Larner Fête 2016, Santa Barbara County

Larner fete, how it came to be

Larner Fête 2016

A celebration with 7 Winemakers each making wine from fruit sourced from Larner Vineyard

fête

a celebration or festival

from the Old French feste and the Middle English feast.

Tables at the entrance to the yard held sparkling wine glasses for the guests

You could smell the smoke from the grill and the portable wood fired pizza oven followed by the aroma of things set to make your mouth water. The buildings remind you of a small western town, with the barn looming in the center, filled with tables, each with it’s own winemaker, each serving a wine they created from grapes grown at this vineyard.

The food by Autostrada Wood Fired Pizza & Amaranto Catering

The beautiful Larner Vineyard Grounds and barn make an enchanting and welcoming place for an event like this.

Click below to dive into the visuals of the event or scroll down below it to read the rest of the story!

Larner Fête 2016

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Casa Dumetz

Sonja Magdevski of Casa Dumetz pulls Grenache from Larner. She brought a 2014 Larner Grenache, and then a 2014 Grenache that is blended from 5 vineyards, all in Ballard Canyon (including Larner). All the grapes were picked on the same day, did a 5 day cold soak, were treated the same and then blended. She also had a GSM made with Larner Grenache.

Casa Dumetz 2014 Larner Grenache, a Ballard Canyon Grenache and a GSM.

McPrice Myers

McPrice “Mac” Myers began winemaking in the Santa Maria Valley. When he moved his winery to Paso Robles (he’s in the Adelaida AVA now) he still felt the pull of the fruit in Santa Barbara.

“Hommage a Stevan Larner” was first introduced in 2006 to honor Stevan Larner who planted Larner Vineyard in 1998. 2012 marked the tenth year Mac purchased fruit from the vineyard and he brought back Hommage a Stevan Larner to commemorate this. Mac will continue to produce this wonderful blend every vintage going forth. This is a Grenache Syrah blend. He also does a Larner Syrah.

Central Coast Group Project

Scott Sampler is exploring extended mascerations. His winery is in the Buellton Bodegas that Michael Larner founded, and is called the Central Coast Group Project. He feels that his wines are not produced by only him, rather it is a group effort with all the people from growers to all the people involved in helping to get the fruit in, the wine made and beyond.

“at the Central Coast Group Project (CCGP), the goal is simple: we hope our love of wine, generosity of spirit and humble efforts in the cellar fully translate to your glass, transporting you, if only for a sip, to the golden age… scott sampler, winemaker/proprietor”

Kaena

Mikael Sigouin of Kaena has been pulling fruit from Larner since the beginning. He is known as the “Grenache King” and the fruit from this vineyard is his favorite.

It is incredibly hard to get into the Grenache blocks at Larner and Mikael shared with us the story of how he managed to get the “Primo” block.

It seems that in the hecticness of harvest, someone accidentally picked his block. He got there and all the fruit was gone. The Larners were devasted about this mistake and asked what they could do to make it up to him. He asked for their best Grenache block in the future and so it has been ever since.

This block is located at the highest and steepest section of this amazing site, where the soil is a 7-foot deep bed of sand and then the vines hit limestone. It has the lowest yielding clone of Grenache #362. Great fruit, makes great wine.

tercero

Larry Schaffer of tercero was pouring and speaking passionately about wine. Again, he was pouring wines made from Larner grapes. He has a stunning 2011 Grenache from Larner that he says is the best Grenache he has made to date. 2011 was a cool year and these grapes were ripening into November. He only produced 3 barrels of this amazing stuff and we were thrilled to be able to taste it.

Oh, and do you see that loaf of bread in front of Larry? Yeah, he bakes too. If you are lucky he might be in his tasting room with a loaf when you drop by.

Larry is a champion of Rhones and leads the Santa Barbara Rhone Rangers. Click through to hear Larry speak on his love of Rhones varieties.

The Craig Jaffurs story

He escaped from a life as a cost analyst in the aerospace industry. After 17 years of that, he started life again, as a cellar rat at Santa Barbara Winery, and ended up deciding on a career in wine. In 1994 he made a Santa Barbara County Syrah that got great reviews in both Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate.

Craig himself was behind the table pouring the wines. This may have been a lucky last sighting, in August of 2016 he sold his winery in a rare (at least these days) family to family deal with Daniel Green. He is remaining with the winery through the first year of transition and then will sit on the board indefinitely. Perhaps he just needs a change every 17 years. Regardless it was great to have an opportunity to speak with him.

Larner Vineyard

Ah…then you have the Larner wines. Michael grows Rhone varieties, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier, as well as a little Malvasia Bianca. Michael was instrumental in the creation of the Ballard Canyon AVA which is becoming more and more well known for their world class Syrah.

Michael spoke with us about this gathering of winemakers after the party.

 

 

Music was by Ruben Lee Dalton Band

a stage was set for the band, that spilled over onto the back of a flatbed truck to provide enough space.

The beautiful Coastal Oak in the Larner Vineyard

Want to know more about the Santa Barbara Wine Region? You can find plenty of information on our website. And while you are at it, follow us on Facebook or Instagram for great information on wine and the people and places behind the wines.

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The power of Wine Aromas

Aroma Scent Jars

A few years ago we had attended an event at Cold Heaven in Santa Barbara. It was called “a Rhone Scent-ual Experience”.. You can visit the blog post and see the video here “Cold Heaven Cellars – Rhone Scent-ual Experience”.

I was amazed, not only at how wonderful it was to find these aromas from the jars in the wines, but also how excited everyone became.   People who had just met (or not even) were excitedly sharing the jars and asking what other people smelled. Inhibitions were gone and people joyfully bonded and shared the experience.

Cold Heaven Rhone Scentual Experience

Wine Event

We had done a small event after that with a friend and found again that people loved the scent jars. Putting together these aromas of things they were familiar with and then finding them in the wine glass made people so excited. I remember people speaking for weeks about the wet stones that we had with the Tablas Creek 2014 Vermentino. (check out the blog post on this party here   “Wine with friends – A California Tasting & Pairing”)

Tablas Creek Vermentino
Tablas Creek Vermentino
Cut Grass Scent Jar
Cut Grass Scent Jar

Creating Scent Jars

So I knew we wanted to do scent jars again for our “Crushed Grapes & Open Minds” Event and I did some further research on how other people do them. My go to for stuff like this is Madeline Puckett of Wine Folly and I found a great article here http://winefolly.com/tutorial/make-wine-aroma-kit-30/

I took her advice on the jars and I did find them at Cost Plus. I opted out of the small jars and went for one size larger (which were a dollar more), because they would give me more room for fresh fruit and better visuals. And I did not blend any wine into the jars, I wanted the fresh scents.

We did some shopping and some scrounging to fill the jars. The Champagne had some bread and yeast on the nose that we found reminded us of hamburger buns (I know, right?). And it was a mostly Pinot Noir based Champagne so you got berries and cherries. So our jars here were filled with hamburger buns, fresh & dried berries (I used sliced strawberries, blueberries and dried cranberries) and then cherries, which were defrosted from frozen, because they were out of season.

Hamburger Buns
Starbourgh Sav Blanc and Scent Jars

Starbourgh Sav Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc had grapefruit, lime, lemongrass, stone fruit and grass. We did slices of the citrus, cut up the lemon grass to release it’s scent.  We chopped up a peach for the stone fruit and Michael headed with the scissors to the local park for the fresh cut grass.

Syrah & Scents
Syrah & Scents

Carhartt Syrah

The Syrah had jars with Black Berries, Allspice, dirt (we used a little potting soil here, since backyards in Vegas are not filled with very happy soil), tobacco (I found a smoke shop and got pipe tobacco, which worked but wasn’t exactly what I wanted), vanilla bean and beef jerky (for smoky meat).

Tobin James Zinfandel and Scents

Tobin James Zinfandel

The Zins had jars of earth, pepper (black & white peppercorns), fruit jam, leather (we hit the craft store, chopped it into pieces and added a little water to bring out the fragrance), and chocolate (we used a broken up dark chocolate bar)

Tokaji & Scent Jars

Tokaji

Lastly our dessert wine was a Tokaji. It was just 3 Puttonyons so on the less sweet side. We had aroma jars of dried apricots, citrus (thinly sliced lemon and lime) and a jar of honey.

You don’t have to invest in jars though, you can use wine glasses. If you are doing this with friends, it’s fun to find wines that have unexpected aromas.   We had a Magerum Rose that had Watermelon Jolly Ranchers on the nose! The important thing is to have fun with it. Which is what we did, and the people at our Crushed Grapes & Open Minds Event did.

Behind the scent jars in each of the photos you can see a bit of each of the beautiful paintings that RuBen did to pair with each wine.  More on that to come.

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more on the details on the wines we paired with the Art and our Crushed Grapes and Open Minds Event!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And you can find RuBen and his gorgeous art at Act2Art or on Facebook

Crushed Grapes & Open Minds – Art with Wine

Art with Wine

I have a dear friend who is an Artist and we had just moved into a house with lots of beautiful wall space. I kept thinking that it would a really amazing to have a party where we pair his Art with Wine. My original thought was to go through the Art he had available and choose some pieces that paired (at least in my mind) with certain wines. He agreed to do this but with one caveat, he would create pieces to pair with the wines.

Here is a short teaser that we put together before the party.

How do you pair wine with art? There is of course taste and texture, but I really find the nose of a wine (what you smell when you put your nose in the glass) to be more inspirational. Scent often brings up scent memories that can take you back to a very specific time or place. The memories are often emotional and can bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye. RuBen loves to paint from an emotional place. So we found wines or samples of wines that he could smell and then paint. (I think he drank a little along the way and…actually added a little wine to some of the paint!)

Inspiring the ART

Adding the sense of smell

The idea from here was to create scent jars for the tasting. I have found there is nothing better to get a party going and to get people talking than scent jars.

Wine is a constantly changing variety of compounds, that come from the grapes, the yeast that causes the fermentation and then the vessels in which it is fermented and aged. Of course there are other variables, like soil, climate and the individual winemakers style. Wine is a living liquid, constantly changing, every moment that it ages, every moment that it is exposed to air and as it’s temperature changes. What it smells and tasted like can change from the time you take your first sip of a glass to your last.

There is lots of room for discussion with people about what they are smelling and tasting. But most people are intimidated about smelling a wine and telling you what they are smelling. Without comparisons, people often feel like they might get something wrong. When you open up the scent jars, they can do that comparison, and it will be different for each person. We go back to the emotional response…somehow reflecting on smell and aroma deactivates that worry about judgement. There is something in smelling that turns off inhibitors and people get excited. They want to share the smells and see if others get that also. It can be very freeing and allows people to see the “nose of a wine”, something they thought of before as stuffy and perhaps snobby language of wine people and suddenly experience it first hand for themselves.

Opening Minds

You take this uninhibited emotional experience and then pair it with art. People then have opened their minds to experience the art in a whole new way. Some will compare a scent memory to what they see in the painting.

This whole concept is about allowing people to Open their Minds to see things in a different way, Art, Wine…and maybe so much more.

 

Open-minds-1920wm

Open Minds

The party was amazing and we will be posting on how we chose the wines, the details on the wines we chose, how to set up your own scent jars and of course the Art! So stick with us!

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more on the details on the wines we paired with the Art and our Crushed Grapes and Open Minds Event!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And you can find RuBen and his gorgeous art at Act2Art or on Facebook

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Wine with friends – A California tasting & pairing

After our trip to the Central Coast, my friend RuBen asked if we wanted to do a wine & cheese party with him at his house.  Well of course!  RuBen is the hostess with the mostest and has a beautiful backyard.  He also knows wonderful people, who are always a joy to talk to.  So….RuBen planned the decor, the people and the over-all menu and I planned the wines and pairings.  I spent several days going through and picking wines from our cellar and then finding interesting facts about each and pairing ideas.  Here’s what I settled on…

Laetitia Brut Cuvee

We needed to start with something bubbly, so we pulled out a bottle of Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Brut Cuvee.  The winery is in the Arroyo Grande AVA which is just south of San Luis Obispo. We had recently done an Interview on their beautiful property  with Heather Muran of the SLO Wine Association.  Starting with bubbles is always a great celebratory way to start any event and it’s a great palate cleanser.  This wine is made in the Champenoise method and the winemaker says his favorite pairing with this is potato chips!  So…that’s what we paired it with.  It was fun to talk to people about this wine and have people share with me their knowledge of sparkling wines.

Tablas Creek 2014 Vermentino

Next we moved onto a white wine, but I didn’t want to do a typical Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.  Instead we did a Vermentino from Tablas Creek Vineyards in Paso Robles.  This winery is known for their Rhone Varieties, and while Vermentino is a little out of the Rhone (although it is grown there under the name Rolle) it is a variety of grape that thrives in the soils and climates you find at Tablas Creek.  It is bright and minerally and we put a jar of wet stones next to it for people to smell.  It was amazing to see people dip their nose into the glass then into the jar and watch the look of realization and surprise come across their faces.  People always think that tasting notes sound so snooty with the wild things sommeliers say they can smell in a wine.  Having it right there and smelling it opened their noses to trying to smell other things in the wines!  Vermentino pairs great with many things, but unlike so many other wines, it is great with green vegetables, so we paired this with a pesto.

Margerum 2014 Riviera Rosé

Onward now to a Rosé.  Rosés are coming back into vogue and you find them popping up everywhere.  While you can find rosés made from Pinot, Zinfandel,  and even Merlot…I love a Rhone or Grenache Rosé best, with a little watermelon and strawberry on the nose, but dry.  That is what we got with the Margerum Wine Company 2014 Riviera Rosé. This Rosé is Grenache with a little Counoise and Cinsault.  The Grenache for the most part is done in the saignee method, then a bit of Counoise and Cinsault are added as well as a little barrel aged Grenache.  As Rosés notoriously go well with anything pink, we paired it with a prosciutto.

Carhartt 2012 Pinot Noir

It was time now to go a little darker.  We pulled out a 2012 Pinot Noir from Carhartt in Santa Barbara. The Carhartt’s are the same Carhartt’s you think of with work clothes. The family owned a ranch in Santa Barbara where they raised cattle for years.  Mike Carhartt and his wife Brooke planted grapes on the land and now it is a family affair with son Chase studying wine making and assisting in the process. This particular wine is not grown on their estate but comes from Riverbench Vineyard up in the Santa Maria Valley where they grow some amazing Pinot Noir.  We paired this with cheeses; goat cheese, gouda and baked brie!

Carhartt 2012 Sangiovese

We continued with a little more robust red with a Carhartt Sangiovese.  This wine was estate grown and smells of cherry, fig, cola, all spice, sweet oak and rose petal.  I had a fresh burrata from the Downtown Summerlin Farmers Market that paired perfectly with this!

Tobin James 2009 Fat Boy Zin

I must admit that we don’t drink alot of big reds these days.  Most are just a bit too big to pair with a meal.  At one time we were members of the Tobin James wine club and we have a bunch of great big fat Zins from them, that I have not yet opened.  So…here was an opportunity to open one and see how it was.  Did it mellow with age or would it have gone flat and passed it’s peak?  We opened a 2009 Tobin James Fat Boy Zin.  It is an over the top Zin that Tobin says is “like the best friend you had as a kid; big brash and maybe slightly obnoxious, but always loved!”.  This is definitely big with the alcohol level sitting at 15.8%.  But indeed, this big boy was loved by many at the party.  We paired this with Smoked Gouda, but truly this big Jammy Zin would go best with bold bold BBQ.

Carol Shelton 2008 Black Magic

We ended the eveningstepping a little further north, with a late harvest Zin by Carol Shelton her 2008 Black Magic from Sonoma County.  Late harvest wines are those that are left on the vine to let their sugars develop and often they will leave them to raisin on the vine concentrating the sugars even further.  This dessert wine screams for chocolate and indeed we paired it with that, but also with a lovely Stilton. The sweet wine and the savory cheese are a perfect combination for finishing an evening.

This was an amazing evening with around 20 people just mingling talking about the wines and whatever else came up and meandering around RuBen’s beautiful backyard with little seating areas tucked here and there.  We enjoyed the wine, the company and conversation as the sun set and the stars came out.  Yep, wine with friends…what could be better?

Wine Party with Friends

Wine Party with Friends

First Saturday’s Wine & the Arts Parrish Family Vineyards

Parrish Family Vineyard

We had had a fairly long day in Paso Robles on our wine Travel adventure and had visited 5 wineries already…but I had heard about “First Saturdays:  Wine & the Arts”  in downtown Paso Robles.  This is a program sponsored by Arts Obispo.  From 5-8 pm on the first Saturday of each month year round this event happens in downtown Paso promoting artists, galleries, wine tasting room and other arts venues. http://artsobispo.org/content/FirstSaturdays.php

We were early, having just finished enjoying music and wine at Vines on the Marycrest and we wandered down to see what it was about.  It was quiet at the top with several wine tasting rooms listed as having something special going on and being open later than usual.  Some had special art showings, some had additional food.  We knew we could just stop at one more tasting room and the beautiful Parrish Family Vineyards tasting room called to us.

They have one of the downtown tasting rooms located on Park Street just off of the square and…they are one of  members of the new Paso Cab Collective.

Parrish Family Art Still

Parrish Family Art Still

The Parrish Family Estate is located outside of Atascadero and Paso. This area has warm days and cool evenings and here they have 40 acres of nothing but Cabernet Sauvignon.

They do source other varieties from other growers on the Central Coast and have their P.O. Box 1 label which is in honor of the family’s grandfather, Earl Henderson who had the very first PO Box in Atascadero.  Here they play with other varietals like Sav Blanc and Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.

The tasting room is beautiful and they had a pairing for the “Wine & the Arts” evening with cheeses from Vivant Cheese in Paso.  I am a sucker for their cheeses.  We had them once before at a tasting and pairing at  Vino Robles and I was addicted to their “Barely Buzzed” cheese to accompany the Vino Verde Petite Sirah. If you are ever here, do the pairing!  Okay back to this evening.

The pairings were amazing.  We tasted:

Parrish Family and Vivant Cheese

Parrish Family and Vivant Cheese

2012 Sauvignon Blanc with a Honey Chevre (goats milk cheese)

2010 Chardonnay Monterey with Piave (cows milk cheese from Vento Italy)

2010 Pinot Noir Monterey with Bella Vitano Gold (Satori family gold winner)

2008 GSM Rhone Blend with Cocoa Cardona (goats milk cheese dusted in cocoa)

2009 Petite Sirah with 2 year Gouda (dutch aged cheese)

2007 Reserve Silken Iberico (spanish cheese with cow, sheep and goat milk)

2007 Reserve Cabernet Estate rustic cocoa nib cookie

 

Parrish Family Reserve Wine

Parrish Family Reserve Wine

As we were tasting the 2007 Cabernet, Mr. Parrish came to our end of the bar and apologized for neglecting us.  He said he had opened a bottle of the 2009 that is for wine club members only and he would like to offer us an additional tasting of that.  This wine was a gold medal winner in San Francisco.  I inquired as to how 2009 had been for them in the vineyard and he said he was lucky enough to pick just before the rain.  A system came through with quite a bit of rain less than 24 hours after they finished picking.  I asked how rain typically affected them, of course with the berries swelling and diluting the flavors that was an issue, but how did it affect the native yeasts?  If it rained did it wash those away and create issues?  Mr. Parrish is a UC Davis graduate and does not use native yeasts.  He believes that you have a greater possibility percentage wise of getting off putting flavors and aromas from the native yeasts.  We spoke a bit about Brett and while like me he doesn’t mind a little brett on a wine, from a winemakers perspective, it can be really hard to control.  Brett is very resistant to sulphur and Brett can overpower a wine if it is aged.  He is fine with a little brett if you are going to enjoy the wine while it is young.  If however you are going to cellar a wine (as one is wont to do with a good cab) brett can be a bit of a wild card as to what you will get when you open that bottle.  It was fascinating to speak with him and get one winemakers perspective on this.  And what a perfect way to end our day, having a wine-geeky conversation with a winemaker.  I was content.

WOW – this is a great weekend to visit Temecula

Wine Barrel Art picture

This weekend is WOW (World of Wine) Winter Barrel Tasting in Temecula.  On Saturday March 2nd and Sunday March 3rd, 35 wineries will host this annual event.  With a map and a ticket you can take your time and visit the wineries at your own pace.

Many of the wineries will be offering tastings from barrels and tanks!  Wines are paired with foods…Wiens will have their 2011 Solace paired with Crostini with avocado and shrimp salad, topped with Marie Louise sauce and their 2011 Obscura will be tasted from the barrel and paired with Beef sirloin tip braised in red wine served with braised carrots and onions over buttered noodles.  (They are running with a French theme this year!).  Callaway is excited about their entry into the Cork Art contest!  While you are there you can vote for your favorite cork art entry!  Lorimar will have Shultz and Hamilton playing this Friday from 5-8.

Tickets are $99 for Saturday and Sunday, $79 for Sunday only and $69 for designated drivers.