By Jon Bogart
Good news is always welcome! Here is some… We have discovered that some of the finest boutique wineries from glorious California wine-making regions are shipping directly to consumers – right to their doorstep. Given the times that we’re in, focus is on good health, peace, and harmony. We reach out for ways to brighten our day – to let the sunshine in.
A day without wine is like a day without sunshine
Wine provides a well-rounded, sensory experience as it tantalizes taste buds and enhances a feeling of well being. We are dining at home, using our own wine glasses to complement home-made meals and take-out, too. Every day at home has become a “special occasion” as we use this time to create meals that are healthful and tasty.
We can safely allow our minds to wander into the scenery along the California coast and beauty of vineyards in Malibu, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Napa Valley as we sip and savor our favorite wine varietals. Now, how do we get fine boutique wine shipped to our door?
To get you started, here is a list of wineries that are ready to ship straight to you. Contact them directly so you can brighten all of your days at home. And do look forward to planning a trip in the near future, to experience the ambiance of these wineries in person.
San Luis Obispo (SLO Wine Country)
Varietals: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, plus award winning Reserve Wines.
Tasting Room: Open, come and enjoy a tasting amid gardens and beautiful natural settings. Taste wine and take home your favorites.
Contact: www.autrycellars.com, 805-546-8669
Get an intimate sense of the wine-making process as you view tanks, barrels and bottling lines on your way to the tasting room. It’s easy to do at Autry Cellars. Steve Autry and his staff are dedicated to making a trip to the winery a memorable event. It’s a sesnsory journey, an afternoon respite and an education, all at the same time. Steve frequently gets asked the right way to sample wine, and whether you’re a novice or a connoisseur, the process is simple: Step 1: LOOK, Step 2: SWIRL, Step 3: SMELL, Step 4: TASTE
Remember to taste the whites before the reds and the reds before the sweet/dessert wines. The wine-making process is a love affair. There is a process to its creation and a science leading to its production. So, visit Autry Cellars and taste for yourself. Autry Cellars is unassuming, and they like it that way. Ease of access and a prime location on the Central Coast makes the winery a destination of choice.
Autry Cellars is an easy drive from L.A. and there are great accommodations in Pismo Beach. There are several new hotels that have opened recently to join the established facilities that offer a memorable stay on the Central Coast. So, pick up a variety of Autry wines and enjoy them during your own private happy hour, or take a bottle along to dinner and have the sommelier cork it for you.
San Luis Obispo (SLO Wine Country)
Varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah (from the Firepeak Estate vineyard), Tangent (unoaked screw-top),True Myth Chardonnay and Cabernet from the Paragon Vineyard.
Tasting Room: Currently closed, except for wine pick-up. Expects to reopen very soon.
Contact: www.baileyana.com, (805)269-9200
Baileyana is headquartered in the signature Independence Yellow Schoolhouse on Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo.
Created over 30 years ago by the Niven family, pioneering founders of the Edna Valley AVA, their wines are an expression of classic, cool-climate varietals, with each wine sourced from a select block of the Paragon Vineyard and crafted by a dynamic winemaking team.
The Yellow Schoolhouse fits so well into the local landscape that visitors stop in just to tour the grounds, check out the merchandise and take pictures of the walls and hangings. This is what Wine Country is all about.
Baileyana sells over 30 different wines with a 50/50 ratio of white to red. For connoisseurs they offer a library “sit-down” with cheese and charcuterie. This bon mot allows the sommelier experience. Take some notes and award some ribbons yourself. There are some very deserving wines.
Baileyana Winery is a gathering place – a place to spend some time. There are lots of picnic tables, so bring a basket and plan on a great time. Play some bocce ball. And if you don’t have a picnic basket with you, the schoolhouse is open with goodies and treats for you to purchase. Time your visit by calling ahead for some special information about planned entertainment.
Don’t miss the opportunity to discover a wine lovers’ surprise. There are some fine wineries in the SLO appellation and Baileyana is at the top of the list.
Paso Robles Wine Country
Varietals: Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache, Mourvédre, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Room: Open, but with covid-19 rules in effect. With a tasting flight, one needs to purchase an item of food. The restaurant is observing social distancing with tables set apart and spacing requirements observed. It’s fabulous at Cass Winery and they’re using the full grounds, so call ahead and let them know you’re coming.
Contact: www.casswines.com, (805) 239-1730
Cass Winery is a “drive a little further, get a lot for doing it” experience. It’s tucked away in a corner of Creston, but quite easy to find. Once there, the visitor is in for a treat. The grounds are spacious, the atmosphere is relaxed, and one will be served by the nicest people who really enjoy what they’re doing. A visitor will be taken in by the attention to detail. The building is completely self-contained so anything and everything you need is available. Take a tour of the wine-making facilities and taste barrel samples of wines that are getting ready for bottling.
Speaking of bottling, Cass has made a commitment to the screw top and the only things being corked are the special reserves. Everything else, from the lightest whites to the boldest Cabernet Sauvignon is screw top. This is cool because when you refrigerate whites you can just screw the top on. When you preserve the reds, the screw top tightens securely and ensures no spoilage. Have you ever attempted to reinsert a cork after the wine has been opened? Cork expands so it’s impossible to get the cork back in, but not so with the screw top.
This future-forward thinking ensures that Cass is on top of trends in marketing and hospitality. Make it a point to plan a trip and call ahead and ask for Meegan. She will assist in getting you set up for the visit, and the Cass team will welcome you upon arrival.
Paso Robles Wine Country
Varietals: Viognier, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, Cotes-du-Robles (Grenache, Mourvédre, Syrah Blend), Zinfandel, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Room: Under renovation. Expecting to reopen in time for the Fourth of July holiday.
Gary Eberle has worked for 47 years building the acclaim of the Paso Robles region through his brand. He is affectionately known as the “Godfather” of the Paso Robles wine industry. Eberle is the chief promoter for the winery and has worked with distributors and restauranteurs in 30 states and six countries touting the virtues of the Paso Robles American Viticulture Area (AVA), which he helped co-found in 1983. Gary began his academic studies at Penn State University where he played football and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He then attended Louisiana State University (LSU) before heading west to California. Gary received a degree in Enology from UC Davis in 1971.
“I chose Paso Robles based on Dr. Olmo’s recommendation that Paso Robles was the place to grow world-class Cabernet Sauvignon” said Eberle, “and I think we have achieved that.”
Once in Paso Robles, Eberle launched his career as a partner and winemaker with Estrella River Winery & Vineyards. In the late 70’s he decided to pursue his own project and acquired nearly 64 acres just down the road from Estrella River Winery. Shortly thereafter, Gary released his first Eberle wine, a 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon, and opened the winery tasting room in 1983.
Eberle’s contributions to the California wine trade are significant. His Cabernet Sauvignon was the first wine to place the Paso Robles AVA designation on its label in 1980. Gary was also the first to plant Syrah on the Central Coast and to produce a 100-percent Syrah varietal in the United States. In 2015 he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the California State Fair and in 2019 he received the Robert Mondavi Food and Wine Award.
Today you will find Gary Eberle sitting at the front door of his winery greeting customers and telling stories.
Eberly Winery will reopen the doors for tasting at the end of June 2020. Celebrating 40+ years of winery legacy, Eberle is proud to be one of the highest award-winning wineries in the USA.
Napa Valley Estate
Varietals: Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Violetta Late Harvest Dessert Wine
Tasting Room: Open, come and enjoy selections of Napa Valley’s most popular wines. Miljenko’s Selection, reserved for wine club members and Legacy Selections, are Grgich’s most exclusive and sought-after wines.
Contact: (707) 963-2784
It all started at the Paris wine tasting to coincide with America’s bicentennial in 1976. A wine expert from England decided it would be fun to organize a blind tasting event and he invited some upstart wine makers from California to the blind competition who would go up against the (sniff) French Establishment. Along side the French legends was the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay crafted by Mike Grgich. The judges were expected to gag when they tasted the California wines – but it didn’t happen that way. The nine French judges blind-tasted the wines and graded each of them. The winner was the Chardonnay that Mike had made. With 132 points, it was the champion.
That victory gave the Croatian wine maker the “go” sign to start his own winery, and on July 4, 1977 Mike met with Austin Hills of the Hills Brothers Coffee Company and they agreed to start Grgich Hills Cellar. Purchasing 366 acres spread over five vineyards within the Napa Valley ensured that all Grgich Hills wines would be produced from estate-grown grapes. So, the name of the winery was changed to Grgich Hills Estate.
In 1996 Mike returned to Croatia and started a new winery in order to share what he had learned with young winemakers in his homeland. It’s 2020 and Mike is advancing in age, however, he’s still at the winery with his signature beret ready to welcome all visitors.
As a result of his historic contributions to making world-class wines in California, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich was inducted into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Congratulations to one of the nicest, sweetest guys in the world. You’re gonna love his wine.
Hoyt Family Vineyards
Malibu – Paso Robles
Varietals: Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir Rosé, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Tempranillo, Hoyt 2 Hoyt Sparkling Wine, Red Blend-Dylema (named after their children, Dylan and Emma)
Tasting Room: Shipping wine direct. Under covid-19 guidelines, call ahead to make sure the tasting room is open and pouring.
Contact: (805) 369-1092
When Carol and Stephen first decided to leave Hollywood and move to Malibu they either wanted a home where they could walk to the beach, or grow grapes. They happened on a property that could do both and in 2001 they planted their first vineyard. The property’s proximity to the ocean offers the perfect environment for growing award-winning Chardonnay. Realizing they would have lots of fruit, Carol bought 100 pounds of Cabernet grapes and made her first wine, with her 2 ½ year old daughter in tow in the kitchen of their house.
In 2004, after their first harvest, they moved their wine-making to a custom crush facility and made their first Chardonnay. Since then they have been sourcing fruit from Santa Ynez, Malibu and Paso Robles. Their desire is to keep all their wines from the southern and central coast of California.
The Hoyts purchased two vineyards in the coveted Willow Creek AVA and they now have 130 acres of land. They have planted 30 acres to harvest and deliver estate wines.
Also, they now have a tasting room in downtown Paso Robles at 1322 Park Street and have added Tempranillo, Cabernet, Viognier, Grenache and Petite Verdot to their crops. With their love for growing grapes and making wine by the sea, Carol and Stephen Hoyt bring you unique hand-crafted wines made only from the best hand-selected grapes. Their wines possess extraordinary character, depth and flavor. Carol and Stephen hope people enjoy their wines as much as they enjoy making them, because Stephen believes that his wines pair best with friends. We’ll clink glasses to that.
Kiamie Wine Cellars
Adelaida District, Paso Robles
Varietals: White Kuvee, Grenache Rose, Unlocked, R’Own Style Blend, Meritage, Kiamie Kuvee
Tasting Room: Subject to the covid-19 protocols. Tasting room may be open for tasting or might be open only for pick-up. The rules change daily, so just call ahead.
Contact: (805) 226-8333
Kiamie delivers the reds. It’s their specialty, it’s what they do, blending grapes from distinctive westside Paso Robles mountain vineyards into wines of expression and uncompromising quality.
The Kiamie Wine Cellar is a collaboration between two guys – Aram Diermenjian and Greg Johnson – with diverse, yet complementary backgrounds. While living in New York City, they always shared an enthusiasm for wine.
Aram grew up working in his family’s vineyards, spending every summer helping with the harvest. Greg, an heir to the Kiamie real estate throne in New York, spent his lifetime drinking fine wines and working retail in one of New York’s finest wine shops.
Aram and Greg share a vision: to create distinctive blends that are not limited to a pre-defined wine style, but instead made from the best fruit that Paso Robles has to offer. This philosophy lead to a realization the Kiamie Cellars produces a great amount of small-lot custom blends and you never know what’s going to be offered in the future. Whatever it is, it will be well-crafted by Adam Bauman, the winemaker.
Everything about Kiamie is regal. The label is fashioned with an ornate “K” with a Key running through the center. So you are uncorking the Keys to the Kingdom (get it?). The back of the bottle has another label describing the content with information on the blending, the age and even the number of cases produced. This is a different approach to winemaking and distribution, and it’s likely one will find an entire production purchased by a discriminating sommelier to add to a restaurant’s wine list. By ordering direct, you get a opportunity to enjoy something very special.
Naming the Kiamie Wine Cellars after Greg’s mother’s maiden name fulfills a vision. Well done boys!
Rosenthal The Malibu Estate
Grapes Grown Exclusively on Estate Vineyards in Malibu
Varietals: Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Room: Located at 18741 Pacific Coast Highway, it stands as a welcoming beacon to come and enjoy, have a picnic, and taste some wonderful wine. Maybe take home a bottle or two. After closing due to Covid-19, the tasting room recently re-opened. Feel free to call ahead and get details.
Contact: (310) 456-1392
Rosenthal Estates’ owner, George Rosenthal, is a highly successful Southern California businessman. He owns Raleigh Studios, the Sunset Marquis and the Rosenthal Winery, giving him a solid trifecta in hospitality. Raleigh Studios is directly across from the Paramount lot in Hollywood and it’s the centerpiece for production and special events. The Sunset Marquis is a legendary Hollywood haunt favored by celebrities and event planners nationwide. And, of course, the estate wines all have gold-medal potential in any competition.
The Art of Making Spectacular Wines: As most wine experts tell you, one great bottle of wine stems from years of planning, then planting. Waiting for the right time to harvest, then to barrel and, finally, to bottle. After all that you have to find the perfect blend for each varietal, just like a great song or a priceless work of art. Wine doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of dedication and inspiration to create something that will withstand the test of time and get better with age.
So, where to grow the grapes? Malibu!
No, not the famous playground of the stars and surfers, but on a slope at 1,400 feet above the coastal fog. Planting on slopes is an intense undertaking that requires a labor of love. The slopes are steep and everything has to be managed by hand. The wines are then aged in French oak under the watchful eye of winemaker Paul Warson who strives to bring out the wine’s unique character. The reds are vinified with limited intervention to terroir. The Chardonnay is made in a Burgundian style yielding a lightly oaked crisp wine that complements a wide array of foods. Enjoy a bottle of these wonderful wines and taste the flavors of Malibu for yourself.
It is interesting to note what a special place the estate occupies in the owner’s psyche. To quote George: “The Rosenthal Estate is the only venture I’ve put my name on in 60 years of multiple company businesses.”
That says it all. Cheers!