Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Wine

Paso Robles Wine Camp

The third part of my American Adventure was uniting with my friends from Virginia Beach. Friday, 7/21, I linked up with Mark and Roxanne at the San Francisco airport. After enduring a bit of rental car drama, the three of us drove south along 101 to Paso Robles. The traffic was awful. When finally made it to our airb&b rental we were beyond relieved and excited! Here we rendezvoused with the rest of our VB friends. Sue, Jeff and their daughter, Allison, had spent the week in San Diego visiting our friend, Sara and her family. They were driving north to Paso Robles. 

The reunion was magnificent! And definitely better than our selfie stick pictures. Somehow we couldn’t quite get all seven of us in one picture! Or smiling. Or looking at the camera. 

After our snack, we decided to charge our glasses and take a walk around the grounds of the airb&b. 

The owner’s dog acted as an escort. 

As the sunset, we seized the opportunity for a few modeling shots. 

This one makes me laugh. Mark and his paparazzi’s shadows.

Allison and her paparazzi! 

After dinner, Roxanne began the first lesson of Wine Camp. She used her socks to school us on her expectations. 

Saturday morning, before our day of Wine Camp, Sara and I enjoyed a run through the J. Lohr vineyards. 

Our first appointment for wine tasting was at 10:30 at the J.Lohr vineyard. Off we go! 

Another friend in VB helped to arrange a personal tasting experience with Elisa. Despite having an appointment and being told not to be late, Elisa seemed to have no clue who we were or why we asked for her. None the less, she provided us with a VIP experience. 

Perhaps you notice the cat ears? I brought them with me from Japan for us to wear. We spent the day explaining the purpose. They are “kawaii”, Allison (our driver for the day) was the cat herder, we wanted to be able to find each other, we wanted to fit in with the numerous bachelorette parties, and well, because Japan. We never quite perfected the story. Personally, I think cat herder was most appropriate. 

Our second winery of the day was at Eberle winery. This winery was our favorite for several reasons. 1. The staff was super friendly. Even when we broke a glass! 

2. The wines were delicious. 

3. The tour of the winery caves was interesting and our tour guide was super animated. 

4. Free pizza.  

After a stop for lunch, we continued to our third winery, Sculpterra.  

The wines were delicious and the sculptures throughout the gardens were really impressive and unique. 

Our fourth and final winery was San Marcos Creek Vineyard. It was a quiet winery with delicious wines. It was the perfect quiet ending to a lively and exciting day. Kanpie! To dear friends! 

Our five souvenir bottles from the day! 

I want to give a special shoutout to our driver, Allison. She drove us around all day and patiently waited for us at each winery. She earned the highly esteemed honor of Cat Herder. Thank you, Allison, for enduring the day and keeping us safe! 

Wine Camp 

On Saturday, July 8th, Audry dropped me in San Francisco where I was able to meet up with my family to begin the second leg of my journey. My brother, George, is the official driver of the RV we rented to drive us around Northern California and Oregon. Juliana, my sister-in-law, is the navigator extraordinaire. My mom, Fiona (my niece), and I are the happy campers, gummy bear tasters and overall back seat ruckus rousers. 

Saturday was our meet up and load up day. We hit the road for real on Sunday morning working our way through Sonoma Valley towards Lassen National Park. We made a long pit stop at the Benziger Winery for a tasting and a tour. 

The Benziger Winery is a biodynamic winery. The for the past 22 years, the l 85 acres have progressed from organic to biodynamic. 

Biodynamics is essentially the most purest form of organic farming and in this case, wine making. The process is biologically friendly with many levels of diversity to achieve growth and harvest of the grapes. Our guide, Patty, told us the Winery uses insects, natural predators, plants, and trees to attract pollinators for the grape vines. The same balance is utilized to prevent pests and diseases. Here’s a picture of three houses. An owl house, bat house, and blue bird house. 

Simultaneously, the winery uses compost procedures and manure from the 60 sheep and 2 cows  on the premises to keep the soil healthy and full of nutrients for the grape vines. The sheep are also used to “mow” between the vines and their hooves help to aerate the soil. The winery also recycles the water for irrigation. 

Our first tasting was during the tour. It was the 2015 West Rows Chardonnay – Signaterra. Buttery and not too much oak. 

The grapes are hand picked preventing bruising and damage. 

Instead of traditional methods of crushing the grapes, a high speed camera and laser imaging enables imperfect grapes to be pulled out and only the very best grapes remain. Fermentation then occurs in these large and well insulated vats. 

Barreled wine is stored in caves constructed by the winery. The caves are 28,000 sqft and naturally maintain 60 degrees / 70 % humidity. The white oak  barrels are used because they offer the perfect density for aging their wine selection. 

2014 La Reyna Pinot Noir – it was ok. 

2013 Oonapaus Sonoma Mountain Red – One of Juliana’s favorites. 

2013 Three Blocks – My favorite!  

We purchased two bottles of yummy deliciousness. One was consumed with lunch. Fresh fruit, local bread, and olives. 

The second bottle was saved for tomorrow…

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