New Foodie Finds

805 Living September 2020, New Foodie Finds, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, New Foodie Finds, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Recently introduced by Goleta Red Distillery (goletared.com), La Patera Lemon Flavored Vodka is made from 100 percent cane sugar and flavored with organic local lemons. Owner Michael Craig, a history buff, points to the citrus fruit’s longstanding presence in the area.

“The Stowe family were pioneers, some of the first people to grow lemons commercially in California,” says Craig, “and their property [Rancho La Patera and the Stow House, circa 1873, now stewarded by Goleta Valley Historical Society] is literally a mile from the distillery.”

Mony’s (monyssb.com), a buzzy Funk Zone taqueria where there are often long lines out the door, is now making its burritos available at other locations, too. Look for them in Santa Barbara under the Mamacita’s brand at the Santa Barbara Roasting Company cafe, and the Dart Coffee Co. shop, where co- owner Erika Carter says, “We sell out every day.”

“We wanted to offer consumers a made-fresh-daily breakfast option that was as accessible as their must-have morning coffees,” says Carlos Diaz, who runs the catering end of the family business. “Culturally, the name Mamacita can be translated into ‘little mama,’ which in this case is an endearing way to honor my mother and the creator of Mony’s, Mama Mony.”

When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like a bowl of pasta. Michael Glazer of Santa Barbara’s Mission Rose Pasta Company (missionrosepasta.com) has been making fresh, handmade noodles in various restaurants and pop-ups since 1998. Now he and his wife, Val, have made their first packaged goods available with about eight rotating pasta products as well as creams, butters, and sauces.

Join the pasta club, which offers pasta plus a sauce-of-the-week delivery, or order individual products as an add-on to CSA deliveries from Local Harvest Delivery, The Farm Box Collective, and Plow-to-Porch Organics.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Local Ingredients at Your Door

805 Living September 2020, Local Ingredients at Your Door, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Local Ingredients at Your Door, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

For home cooks, there’s nothing better than bringing the farm—or ranch or fishery—right to your door with a CSA delivery. With much of the food earmarked for restaurants going unclaimed, local purveyors have modified their financial models to deliver fresh food to consumers’ homes. With the enormous bounty of the Central Coast available, it may never be a better time to find businesses like these:

Santa Paula–based Prancers Farm (prancersfarm.com) delivers a fresh assortment of staples, including beans, rice, oranges, lemons, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, strawberries, bananas, onions, and lettuce, with eggs, sweets, sauces, and other items available as add-ons.

Larder Meat Co. (lardermeatco.com) of San Luis Obispo supports small family farms on the Central Coast by delivering monthly options like pasture raised meats, heirloom chicken, heritage pork, and grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Owner and chef Jensen Lorenzen includes a pantry item, seasoning and recipes to make preparation a snap.

Get Hooked Seafood (gethookedseafood.com) is a community-supported fishery that delivers a specific type of seasonal seafood from Santa Barbara fishermen each week. Additional fish and pantry items can be added to orders, which also come with the scoop about who caught the fish and how and where it was caught, as well as cooking tips and recipes.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Bring Home the Bacon

805 Living September 2020, Bring Home the Bacon, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Bring Home the Bacon, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Bacon enthusiasts will be in hog heaven with monthly offerings from High on the Hog Catering (highonthehogcatering.com). Santa Ynez Valley natives and married chefs Brett and Amber Stephen cure and smoke one or two special flavors for in-the-know aficionados.

“Our original flavor was Red Eye, which was a coffee cure,” explains Brett, who learned to make bacon while working at Kevin Costner’s Epiphany restaurant in Santa Barbara in the early 2000s, and mastered his method while working for Jeff Olsson at Industrial Eats and New West Catering in Buellton.

Monthly purchases are optional, but with intriguing flavors like Pumpkin Spice (which Brett says started as a joke but “really was an awesome bacon”), Bourbon-Cocoa-cured, and Jamaican Bacon, who can resist?

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

A Taste of Paso

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

A new 16,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex, Paso Market Walk (pasomarketwalk.com), continues the foodiecentric development of downtown Paso Robles. “Paso Robles was ready for a public market housing various food purveyors to provide another destination for visitors,” says developer and proprietor Debby Mann.

Some of the merchants included are Gather Urban Agriculture nursery, Montello Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room, Hog Canyon Brewing Company, Just Baked Cake Studio & Bakery, and a host of restaurants. At Finca, the owners of Napa’s La Taquiza serve their traditional Mexican fare, while Momotaro Ramen showcases the popular Japanese noodles. Third Degree Grill dishes up American comfort food with flair. Paso Robles Wine Merchant, a wine shop, bar, and kitchen, turns out menu specials like grilled cheese, fresh oysters, and locally made organic pasta dishes. And coming in late fall, In Bloom will offer fresh California cuisine from a pedigreed restaurant team with operations in Chicago and Southern California.

Book a stay at one of six rooms and suites on-site at The Lofts to immerse yourself in this epicurean marketplace.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Unraveling the Kinks in the Local Food Chain to Build and Sustain a Resilient Food System

This story was published on cecsb.org on May 13, 2020.

Like a heat map, the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to areas of strain, places where we need to pay greater attention. One of the most noticeable of these is the food system.

This week, two of the founding members of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network — Erik Talkin, CEO of Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and Sigrid Wright, CEO of the Community Environmental Council — sat down with food writer Leslie Dinaberg to discuss how COVID-19 is sending shock waves through a fragile global food system, and why this is a particularly good time to build a healthy, sustainable and decentralized food system. They draw on the guiding framework of an action plan published in 2016 and developed in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Orfalea Foundation, and more than 200 community members.

Leslie Dinaberg: A few years ago when you were developing the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan, your intention was to “future proof” the local food system, though presumably, you weren’t anticipating that a pandemic would test it so brutally. What are you thinking now?

Sigrid Wright: We’ve had other disasters that have had a ripple effect through the food system, but the COVID 19 pandemic is sending reverberations through the system unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime, in part because it’s global, and in part because it’s both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. This is a good time to be talking about why we want to build a healthy, sustainable and decentralized food system, because the global system has a lot of fragility to it.

Erik Talkin: The food system now is so hyper-organized and so dependent on every little link of the chain from here to China and back, that one break in that chain creates a lot of problems. The Foodbank has seen a 60% decrease in the amount of food that we get donated because grocery stores are selling out of food that would normally be provided to us. At the same time, our donations from the agricultural community, primarily the Santa Maria Valley, are up by 50% from this same month last year.

So that’s an indication that local growers have products available. Obviously they have their own problems with food distribution, as there are no schools or hotels operating, but we have a system in place that has allowed excess food to be effectively used. People are reading in the New York Times and elsewhere about milk being poured away and crops being plowed under, but that’s not happening really significantly in California.

LD: Are there any supply chains that are likely to be disrupted so that you won’t be able to access certain products a few months from now?

ET: Yes, there already have been disruptions in that the supply chain is overheated and unable to respond to requests. The Foodbank spent a quarter of a million dollars a couple of weeks ago on food that we haven’t received yet, because it’s slow in coming and our order is not as big as other orders.

Overall, in theory, there’s enough food in the country, but in terms of specific foods, we are already unable to get everything we would like.

SW: The modern food system is designed for speed and convenience. It’s highly efficient and certain aspects of it are really compacted, particularly around meat processing. From what I’m hearing, I would expect to see shortages of meat within the next few months.

This relates to Santa Barbara County because although we’ve traditionally been a cattle region and still do raise a lot of cattle here, we no longer have processing facilities. The same is true of fisheries. We have access to a good amount of animal protein on the Central Coast, but everything has to be shipped out, processed, and shipped back. That was one of the many issues that surfaced with the Food Action Plan: how do we decentralize some of those processing facilities so they are local?

LD: What have you learned about Santa Barbara’s food resilience in the past couple months that you didn’t anticipate?

SW: On the production side, pretty much every small farmer and fisherman is having to think on their feet and make some drastic adjustments to their business models as people are shopping less at farmers markets, and as schools and restaurants stop their orders. They’re having to go direct-to-consumer, often in inventive ways, whether that be a pop-up farmstand or more community supported agriculture boxes. Managing those new market routes is like picking up a second job: the first one being food production, the second being the delivery and marketing through different channels.

I’m also really concerned for our local restaurants. After the Thomas Fire, many businesses were barely hanging on or were just starting to recover, and now they’ve gotten hit again. We may lose a lot of local capacity, both on the producer end with farmers and fishermen and then on the consumer end with restaurants. That to me is a sadness. I personally am not ready for a future in which I get most of my food from Amazon.

ET: There haven’t been the types of runs and shortages over the last few weeks that theoretically could have happened, but I think we are still at the beginning of this crisis. People are afraid to go out and stand in line to get food. Toward the end of the summer, once the economic impacts have really cut deep — with people who are working but have large debts, and people who are still out of work — we’ll have a huge need for additional food for the community. That food can’t all be produced here, but has to be purchased or donated within the state and nationally.

LD: Is there a government entity to help with that?

ET: There’s a national emergency food program called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that is designed to pay local distributors to put together food boxes and make those available to either Foodbanks or to be distributed directly. So we’re having to go out to all of these people and say, “Do you want to be involved in this program? You get paid to provide this food, you get paid to truck it to a particular location.” But it’s a hugely complex 17-page application. Companies like Jordano’s, which is probably our largest local direct food distributor, don’t want to be involved because there’s not enough money in it for them.

The government, in a way, is trying to respond to this issue of food being dumped by offering incentives further down the chain than previous incentives. But there’s not the time or the organization or the planning to make them successful in anything more than the very short term.

SW: The Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, which was spearheaded by CEC and the Foodbank to implement the Food Action Plan, is looking at how we deal with all of this locally. One solution is to create a food hub, so that those who have products have a central vehicle for getting information out about them.

LD: Let’s talk about how this situation is affecting labor. According to the Food Action Plan, the agricultural sector is Santa Barbara County’s primary economic driver, and nearly 20,000 residents work in food and beverage stores or service locations. What are you seeing?

SW: It’s a bitter irony that people who work in the food system — in the fields or grocery stores for example —are deemed as essential workers, and yet they are not being protected as essential workers.

In our region we are really seeing this with farm workers who just don’t have the proper protection and are often having to work shoulder to shoulder. We saw similar inequities in other crises like the Thomas Fire, where it wasn’t until groups like CAUSE and MICOP got involved when farm workers had access to the N-95 masks that everyone else already had. We need the public to strongly advocate for protection for our farm workers, our seasonal workers, our grocery workers, so that they have safe conditions.

ET: It should be a requirement for the employers to do that. Even at the Foodbank — we have very stringent rules and we’ve been wearing masks and gloves for weeks — people just can’t help congregating together in tiny spaces and I’m constantly chasing away people. (Laughs) I’ve been doing that for years, but now I have an excuse to break up the party.

LD: What are you seeing at the home level? Food waste is certainly top of mind right now because no one wants to go out and buy food any more than they have to.

ET: At the most basic level of individuals, people are being forced to reckon with having to provide for their own nutritional health and to sit down and make something to eat, which wasn’t necessarily the case in the past. This may be an opportunity for people to increase food literacy and their understanding about how to take care of themselves and be healthy with food.

SW: We’re clearly seeing a shift in shopping and eating patterns as more people are cooking at home. I know the news media are using the word “hoarding,” but I don’t love that language. What I’m seeing is that people are trying to do a couple weeks of shopping at one time to reduce their exposure. It’s good people are shifting their behavior, but that caused some of the slowdown that Erik referred to.

Again, it’s not that the supply chain has a shortage of food, although there may be some gaps in things that we may not have access to when and how we want it. I think we’ve gotten quite spoiled, frankly, because we’ve built a food system that was designed around getting things fast and conveniently. To really be resilient you need some amount of redundancy and things that are less consolidated.

LD: When you are providing food from the Foodbank, how many days worth of food are people picking up at one time?

ET: We typically give out bags of groceries that are about 30 pounds. We’ve begun to switch to boxes which are slightly bigger, so there’s a variety of dry goods, canned goods, fresh produce, fresh meat, but it’s not your total dietary or meal requirements for that period of time. The food that we provide is supposed to be a supplement to the other food you’re getting. It is possible to go to more than one place if your need is greater.

We see the need for that type of food increasing dramatically and there’s been a real kind of blockage with the USDA food. There’s definitely problems with the emergency food distribution network, as well.

LD: Beyond the critical need for emergency feeding, at this moment is there anything else that stands out from the Food Action Plan?

ET: I think people’s understanding of the need to have more fully developed local networks for both distribution and availability of food is important.

We talked earlier about the need for local processing for seafood and meat, but that’s also a need for agricultural products. For example, if facilities were available we could make spaghetti sauces and other things out of produce before it goes bad. There’s a lot of potential there, but it requires an investor. It may be something we have to think about in more of a tri-county way.

LD: That feels like such a great way to use some of those kitchens that aren’t being used right now.

SW: One of the projects of the Food Action Network was to map out sites that could serve as community kitchens. In good times they might be used to make the value-added products that Erik was talking about. If farmers had a bumper crop of tomatoes, they could hand that off to a caterer to go in for a couple of weeks and make tomato sauce, for example. In bad times like now, community kitchens could be used to help with disaster feeding.

LD: This is obviously an excellent opportunity for us to illustrate the importance of protecting the local food system. What are some things that individuals can do right now?

ET: Continuing to utilize local farmers markets, purchasing from smaller local stores to enable those stores to be able to weather the current situation, and keeping away from chain stores. I think that restaurants will be gradually opening up in a more limited fashion, so just make sure that you’re supporting local restaurants, even with a kind of take out environment that we have at the moment.

SW: At the moment there are still some strengths in the local food system, and there is some scrappiness. We are a community that does seem to care about this kind of stuff.

One of the outcomes of all of this is that people are actually talking about things like the food system, either using that phrase or having a great awareness. Hopefully that will have a positive effect. But protecting the local food system will mean that we will have to step in as individuals and really support it.

ET: Every generation needs something to wake it up a little, so I guess this is it.

Originally published on cecsb.org on May 13, 2020.

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

Explore the Heart of Washington Wine Country

A sojourn to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland) is an excellent way to savor the heart of Washington Wine Country and experience a winning combination of sun, water and wine. Whether you want to tour wine country, play outdoors, feast on the local culinary bounty or enjoy a wide variety of cultural pursuits, the Tri-Cities has it all!

DAY 1

10 a.m. Start in Benton City with Washington’s hottest AVA, Red Mountain. Encompassing about 4,000 acres of vineyards, Red Mountain provides grapes to over 175 wineries throughout the Pacific Northwest, consistently earning critical acclaim. With 11 on-mountain wineries and tasting rooms to choose from, you’ll enjoy meeting with vintners during this hands-on experience. For an even more intimate exploration of the Red Mountain Trails, ride from winery to winery on horseback or take a horse-drawn  wagon ride. Redmountainava.com | redmountaintrails.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Get outside and breathe some fresh air along the sparkling Columbia River. There are fun, outdoor recreation activities for everyone, with stand up paddle board yoga, bike rentals, kayaking and more available. greenielife.comnorthwestpaddleboarding.com

11 a.m. Visit Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village in historic downtown Kennewick for an urban tasting experience at their boutique tasting rooms and wine production facilities.

12:30 p.m. Choose from one of the three charming wineries on Tulip Lane in Richland —J. Bookwalter, Barnard Griffin and Tagaris — for cuisine that’s expertly paired with their wines. bookwalterwines.combarnardgriffin.com | tagariswines.com

3:30 p.m. Indulge in a bit more tasting, with a number of excellent wineries to choose from in Richland and Kennewick, including Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery, Longship Cellars, Badger Mountain Vineyard & Powers Winery, Kitzke Cellars, Farmhand Winery and Market Vineyards. gooseridge.com | longshipcellars.combadgermtnvineyard.comkitzkecellars.com | farmhandwinery.commarketvineyards.com

6 p.m. Revel in a stunning sunset and a gourmet dinner, as well as all of the luxuries of a 96-foot yacht, on a Water2Wine Cruise along the Columbia River. water2winecruises.com

DAY 3

10 a.m. Enjoy the short drive from the urban Tri-Cities to the small, agricultural community of Prosser. Often recognized as the “Birthplace of Washington Wine,” Prosser has a variety of wineries to visit at the Prosser Wine & Food Park. Vintner’s Village has over 12 wineries, as well as the Winemaker’s Loft, a winery incubator that houses a half-dozen wineries and tasting rooms. gotastewine.com/prosservintners-village.php

2 p.m. Don’t miss the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. Named after Washington wine pioneer Dr. Walter Clore, the Clore Center is a unique wine tasting and education destination that showcases Washington wine’s quality and diversity by offering an in-depth taste of each wine region. theclorecenter.org

There are always loads of special events going on in the Tri-Cities, with entertainment for all ages and interests. May’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is a true cultural experience with traditional music, amazing Mexican cuisine, horse dancing and more. June’s Cool Desert Nights takes car-lovers throughout the Tri-Cities. Every July brings the three-day Tri-City Water Follies boat racing tournament. Labor Day weekend is the Tumbleweed Music Festival, with more than 100 talented performers participating in three days of amazing concerts and events, many of which are free. Check out visittri-cities.com/events to stay up-to-date on all of the local happenings.

VisitTri-Cities.com

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Leavenworth, Washington

Sip Trip: Leavenworth. Washington, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

A Slice of Germany in the Pacific Northwest

The charming Bavarian village of Leavenworth (leavenworth.org) is an exciting hub for enjoying culinary experiences, art and adventure. The wine is as wow-worthy as the region itself, with more than 25 wineries and tasting rooms pouring award-winning wines and ciders. Just two hours east of Seattle, Leavenworth is an ideal destination to uncork two days full of fun activities.

DAY 1

9 a.m. Wake up in the beautiful Bavarian Lodge, which offers all of the amenities of a sumptuous city hotel with the character of a small country inn. The Turret suites have exceptional views of the downtown village and mountains. bavarianlodge.com

10 a.m. After a well-rounded breakfast (included at your hotel), grab your gear and head to the Ski Hill trails, which are perfect for biking and hiking. Take a deep breath and treat your lungs to the wonderfully clean fresh mountain air. After a good workout, reward yourself with a cold beer on the deck of the historic Ski Hill Lodge, one of the last facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936. The views and vibe are well worth it. skileavenworth.com

1 p.m. Grab a bite in town at Pavz Cafe Bistro; with their handmade crepes (both sweet and savory) it is the perfect spot. Smile at the colorful alpine style buildings while you stroll and visit unique shops. The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is worth a stop — they have the largest collection of nutcrackers in the U.S. pavzcafebistro.comnutcrackermuseum.com

3 p.m. There are over two dozen tasting rooms in and around town, with lots of opportunities to try out local favorites, like a glass of refreshing White Riesling at Icicle Ridge Winery, WooHoo Winery tasting room’s Berry Sangria, or the Montage Red Blend at Eagle Creek Winery’s tasting room in town, d’Vinery. icicleridgewinery.com | woohoowinery.com | eaglecreekwinery.com

7 p.m. Sit outside at Blewett Brewing Company and enjoy one of their small-batch craft beers on tap and handcrafted artisan pizzas like Sister Kathy (with braised crimini mushrooms) or the zesty barbecued Sweet Daddy. blewettbrew.com

9 p.m. End a positively great day with some live music and dancing at Bushel and Bee Taproom, featuring a rotating lineup of 12 ciders and 12 beers on tap, or the family-friendly Leavenworth Cider House, which, in addition to great local and regional ciders, offers cidermaker dinners and cider education courses. bushelandbee.com | leavenworthcider.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Brighten your morning with a trip to the Tumwater Bakery & Pizza, and fuel up for the day with their avocado toast on freshly baked artisan bread or a variety of their pastries, like the jam scones, pumpkin cream cheese muffins and almond croissants made fresh daily. tumwaterbakery.com

10 a.m. Time to hit the river. The Wenatchee River runs right through town and boasts some of the best river rafting in the Pacific Northwest, so book a trip with a local company and get into some foam-eating fun!

6 p.m. You’ll be looking for some good food after a day on the water, and the folks at Yodelin Broth Company have got you covered. Their bone broth soups, healthy power salads and gourmet burgers taste even better on their outdoor patio overlooking the beautiful Enchantments. yodelinrestaurantgroup.com

8 p.m. Take in a play at the Leavenworth Summer Theater. Their signature show, “The Sound of Music,” is outdoors, in the mountains and under the stars. The hills are truly alive! leavenworthsummertheater.org

10 p.m. Before you retire for the night, stop by the charming Pika Provisions cocktail bar for a nightcap. pikaprovisions.com

Keep an eye on the calendar for even more special happenings. There’s something to celebrate in downtown Leavenworth all year long. leavenworth.org/calendar

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Paso Robles, California

A Wine Lover’s Paradise

California’s fastest-growing wine region, Paso Robles truly is a dream come true for wine lovers. More than 250 wineries dot the countryside amongst Paso Robles’ 40,000 vineyard acres, many of which are small boutique producers. Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Central Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this exceptional locale offers untouched natural beauty, farm-fresh cuisine, 250+ wineries, a historic downtown surrounded by specialty shopping, wine tasting and dining, a wide selection of accommodations, golf, entertainment and a vibrant arts scene.

DAY 1

10 a.m. Start your day on the East Side of Paso Robles with a visit to one of the wineries that helped put Paso on the map, Eberle Winery. Gary Eberle was a pioneer and one of the first to plant Syrah in California, and later helped make Cabernet Sauvignon so popular in the area — his first Eberle label wine was the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon. eberlewinery.com

Then pay a visit to Glunz Family Winery & Cellars, a fourth generation winemaking family who recently opened their winery in Paso after sourcing grapes there for many years. glunzfamilywinery.com

1 p.m. Visit DAOU Vineyards & Winery for an amazing culinary experience that’s a perfect pairing of wine, cuisine and limitless views on the crown of DAOU Mountain, as well as a tribute to the Lebanese culinary heritage of the Daou family. daouvineyards.com

3 p.m. Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery never disappoints — also visit the Vina Robles Amphitheater and check out their concert lineup. They’ve hosted everybody from Willie Nelson to Tony Bennett, and the Beach Boys and Barenaked Ladies are already on deck for 2020. vinarobles.com

5:30 p.m. Head downtown for a beautiful evening around the historic Downtown City Park. Several amazing restaurants surround the park — La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, Thomas Hill Organics and the new French favorite, Les Petites Canailles. lacosechabr.com | thomashillorganics.com | lpcrestaurant.com

10 p.m. When you’re ready to call it a night, accommodations around the park include the classic (tried and true) Paso Robles Inn. Also nearby, Hotel Cheval is a small luxury inn and a few miles east is the lovely Allegretto Vineyard Resort. hotelcheval.com | pasoroblesinn.comallegrettovineyardresort.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Grab a strong coffee at Spearhead Coffee and hit the road. Start your wine tasting adventures with Grey Wolf & Barton Family Wines — try their amazing white wines and unique Paso blends. Then head on to one of the many smaller, family-owned wineries like Clos Solène, owned by French couple Guillaume and Solène Fabre; or reach out to Ledge Vineyards for a private tasting — it’s owned by local musician and friend to all Mark Adams, and they make beautiful Rhônes and blends. spearheadcoffee.com | bartonfamilywines.com | clossolene.comledgevineyards.com

1 p.m. Opolo Vineyards has great wood-fired pizzas on their patio, along with lovely wines. Sip and savor as you enjoy the views of their walnut orchard and over 70 acres of vines. Also on-site are handcrafted spirits by Willow Creek Distillery. opolo.com

2:30 p.m. Stop by Thacher Winery and Vineyard, a boutique operation that specializes in dry farming on the historic, 52-acre Kentucky Ranch. Make an appointment at Denner Vineyards to visit their Comus Crush tasting room, where the exterior windows have vineyard views and the interior windows provide a peek into what’s happening on the winery fermentation floor. thacherwinery.comdennervineyards.com

4:30 p.m. Don’t miss the chance to visit Tablas Creek, which specializes in Rhône-style wine and is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families: the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family of Vineyard Brands. tablascreek.com

7 p.m. Dine on rustic Italian fare at the romantic and intimate Il Cortile, a local favorite with one of the best wine lists in the area. ilcortileristorante.com

9 p.m. Wrap up your evening at the new boutique hotel property, The Piccolo. Their Tetto rooftop bar is the first in the area and serves Paso-centric wine and craft cocktails, a perfect way to cap off a magical two days in Paso Robles. thepiccolo.com

There’s so much more to enjoy in Paso Robles, you could easily spend another day tasting, sipping and exploring this exciting wine region. For additional resources and itinerary ideas, visit travelpaso.com and pasowine.com.

 

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Rogue Valley

Sip Trip: Rogue Valley, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

A Global Wine Destination With Bucolic Charm

The natural beauty of Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley wine country and its four wine trails — Upper Rogue, Bear Creek, Applegate and Jacksonville — are just a part of what makes this area a top global wine destination.

DAY 1: ASHLAND

9 a.m. Begin your morning at Ashland’s Lithia Springs Resort (7), where you can immerse yourself in four acres of lush, English-inspired gardens. Relax with a natural mineral water soak in the privacy of your bungalow, followed by a delicious hot breakfast buffet. lithiaspringsresort.com

11 a.m. Explore the hills along the back roads of the Bear Creek Wine Trail. Set on 40 beautiful acres, with views of nearby Grizzly Peak and Mount Ashland, Grizzly Peak Winery is a haven from the busy world. The tasting room showcases 12–15 distinct wines. grizzlypeakwinery.com

Weisinger Family Winery (6) is committed to producing limited-production wines created exclusively from local vineyards. Sip the signature Gewürztraminer (along with other varietals), which John Weisinger first planted with the help of his three young children in 1978. weisingers.com

2:30 p.m. A cultivated tasting under the oak tree at Irvine & Roberts Vineyards (3) (5) is a lovely way to relax and have a knowledgeable wine ambassador craft an intimate tasting experience, paired with artisanal cheeses and house-made delicacies. irvinerobertsvineyards.com

4 p.m. Take a stroll in downtown Ashland. Right off the plaza is Lithia Park, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2019. This charming gem was designed by John McClaren, who also designed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

6 p.m. You’re in for a treat at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine, an authentic farm-to-table experience that celebrates Oregon’s bounty with dishes that excite and surprise with freshness and flavors. Located in downtown’s Ashland Springs Hotel, it also has a second location at Inn at the Commons in Medford. larksashland.com

7 p.m. Grab a drink at the Wine Garden at Lithia Springs Resort, which features an excellent selection of Southern Oregon wines, particularly those from the Applegate Valley.

8 p.m. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a must-see. This legendary company has been entertaining theatergoers since 1935, and offers up to 11 different shows each year — both Shakespeare and a mix of classics, musicals and world premieres — from March through October. osfashland.org

DAY 2: MEDFORD/APPLEGATE

10 a.m. Just 15 minutes north of Ashland is Medford, the heart of the Rogue Valley, with easy access to Interstate 5 and Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport. Home of the world-famous Harry & David Country Village, it offers entertaining and educational tours daily. Start your day in downtown Medford and experience farm-to-fork culinary culture with breakfast at Over Easy or brunch at the popular Downtown Market. downtownmarketco.comovereasysouthernoregon.com

Medford is home to more than half a dozen wineries, including 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery (1), whose tasting room pays tribute to the grand agricultural buildings of yesteryear, exuding rustic charm on the site of the original farmhouse dating back to the 1950s. Also in Medford is DANCIN Vineyards (2), a culinary and viticulture destination of beauty, taste, style, authentic hospitality and award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This estate winery has seven unique seating areas to enjoy while you drink and dine. 2hawk.wine | dancin.com

Next, it’s on to the Jacksonville Wine Trail to taste the small lot wines of Quady North, where the focus is on vineyard-select Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Syrah wines that are expressions of the climate, soils and people who farm them. quadynorth.com

Don’t miss Rellik Winery’s newly remodeled tasting room in Jacksonville. Sip a glass of their Three-Eyed Raven Red Blend and enjoy a scenic view of the pond as well as the 15 adorable alpacas and the llama that reside on the property! rellikwinery.com

12:30 p.m. Make your way to the Applegate Wine Trail, where forested hillsides surround a valley that is fertile and temperate, hosting numerous fields of fragrant lavender, alongside 19 unique wineries producing a diverse array of high-quality wines. A working ranch since 1858, Plaisance Ranch’s unique tasting room is located in the milk refrigeration room of the former dairy barn. Plaisance is French for “pleasure” and it’s indeed a delight to taste their wines in this warm and cozy atmosphere. plaisanceranch.com

2:30 p.m. Wisconsin isn’t the only “cheesehead” state. Rogue River Blue cheese, made by Rogue Creamery, was named the best cheese in the world at the 2019 World Cheese Awards in Italy. Stop by the Central Point Artisan Corridor to see the cheese production room and factory and try the solar-powered grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as plenty of artisan cheese, chocolate and charcuterie samples. roguecreamery.com

3:30 p.m. On your way to see the amazing Crater Lake National Park (4), meander through the Upper Rogue Wine Trails to enjoy the unique experience of four different wineries, four different families, and four different interpretations of the grape along with beautiful countryside. upperroguewinetrail.com

7:30 p.m. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, get a taste of Old Town Oregon history at Porters in downtown Medford, a classic American dining experience in a historic 1910 landmark train depot. porterstrainstation.com

During the summer months, the Britt Music & Art Festival is another great addition to the cultural calendar. This naturally formed amphitheater, surrounded by majestic trees on a beautiful hillside estate, sets the stage for world-class artists in classical music, jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, world, pop and country music. brittfest.org

10:30 p.m. Feeling thirsty after the show? Common Block Brewery is a convivial, family-friendly taproom that serves 30+ beers, wines and ciders on tap, as well as a full menu of casual brew pub fare. commonblockbrewing.com

Rest your weary bones at Inn at the Commons. This reimagined 1960s motor inn is conveniently located in downtown Medford’s vibrant corridor, with numerous shops, cafes, restaurants and theatres within a short walk. innatthecommons.com

With so much to taste, sip and do, there’s plenty more if you decide to stay another night to explore more of Southern Oregon’s hospitality that makes the Rogue Valley a unique wine destination.

For additional resources, visit travelmedford.org, travelashland.com and southernoregon.org.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Livermore, California

Sip Trip: Livermore, California, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

Uncork Livermore Valley’s Many Delights

Renowned hospitality and easy access make the charming Livermore Valley an idyllic destination to savor California’s great wines and natural beauty. Situated on the sunny side of the San Francisco Bay, this welcoming wine region of 50+ wineries has a colorful history that began with Spanish missionaries in the 1760s.

11 a.m. Hop aboard the iconic Livermore Wine Trolley and leave the driving to them for a unique experience and fun day of wine tasting adventures while traveling through the beautiful Livermore Valley Wine Country! Choose the “Taste of Livermore” wine tour or Private Charter available year round. livermorewinetrolley.com

11:30 a.m. Your first stop is Big White House, specializing in handcrafted, small-lot wines, featuring beautifully designed portrait labels by artist Laura Marion — sister of winemaker John Evan Marion — whose original oil paintings are found throughout the tasting room. bigwhitehouse.com

12:30 p.m. McGrail Vineyards and Winery is the next destination where you’ll taste award-winning wines. The tasting room has a covered patio, overlooking the estate vineyard, with panoramic views of Mount Diablo. The lawn is a favorite spot for picnics, bocce ball, summer concerts and yoga classes. mcgrailvineyards.com

1:30 p.m. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at Garré Cafe, located on the beautiful Garré Vineyard & Winery property, surrounded by vines, rose gardens and the chef ’s herb and vegetable garden. garrewinery.com

3 p.m. Believing that great wine brings people together, father-daughter duo Alexandra and Ken Henkelman have brought their dream to life with Omega Road Winery, which welcomes guests to an intimate tasting room experience featuring unique wines that are only available on-site. omegaroadwinery.com

4 p.m. Part of a historic Victorian property, Retzlaff Vineyards and Estate Winery offers organically certified wines (no pesticides, no herbicides, no fertilizers, non-GMO) in a spectacular location nestled among ancient pepper trees and sprawling vineyards. retzlaffvineyards.com

5 p.m. Check-in at Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort and Spa, a luxury log-cabin-style resort with a rose garden and spa. Rest up by the pool before a night out. purpleorchid.com

6 p.m. Stroll through picturesque downtown and its charming mix of shops and restaurants set within historic architecture. Then enjoy a warm American dining experience at Zephyr Grill & Bar, where Executive Chef Jesus Martinez has been feeding eager diners since 2004. If you still feel like tasting wines, Zephyr offers an array of flights, from Worldly Whites and Tiny Bubbles to the Finest Reds. zephyrgrill.com

The Next Day

9 a.m. Start your day with a delicious hot breakfast at the Purple Orchid’s community table. In the mood for more Livermore Valley adventures? Compare notes with your neighbors on more vineyards and attractions to explore.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital