If you are a wine fan outside of California the term Central Coast maybe a nebulous term to you. The Central Coast wine region of California is the largest, most diverse in the whole state. Stretching from Santa Barbara County to Northern Monterey County. I was going to post a detailed map covering the region, but there hasn’t been one made that does it justice.
Before 3 years ago I wasn’t that familiar with the Central Coast region other than it was home to some very large producers. I worked for a wine retailer in Napa famous for it’s International cellar along with lot’s of Napa Cabs. So why the Central Coast, I hear you ask? It’s a long twitter story, but suffice to say I came to love the terroir and wines produced in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
It’s rich Pinot Noirs, Rhone varietals and Chardonnay’s. In early 2012 I was tasked with coming up with a theme for a tweetup for wine bloggers and the trade while working for Hahn Family Wines. In an effort to be inclusive I came up with the idea of a day similar to #VarietalDay’s (#CabernetDay, #ChardonnayDay) that would try and define this huge region. I went on to include our neighbors in Monterey County and beyond to join us on a day to celebrate everything Central Coast.
On March 15th of 2012 we pulled off a successful event hosted in Carmel and Napa for folks to taste and tweet about the wines. Not only that, but over 20 wine bloggers were sent samples of Hahn to taste and tweet during the day stretching all across the US, British Columbia and London, England.
Over 24 wineries participated and in Napa we attracted 100’s of visitors to the Quent Cordair Art Gallery. The reach on Twitter with the #hashtag #CCWineDay reached over 3.7 million. With the successful engagement, locally and globally, it was clear we needed to repeat in 2013. For 2013 we went independent and more focused. Nine wineries from all over the region submitted samples for Napa folks to try.
Once again, big thanks to Linda & Quent at the Quent Cordair Art Gallery for being such gracious hosts. Wine tasting in the presence of beautiful artwork definitely set the right tone. After a few hiccups in the scheduling we settled on Friday, May 31st to get our tweet on!
Dave Corey and his wife Becky both have generations of wine in their blood from the Santa Maria area. They pride themselves in rich blends of Mourvedre and Grenache. These Core Wine gems were a delight to pour in Napa.
Surprising to me was the Sauvignon Blanc that came from Ancient Peaks in Paso Robles. I thought it would be far to hot for this varietal, but turns out the vineyard is in the Southern most point in Paso, just 14 miles from the ocean. Some tasty stuff from 3 great families.
Can’t say enough about the wines from Wrath. Each one seems specifically crafted to amaze. From their Pinot to their Syrah. I savored every sip of the Pinot Noir. In Napa it received many kudos! We salute Michael Thomas of Wrath for his extraordinary dedication to the art of winemaking.
Donati Family Vineyards had some of the most interesting looking labels of all. The Immigrant stood out for me as a wine and the image of the family patriarch, Albino Donati who arrived in the US in 1907. A Bordeaux blend with such rich character. These wines come from the Paicines AVA which I had never heard of until last year. The tasting room is located in the more approachable town of Templeton. Mitch Bakitch has done a great job on marketing on social media for this small producer. He is known as at the winery as Factotum (wherer of many hats)
Summer wouldn’t be complete without some Bubbles and Caraccioli Cellars does not disappoint. I never thought that anyone produced sparkling wine in the central coast. What is truly amazing is the depth of quality that goes into these wines. I put them up against the best of Napa, including Schramsberg. They are all traditional and sourced in the Santa Lucia Highlands from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards. I highly recommend you get a bottle and compare.
Tolosa Winery in San Luis Obispo has one of the most Sustainable Winemaking programs in the region. SIP Certified vineyard and forward thinking define them. They now have one of the largest Solor panel array’s in the region that should power them for 25 years. Besides all this they make killer wine! I particularly enjoyed the “1772” Edna Valley Chardonnay. When you visit, be sure and do the wine and cheese pairing. It’s fantastic.
Another standout for me was from Cambria Estate Vineyards. Year after year, Julia’s Vineyard puts out award winning Pinot Noir at an astonishing price. This year they were complemented with their sister winery, Byron from Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County. The wines have a distinct sense of place. Consistency and clonal selections define the style from each.
One of our local winemaker friends, Alison Crowe, blessed us with her 2011 Monterey County Pinot Noir from Garnet Vineyards. She makes other Pinot’s in Carneros and Sonoma Coast. She focuses on “Cool Climate” Pinot Noir and each is unique. At $15 a bottle, the Monterey is hard to beat for quality and value.
There is so much diversity in the Central Coast that we couldn’t possibly show all the nuances. We hope to repeat this annually and bring more focus to a region that truly shines amongst it’s more decorated peers further North.
Once again I couldn’t have done any of this without the constant support of my better half, Tristan Fairbanks. Big thanks to all the wineries that participated. Would love to here feedback on the event and ideas for next year.
Cheers! Mark Buckley