Event: Santa Lucia Highlands Sun, Wine & Wine Gala (5/18/19)

It is that time of year for this annual event!

“Join the preeminent producers of the Santa Lucia Highlands for an afternoon of delicious wine, gourmet delicacies from the area’s finest restaurants and food producers, a silent auction that benefits a local charity, live music, and more. Mer Soleil Winery generously opens its doors for the day, allowing fans of the region a peek into the beautiful property that’s not open to the public.

More than 40 vintners personally pour their most sought-after Santa Lucia Highlands bottlings, paired with bites by chefs from exceptional Monterey Peninsula restaurants and food purveyors like Basil Carmel, Carmel Valley Ranch, La Balena, Schoch Dairy, Village Corner, The Monterey Plaza Hotel and many more.”

For event information: http://www.santaluciahighlands.com/event/sun-wind-and-wine-gala/

Beer: Central Coast Historic Saloons

The Central Coast of California has a raucous past fueled by “demon alcohol”served at the many “watering holes” on the stage coach routes along the El Camino Real. These bars thrived into the Twentieth Century as stops along main Central Coast highways and were discussed in a Smithsonian article.

In my wanderings about the Central Coast, I have been to all of the saloons, except for Cold Springs Tavern. It sits on a winding stagecoach route tucked in the Los Padres National Forest, overlooking Lake Cachuma Recreation Area. The roads in the area are a driving challenge under the best of conditions. Drivers consist of tourists: drunken wine-eos, looky-loos, lumbering recreational vehicles, or locals who are in a perpetual hurry. I was always one of the impatient locals, as I traveled to or from Santa Barbara for business meetings. Somehow, I never managed to stop for a “cold one”.

Some of the saloons in the article are seldom open, such as Mattei’s Tavern and Pozo Saloon. The former is in Los Olivos, which sits just off of Highway 154, about 5 miles east of Highway 101. This hamlet is a picturesque, lunch-spot outside Santa Barbara. In recent years, it has transitioned from a couple of lanes of art galleries to Santa Barbara’s wine tasting hub. Over the years, Mattei’s Tavern has changed hands and now is only open in the evening.

Over the last 30 years, I have attended all sorts of business events at the Far Western in Guadalupe, and have had some fantastic steak dinners there. Unfortunately, the Far Western has abandoned it’s stately Victorian abode in Guadalupe, and moved to new digs in Orcutt, where it advertises itself as “Contemporary California Ranch Cuisine”. The new location is a bit out-of-the-way for the traveler on Highway 101. A person must intend to go there for dinner.

Pozo Saloon is now open Friday through Sunday, and often, sponsors special concerts and events. The trek to the remote Pozo Saloon a gorgeous trek through rolling hills, pasture land, and vineyards, especially in the spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom. For a day trip, you can always add wine tasting, or a stop at the Dunbar Brewery, or dinner at the Range in nearby Santa Margarita.

The two North San Luis Obispo (SLO) County saloons are well-integrated in their communities.

The bacchanal history of the Elkhorn Saloon, in San Miguel, is juxtaposed with the religious fervor of nearby San Miguel Mission. Last summer, on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, I made the short drive from Paso Robles to the Elkhorn. A friendly bartendress welcomed me into the dark, cool interior, aglow with neon beer signs. The Elkhorn has very masculine history serving frontier outlaws and military men from Camp Roberts and Fort Hunter Ligget. Therefore, it was surprising to find only ladies present for an ad hoc “Ladies Day Celebration”. All were ready to swap stories about the Elkhorn’s ghosts and its Prohibition shenanigans.

The Park Street Saloon in Paso Robles vacillates between a quiet spot for an afternoon libation and a riotous, throbbing Karaoke-bar/pub-crawl-destination at night. Take this advice. Be ready to belt out your favorite song and don’t wear flip flops. In the wee hours, the bar is packed, and so much beer is spilled, you may look like Bambi-on-ice if you try to dance.

Kettmann, Matt. The Historic Saloons of Central California. Smithsonian.com. (June 23, 2011) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/the-historic-saloons-of-central-california-23040632/#lQ4s060ZhxJUTEej.01

Wine: Santa Lucia Highlands – A Special Place

The official AVA name for wines in Monterey is “MontereyMost of Monterey’s vineyards are in the Salinas Valley

The Monterey AVA includes smaller sub-AVA’s in the Salinas Valley (from north to south):

  • Santa Lucia Highlands,
  • Arroyo Seco,
  • San Bernabe,
  • San Lucas, and
  • Hames Valley.

The Monterey AVA includes 3 other sub-AVAs sit outside of the Salinas Valley: 

  • Carmel Valley,
  • Chalone,
  • San Antonio Valley.

Here are some details about Monterey Wine Country and one of its most popular American Viticulture Areas (AVA) – the Santa Lucia Highlands.

NoteThere are a number of vineyards in southern Monterey County that outside the boundary of any AVA. They have unique terroir and some very good wines. 

Wine: From Great Britain?

The wine grape is definitely a great climate barometer.

For example, wine grapes were once grown in England as far north as Lincolnshire during the Roman Empire. This would seem to indicate that it was once warmer than it has been in recent centuries. Many web-sites speculate on this.

InfoBritain says, “In Roman Britain, the weather was warmer than it is now, and this warmer climate allowed extensive vine growing throughout Britain’s Roman period, and for a long time after. By 1086 when the Domesday survey was carried out there were thirty nine vineyards officially recorded in England, although the actual figure may have been much higher. Then temperatures began to drop in the second half of the sixteenth century causing a retreat of vine growing from the north and east of Europe.”

Web-sites focused solely on wine (e.g. History of English Wine) ponder whether the decline in British wine grape production was due to cooling climates, or changing political climates, or both. About the same time monasteries that made the wines were destroyed by Henry VIII circa mid-1500s, which could have been a primary cause for the loss of a wine industry in Britain.

In the mid 1900s, key viticulturists revived the British wine industry. Today, the wine industry in the south of Britain is rebounding, which may be attributed to warming climates. It may also be a result of viticulture more suited to the terroir.

In summary, climate and politics change. Agriculture responds.

Reposted from Jan 05, 2015 6:08am Facebook post

Wine: For My Wineo Friends – SLH

OK. It’s true. I am partial to Santa Lucia Highland (SLH) Pinot Noir from Monterey County. To me, the terroir imparts a balanced, slightly-fruit-forward, smokiness (almost tarry?) with a full mouth feel. No astringency. No flintiness. No over-refinement.

For those who are unfamiliar with these wines, look for the following wineries from SLH: August West, Belle Glos, Bernardus, Boekenoogen, Hahn, Hope and Grace, Kori, Ludienne, Mansfield-Dunne, Manzoni, McIntyre, Mer Soleil (owned by Caymus), Morgan, Novy, Paraiso, Pelerin, Pessagno, Pisoni, Poppy, Puma Road, Scheid, Sequana, Siduri, Talbott, Testarossa, Tondre, Tudor and Wrath. La Rochelle uses SLH grapes but the winery is outside the area. Mooney Family Wines in Paso Robles makes a great Pinot Noir exclusively using SHL grapes.