer solstice weekend. With plush grapevines neatly lining Edna Valley region's rolling hills, the new season's choice conditions gave way for one of my favorite annual festivals: Roll Out the Barrels Passport Weekend.

This inebriating event, held at SLO Wine Country's member wineries—most of which lie south of San Luis Obispo City—is always the perfect way to roll into summertime. In its 24th year, participating SLO County wineries pulled out all the stops to make guests feel welcome by kicking off the summer season with wine tasting, barrel samples, music, and tasty nibbles; all set amidst perfect locales to soak up the regional terroir. 

Here are a few highlights of this once-a-year celebration. 

Since 2004, Sextant Wines has been devoted to expanding the horizons of the Central Coast wine region by growing old world varietal selections in SLO County's unique soils and climates. Sextant specializes in zinfandel and petite sirah blends, and also produces several other reds and whites. My favorite discovery at their Edna Valley tasting room goes to their 2010 Caverio GSM, Paso Robles. This grenache, syrah, mourvedre blend was vibrant and well balanced—just like the weekend's festivities. 
Not only does Sextant offer wine tasting, but guests will also find a gourmet deli, picnic grounds, and even a cottage retreat. They sell TheraBee Culinary Honey, a local, handcrafted artisan infused honey. I sampled more than a few of TheraBee's intriguing blends, including chipotle cacao, and my personal favorite: cardamom anise. These sticky sweet-savory creations are a gift from the culinary heavens.
At Saucelito Canyon, the sun beamed brightly and the wine flowed freely. Urbane Cafe served up tasty bites like steak torta, which fared well with Saucelito Canyon's dry-farmed zinfandel. This family-owned vineyard and winery is always a pleasant stop when exploring the Edna Valley wine region.

Roll Out the Barrels wouldn't be complete without visiting Wolff Vineyards. Not only does their tasting room offer a hilltop view of their surrounding vineyards and the undulating Edna Valley region, but the wines and syrah-infused meatballs keep patrons coming back year after year. I overheard a gentleman declare, "Pour me some red and make me meatball ready."
 I paired my meatballs with their estate-grown 2011 Petite Sirah. Delicious all the way around.

One of the nicest attributes about Roll Out the Barrels is the opportunity to chat one-on-one with the winery owners, winemakers, and staff. On Sunday, I headed for some pinot noir tasting at Corbett Canyon's wine making facility in Arroyo Grande, where the wines of Center of Effort and Sinor-LaValle are craftedThis facility is generally closed to the public, but these two top-notch wineries opened their doors for this annual event. Winemakers Nathan Carlson and Mike Sinor were both on hand to provide notable details about the wines they craft...and I was more than content to taste through their impressive lineups.

My last indulgence of the festive weekend: Niven Family Wine Estates in San Luis Obispo. Surrounded by grapevines and fresh air, guests enjoyed current releases from their Baileyana/Tangent/Trenza/Zocker/Cadre True Myth labels while listening to live music by Moon Pie.  
They even served up a wine dessert. The vanilla ice cream by SLO Maidinfused with 2011 Trenza Obispan—a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, tempranillo, and malbec—was mixed with chocolate chunks and tasted divine on this warm summer day.

Summer has just begun. Indulge a little in SLO County. 

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