Historic Rancho Sisquoc Winery & Vineyard ~ Angus to Vines

IMG_7156 Dating back to the 1850’s the 37,000 acre Rancho Sisquoc is part of a Mexican land grant, snaking along the Sisquoc River 14 miles east of Santa Maria.  The Chumash Indians called this pristine land, “Sisquoc”, meaning gathering place.

IMG_7159 And what a gathering place Rancho Sisquoc Winery has become!  Originally a cattle ranch with plots of beans and barley, today, over 300 acres are planted in vines.  Another piece of history adorns the ranch ~ the San Ramon Chapel, declared as Santa Barbara County’s first State Historical Landmark.   Erected in 1875, the chapel still holds Sunday services.

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Further down the winding gravel road is the rustic tasting room which was constructed in 1977 and overlooks the entire working cattle ranch and hills beyond the river.   Rancho Sisquoc Winery‘s tasting room decor is fashioned after an old western saloon and expands to the outside patio  in warm weather months.
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Napa Valley’s Castello di Amorosa Winery Is Bewitching

IMG_6271It’s no wonder why the Castello di Amorosa in the sleepy town of Calistoga is one of the most adored and visited wineries.  The 13th century Tuscan-styled castle was painstakingly replicated by owner and winemaker Dario Sattui, taking more than 14 years to construct.

IMG_6331Sattui’s dream of building a winery to host his Italian varietals in Napa Valley became more of an obsession.  Castello di Amorosa is tucked against the forested hills overlooking acres of vineyards.

IMG_6251Italian Cypress trees line the long driveway to the castle where the magic unfolds as one crosses the drawbridge to enter the castle.  Sheep and chickens roam the dry moat area surrounding the castle, mingling with visitors.

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Castle tours with wine tastings are artfully guided by docents throughout the 107 room medieval castle and grounds. Continue reading

Russian River Vineyards Has A Storied Past & Noteworthy Wines!

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Nestled in the heart of the renowned Russian River Valley is the picturesque and historic Russian River Vineyards.  Historically speaking, this iconic vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in the northern Sonoma County wine growing region.  The first vines were planted with Merlot in 1963, a time when the surrounding farm plots were planted with  apples and prunes.

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Surrounded by towering Redwood trees, this eclectic winery was modeled after the many stockades built by Russian settlers in the early 1800’s and the hop kilns that dotted the Sonoma County.  Russian River Vineyards was named long before the Russian River Valley was designated as an AVA in 1983. Continue reading

SD Vintners Debut 2014 Barrel Samples At Fall Harvest Event


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San Diego wine aficionados were invited to the 2014 Fall Harvest Wine Symposium & Wine Tasting held at the prestigious rooftop Vintana Wine + Dine restaurant  in Escondido last weekend.

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IMG_8024The symposium, hosted by Cohn Restaurant Group Beverage Director Maurice DiMarino, featured a panel of seven San Diego County Winemakers and their 2014 barrel samples.

Each winemaker presented a barrel sample and discussed the particular wine presented for tasting with the specific challenges that were encountered in the 2014 growing and harvest season.

In addition to the 2014 barrel samples, the San Diego winemakers showcased previous vintages which were available for tasting and purchase. Continue reading

Winemaking 101 At Temecula’s Wilson Creek Winery

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It was a picture-perfect October Saturday morning at the Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula.

Due to the drought conditions and warmer weather conditions, the grapes ripened quickly and the 2014 Harvest came earlier than in previous years.

Night-time picking had just been completed and the grapes lay in various stages of fermentation in the steel tanks and oak barrels. The cool air in the cellar was pungent with the smell of the ripening red grapes in the open bins. 

Wilson Creek Winery‘s winemaker Kestutis “Gus” Vizgirda’s hands, legs and clothes were stained a deep red hue from vigilantly tending to the grape juices and skins non-stop in the first crucial days after the harvest. Continue reading

Sanford Winery ~ Sta. Rita Hills’ First Pinot Pioneers!

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You might say that Sanford Winery & Vineyards is as old as the hills… the Santa Rita Hills, that is.  It was back in 1971 when Pinot Pioneer Richard Sanford planted the first Pinot Noir grapes in the Sanford & Benedict vineyards, that put Santa Barbara Wine Country and Santa Rita Hills on the map.

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Fast forward 30 years…today, the Sanford & Benedict vineyard supports 68 acres of the Mt. Eden Pinot Noir clone, 52 acres of Chardonnay and 15 acres of other estate grapes. Continue reading

Europa Village’s Oktoberfest ~ Barrels Of Fun!

IMG_7813Willkommen to Europa Village‘s Annual 2014 Oktoberfest!  Festive costumes adorned the staff and guests alike.   Steins of handcrafted beer were raised high and Europa wines flowed freely as guests enjoyed the authentic German fare and music.

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Hangar 24Refuge BreweryIronfire Brewery and Craft Brewing Company were all on keg duty to serve their fine handcrafted brews.   Guests even received a complimentary beer stein to commemorate Europa‘s 2014 Oktoberfest. Continue reading