SLO County Wineries News

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 Newsletter -- April, 2009

Two Great Events, both in Beautiful Santa Margarita, Mark April's Calendar

The Earth Day Food & Wine Festival: According to organizers, The Earth Day Food & Wine Festival is a collaboration of over 100 purveyors of award-winning foods and wines plus exhibitors highlighting innovative products and services. Local chefs and farmers will be serving delicious one-of-a-kind dishes based on locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, olive oils, and more.

This event will be held on Saturday, April 18, at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, and provides an opportunity for visitors to enjoy unlimited samples of local cuisine, while meeting the growers who produce great wines and foods, and nurture a healthy environment.

Complimenting the great food, wine, and exhibits will be live entertainment and dancing, a silent auction, a commemorative wine glass, and a tote filled with earth-friendly products.

The Earth Day Food & Wine Festival is a zero-waste event, and is a benefit event to support farmworker outreach and sustainable ag research conducted by the Central Coast Vineyard Team.

The Seventh Annual Cal Poly Wine Festival takes place on Saturday, April 25th.

The event is also held at the Santa Margarita Ranch, however, unlike The Earth Day Food & Wine Festival, which will be held at the area of the ranch between Santa Margarita and Highway 101, the Cal Poly Wine Festival is held in one of the ranch's vineyards off Pozo Road, about three miles east of town.

Among the many local wineries that will be pouring are:
  • J. Lohr Winery
  • Jada Vineyard
  • Talley Vineyards

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    And Speaking of Cal Poly and Wine...

    From a recent story in the Mustang Daily, "an increasing number of wine connoisseurs have found their niche in Cal Poly's wine and viticulture major," and that, "wine is popular amongst students..."

    According to the article, Wine and Viticulture officially became a degree program spring quarter of 2004, although it had been evolving through Cal Poly's viticulture program for 20 years. The major was developed in response to a growing wine industry, particularly in the Central Coast.

    Students enrolled in the wine and viticulture program learn about all aspects of the wine industry. It is a major that has high student interest and currently has 300 students enrolled.


    2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Award-Winning Wines

    Caliza Winery of Paso Robles recently took home Best of Class award in the syrah category and the Sweepstakes Award for Best Red Wine overall in The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

    According to organizers, the wine competition is America’s largest, with more than 4,000 entries from around the world.

    Caliza Winery is a boutique family winery specializing in small lots of red and white Rhône-style wines.
    The winery has two vineyards totaling 20 acres.

    To read a "Recap of the 2009 Wine Judging," click over to Michael Haran's Notes From The Back Room, where he writes:

      "Toasty nose," "Grassy notes," Fruit forward," "Buttery oak," "Hint of citrus," "Floral finish," "Wet dog!" Sounds like it must be the start of the wine competition season. And it is with the completion of the 9th annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in Cloverdale, California.

      The competition began the previous week with the classification and palleting of this year’s entries. Although California still accounts for 90% of the U.S. wine production some of the nation’s other grape growing states such as Michigan, North Carolina, Kentucky, Iowa and New Mexico are beginning to produce some quality wines.

      Inside the Cloverdale Citrus Fair’s pavilion, eight foot tables, which will hold the thousands of bottles of wine over the four day competition, were set up in into horseshoe shaped bays. These bays became the working area for each of the competition’s thirteen panels. Known as the "Back Room" this area, which is off-limits to the judges, is where the event’s wines were poured.
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    Sales of Red Blends Up

    Nationwide, sales of red blends are up approximately 110 percent over the past four years, according to Information Resources, which tracks U.S. wine sales. The figures show especially explosive growth under $20.

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    "A Toast To Paderewski"

    The Paderewski Festival and the Back Roads Wineries of Paso Robles present "A Toast to Paderewski," Saturday, April 25, 6-9:30 p.m. at the Pear Valley Winery, 4900 Union Road, Paso Robles.

    The chamber music concert and wine tasting event will feature pianist Marek Zebrowski, a Steinway artist and director of the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

    Polish appetizers created by Cass Winery Chef Jacob will include Waffled Potato Crisps with a Smoked Herring Mousse, Traditional Gwumpke with a Modern Twist, Kielbasa Wrapped in Puff Pastry and Served with Whole Grain Mustard, Borscht Soup Shots, Bacon Wrapped Prunes and Perogi.

    Proceeds of the event will benefit the Paderewski Festival Cultural Exchange Program with Poland. Selected winners of the 2008 Youth Piano Competition will be invited to participate in a workshop and festival in Tarnow, Poland in June 2009. The cities of Paso Robles and Tarnow signed a sister city agreement in November 2008 to explore cultural and business opportunities.

    Tickets info at

    The Paderewski Festival is a non-profit organization that sponsors the annual festival and youth competition in Paso Robles. The 2009 Paderewski Festival will be held November 12th-15th, with the Paderewski Festival Youth Winners' Concert & Gala Concert on  Saturday, November 14th at the Paso Robles Inn.

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    Bud Break Update!

    Finally, in our March newsletter, we wrote, "for the next couple months (until the danger of frost is past... hopefully!), SLO County Wineries News will keep an eye on the local weather, and report in upcoming newsletters on any frost episodes that occur in the spring of 2009... should be interesting to watch."

    Well, it turns out, there's an interesting update. On April 2-3, there was an overnight frost in parts of North SLO County, and that quick, relatively mild frost event did do some damage to the test vine outside the offices of (see photo).

    It was nothing like the hard freeze event in May of '08, but this month's quick frost did kill about five, tender, young bunches on just that one vine.

    We'll continue to monitor the freeze/bud-break situation, and report back next month.


    [Also on tap for next month: The Paso Robles Wine Festival weekend, May 15 - 17.]