Abacela Winery

Abecela winery

About Abacela Winery

Abacela winery is one of Oregon’s most famous wineries, even though they don’t make a single Pinot Noir wine. It is also one of Oregon’s most visited wineries for these reasons. Gorgeous tasting room, beautiful hillside vineyards, instructional stations among the vines, peaceful picnic area, sustainable farming, and most importantly delicious wines.

The owners, Earl and Hilda Jones fell in love with the Tempranillo grape in their Spanish travels and wanted to produce that varietal in Oregon. They searched for the perfect spot to plant Tempranillo vines and found it in the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon. They planted their first Tempranillo grapes in 1995 at what was to become Abacela. Today, Abacela makes several labels of Tempranillo wines and other Spanish varietals, including a crisp, white Albariño, which is our favorite.

If you’re taking a trip to Ashland, Oregon, for the Shakespeare festival, why not think about a side-trip 100 miles north of Ashland to the Roseburg area, where Abacela is located. Stay a night and explore the wonderful Umpqua Valley and other wineries located in this area. Or, if you are on your way to Portland, consider a stop at the Abacela winery, It’s a wine lover’s paradise.

Other information on Souther Oregon wineries

Umpqua Valley Wine Country
Wineries of Southern Oregon

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    Ancient Peaks Tasting Room

    Ancient Peaks

    Ancient Peaks Tasting Room in the town of Santa Margarita

    About Ancient Peaks Tasting Room

    The Ancient Peaks tasting room is located in the small town of Santa Margarita at the southern end of the Paso Robles AVA. Ancient Peaks is owned by three families and produces some wonderful wines at very reasonable prices. The Ancient Peaks Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc are produced in high numbers, and are found in many fine wine shops and food markets for less than $15 a bottle. The Ancient Peaks winery is just a small endeavor compared to the three-family ownership of their Santa Margarita Vineyards. These vines are located to the west of the tasting room near the Santa Lucia Mountains, 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyards were first planted by the Franciscan missionaries in 1780. Ninety-five ercent of the vineyard grapes are sold to several wineries throughout California. Five percent of the grapes go into the production of Ancient Peaks wines. There are five different soil types found in the Santa Margarita Vineyards. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean translates into a cool climate area, providing a long growing season. Currently this wine area is under the large Paso Robles AVA designation. The area has applied to be its own wine appellation and that approval should be finalized in 2014. The tasting room is open daily from 11am to 5:30pm. The location is 22720 El Camino Real, Suite B, in Santa Margarita. There are also tours that take visitors out to vineyards and wine cellars. These are on Saturdays only and require a reservation. Check the Ancient Peaks Website for complete information on visiting and touring.

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      Garré wins at Taste Our Terroir

      Garre winery

      Garré’s Charlie Smith and Mona Canen with blogger Janelle at Taste Our Terroir

      About Garré Vineyards & Winery

      At Friday night’s “Taste our Terroir” at Casa Real in Livermore, we were able to taste many of Livermore’s best wines paired with appetizers from local restaurants. The wines we tasted were all delicious and the food excellent. Among the 700 people attending the event, my cousin Mona was pouring the 2010 Profound Secret from Garré Vineyards. We thought the wine was very good and went by the winery the next day to taste more of their wines. Profound Secret is the name of one of the owner’s thoroughbred race horses, and the colorful label on this bottle is a painting of a racehorse by Robert A. Anderson.

      We were delighted that the award for Judges’ Best Pairing went to Garré Vineyard & Winery and Garré Cafe. The appetizer they served was a tomato and olive braised beef short rib with whipped potatoes and panko crust, prepared by chef Robert Sapirman.

      The other awards for the evening included:

      *Best Classic Pairing: Vasco Urbano Wine Company and Zephyr Grill & Bar
      *Most Innovative Pairing: Cuda Ridge Wines and Posada
      *Best White Wine Pairing: Longevity Wines and 1300 on Fillmore
      *Best Red Wine Pairing: Wood Family Vineyards and First Street Alehouse

      Casa Real event center is at Ruby Hill Winery and is a lovely setting for weddings and other such events. We look forward to returning to Taste Our Terroir next year.

      profound secret

      Profound Secret – Bordeaux Blend

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        Taste Our Terroir

        Taste our terrior Livermore

        Page Mill Winery pours Chardonnay paired with  sea scallop, prepared by Handles Gastropub

        About Livermore Valley’s Taste Our Terroir

        Taste Our Terroir is Livermore Valley wine country’s signature event, this year taking place from July 24 to July 27. The event began on Thursday evening with a festive food and wine pairing extravaganza at Casa Real, the event center at Ruby Hill Winery. Eighteen Livermore wineries each partnered with a  Bay Area restaurant  to pair one of their wines with a chef’s creative appetizer.  We as participants were able to compare and contrast each wine with and without the appetizer. The chefs were at the top of their game, as the appetizers were being judged by Sunset Magazine.  In the photo above the Page Mill Winery’s Chardonnay paired wonderfully with the sea scallop prepared by Handles Gastropub. It was our favorite pairing of the evening. In the red wine department there were several excellent choices.  Our favorite wine and food match was the Occasio Petite Sirah paired with a stuffed mushroom from Springs Italian Cafe.  The wines and food we tasted were all delicious and the event was thoroughly enjoyable.

        From Friday through Sunday, events will take place throughout the Livermore Valley wine country at various wineries. The events include a cooking demonstration at Page Mill Winery, comparing single vineyard Cabernet at the Steven Kent Winery,  and a wine blending session at the new Wente Vineyards Winemakers Studio. This event is very popular and is sold out every year. Most of the folks we met were residents of the Livermore area and very proud of the wines produced in this region.

        More about the Livermore Valley Wine Country

         

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          Wine club perks

          This perk will encourage many to join the wine club.

          This perk will encourage many to join the wine club.

          Wine club perks when you join a wine club

          Wineries will think of all types of wine club perks (gimmicks) to get wine country travelers to join their wine clubs. It is just about the best way for a winery to sell their wine and get a good return on profit. There is no distributor, or middle man, to take a cut. Many wineries will give their employees a commission when they sign up a wine club member. Always be on guard for the old wine club push. Most use a soft sell, but a few do come on very strong. I love the line, “Our wine club is free to join.”  I have not yet found a wine club that charges a fee to join.

          Although the perk of a parking space is unusual, these are some of the advantages of joining a wine club:

          • Wines not distributed but sold only to wine club members.
          • Wines released to wine club members well before being distributed.
          • Wine club events: Release parties and the like. The best perk is when the party is at the winery and no fees are charged.
          • Free tasting for the club member and guests.
          • Use of a picnic area.

          Some not so good perks:

          • Wine shipments include a varietal that is not a favorite.
          • Finding your wine on sale for less than the wine club price.
          • Shipping costs.
          • You can quit a wine club, but breaking up is hard to do.

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            Daou Vineyards in Paso Robles

            Daou vineyards

            The view from Daou Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles

            About Daou Vineyards in Paso Robles

            This is one of the latest wineries in Paso Robles (2007) and perhaps the winery with the most breathtaking views. Imagine yourself sitting on these chairs with a glass of wine pondering life. This is about as gorgeous as it gets in any wine country. The winery is situated on the west side of Highway 101 in Paso Robles. It sits at an elevation of 2000 feet. It may be hot in Paso Robles during the growing season, but this hilltop site is cooled by the breezes coming from the Pacific Ocean through the Templeton Gap. The soil here is all calcareous, and the Daou folks believe this is the ideal terroir for producing Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals. Although the emphasis is on Bordeaux style wines they also produce some lovely Rhone style white wines, namely Viognier and Grenache Blanc. The winery is owned by Georges and Daniel Daou, two brothers who were successful business entrepeneurs in the medical industry. Daniel Daou is also the winemaker. The vineyards are Sip Certified, meaning sustainable farming is in practice throughout the estate. The tasting room is beautiful, and visitors are welcome to Daou Vineayrds in Paso Robles daily from 11am-5pm. The current tasting fee is $20, but waived with a purchase of wine. There are also food pairings available. Check the Daou Vineyards website for complete visiting details and other details about the winery.

            More about the Paso Robles wine country

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              C Casa Oxbow Market

              C casa

              The very busy C Casa Taqueria at the Oxbow Market

              We stopped at the Oxbow Market for lunch on the way home from a busy two days in the Napa Valley. It was a Friday and the Oxbow was jammed with folks shopping and enjoying lunch. We remember the days when the Oxbow first opened at the end of 2007. The place had more workers there than visitors. The recession kicked in and Oxbow suffered for years, but no longer. Judging from the crowds in Oxbow and in downtown Napa, we have to say without a doubt the Napa Valley and the town of Napa are booming with tourism. C Casa is our spot at the Oxbow Public Market for a quick but gourmet lunch. This little taqueria is totally organized. It was very busy with folks standing in line to order. From the time we stepped in line to our food being served, it was no more than 15 minutes. This is no fast food joint. This is delicious and specular food. I am amazed that they can turn out such wonderful food in a matter of minutes. “An Innovative Kitchen” as you can see in the photo is certainly the case. Janelle ordered the fresh green salad with added grilled chicken, and I had the grilled salmon taco. Wonderful!

              The Oxbow Public Market is located in the town of Napa at 610 and 644 First Street, and it is open daily from 9am to 7pm. Some merchants open as early as 7:30 and some stay open until 9:30 pm. Check the Oxbow Public Market Website for special events and a complete listing of all merchants.

               

              grilled salmon taco

              Fresh green salad with chicken and grilled salmon taco

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                Rutherford Dust

                Rutherford Dust

                Photo shot from the second floor room at the Inglenook Chateau in Rutherford

                About Rutherford Dust

                The photo above shows a portion of the Rutherford AVA. The immediate vineyards in the photo are Cabernet Sauvignon, the signature varietal of the Napa Valley and the Rutherford AVA. Rutherford Dust refers to legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff who said, “It takes Rutherford dust to grow great Cabernet.” Vineyard and winery owners in the Rutherford AVA have formed the Rutherford Dust Society. Their mission is to promote the highest standards in vineyard cultivation, winemaking, and land preservation. This is a group of committed viticulturists who collaborate with each other to promote the wines of this appellation. The AVA is two miles wide, stretching from Mount St. John on the west to the Vaca Mountains on the east. The AVA begins just to the south of Beaulieu Vineyards and stretches to the north at Zinfandel Lane. If you travel along Highway 29 or the Silverado Trail, the AVA signs are clearly visible. The Rutherford Dust Society members introduced their 2011 Cabernet wines at a special tasting held last Wednesday at the Inglenook Chateau. 2011 was a difficult year for growers with the unusual climate conditions. It was a cooler growing year, and in the first week of October there was heavy rainfall. These Cabernet wines are medium bodied with good acidity. While this vintage is more restrained in style, the wines will age gracefully.

                Some of our favorite wineries to visit in the Rutherford AVA are Inglenook, Beaulieu Vineyards, Round Pond, Honig, Conn Creek and Provenance.

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                  The Hitching Post in Santa Barbara wine country

                  Hitching post in Buelton

                  To culminate our wonderful weekend in the Santa Barbara wine country following the recent Wine Bloggers Conference, we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to have dinner at the Hitching Post in Buellton. We’d last eaten there shortly before the restaurant was featured in the 2004 movie, “Sideways.” As in the movie, when Miles and Jack meet Maya and Stephanie, it’s obvious that the Hitching Post is a popular spot for locals and tourists.

                  Reading the information on the menu, we found that Frank and Natalie Ostini opened the restaurant in 1986 to bring Santa Maria style Barbecue to Buellton. Today their children continue the tradition of combining old and new, and boast of serving the best French Fries in Southern California. The staff is very courteous and friendly, which is always a plus.

                  When we visited on this Sunday night, the restaurant was packed with families, couples and a few singles. The menu features a good assortment of appetizers, BBQ meats, fresh salads and yummy desserts. Most of the wines, by the glass or bottle, are from the many great wineries in the Santa Barbara wine country. The restaurant also serves wines from their own winery that focuses on Pinot Noir.

                   

                  If you want to explore the Santa Barbara wine country and the “Sideways” wine trail, be sure you stop by the Hitching Post. You won’t be disappointed.

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                    The State of Cabernet in the Napa Valley in mid July

                    State of cabernet in the napa valley

                    Cabernet Sauvignon in the St. Helena AVA on July 17, 2014

                    The state of Cabernet in the Napa Valley

                    Veraison is well underway with red grape varietals. In these two photos we see the state of Napa Valley Cabernet as of July 17, 2014. The above photo shows vineyards in the St. Helena AVA, and in the photo below are vines from the Rutherford AVA. Most vintners agree that the 2014 vintage is two to three weeks ahead of normal for this time period. As to the tonnage of grapes, things appear to be on track for about the same as the 2013 harvest. As one vintner put it, “It looks like a normal year in the Napa Valley for grape quality and amount.” The term Veraison is French and means the “change of color of the grape berries.” In other words, it is a sign the grapes on the vine are ripening. It is a signal to all that harvest activities will begin in August. It will be Pinot Noir and Chardonnay first, but for sparkling wines only. By mid August some Sauvignon Blanc is expected to be ready for harvest. These Cabernet Sauvignon grapes will not be harvested until late September or early October, depending on the climate. Wine Country travelers in July should take note of this amazing process taking place in nature.

                    state of Cabernet in Napa Valley

                    Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyards in Rutherford AVA on July 17, 2014

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