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January/February 2017

Wine Country Adventures FEATURED TASTING ROOM



Firestone Walker: Brewery of the Year! Wine Tasting Map: North and South County Wine Country Weddings

Visit our J. Lohr Paso Robles Wine Center and taste hand-harvested wines nurtured from our vineyards in Paso Robles, Monterey County and Napa Valley. J. LOHR PASO ROBLES WINE CENTER 6169 Airport Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446 (805) 239-8900 | Tasting Daily 10am–5pm

5575 El Pomar Dr, Templeton, CA


We are in the El Pomar District

DISTRIBUTION 15,000 copies Distributed at key hot spots from Sonoma to Orange County including but not limited to... Airports: Oakland International Airport Sonoma County Airport Monterey Regional Airport Paso Robles Airport Burbank/Bob Hope Airport John Wayne Intnl. Airport

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Visitor Centers:

Pismo Beach Atascadero Paso Robles Morro Bay King City Aptos

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Hotels in: Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Atascadero, King City, Watsonville, Aptos, Pismo Beach

Wineries: SLO County

Call us to be a distributor 805.466.2585 or 805.237.6060

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Call Your Sales Executive Today Atascadero 805.466.2585 Paso Robles 805.237.6060


In This Issue

ROCK STAR WINEMAKER Gary Kramer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

WINE COUNTRY ADVENTURES Santa Margarita Ranch . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Earth & Fire Brewery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


Blend Fest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Featured Tasting Room: LXV . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Featured Olive Oil Co: Fusano . . . . . . . . . . 16

Old-school Vintners of 46 West . . . . . . . . . 36

Niven Family Wine Estates . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

In The News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Featured Brewery: Firestone Walker . . . . . 24

WINE COUNTRY WEDDINGS Tooth and Nail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

NORTH COUNTY WINE TASTING MAP .26 CALENDAR OF EVENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

PUBLISHER John Bartlett GENERAL MANAGER Michael Bartlett EDITOR Ryan Cronk

Paso Robles AVA Districts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

EDITORIAL Elizabeth Enriquez-Phillips Sonja Eschenburg Nicholas Mattson Allyson Oken Luke Phillips ADVERTISING Stan Angel Joe Harris Adriana Novack Sheri Potruch

GRAPHIC DESIGN Jim Prostovich COVER PHOTO Luke Phillips VINO MAGAZINE 805-237-6060 829 10th Street, Suite B Paso Robles, CA 93446

VINO is published by the Paso Robles Press. All rights reserved, material may not be reprinted without written consent from the publisher. The Paso Robles Press made every effort to maintain the accuracy of information presented in the magazine, but assumes no responsibility for errors, changes or omissions.

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January/February 2017





Arlyne’s Flowers & Gifts 6485 Palma Ave (across from Sunken Gardens)





FREE SAFETY INSPECTION** Limited-time offer. Certain restrictions, minimum gallon requirement, and credit approval may apply. Agreement required. 50% off applies to lock-in price for first propane bill only for qualified new customers. *Never run-out-of gas promise applies to new residential heat customers who maintain automatic delivery. **Standard above-ground tank installation charges waived unless customer terminates Agreement prior to end of initial term. Non-standard installations may be subject to changes. Additional fees and charges may apply per delivery. Call for complete details. 2016 AmeriGas Propane, Inc.

8950 El Camino Real Atascadero, CA 93422-5336 (805) 466-1232 Phone 6

January/February 2017








Family Owned and Operated for Two Generations Over 70 Designer Colors 5 Year Work Warranty Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed! Service & Maintenance Available One Piece Seamless Returns

Seamless Copper & Aluminum 7 Distinctive Styles of Gutters In-House Fabrication of Gutters & Downspouts


461-3283 / 226-9006 3226 El Camino Real, Atascadero

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Central Coast Edition VINO

A message from the General Manager G

Michael Bartlett

General Manager - Vino Magazine

reetings, and thank you for picking up Vino Magazine! For nearly six years, Vino has been one of the premier wine and lifestyle magazines throughout the Paso Robles wine country here on the Central Coast, and we here at Vino have always strived to make our magazine as stellar as possible. That’s why we’re proud to announce some exciting changes. First, we’ve doubled our number of issues. In prior years, we published Vino three times annually. Starting in January 2017, you can expect to see a new issue of Vino every other month. That will allow Vino to be more relevant than ever as we cover more of the stories our readers care about. To pair with our increase in publication, we’ve expanded Vino’s reach, from as far north as Sonoma County Airport to as far south as Burbank Airport, with plenty of airports, kiosks, hotels and visitor centers in between. As the Central Coast continues to grow as a top tourist destination, it's important for Vino to grow with it, as we spread the word about all that goes on in our community. As we continue to grow and expand, we want to hear from you, our readers, whose input is crucial.If you have any suggestions regarding story ideas or places you would like to see our magazine next, please let us know! Once again, thank you for your interest in our magazine, and from all of us at Vino Magazine, we wish you a happy 2017. Cheers,

Michael Bartlett

VINO Central Coast Edition

January/February 2017




January/February 2017

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Central Coast Edition VINO




Gary Kramer opens new wine bar with a riff


By Sonja Eschenburg OF VINO MAGAZINE

ary Kramer, of Kramer Guitars, had no idea the impact he would have on the evolution of rock and roll music history the day he first agreed to partner with Travis Bean in the early 1970s to manufacture the first renowned aluminum neck guitar. While Bean provided the initial designs of these guitars, Kramer managed the company's overall administration and financial aspects, quickly establishing relationships with countless dealers worldwide. The company's unexpected success led to an absolutely astonishing and immediate increase in sales, so much so that these guitars simply began to sell themselves — not only with their aesthetics, but with their performances, too. Bean eventually filed for and secured the original patent for the guitar under only his name rather than the pair's partnership. At this point, Kramer broke out on his own. Although Bean's guitars were at the time the most highly demanded on the market, artists were experiencing some technical difficulties. Though far and few between, the aluminum neck itself generated a very debilitating flaw with Bean's guitars. The physical pieces of aluminum were too Continued on page 10

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January/February 2017


Although he prefers to interact with customers from in front of the bar, Gary Kramer will occasionally stand behind it.

Photos by Sonja Eschenburg

Jean Simmons, of the rock and roll band KISS, is just one of the many artists who played a bass guitar designed by Gary Kramer.

heavy, increasing the instrument's weight, which ultimately resulted in musicians tiring more quickly when performing. Kramer noticed this loophole and without infringing upon Bean's patent, filed for his own patent in the early 1980s. He introduced a lighter guitar, one with wooden neck inserts instead. Making this switch allowed Kramer to better manage production costs as well as simultaneously appeal to a larger population of traditionally minded guitar players. With experience in design and production and help from several close friends and companies along the way, Kramer Guitars soon became the biggest, most successful guitar company in the country. Having spent a majority of his career living on the East Coast, Kramer and his wife eventually relocated back to the West Coast in Southern California. In sunny Los Angeles, he once again furthered 10

January/February 2017

his guitar vision in 2005 when he introduced a new line named Gary Kramer Guitars, one of the most sought out guitar producers in the world. Unfortunately, financial problems with overwhelming advertising and endorsement expenses eventually consumed the original Kramer brand. The company was ultimately sold out of bankruptcy to Gibson Guitar Corporation. Today, Kramer and his wife call Paso Robles home. The pair live on an estate where they grow their own grapes for the recently opened Gary Kramer Guitar Cellars, a contemporary and soonto-be revolutionary wine and olive oil bar and lounge. Their estate includes a beautiful vacation rental, with the sole purpose of providing travelers with the opportunity to experience life on a Central Coast vineyard.

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Central Coast Edition VINO

We are a small family owned Vineyard and Winery producing all estate Red Wines.

Photo by Sonja Eschenburg

Gary Kramer with one of his infamous electric guitars.

"I've transitioned between many industries throughout my lifetime — some related, some not," said Kramer. "My goal for all of them though has been to promote a sense of camaraderie." Gary Kramer would not have gotten as far as he did in the guitar manufacturing business without the countless helping hands he was offered throughout the years. The experiences he endured and loads of struggles he faced were made lighter due to the relationships he formed along the way. Throughout his electric guitar and basses manufacturing career, Kramer has been fortunate enough to work and form close friendships with many musical artists, including Eddie Van Halen, Mick Jagger, Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead and Jean Simmons of Kiss. Today, Kramer hopes to display that same amicableness toward all those he encounters. In fact, this move away from a rivalrybased mindset is beyond evident at Gary Kramer Guitar Cellars. "I enjoy a feel-good atmosphere just as much as the next person, and honestly I think that's all anyone could ever ask for," said Kramer. "This is not supposed to be about competition." Like Kramer said, we are all here for the same thing, and that is to just have a good time. VINO Central Coast Edition

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We are currently pouring Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Port and our Red Rhythm Blend (Bordeaux & Bordeaux/ Rhone blends). Stop by the Western Saloon and enjoy the wines and the view overlooking the lake and vineyard. 10000 Creston Rd (805) 238-4815 Paso Robles January/February 2017



Photo by Allyson Oken

Earth and Fire Brewing Company co-owners Nick Vega, left, and Brewmaster Nolan Mott celebrate the opening of their new brewery with a frosty mug of beer.



t takes rich earth to grow hops and a hot fire to ferment it into the brew that inspired Earth and Fire Brewing Company coowners Nick Vega and Brewmaster Nolan Mott to open up shop in Paso Robles, creating small batch beer and a place for locals to hang out with a frosty glass in hand. "It takes a lot of earth and a lot of fire to make beer," Vega said, explaining the inspiration for the name Earth and Fire Brewing. "We were trying to figure out a label and didn't want it to be just Mott and Vega brewing. It needed to mean something to both of us.We have just installed flat screens for football season and want this to be a regular hang out place to have a beer for our locals. With that in mind our brewery pour house is all about comfort." The feel is rustic and homey with plush couches in one corner, a bar with stools adjacent and wine barrels repurposed as tables. There are two flat screens for football season and Mott and Vega hope to have a regular game night following for folks that want to have a beer and watch the game in comfort. Both Mott and Vega felt a passion for opening a brewery and didn't want to let the opportunity pass them by. For Vega, being in control of his own destiny and owning a business has been a dream since childhood and that dream has finally come true. For


January/February 2017

Mott, it all began when he was a Cal Poly student studying to be an engineer. He said that his roommates and he were sick of drinking cheep light beers and thought, "why not make it ourselves?" The rest is history and after years of bottling other company's libations, Mott is now making his own professionally. "Right now we have Belgian, a Saison, a vanilla Porter, Chocolate Bonfire Stout and we are playing around with a double IPA and single IPAs," Mott said. "Since we are small we can really make whatever we want and cater to what our customers want. We do small batch and are planning an October Fest-style beer with a little spice. Right now we are working with pellet hops and are looking for the local source for hops and have been looking at some in Salinas. We are seeing grain growing around here as well as hops and as that industry grows we will be sourcing more and more local goods. We make our own starter and grow it using three main strains of yeast — Saison, Belgian and California Ale yeast. We are not doing a house yeast because we want some diversity of flavor and don't want all the beer to taste the same because we are using the same yeast for everything. It is interesting for me to use the variety to get better, more varied flavors." Earth and Fire Brewing offers beers on tap, growlers to go and

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Central Coast Edition VINO

SLOFolks Presents: Runa - Indoor Concert

Saturday, January 21 | 6:30 PM | $20 Quickly gaining recognition as one of Irish music’s new “supergroups”, RUNA has been enchanting audiences by pushing the boundaries of Irish folk music, since their formation in 2008. Interweaving the haunting melodies and exuberant tunes of Ireland and Scotland with the lush harmonies and intoxicating rhythms of bluegrass, flamenco, blues, jazz, they offer a thrilling and redefining take on traditional music. Doors open at 6:30 PM Show starts at 7:30 PM Purchase your tickets at, or by calling 805-238-0725

Yoga and Brunch

Sunday, January 29 | 8:45 AM | $30

Greet your Sunday morning at Castoro with Yoga in the Vines & Brunch on Sunday, January 29th. Check in at 8:45AM. Class is form 9-10am followed by an Organic Brunch from 10-11am.

SLOFolks Presents:

Rob and Trey - Indoor Concert

Saturday, February 11 | 6:30 PM | $20 This unique collaborative effort between two uniquely gifted musicians is bound to be a revelation to traditional music fans on several counts. Rob Ickes is a longtime, well-established instrumental giant, and Trey Hensley is newly arrived in Music City, bursting with talent both as a vocalist and guitarist. Their new album, Before the Sun Goes Down, is slated for release this winter. Doors open at 6:30 PM Show starts at 7:30 PM Purchase your tickets at, or by calling 805-238-0725


Yoga & Brunch

Sunday, February 19 | 8:45 AM | $30/2$5 has created a diverse menu of beers for its first official run. Vega said that in the future, as the business expands, they will offer more beer varieties, plan to source locally and will move forward with more sustainable practices. "When we expand we plan to have a wood-fire grill put in and Nolan's family has animals, so right now our used grain goes to them," Vega said. "In the future we will harvest the cattle that were fed on our gain and bring things full circle with sustainability in mind. Our goal was to do this as a family and we did all the build out with the help of friends and family. We are so grateful for all the support and hope to see all the locals out for a taste." Earth and Fire Brewing Co. is open three days a week — Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. They are located at 825 Riverside Ave., Ste. 1, in Paso Robles. To learn more about owners Vega and Mott, see new beers on tap and more, visit VINO Central Coast Edition

This is an amazing all-levels yoga class, hosted indoors with vineyard views which concludes with a private brunch including mimosas! We limit Vine-yasa to just 35 guests for an intimate and relaxing experience. Check in at 8:45 AM, Class beings at 9:00 AM. Tickets are just $30, or $25 for if you’re a Wine Club Member. Vine-yasa sells out each month, so reserve your spot now!

Visit our website to get more info, purchase tickets and check out all our upcoming events.

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January/February 2017


Grape Encounters Empourium, Home Of Grape Encounters Radio

one-stop wine shop for the Central Coast wine EXPERIEnCE!


Save the driving and taste many hard-to-find local and small production wines in our wine shop and tasting bar in the convenient downtown Atascadero Arts District, 1 minute off the 101. Plus, we carry local artisan products: olive oils, vinegars, salamis, wine accessories, gifts and more!



Local artisan products

Lovely all-season patio, private events available!

David Wilson, Host of Grape Encounters Radio

Hard-to-find local & International wines AND fine beers Wine shop, wine bar & tasting flights Picnic provisions & local artisan gourmet foods Wine accessories, gifts & Coravin supplies One of a kind live blending: Vinthesis™

Perfect 5-Star-Rated Wine Bar!

Open until 8pm Mon-Thurs, until 11 pm Fri & Sat. GRAPE ENCOUNTERS EMPOURIUM 5816 TRAFFIC WAY ATASCADERO, CA 93422 805-464-2630 Check out our reviews!

Mon 4-8 • Tues - Thurs 12-8• Fri & Sat 12-11 • Sun by Appt.

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January/February 2017

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Annual wine tasting features more than 30 Paso Robles wineries


By Sonja Eschenburg OF VINO MAGAZINE

ine tasting does not have to be as complicated as people make it out to be — as long as you understand the basic principles and learn what to look for. Every palate is different and, therefore, people’s perceptions will vary. That being said, starting from the beginning simply requires an open mind, the willingness to learn and the ability to pay attention to your sensory areas. The process of developing a palate as a whole can normally be broken down into two separate categories. The first part consists of the taster’s objective view, where one learns to distinguish between the various individual smells, tastes, flavors and textures. The second part consists of using the information gained from the aforementioned personal views to help draw an overall conclusion, which can include anything from the price of the wine, grape variety, food pairings and even its origin. For the beginning wine drinker, understanding how to apply the above can often be intimidating and easier said than done, said Christopher Taranto, communications director for the Paso Robles BlendFest. Fortunately for those just starting to drink and enjoy wine along the West Coast though, the Third Annual Paso Robles Wine Country BlendFest is just right around the corner. On Jan. 13-15, wine enthusiasts — both experienced and inexperienced — will have the opportunity to kick off their new year right by celebrating a variety of locally blended wines. This limited audience event, held in the Cambria Pines Lodge at

VINO Central Coast Edition

2905 Burton Drive, just off Highway 1 in Cambria, will feature an elegant selection of 90 unique wines, accompanied by distinctly paired cheeses, from 32 different Paso Robles wineries. The long holiday weekend will highlight multiple different wine tastings, live blending sessions, memorable and delectable brunch menus and various educational seminars. The personal and intimate environment will allow fellow members to take full advantage of the learning opportunity and to truly experience the intricacies behind drinking wine. "Sponsored by local tourism boards, this off season event aims to connect the more inland areas with the coastal areas," said Taranto. The goal is to attract and motivate guests from all over, both near and far, to casually sip their way into the fast-growing industry one drink at a time. Afternoon sessions will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. and evening sessions will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the BlendFest Grand Tasting are on sale now and can only be bought at Registered Cambria and San Simeon lodging guests will have the chance to enter the Grand Tasting sessions 30 minutes before scheduled start times by showing their room keys at the event entrance. For more information regarding BlendFest, visit the website or contact Taranto at

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January/February 2017



By Nicholas Mattson OF VINO MAGAZINE ringing experience steeped in world travel, a background skill to grow and produce superior olives. in coffee sourcing and local roots, Fusano Olive Company More than a century later, the Fusano legacy has new ownership, co-owners Jeremy Sizemore and Scott Morrell took over a and Sizemore and Morrell share the daunting task of carrying on company stuffed with heritage like the garlic and jalapeño olives the rich heritage into the 21st century. they market locally around San Luis Obispo County. Sizemore and Morrell purchased the company a year ago, and In 1909, Cristo Fusano arrived at Ellis Island from the olive treerebranding with a new logo and fresh website to match, they work adorned landscape of Bari, Italy, ready to share his knowledge and to put “the same loving care into continuing the tradition.”

B 16

January/February 2017

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Central Coast Edition VINO

Olive-ing Legacy

Partners take on a century-old heritage

Contributed Photo

Fusano Olive Company co-owners Jeremy Sizemore and Scott Morrell

Translating a wealth of experience in sourcing coffee as a world traveler as well as co-owner of Spearhead Coffee, Sizemore brought crossover values to the olive business — growing up and doing business in Paso Robles wine country did not hurt either. “We adopted a similar strategy with Fusano as we did with Spearhead Coffee,” Sizemore said. “We try to do the most direct trade with local farmers as possible.”

Sizemore spent 15 years traveling the world, including Egypt and Thailand, where he saw first hand the sources of many of the products Americans push a button to receive. His experience adds to the company’s values of getting to know the farmers and families that produce the crops that he puts to market, and ensuring a fair shake between all parties. “That is an emphasis in all of our businesses,” Sizemore said. “I Continued on page 18

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Photo by Nicholas Mattson

Fusano Olive Company products at Hope Chest Emporium in Atascadero

want it to be a win-win-win. I want it to be a win for the customers, a win for the farmers and, of course, a win for the business. It is more than just a living, it is about a win-win for our local and global community.” Even the best of intentions can be met with resistance when it comes to finding room on the shelves of local proprietors, and the company’s “old-school” approach to marketing and PR has been welcomed in the community — coming in with a bottle of cold-press, extra virgin, unfiltered olive oil doesn’t hurt the duo’s likability. After nearly two decades of bonding over weekly coffee meetings, Sizemore and Morrell found a way to take their friendship to the next level. “Jeremy and I are lifelong friends. We have been meeting together for 18 years weekly as friends and we always entertained getting into business together,” Morrell said. “When Jeremy approached me and told me about the brand and that it needs a home to carry on, I got excited about it.” Sizemore’s culinary expertise joined Morrell’s marketing skills, and the rebranding and marketing of Fusano took on new life and landed on shelves of local shops and a new website. “It has been a good marriage of his culinary background and my marketing talent,” Morrell said. Jumping into the market, the new Fusano is making a name for itself on the shelves of local stores in SLO County, and sharing in the success is key to being a part of this community. “Our friends and family want to buy our olives, and we tell them the best thing you can do to support us is to support our stores,” Morrell said. “We are all about supporting those local businesses.” Challenging the “bigger is better” industrial motivations, Fusano’s owners keep it simple on purpose. “I have a passion for small artisan products,” Sizemore said. “I love craft beer, specialty coffee, olives, small boutique wineries and the love, care and detail in every part of the process.” The small farms where the olives are grown have a particular charm that appeals to Fusano, keeping in the spirit of the heritage of the company’s strong brand. According to Sizemore, one farm does not receive email, and instead he is forced to communicate by fax machine — a throwback to a century gone by. When it came to rebranding, Morrell and Sizemore looked to make a bridge between the rich history of the company and the present and future market. 18

January/February 2017

“We really wanted a look that would be old-world 1900s,” Morrell said, “and that it could have been around that long. We wanted it to lend itself to being born in 1900s but also relevant today.” For Fusano, nostalgia can be a great characteristic, but it is the long roots and relationship with the earth that attract Sizemore and Morrell to their growers. “The olive groves we source are big, ginormous, gnarly olive trees,” Sizemore said. “You can see they are old growth, and they are a part of the land.” The smell of fertile soil and rolling hills can almost be recognized as Sizemore spoke about the source of the Fusano brand. “Olives have been with us through history,” Sizemore said. “I just love the raw, organic, back to the earth elements. It is really good stuff.” Heading to market where relationships are the key to their success, the Fusano owners keep that respect in balance to their sources as well. “We care about the products, and it is made with as much care and precision as possible,” Sizemore said. “We want to make sure the farmers growing our product are also being treated fairly.” With a year under their belt, and a century of heritage to protect, Sizemore and Morrell prioritize both a local and global responsibility in package, product and delivery. “People come to trust Fusano for quality and great taste,” Sizemore said. “We really care about the quality and the great taste. We are also bringing the social responsibility. You can trust the product, that it is not bloated with chemicals, but you can also trust that people are being treated fairly and the land is respected.” Sizemore and Morrell form a dynamic package, and they look to expand the Fusano territory up and down the California coast. “Up to this point it has been a lot of relationship building and marketing with local stores,” Morrell said. “Our goal is to support retail more than selling it ourselves. Our marketing has been almost solely building relationships with those local stores. Then we want to expand along the coast and inland.” The Fusano product line includes five olive types — whole Italian, garlic stuffed, jalapeño stuffed, Kalamata and habanero stuffed — and cold pressed, extra virgin, estate olive oil from California Manzanillo olives. They are available online at, or at local shops also listed on the website.

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Central Coast Edition VINO

777 Motorsports is now an Authorized E-Z-GO Dealer! Let our heLpfuL staff find you the perfect cart to fit your LifestyLe!

View our current inventory online or stop by & see us! 3850 El Camino Real, Atascadero CA 93422 • (805)466-7296

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January/February 2017


Photo contributed by Andrea Fullmer

Keeping tradition


January/February 2017

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Central Coast Edition VINO

Photo contributed by Andrea Fullmer

Niven Family Wine Estates continues long-standing legacy in Edna Valley


By Sonja Eschenburg OF VINO MAGAZINE

he world of wine is filled with countless entrepreneurs. If pressed to pick just one that has truly influenced Edna Valley, no one would argue the name Jack Niven. Niven was not only an innovator when it came to his own wines, but also when it came to all of Edna Valley, as well. His lifelong mission was to prove that Edna Valley was one of the world's most outstanding wine regions, and to no surprise at all, he succeeded in doing just that. Niven Family Wine Estates is proud to be one of the pioneers of Edna Valley's modern wine industry. The real story started nearly 40 years ago when two professors first discovered Edna Valley, said Christian Roguenant, Niven's current famed French winemaker. They immediately recognized the area's climate and geological potential and were confident in

Photo contributed by Karl Boone

the ability to grow large varieties of grapes there. By the late 1970s, Jack Niven — the original consummate entrepreneur of the Estates — had planted his own vineyards in the valley. Niven embodied the saying "go big or go home" when he and his wife Catherine kicked off their career by planting 550 acres. By 1981 they partnered with Edna Valley Vineyard, and by 1982, were officially inducted into the American Viticultural Area. Without looking back, the pair jumped head first into wine making, starting their first-ever label Baileyana — the rest from there on out is history. Baileyana proved to be more successful than expected, with the demand only continuing to increase. The Niven Family Wine Estates has since then continued to operate under family tradition. To date, a total of three generations of Nivens, including current Continued on page 22

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Quality Auto Care at a Reasonable Price

8784 Plata Lane, Atascadero, CA

(805) 461-5823 Robert Davis, Owner

Photo contributed by Andrea Fullmer

Winemaker Christian Roguenant hard at work.

The Carlton Hotel ~52 Rooms & Suites ~ Artisanal Bakery & Cafe ~ ~Private Event Spaces ~ Select Dog Friendly Rooms ~

Wine Country  I  Atascadero, CA  I  805.461.5100  I  THE­CARLTON.COM


January/February 2017

vice president of sales John H. Niven, have passed on their winemaking knowledge as well as their traditions of hard work and careful craftsmanship. That being said, today's team has continued to carry on Niven's original enthusiastic spirit by expanding the family's portfolio with multiple new labels — Cadre, Tangent, Trenza and Zocker. "We've been able to combine big reds driven by the hot temperatures of Paso Robles with cool climate whites driven by the sea of the coastal valley," said John H. Niven. "They nicely complement each other." Niven Family Wine Estates tends to the riches of Edna Valley with a visionary blend of biodynamic farming with time-honored winemaking techniques. As a SIP Certified winery, they use a sustainable approach that incorporates alternative energy sources, water-reuse resolutions, reclaimed building materials and other ecologically progressive elements. "Our overall goal as a winery is to present consumers with products representative of the estate (itself)," Roguenant said. "There is so much diversity in geology here, as well as countless varieties of soil types. It is truly unbelievable the number of different flavors available. We want to help locals (genuinely) appreciate the Edna Valley taste(s) and way of life." Niven Family Wine Estates works in collaboration with its surrounding neighbors. Together, as a collective brand of Edna Valley, they embody a sense of camaraderie, promoting the idea of "region first." "With time, a vision and foresight, all of the wineries in Edna Valley have been able to work toward a collective growth far beyond just the bottle," said Roguenant. "We have had the chance to change the wine industry on the Central Coast as a whole by simply (embracing) the plentiful region around us." They credit their success not to the state of the art winery and 100-year-old Independence Schoolhouse, nor the bountiful vineyards and superior grapes themselves, but to their good-quality wines sold at a good-quality price, said Niven. Affordable and economical wines are what keep customers coming back for more, and that is exactly what Edna Valley needs to keep growing at the rate it has been. For more information about Niven Family Wine Estates, visit

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Central Coast Edition VINO




1135 24TH STREET PASO ROBLES, CA (805) 238-4740


Photo by Nick Gingold

Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles

Brews brothers

Firestone Walker marks 20 years; wins Brewery of the Year award


STAFF REPORT “Although we have grown over the last 20 years and now wenty years ago, brothers-in-law Adam Firestone and David welcome visitors from all over the world, we are still stubbornly Walker launched a tiny brewery on the back-forty of the tied to the Central Coast and California,” David Walker said. “The family vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1996. Their first majority of our beers are still enjoyed within 200 miles of the beer was Double Barrel Ale (DBA), and it was available only on brewery, and that makes us smile because the sweetest beer to drink the Central Coast under the rallying cry, “It’s what we drink around here.” is the one closest to the brewhouse.” While much has changed over the past two decades — the And that brewhouse isn’t going anywhere — in fact, it is currently brewery later moved to the Paso Robles wine country — much has undergoing a major expansion. “The expanded brewhouse will solve our current capacity also remained the same for Firestone Walker Brewing Company, constraints and set the table for our next 20 years and beyond here including the fact that DBA is still brewed right here on the Central in Paso Robles and on the Central Coast,” Adam Firestone said. Coast.


January/February 2017

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Co-owner Adam Firestone

Co-owner David Walker

Brewmaster Matt Brynildson

Contributed Photos

“We are committed the community that raised and supported us faithfully all these years.” Firestone Walker’s brewhouse expansion is taking shape. Still beams went up in the fall after the recent completion of the foundation along with pipefitting and related underground work, followed by completion of the brewing vessels that were shipped from Germany in late November. The expanded brewhouse will feature state-of-the-art brewing technologies as well as new energy and water recovery systems. Numerous local contractors are leading the brewhouse expansion architecture and construction, including Harris and Associates (architecture and design), GTC Construction (concrete), Rarig Construction (structural), Tyson Heer and Hank’s Welding Services (pipefitting and assembly), among others. The goal is for the expanded brewhouse to be operational in the spring of 2017. To mark the brewery’s 20th anniversary, Firestone Walker has released XX, a barrel-aged strong ale blended from five component beers with input from local winemakers. It is available at the main brewery in Paso Robles and Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks in Buellton, and will find its way to local shelves shortly thereafter. A total of 17 local winemakers attended the XX blending session last August. The anniversary ale blending session has become an annual late-summer rite, revolving around a reliable team of friendly vintners who come for the challenge and the camaraderie. “Our winemaker friends are practicing experts in the art of VINO Central Coast Edition

blending,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “Their input is invaluable when it comes to blending a seamless beer from widely varied components.” Adding to the local brewery's year of celebration, Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently named Firestone Walker the “Brewery of the Year” as part of its 17th annual Wine Star Awards, which recognizes people and companies in the greater wine, beer and spirits industries for their "groundbreaking vision coupled with the courage to take risks and the skill to succeed.” According to the magazine, “Over the last 17 years, Wine Enthusiast has celebrated industry icons representing a collection of perspectives and business approaches united for one goal — to advance the American wine and spirits industry." Firestone Walker was joined by another Paso Robles fixture in this year’s Wine Star Awards mix, as Jerry Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards and Winery was named “American Wine Legend.” “It’s an honor to share this distinction with Jerry Lohr and the other award recipients, and to spread the word about our home region,” said David Walker, who plans to attend the annual Wine Star Awards Dinner in Miami, Fla., at Nobu Eden Rock on Jan. 30, 2017. Firestone Walker's brewery in Paso Robles is located at 1400 Ramada Drive. Call 805-225-5911 or visit for more information.

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Downtown Paso Robles Arroyo Robles Pianetta

Bodegas Paso Robles 13th St

Parrish Family

Lusso Della Terra

Rabbit Hole Grizzly Republic Chateau Lettau

Herman Story

Frolicking Frog

12th St


Paso Underground



Pine St.

Park St.

Spring St.

Oak St.

Riverside Ave.

Vista Del Ray d

Asuncion Ridge


R Drake

14th St

10th St


Starr Ranch

Derby Wine Estates

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Carmody McKnight Tablas Creek

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Hearst Ranch Winery



HammerSky Oso Libre


L’ Aventure Willow C ree




Stolo Family


Brecon Brochelle

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Moonstone Cellars



7th St

Black Hand Cellars



8th St

Anglim D’Anbino

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9th St


Jack Creek


Epoch Rocky Creek

Highway 46 West

Harmony Cellars

Sextant Niner Grey Wolf Midnight Cellars & Dark Star Summer Silver Horse Tooth & Nail Wood Zenadia Paso Port 4 Lanterns Aron Hill Castoro Peachy Donati Family Canyon J Dusi Zin Alley Hunt Croad Cellars Cypher

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Broken Earth & Vantage

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Still Waters


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La Tab s las Rd

Pomar Junction

V ineyard Dr

Wild Horse

El Pomar Dr Hansen Hidden Burbank Oak Ranch

Cri ppl e Creek Rd

Field Recordings

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Four Sisters Ranch


Mustard Creek

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San Marcos Creek



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Christian Lazo

Tackitt Family

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Villa San-Juliette

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Loma Linda August Ridge

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Chateau Margene Nichols


Shadow Run

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CALENDAR OF EVENTS JANUARY 13 Friday Flight Night Wine tasting • Free with $7 tasting fee • Enjoy a sampling of Harmony Cellars' most coveted library (older vintage) reds complemented with its house cheese and charcuterie platters during Flight Night, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Library flights are free with the purchase of a $7 tasting fee. January's focus is on Zinfandel. Harmony Cellars, 3255 Harmony Valley Road in Harmony, Calif., about 5 miles south of Cambria, will have extended tasting room hours.

BlendFest — Winemaker Dinner Wine pairing • $90 per ticket The third annual BlendFest on the Coast invites visitors to San Simeon and Cambria to enjoy more than 30 of Paso Robles' renowned wineries, each showcasing three distinct blends. As part of BlendFest, seven Paso winemakers will pair their wines with a sumptuous four-course dinner prepared by Robin's Restaurant, 4095 Burton Drive in Cambria, at 6:30 p.m. Seating is limited to 56 guests.

JANUARY 14 Global Food & Barrel Sample Pairings Wine pairing • $30 per ticket, $24 club members • Enjoy Cass barrel samples complemented with a globalthemed food pairing prepared by Chef Jacob Lovejoy at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available online. Cass Vineyard and Winery is at 7350 Linne Road in Paso Robles.

BlendFest — Grand Tasting Wine tasting • $45 to $60 per ticket The third annual BlendFest on the Coast invites visitors to San Simeon and Cambria to enjoy more than 30 of Paso Robles' renowned wineries, each showcasing three distinct blends. As part of BlendFest, enjoy nearly 100 blends during the Grand Tasting event at Cambria Pines Lodge, 2905 Burton Drive in Cambria. The afternoon tasting, from 1 to 3 p.m., features wine and cheese. The evening tasting, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., features wine, cheese and passed hors d'oeuvres.

Winter Wine Stroll Wine tasting • $30 per ticket Join more than 15 downtown Paso Robles wineries from 2 to 5 p.m. for the annual Winter Wine Stroll. Discover the wines, people and stories of the boutique wineries, all located within a few city blocks, while strolling around the charming, historic downtown area. Sample a gourmet bite paired with a special wine at each participating winery. All tickets, which must be bought online at


January/February 2017, include a keepsake Downtown Paso Robles Wineries logo wine glass.

Noach Tangeras Live music • Free Come and enjoy live music from Noach Tangeras (contemporary originals and covers) from 5 to 8 p.m. at Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, 725 12th St. in Paso Robles. There is no cover charge to attend. Call 805-237-1425 for more information.

16th Annual Esprit du Vin, "The Spirit of Wine" Wine pairing • $35 per ticket, $65 couple Celebrate the 16th Annual Esprit du Vin, the "Spirit of Wine," with 18 local wineries that will gather at Pear Valley Estate Winery, 4900 Union Road in Paso Robles, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for an exciting night of delicious wine and cheese pairings and culinary delights. Each winery will feature wines that are expertly paired with different gourmet cheeses. Stroll around and savor each pairing while enjoying live music by local artists, in addition to a raffle and the chance to win prizes.

Enhance your wine knowledge and appreciation by learning what the terms "Old World" and "New World" really mean at Cass Winery from 1 to 3 p.m. The regional and stylistic differences are quickly understood by analyzing and tasting wines from all over the globe. Tickets are available online. Cass Winery is at 7350 Linne Road in Paso Robles.

JANUARY 21 Dave and Dan Live music • Free Come and enjoy live music from Dave and Dan (classic rock and country) from 5 to 8 p.m. at Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, 725 12th St. in Paso Robles. There is no cover charge to attend. Call 805-237-1425 for more information.

JANUARY 28 The Smith Duo Live music • Free


Come and enjoy live music from The Smith Duo (jazz and cabaret) from 5 to 8 p.m. at Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, 725 12th St. in Paso Robles. There is no cover charge to attend. Call 805-237-1425 for more information.

BlendFest — Blending Seminar Wine workshop • $40 per ticket

Art of Wine Dinner Wine pairing • $100 per ticket •

The third annual BlendFest on the Coast invites visitors to San Simeon and Cambria to enjoy more than 30 of Paso Robles' renowned wineries, each showcasing three distinct blends. As part of BlendFest, join winemakers for a fun-filled blending seminar and lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort, 9415 Hearst Drive in San Simeon. Choose from two different sessions: bordeaux-style blends led by the Paso Robles CAB Collective or rhone-style blends led by the Paso Robles Rhone Rangers. Seating is limited to 35 guests.

Blending Seminar Wine workshop • $75 per ticket, $65 club members • Step into the shoes of Le Vigne's winemaker, Michael Barreto, as he teaches how to create the perfect red wine blend at 11 a.m. at the winery, 5115 Buena Vista Drive in Paso Robles. With a bit of winemaker expertise, some thoughtful calculations and a dash of finesse, attendees will make their own unique, personal blend to take home. Cost includes entry, lunch and a 750mL bottle of your red wine blend with a personalized label. Call 805-2274000 to reserve a spot.

Wine Seminar — Old World vs. New World Wine workshop • $25 per ticket, $20 club members •

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Join Harmony Cellars, Cayucos Cellars, Chateau Margene, Cuatro Dias and MCV Wines for an extravagant, five-course dinner at 6:30 p.m. at Indigo Moon Restaurant, 1980 Main St. in Cambria. This event is in conjunction with the Cambria Art and Wine Festival. Reservations required.

FEBRUARY 4-5 Natalie Gelman Live music • Free Singer-songwriter Natalie Gelman performs at Dark Star Cellars, 2985 Anderson Road in Paso Robles, from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 12 to 3 p.m. Sunday. No cover charge. Bring your own picnic, or enjoy Dark Star snacks with your wine tasting.

FEBRUARY 5 Wine Seminar — Food & Wine Component Tasting Wine workshop • $60 per ticket, $48 club members • Experience an elevated, multi-tiered food and wine tasting at Cass Winery from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sample an array of wines and taste a selection of creative dishes Central Coast Edition VINO

CALENDAR OF EVENTS to learn the principle of food and wine components and basic pairings. Tickets are available online. Cass Winery is at 7350 Linne Road in Paso Robles.

FEBRUARY 11 Chocolate Festival Fundraiser • $40 per ticket, $35 club members • Help benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County while discovering the magic behind the soothing power of the cocoa bean. The Chocolate Festival, from 5 to 8 p.m., features local wineries, restaurants and chocolate vendors who will share chocolate-themed offerings, including wine and port tasting, confections, baked goods and more at Vina Robles Winery, 3700 Mill Road in Paso Robles. The evening will be complemented with live music by Melody Klemin.

Cass Winery Valentine's Dinner Wine pairing • $100 per ticket, $80 club members • Enjoy a romantic evening at Cass Winery from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Chef Jacob will prepare a four-course dinner featuring reserve cabernet accompanied by a solo saxophone performance. Tickets are available online. Cass Winery is at 7350 Linne Road in Paso Robles.

Valentine's Winemaker Dinner Wine pairing • $130 per ticket, $110 club members • Whether you're looking for a romantic evening or a night out with friends, stop by the Valentine's Winemaker Dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m. for a gorgeous dinner paired with enchanting Opolo wines and live music. Guests won't want to miss this fun-filled evening of great food, good company and dancing at Opolo Vineyards, 7110 Vineyard Drive in Paso Robles.

Eberle Winery Valentine's Dinner in the Caves Wine pairing • $150 per ticket, $120 club members

6 p.m. for the Truffle Dinner. Experience the world’s finest delicacies with a menu featuring famous aphrodisiacs, including white and black truffles, lobster and scallops, beef tenderloin and other tantalizing morsels, each dish artfully paired with Le Vigne fine wine. Winery owner and Italian Chef Walter Filippini will entertain guests with the spectacle of an open kitchen, each dish artfully plated before their eyes. Tickets are limited to 24 guests. Call 805-227-4000 to reserve a spot.

Romance in the Cellar Wine pairing • $125 per ticket, $100 club members • Share your love of wine and food this Valentine's Day at Halter Ranch Vineyard, 8910 Adelaida Road in Paso Robles, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Set in the midst of Halter Ranch's beautiful Barrel Room corridor, this event is sure to warm the hearts of all who attend. The event, featuring a menu prepared by Haute Catering, is limited to 50 guests. For reservations, email reservations@

FEBRUARY 19 Paso Robles Rhone Rangers Experience Wine workshop & tasting • $90 seminar/luncheon, $35 grand tasting Members of the Paso Robles Chapter of the Rhone Rangers invite everyone to join them for a day in Paso Robles wine country with some of America’s leading producers of Rhone varietals as they explore what makes Paso Robles so ideal for these grapes and wines. This fun-filled and information-rich day will include a "Rhone Essentials" seminar and luncheon, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a grand tasting and silent auction, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., at Broken Earth Winery, 5625 Highway 46 E. in Paso Robles. Seminar/lunch attendees receive free entry into the grand tasting.

Nathan McEuen Live music • Free Singer-songwriter Nathan McEuen performs at Dark Star Cellars, 2985 Anderson Road in Paso Robles, from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 12 to 3 p.m. Sunday. No cover charge. Bring your own picnic, or enjoy Dark Star snacks with your wine tasting.

MARCH 17 Eberle Winery Zin Fest Dinner in the Caves Wine pairing • $150 per ticket, $120 club members Eberle Winery welcomes back acclaimed Chef William Carter to its Zinfandel Festival dinner in the caves, from 6 to 9 p.m. Formerly of the Playboy Mansion, Chef Carter now owns and operates the Canyon Villa in Paso Robles, bringing his passion for fine dining to wine country on the Central Coast. Join Eberle as it celebrates three decades of friendship while spotlighting Paso Robles Zinfandel. Eberle Winery is at 3810 Highway 46 E. in Paso Robles.

MARCH 17-19 Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Wine tasting • $40 per event, $70 combo • During Vintage Paso, producers and enthusiasts come together in celebration of everything that Zinfandel and Zinfandel blends add to your palate and experience. Enjoy a zin-filled weekend with such activities as a Zinposium seminar from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and the Z After Party from 8 to 10 p.m. — both on Friday at the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom, 1103 Spring St. — in addition to winemaker dinners, exclusive Zinfandel tastings, winery and vineyard tours and much more.


With ancestors tracing back to the Revolutionary War and the Suffragist movement, Chef Dakota Weiss embodies a love of this country and a passion for food. Chef Weiss has traveled around the country working for some of the best names in the business, now she owns two of her own restaurants in Los Angeles, Calif. Come with your sweetheart and prepare to fall in love with Chef Dakota Weiss at the Valentine's Dinner in the Caves, from 6 to 9 p.m. Eberle Winery is at 3810 Highway 46 E. in Paso Robles.

Jugfest 2017 Fundraiser • $35 per ticket, $25 club members, $10 breast cancer survivors Enjoy an afternoon filled with jug wine, wood-fired pizza, live music and good times at Pianetta Vineyards and Winery's Jugfest 2017. Beginning at noon, one dollar from every jug sold at the event will be donated to a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free mammograms for women in San Luis Obispo County. Also, all entries and donations for Bra Pong will be submitted to a local breast cancer treatment and prevention organization. Pianetta Winery is at 829 13th St. in Paso Robles.

Truffle Dinner Wine pairing • $185 per ticket, $160 club members • Take your special someone on a culinary getaway at Le Vigne Winery, 5115 Buena Vista Drive in Paso Robles, at

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My high-flying journey through Santa Margarita Ranch


hey call it the “biggest thrill in wine country,” and I’ve never been one to turn down a thrill ride. My life has been filled with adventures — from motorcycling and cliff diving, to snowboarding the massive parks and cliffs of Mammoth and June mountains, and skydiving — and it was time to see how the Margarita Adventures zip lines matched up to some of the other adventures out there. It was early on an overcast Sunday morning when photographer Luke Phillips and I showed up at the Margarita Adventures office in downtown Santa Margarita, where we were greeted and signed our life away on a digital waiver. Next, I weighed in and headed to the van where we met our tour guide Colin Dean and headed out to the first launch pad. I was excited to start zipping. First, I needed to have a


January/February 2017

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Photos by Luke Phillips

safety meeting and get geared up. On our way to the first stop, a cabin where loads of safety equipment — helmets, gloves and harnesses — were waiting for their next rider, Colin started explaining the long history of the Santa Margarita Ranch that predates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was interesting, but I was there to fly. We made it to the first deck where tandem zip lines still laced with morning dew ran 2,800 feet into the distance. On a hill, a halfmile away, I could see a structure inviting me to leap off the deck into 3D space. As Colin hooked my harness to the zip lines, the vibration shook the moisture off ripping down hundreds of feet of steel wire — a visual prelude to the flight path I would soon be leaving the earth for. Here we go. It was the first of the six zip lines, and it was the fastest, longest and highest — and it was over all too quickly. I got a running start and leapt off the deck of the Double Barrel. Below me, the hillside dropped hundreds of feet below as the zip picked up to a high pitch of spinning pulleys and I was flying. Oak trees passed beneath me on the rolling canvas below as I spun in circles around the strap I was hanging from a couple feet

below the trolley system. Instead of holding the handle connected to the trolley, I let my hands go free, which made it difficult to control my spin, but it gave me a greater sense of the loss of control I was going for. Hanging from a thread — which was a lanyard rated at a minimum 5,000pound test — I put my faith in the engineers and Colin that I was safe. It was scary to think about how quickly I would begin falling if anything went wrong, but I guess that is a part of the chemical reaction I was looking forward to the most. From oaks to vines to the foot of the hill, my ride was about a minute and then the ground began to rise again to meet my feet. I was met by Duncan Wyke, who helped me get unhitched from the cable, and we took a hike across a 300-foot suspension bridge. Colin told me that the most dangerous part of the tour was the walking, and the swinging bridge was just part of the fun. I got to the second zip line, a 1,200-foot ride called Renegade that spanned a wide valley. The views were amazing. The fog had lifted, exposing blue sky and endless horizons of hills and valleys. Duncan explained that almost everything I could see from there was part of the Santa Margarita Ranch, which surrounded the landlocked town of Santa Margarita. It made the town feel even smaller than ever. Zipping across the speedy Renegade, I landed in an oak forest, Continued on page 32

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and Duncan followed. We hiked up to the next line, where we overlooked a large reservoir. The 14,000 acres of the Ranch are fully self-sufficient, and although it shares a basin with the town, it gets enough water to keep things healthy. The wild zip lines are complemented by natural wildlife — from bears and deer to eagles and ground squirrels. The Ranch has a rustic, natural ecosystem that recalls centuries of history woven into modern amenities, such as zip line tours and thousands of acres of vineyards. The Ranch keeps the reservoir stocked with fish to attract and feed eagles that in turn also feed on the ground squirrel population. During our trip, I didn’t see any bears or eagles, but we saw evidence of bears in bent fencing around the pinot noir vines, where the bears were trying to get in for some delicious grapes. Zipping over the landscape offered an exciting perspective, but some rides were so fast that it was hard to take it in. The fourth run, the Woodlander, gives a quick 600 feet that ends suddenly. I thought I was going to slam into the hillside before the brake system kicked in and brought me to a comfortable stop. Duncan, who had been waiting at the other end, was laughing and said that run catches most people off guard. An 800-foot run called the Archway took me through a pair of arching trees where I took a beanbag shot at a bucket on the valley floor. I missed the first time, barely, but my tour guides drove me back up the hill to take another shot. This time, I took two beanbags. Flying through the “archway” again, I tried to keep my eye on the buckets as I spun down the line. Taking two shots — one bag at each bucket — I saw one beanbag strike home, but the second fell a couple feet out of range. Still, that was one of the adrenaline highlights of the day — landing that bag in the bucket. Normally, that would earn a free T-shirt at the Margarita Adventures gift shop, but since it took me two tries, I could not bring myself to cash in. The final ride sealed the deal for me — I’m a fan. The 1,800-foot flight across the Pinot Noir field at 125 feet in the air was a great way to end the tour. I was satisfied with the trip, but definitely would go again. The education of the history and importance of the Santa Margarita Ranch was fascinating — including the ancient oyster shells, the “Asistencia,” and the move toward sustainable energy all around the Ranch. The tour ended with a ride back to the Margarita Adventures office in downtown Santa Margarita, where we were offered a wine tasting at Ancient Peaks across the street — but we will have to save that experience for another issue of Vino. For more information on the Santa Margarita Ranch, go to or 32

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Vintage 1255

San Luis Obispo San Luis Wine Bar Meze


Cerro Caliente Cellars

Stephen Ross Winery

Filipponi Ranch

Refugio Ranch Vineyards

Clesi Wines

Tolosa Winery

Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards

True Myth Saucelito Baileyana Canyon Tangent Autry Biddle Ranch Trenza Cellars Vineyard Cadre Edna Valley Zocker Vineyards Wolff Vineyard Piedra Creek Chamisal Vineyards


Sextant Claiborne & Churchill

Kynsi Vineyards

Culton Wine Co. Alapay Cellars Sinor-Lavallee Avila Wine & Peloton Roasting

Avila Beach

Port San Luis

Talley Vineyards Bishops Peak 101

Shell Beach

Center of Effort Wine

Sans Liege Taste of the Valleys

Pismo Beach 101

Grover Beach Grover City

Phantom Rivers


Arroyo Grande



Laetitia Vineyard

Halcyon 101


South San Luis Obispo County Winery Map

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Callender 1

January/February 2017



LXV Wine Tasting Room

By Luke Phillips OF VINO MAGAZINE LXV Wine Tasting Room in downtown Paso Robles has been receiving a lot of attention lately after being featured as one of USA Today's Top 10 Tasting Rooms in the U.S. The space features beautiful artwork and sculptures inspired by the "Kama Sutra," walls painted a deep, calming blue and a gorgeous translucent bar where guests sit and chat with the friendly owners Neeta and Kunal. 34

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Above all, the tasting room at LXV is a warm, welcoming and relaxing space full of large daybeds and plush pillows. There's also an outdoor sitting area surrounded by greenery, the perfect place to enjoy LXV's unique wine/spice pairings. LXV Wine Tasting Room is located at 1306-B Pine St. in Paso Robles and is open Thursday through Monday from 12 to 7 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment. Learn more at

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Old-school vintners of the 46 West

Three family wineries offer more than 70 years of experience combined

Photo by Allyson Oken

Eric Ogorsolka owns and operates Zenaida Cellars with his wife Jill, who together have 18 years of winemaking experience.



estled in the Templeton gap, three fruitful, family-owned wineries have flourished — creating iconic brands that have stood the test of time; boasting over 70 years of experience combined. These infamous vintners include Zenaida Cellars, established in 1998; Grey Wolf Cellars, established in 1994 with the addition of Krobār Distillery; and Castoro Cellars, established in 1983 with over 30 years to their credit. All three wineries offer patrons an experience they will not soon forget at well-established locations and brands. Zenaida Cellars Inspired by the scientific name for morning dove, Zenaida macroura, owners Eric and Jill Ogorsolka provide insight into Eric's passion for biology in the name Zenaida Cellars and his winemaking methodology. After graduating from Cal Poly, Eric began making wines in 1990, working at Wild Horse and Kendall Jackson in 1996 and planted the Templeton Gap vineyard with his first vintage made in 1998. After 18 years of making wines with the intent to work with the land instead of against it, it seems Eric's low-impact philosophy in the vineyard and in the winery is a key factor in the winery's success. His mentality is farming and living sustainably will allow for the production of higher quality wines and help to maintain the condition of the land. "Out in the vineyard the idea is to allow nature to take its course 36

January/February 2017

while keeping as many prioritized controlled variables in check," he explained. "We are in the midst of harvest now and hand pick and transport the fruit short distances to maintain the quality of the grape. It goes through processing with quality-control measures in place to insure that the fruit is not mangled in the process. They are de-steamed, rinsed, sent down a conveyer into a solid harvest bin to be crushed and open fermented before they go into the barrel-aging process, using new American and French oak." Eric believes that open fermentation is a great way to maintain yeast levels and allows for control as it is checked daily for cap development and degradation, which implies the wine is ready to be processed into barrels. Over the year Zenaida has made a name for itself with two signature Paso Robles blends that wow, Zephyr and Fire Sign. The Zephyr was made as a blend inspired by winemakers in the France Rhone region and is made in the Côte-Rôtie style, blending Syrah, Zinfandel and Viognier, a white grape, to provide balance in acidity and sugar. This is a signature blend for Zenaida that sells out often. Its counter point and another of the signature blends Eric creates, Fire Sign blends three bold red varieties together that are appellations in Paso Robles, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel. Both blends are the culmination of years of experimentation and exhibit Eric's talent for what some would call unconventional blending and other ingenious. To learn more about Zenaida Cellars, visit

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Photo by Allyson Oken

Robin Wolf, mix master and owner of SLO Bitter Co., joined Krobar Distillery to make cocktails at their new still house on the property of Gray Wolf Cellars behind The Barton House.

Grey Wolf Cellars/ Krobar Distillery For 22 years, Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines have been a fixture in the Paso Robles AVA, with the driving force of founder Joseph Barton Sr. ever present in the mind of son and owner, Joe Barton Jr., who took up his dad's passion for winemaking at age 23 after his father passed away in 1998. When happening upon this winery, one may be struck by the cozy family atmosphere Barton and his wife Jenny have created and the new additions to the experience. With his father’s vision in his sights, the entire facility has been modernized with an updated label design, recent remodel of the tasting room known as the Barton House, a brand new patio, dinning area to complement Jeffry's Catering at Barton's Kitchen Window and the addition of Krobār Distillery. Barton's newest project with partner and winemaker Steve Kroener is Krobār, where craft spirits are distilled in the heart of wine country using anything but Saignée. "We are focused on gin and barrel-aged whiskies at Krobār and spent years learning about the process of distilling before we purchased our still," Barton said. "We are able to sell our spirits in VINO Central Coast Edition

house and are working with mostly small casks now as a control. It has been a lot of fun working with Steve on this project and it is really taking off." Every bottle of wine and craft spirits made by the Barton family are thoughtful, well-rounded representation of Joseph Barton Sr.'s legacy, and every bit of the property has been built and maintained with his vision in mind. To learn more about Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines as well as Krobār Distillery, visit Castoro Cellars Niels and Bimmer Udsen, owners of Castoro Cellars in Templeton, are fixtures of the winemaking community in the region with 33 years to their credit. After working with pioneering winery Estrella River, Niels and Bimmer started Castoro in Paso Robles in 1983. "We have been very fortunate to have found this land and to have made our home here," Niels said. "Over the years we have seen the landscape of this business change dramatically as Paso Robles developed into this prodigious winemaking region going from five wineries to over 200."

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Save the Date February 19, 2017 at the #notyouraverageexpo 38

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Castoro Cellars owners Niels and Bimmer Udsen have spent 30 years creating a family legacy in the business. Pictured, Niels with son Max (right), who work alongside older brother Luke to innovate and maintain this long-standing brand.

Niels has been influential in the development of the Paso Robles wine region and helped to found the Paso Robles AVA the same year he and Bimmer opened Castoro. Thirty-five harvests later, the family is still in the area, with sons Luke and Max working right alongside them. Niels said the wines are a product of outstanding winemaker, Tom Meyers, who has been involved since the first vintage and continues to craft award-winning wines. "Over the years we have grown and have a large variety of fruit growing on our property," Niels said. "We grow sustainably and are certified organic producers growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Merlot. We also grow some more unusual varieties that are suited to the region with Albarino, Falanghina, Carignan and Petite Sirah. We are also looking at becoming certified biodynamic and have some test sites on the property started to see what the impacts will be." Castoro Cellars are true leaders in sustainability, with over five solar installations that power all of the winery, vineyards that are Sustainability in Practice certified and 350 acres of their vineyards are certified organic. The winery has also become one of the leading music venues in the community with the next generation, Luke and Max, taking on bookings, marketing and the creation of Beaverstock, an arts and music festival. Beaverstock began as a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the winery and grew into an annual event that boasts some of the most outstanding musical entertainment in San Luis Obispo County. With the addition of Whale Rock Disc Golf Course, Castoro Cellars is making a move to become a destination location for all ages. To learn more about the winery, visit VINO Central Coast Edition

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IN THE NEWS: Castoro Cellars donates $18K to Templeton High School band Udsen Family gives Beaverstock 2016 proceeds to TIMBA STAFF REPORT TEMPLETON — Reveling from the success of their fourth annual Beaverstock music and arts fest, the Udsen family of Castoro Cellars donated $18,000 in proceeds to the Templeton Instrumental Music Boosters Association (TIMBA). This past Saturday, two generations of the Udsen family presented the check to band director David Landers. TIMBA, a non-profit parent volunteer organization, supports Templeton High School musicians by enhancing their learning experiences and providing additional resources and opportunities that might not otherwise exist. The Udsens — longtime lovers of music and arts — have given a portion of Beaverstock's proceeds to a local charity every year, now reaching a cumulative total of more than $50,000. Contributed Photo Beaverstock has grown considerably over its four years, with From left: Max Udsen, Bimmer Udsen, Niels Udsen, Templeton 4,000 attendees at the 2016 show that featured 16 bands on two Concert Band Director David Landers, Luke Udsen, Lauren Udsen stages. Beaverstock 2017 is set for Sept. 16-17, 2017. Castoro and Izzy. Cellars is at 1315 North Bethel Road, Templeton.

JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery awards $100K to local nonprofits 20 North County community organizations receive $5,000 each SUBMITTED ARTICLE PASO ROBLES — JUSTIN Community Grants, a program of • CASA San Luis Obispo County — Funding a Court Appointed JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, has announced $100,000 in awards Special Advocate (CASA) supervisor in North County, who will be to 20 organizations serving the north San Luis Obispo County area. responsible for training CASA volunteers to represent more than 60 JUSTIN has donated over $500,000 to local organizations abused or neglected youth in court. since 2013 through its community and employee-directed grants • El Camino Homeless Organization — Funding 10 additional programs. Grants focus on projects and services that directly benefit beds to expand the Atascadero shelter’s capacity as well as dressers local organizations. for clients to store personal belongings so that they can feel safe The 20 recipients reflect the diverse character and interests that and at home. make North County a unique area in which to live, work and raise • Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County — Funding families. They all demonstrated a commitment to strengthening the purchase of fresh produce to be distributed to families in need the region, through youth programs, social services and civic and at the Farmer's Markets in Shandon and San Miguel. community investments. • Jack's Helping Hand — Funding vouchers for transportation, “We have a long-standing commitment to investing in the food and housing for families who must travel out of the area for communities where our employees live and work,” said David children's medical appointments. Ricanati, president of JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery. “Our grants • NCI Affiliates Inc. — Funding five new computers for an program and awards to these particular organizations reflects our education program that helps adults with developmental disabilities continuing determination to remain fully engaged in every aspect build social skills and prepare for employment. of North County’s philanthropic, social and civic life.”  • One Cool Earth  — Funding a coordinator to recruit and The 20 organizations receiving a $5,000 grant are: manage volunteers to support educational garden programming at • Adelaida Historical Foundation — Helping make the Adelaida six elementary schools in Atascadero. School House handicap accessible. • Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services — Funding • Boys and Girls Club of North SLO County — Funding Summer for two display monitors that will be installed in the Emergency Brain Gain for 100 kids, a program that provides two hours of highOperations Center to disseminate emergency information to first yield learning activities per day to reduce summer learning loss. responders. 40

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• Paso Robles Library Foundation — Funding to purchase books and other materials to expand the library's Spanish language collection and increase library use by the Spanish-speakers. • Paso Robles Main Street — Funding to replace three worn out wooden benches with metal ones in the downtown business area. • Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation — Supporting free art, drama, music and dance classes for 160 under-privileged students. • Rise San Luis Obispo County — Funding a security gate at the Atascadero Shelter, which houses victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. • Studios On The Park — Supporting free field trips for 150 K-5 students to visit the art studio and take an art lesson with teaching artists. • The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County — Supporting outdoor science and education, and youth environmental leadership development at Santa Margarita Elementary.

• The Wellness Kitchen and Resource Center — Funding a new stove, prep table, and online ordering system to increase the number of meals for individuals and families facing critical illness, disease, and recovery. • Transitional Food and Shelter — Supporting around-the-clock shelter, food, and supportive services for homeless individuals who are too ill or injured to be adequately served in traditional shelters. • Transitions Mental Health Association — Supporting mental health services, such as counseling, anger management, and crisis prevention at a new location in Paso Robles. • United Cerebral Palsy of San Luis Obispo County — Funding swings for a new universally-accessible playground in Atascadero that will be safe for children with special needs. • Vineyard Team — Supporting research and technical assistance on best practices in water conservation and irrigation. In The News continued on page 42

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Crews clear and replant native vegetation to help recharge the aquifer, replenish area wells and stem water flow at a key headwater section of the flood-prone Adelaida Creek.

Parrish Family Vineyard begins restoring Adelaida Creek Family-run winery donates land to San Luis Obispo County to help recharge aquifer SUBMITTED ARTICLE to help our neighbors by clearing it out and restoring it so it flows PASO ROBLES — While surveying his recently purchased correctly.” vineyard in the Adelaida AVA, winemaker David Parrish noticed While there are many headwaters, the Parrish Family Vineyard a faint, curving linear pattern at the bottom of a slope. So, Parrish headwater is located at a key junction for rain run-off. called a local biologist to come out and take a look. “This is a significant headwater section,” says Devin Best, The biologist, armed with topography maps, confirmed Parrish’s executive director of US-LT RCD, which has been instrumental in initial hunch. The pattern at the bottom of his vineyard was, in facilitating the restoration project with the Parrishes and the county. fact, part of the Adelaida Creek, yet so unrecognizable that past “And, .64 acres doesn’t sound very big, but where it’s located, surveyors and owners failed to record it. by clearing it and adding native vegetation, it’s going to have a What’s more, the section is a key headwater for the creek significant positive impact to slow and capture a lot of rainfall that that has been the cause of flooding in Paso Robles. The section would otherwise just flow downstream.” was overgrown with non-native weeds and practically bone dry, conditions that don’t slow or soak up rain water, and allow it to roll, Best says one of the key factors to the restoration is planting or sheet, directly into downtown Paso Robles, flooding the Paso shade-providing native vegetation that has long been cleared by Robles fairgrounds after every decent rain. past generations of farmers. Canopies, Best explains, keep the soil In an unprecedented move, Parrish Family Vineyard has officially cooler, preventing drying, which makes the ground more permeable. donated .64 acres of its prime vineyard that includes the creek and In addition to recharging the aquifer and boosting flood the surrounding area to San Luis Obispo County, and has been prevention, restoring the headwater will also help improve a host of working with the Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation other issues, says Kate Ballantyne, environmental division manager for San Luis Obispo County’s Public Works Department. District and the county’s Department of Environmental Programs to “The project will provide much needed water quality clear the section and plant native water-soaking vegetation. improvements to Adelaida Creek, by reducing erosion,” says The planting began earlier this month and will take roughly three Ballantyne. “It will also restore the function and value of the weeks to complete. aquatic habitat to the benefit of local wildlife.” The project will significantly recharge the aquifer and replenish Parrish Family Vineyard donated the stretch of land and helped area wells with naturally-captured rainfall that otherwise would end clear the section. Funding for the new plants was provided by the up overrunning the sewer drains of Paso Robles. Nacimiento Water Project partners, through the San Luis Obispo “When it was confirmed it was the Adelaida creek, we were just Flood Control and Water Conservation District, in partial fulfillment ecstatic,” says Parrish. “We’ve lived in Paso Robles for generations of the District’s obligations to mitigate for the Nacimiento Water and know we all need to do what we can to recharge the diminishing Project’s impacts to wetlands during project construction. aquifer. So we thought, just maybe we can actually do something


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Wine Country



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Here on the Central Coast, especially the Paso Robles wine region and surrounding areas, we have an abundance of scenic venues for all types of events, and to some the most important event of all, a wedding. This will be the first in a series covering event venues in the North County wine country, featuring wineries with beautiful and functional spaces to host your wedding — be it an intimate gathering of under 20 guests or a grand gala of more than 250. This first winery we have chosen for this series is the castle in Paso — Tooth and Nail Winery on Highway 46 West.

Tooth and Nail:

Breathtaking, striking and unconventional By Elizabeth Enriquez-Phillips OF VINO MAGAZINE


nce known as Eagle Castle, the venue was rebranded and re-opened Nov. 22, 2014, with a modern castle feel that includes sophisticated rooms that are luxuriously furnished. Art is featured heavily, from the 16th century woodcarvings on its wine labels and the riveting wall art by Edward Walton Wilcox. “Our brand, the Tooth and Nail brand, is we stand for unconventional vantage point, the unconventional is really what we go for, what we love and we embrace,” said Kim Waker, event manager at Tooth and Nail when talking about the breathtaking art currently on display. The venue truly feels like a castle, complete with a moat and several terraces. The upper terrace is where most couples choose to have their ceremony as it overlooks the beautiful vineyard and rolling hills beyond. “Our property is beautiful. It's a bit of a blank canvas as well, so you can really do so Continued on page 48

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Photos2017 by Luke Phillips 45 January/February



San Miguel San Miguel District

Paso Robles Estrella District


Adelaida District

Paso Robles Geneseo District

Paso Robles

Paso Robles Willow Creek District


El Pomar District

Templeton Gap Templeton District




Creston 229





Cayucos Santa Margarita


Santa Margarita Ranch

Morro Bay 1







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Cre Dis



Shandon San Juan Creek

Produces more than 40 wine grape varietals


eston strict

Named Wine Region of the Year in 2013.

Paso Robles Highland District







Paso Robles AVA Sub Appellations - Map A


Home of over 200 Wineries

Consists of 32,000 vineyard acres

Tooth and Nail Winery offers dramatic photo opportunities within its castle as a backdrop and interior with its spiral staircase.

Contributed Photo

much with it," Walker said. "It's very, very diverse based on what you want to do. If you don’t want to do a lot of decor, you don’t really need it. First of all, where we live is so beautiful. Right now from our terrace, it's like you are looking at green velvet. Many of our couples will get very simple altars or something they don’t really feel like they need a lot more because that's the backdrop they have. So we are really proud of that.” Then there's the Amor Fati terraces outside the Amor Fati room. Amor Fati translates to "Love of Fate," and the room is usually held for receptions. “The main room, the Amor Fati, it's really cool because you have the indoor feature, but once you open those french doors, it really makes the indoor and outdoor space feel like one space,” Walker said. Between the Amor Fati Room and the front terrace, you can easily fit 300 people depending on  where you would like to place the dance floor. The venue's grand staircase and front entrance provide a perfect background for engagement photos beforehand or portraits the day of the wedding. 48

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Tooth and Nail also has bride and groom suites, where the couple can get ready on their big day. The bridal room is by far larger than the groom's quarters and can accommodate the entire bridal party with space left over for a hair/makeup chair. The antler display on the wall makes for a great photo opportunity as a place to hang up the dresses. There is plenty of room to have some light snacks and drinks and the suite also includes a separate restroom. The groom's suite is off one of the main two terraces on the second floor and includes its own outdoor patio table for the gents to relax. The room is rustically decorated with antlers and a cow skin rug and has a cozy feel. Tooth and Nail also has a fantastic event team of more than 15 people that help with every aspect from setup, day-of and breakdown. On-site event coordinator Nicki Fabian is attentive to the bride and groom, but also the family and the vendors. Walker said that her whole team is very well trained and that they make things happen and make it easy and fun. “Our goal is always to exceed our clients' expectations,” she said, adding that they have worked really hard to master the flow of the

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Photo by Luke Phillips

e exterior with its crenelations, outdoors with its stunning vineyard

Contributed Photo

event and making that work for their guests. “We just try to make things really easy, we almost become a one-stop shop so to speak." Tooth and Nail's sister company, Foremost Wine Company, is available to cater the event. Outside caterers are also able to rent the facility's full-service kitchen and bar. “When you are working with your sister company, that’s your sister team, so you are really able to put out this pretty mindblowing product," Walker said. "We have such talent here with our vendors. We love to have new people for the first time and then we love to refer them out and have them come back so they get how we operate." Tooth and Nail features their own wines for couples to select at their event. They own a thousand acres of their own vineyards and selected the top 5 percent of their grapes to develop their wines. They have five different labels with more than 30 different wines for couples to choose from. As guests arrive, they have a chance to sample a welcome wine that the couple has selected. Depending on the couple and the season, the following are the most popular at the moment: For summer, chilled wines like Pinot gris, Rose, albarino and VINO Central Coast Edition

viognier. Reds that are popular, especially this past autumn, have been Tooth and Nail label’s The Possessor, an award-winning cab blend, The Fiend, which is a malbec blend, and The Stand, a petite sirah, syrah blend. The Rabble Wine Company label has also been great for weddings because of its affordability and the caliber of wine. To learn more about Tooth and Nail, visit their Facebook page and Instagram account or email Kim at Kim and her team can create a personalized proposal based on your needs and vision. They offer a complementary tour and tasting by appointment. As Walker said, “We love to show off our property because we are super proud of it.” If you would like to learn more about other winery venues and wedding professionals that serve the North County, come and visit the North County Wedding Expo on Feb. 19 at the Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero. This top-notch expo takes place in the evening and has a fun atmosphere for the modern bride with free champagne and giveaways. Visit for more information.

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