Vineyards of California Road Trip | 2010

June 13-16, 2010
June 27-30, 2010

$1,100 per person based on double occupancy.  $185 single occupancy up-charge.

After three separate “research” trips, we are happy to report that we’ve finally put together a fantastic package with insider visits to some incredible wineries.  We’ll fly out of San Diego Sunday morning to Sacramento, where our favorite bus driver Eric will be waiting for us in his half million dollar luxury motorcoach with onboard restroom.  From there we’ll work our way back down to San Diego over the course of the next four days with stops in Amador County, Lodi, Los Gatos, Corralitos, San Benito, Santa Lucia Highlands, Paso Robles, Templeton and Santa Ynez.  Lunch and dinner will be served each day under the open skies in a different vineyard or winery.  Each trip will be strictly limited to 52 people.

We’ll have lunch at Terre Rouge and Easton Winery in Amador County where we’ll taste through an entire 10-year vertical of their Sentinel Hill Syrah.

We’ll tour the state-of-the-art C. G. di Arie Winery also in Amador County and see the first original “submerged cap punch down” system invented by owner/winemaker Chaim Gur-Arieh (who also invented Cap’t Crunch cereal years ago!).  Then we’ll enjoy a tasting of their premium wines while taking in the breathtaking views from their mountaintop patio.

Dinner will be at Bokisch Vineyards in Lodi where we’ll enjoy their Spanish wines paired with an authentic 5-course Spanish tapas style dinner complete with a strolling classical Spanish guitarist.

Lodging will be at Wine & Roses in Lodi, a beautiful hotel built around lush gardens.

We’ll have lunch, a tour and a tasting the next day at Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos.  Testarossa specializes in Burgundian varietals and is the oldest winery in the Bay Area.  It is an historical landmark owned by the Jesuit monastery immediately next door.  The facility is cavernous and has been added onto something like fourteen times over the years, similar to the “haunted” Winchester House in San Jose.

Richard Alfaro of Alfaro Family Vineyards will guide us on a trek though his hilly vineyards where we’ll be able to taste the wines coming from each block right in front of the vines where they were grown.  This will be a fascinating opportunity to taste the effect different terroir has on the same varietals (similar to what we did at Rockpile on last year’s Sonoma trip).  You’ll be able to try identical varietals grown on the same property that taste completely different due to factors like sun exposure and terrain.

Frank Leal will conduct a barrel tasting of his 2007 vs. 2008 Godsend Cabernet at the winery before we move outside to have a 5-course dinner next to the lake in his vineyards.  Our own chefs will prepare that dinner which will be paired with the Leal wines including the 2006 Godsend as a finale.

Lodging will be at the Ridgemark Golf & County Club a mere five minutes away.

Lunch the next day will be at Pisoni Vineyards in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands where none other than the legendary (and I do mean legendary!) Gary Pisoni will be our host for what will surely be the most outrageous afternoon of the trip.  We’ll drink some amazing Pinots, enjoy charcoal grilled carne asada and vegetables in their secret hideaway patio in the middle of the vineyards that’s complete with caves, waterfalls and even a mini private beach that’s miles from the ocean.  This is one idyllic spot that defies description; it simply must be experienced in person.  Gary Pisoni is one of the Garys of the famous Garys’ Vineyard and we’re working on getting Gary Franscioni (the other Gary) to join us at Pisoni.

We’ll meet winemaker Steve Kroener at Silver Horse Winery just north of Paso Robles for a tasting of his mostly Bordeaux and Spanish varietals plus homemade pizzas from their outdoor ovens.

Dinner that night will be literally in the Zinfandel vines at the famous, almost century old Dusi Ranch just south of Paso in Templeton.  Fourth generation Dusi, Janell Dusi, along with Four Vines owner Billy Grant and winemaker Christian Tietje will be our colorful hosts for yet another outrageous evening.  Our own chefs will be preparing dinner paired with Janell’s Zinfandel and a full line-up of Four Vines wines.  Janell also makes a limited amount of Zin Port and Grappa that, who knows, might just find its way to the table at the end of the evening.

Lodging will be a half hour south at Quality Suites Inn in San Luis Obispo.

Peter Stolpman will be our host the final day at Stolpman Vineyards in Santa Ynez’s Ballard Canyon.  He’ll guide us on another fascinating vineyard trek where he’ll show us his Cote Rotie style Syrah plantings as well as their experimental “mother/daughter” pruning technique.  It’s a huge and beautiful vineyard that encompasses many different terroirs.  We’ll end the tour with a good old fashioned BBQ in the middle of the vineyards for lunch before the return trip back to San Diego.