Central Coast Wine Harvest Tour | 2010

October 10-12, 2010
October 17-19, 2010
October 24-26, 2010

$635 per person based on double occupancy. $120 single occupancy up-charge.

After several “research” trips, we are happy to report that we’ve put together a fantastic harvest tour with insider visits to some great wineries and vineyards. If you’ve never experienced the actual harvest process, this will be a great opportunity to see firsthand how grapes go from vine to barrel to bottle. The wineries should be in a state of “controlled panic” with a flurry of activity in every square inch. Bins of freshly harvested grapes will be arriving hourly, de-stemmers will be de-stemming, crushers will be crushing and, of course, the intoxicating perfume of fermenting grapes will be everywhere.

We’ll meet here at Wine Vault & Bistro Sunday morning for pre-boarding Bloody Marys and then hop on a half million dollar luxury motor coach with an onboard restroom. Our favorite bus driver Eric will then drive us through the wine country for the next three days with stops in Ventura, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Lunch and dinner will be served each day in some very unique venues including the ocean’s edge, vineyards, wineries and even an 1860?s stagecoach stop. Each trip will be limited to a maximum of 52 people.

We’ll have lunch Sunday at Cliff House in Mussel Shoals just north of Ventura on the way up. Cliff House is an old dive motel with a great restaurant with outdoor seating right on the ocean’s edge. Views are spectacular and with a little luck we may even see some passing dolphins. Lunch (mussels, of course!) is included in the price but everyone needs to bring a favorite bottle of wine to share with the group. After lunch we’ll take any leftover wine and enjoy it on the bus on the way up to Paso Robles.

We’ll check into the Paso Robles Inn (where we’ll stay both nights) early Sunday evening. After unpacking and freshening up we’ll get back on the bus for the twenty minute drive to Cass Winery where we’ll enjoy an entire, slow pit roasted pig for dinner paired with their wines. Then it’s back to the hotel for the night (or relaxing in a hot sulfur springs Jacuzzi on your patio if you opt for a premium room).

After breakfast we’ll go to Halter Ranch Winery on Paso’s west side where we’ll taste their wines and tour their new state-of-the-art facility and caves being constructed on site. The construction should be about halfway complete this October so this may be a unique opportunity to actually see some high-tech cave boring equipment in operation.

Next we’ll go to Villa Creek Winery for a tasting and light appetizers and, depending upon the harvest schedule, winemaker Cris Cherry will show everyone how to do a punch down and grape sorting. This will be a relatively short stop as we’ll be returning to Villa Creek Restaurant in the evening for a winemaker dinner with Cris, but we thought it would be fun to meet him in the rough and do some hands-on “Tom Sawyer” work at his winery first.

Next we’ll head ten minutes down Peachy Canyon Road to Luna Matta Vineyards where we’ll meet vineyard manager Stephanie Terrizzi for a tour of these beautiful hillside vineyards. After the trek we’ll enjoy an outdoor, vineyard workers lunch of Italian-style chicken grilled over charcoal pits and paired with Giornata wines, a new label focusing on Italian varietals that Stephanie makes with her husband Brian.

After lunch we’ll head back down the road for dual winemaker tastings at Denner Vineyard’s exclusive “Comus” club, a gorgeous new private event center attached to the winery. It has a members-only lounge inside and fireplace patios outside with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards. First, Denner winemaker Anthony Yount will host a five-year vertical of Denner Syrah including a barrel sample of the not-yet-released 2008. Next, Epoch winemaker Jordan Fiorentini will pour barrel samples and pre-releases of some of her verging on cult status wines. Epoch is a new project in Paso managed by Paul Hobbs’ brother Matt, and specializes in high-end Rhone varietals, Tempranillo and Zinfandel. They’ll be between vintages as the current release sold out instantly and the next release won’t be out for several more months, but this will be a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor of their wine club if you’re interested.

After that we’ll head back to Paso Robles Inn to relax and freshen up before walking one block across the square to Villa Creek Restaurant where we’ll meet Cris Cherry again for a winemaker dinner with his wines at his restaurant. Then it’s back to the hotel for the evening or, if you prefer, you can linger over drinks at Villa Creek or one of the many other restaurants within walking distance of the old town square.

After breakfast we’ll check out of the hotel and head south to Sextant Vineyards in San Luis Obispo. There we’ll meet Craig Stoller who will take us on a vineyard trek and demonstrate grafting techniques. Everyone will have an opportunity to graft their own vine and then take the cutting back home to plant and hopefully grow your own grapes!

Next we’ll continue heading south along the scenic CA-154 overlooking Lake Cachuma in the Santa Ynez Mountains. And since no trip to the Central Coast would be complete without good old fashioned grilled Santa Maria tri-tip, we’ll stop at Cold Springs Tavern, a secluded 1860?s stagecoach stop turned restaurant in the middle of the forest, where we’ll enjoy smoky, char grilled tri-tip carved to order from their outdoor BBQ. Veteran winemaker Doug Margerum will also be there to host a winemaker lunch and pour his limited production wines. After lunch we’ll head back to San Diego and, if past is prologue, with plenty of wine and new friends on the bus to make the ride home pass all too quickly!