Summer in the Central Coast
Mike and I had the pleasure of visiting the Central Coast of California a couple of times this summer. We were not quite ready to wander off too far but fortunately the Central Coast is one of our favorite winegrowing regions and so close to home. The wine, people and pace really suit our souls. We visited several wineries that felt like old friends and made new friends with a few.
Tolosa “No Oak” Chardonnay, Central Coast 2019
In a past life I worked with the owner and winemaker of Tolosa at a Napa Valley winery yet had never made my way to Edna Valley to visit (that is until this summer). The winery is nestled the volcanic hills of San Luis Obispo where the soil and coastal influence promote wines of balance. Edna Valley is one of the coolest growing regions in California, so Chardonnay loves to grow there. Owner Robin Baggett was drawn to this area 40 years ago as a cattle rancher and soon realized its potential as a world class growing region.
This unoaked Chardonnay embraces the flavors of summer with bright acidity and beautiful minerality. The nose boasts notes of pear and golden apple with a touch of Meyer lemon. The palate is pleasing with bursts of apricot and peach. This is the perfect wine to sip poolside or enjoy on a picnic.
Pair with your bestie poolside, fresh cheese and farmers market peaches.
Founder – Robin Baggett Winemaker – Jean Hoefliger
Retail - $20
Famers Market Peaches & Ricotta
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese 2 pinches kosher salt
5 fresh peaches 1 pinch Maldon salt
¼ cup hazelnuts chopped 2 teaspoons olive oil
honey for drizzle olive oil for drizzle
8 mint leaves chopped or torn
In medium bowl mix ricotta, kosher salt, and olive oil. Cut peaches into wedges (does not need to be exact). Spread ricotta on serving platter / plate. Top with peaches. Drizzle peaches with honey and olive oil. Top with mint, hazenuts and Maldon salt.
Laetitia Pinot Noir “Limite”, Santa Barbara 2017
As most of you know, I love to find a Pinot Noir that drinks like a pinot for a great value. There is so much concentrated stuff out there that is reasonably priced but tastes more like a Syrah than the delicate, fussy, earthy Pinot Noir grape. Well here we are again.
I was introduced to Laetitia 20 years ago when I was a fine wine sales rep right here in OC. I sold quite a bit of it and won a stay at the winery. The following year Mike and I got married and celebrated our honeymoon all over the Central Coast of California. I surprised Mike with a 2-night stay at Laetitia (that I won). What a lovely estate with a gourmet kitchen and views for days. We drank a lot of pinot! Fast forward to this summer, our dear friends invited us to stay at Laetitia. We drank a lot of pinot!
Laetitia Winery was founded in 1982 by an established Champagne house. They knew the Arroyo Grande growing region was well suited for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the grapes used for making sparkling wine in the traditional Champagne method (Mike and I poured Laetitia Sparkling at our wedding, so we are partial). They still make excellent sparkling but seem to be better known for their Pinot Noir these days. They farm and produce wine in a sustainable manner and were the first to be SIP Certified (sustainability in practice) in the Central Coast.
Pair with good friends over a big bowl of mushroom risotto (we did).
Founder – Maison Deutz Winemaker – Eric Hickey
Retail - $27
Zaca Mesa Z Cuvee, Santa Ynez 2016
Mike and I have been visiting the Santa Ynez Valley every year since 1998. Zaca Mesa was one of the first wineries we visited back in the day. Earlier this month we took a road trip with the pups and found ourselves hanging out on the serene vineyards of Zaca Mesa once again. It was like visiting an old friend. While looking out at the beautiful vines and sipping on this lovely blend, I knew I wanted to celebrate the wines of the Central Coast for wine club this time around.
Zaca Mesa was established in 1973 and is one of the OG’s of the valley. So many incredible winemakers cut their teeth here such as Ken Brown and Daniel Gehrs. They were also the first to plant Syrah in this region. Zaca Mesa Winery continues to be family owned and estate grown with a big focus in sustainability. This delightful blend is made up of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsualt and Syrah.
You may have heard this from me before but if you are invited to a BBQ and you are not sure what is being served, bring a Rhone blend. This is the one!
Pair with anything grilled and BBQ anything.
Founder – John Cushman Winemaker – Kristen Bryden
Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles 2019
Truth be told, we have never been to Austin Hope. I just had to include a big, concentrated, jammy Cab from the Central Coast this summer. At some point I know you will be grilling a big fat juicy steak with friends and this lush friendly Cabernet will please all palates.
The Hope Family came to Paso over 30 years ago to plant apples and grapes. The orchards are long gone, and the cultivation of vineyards is the family’s priority. Mature vines cover the family estate and three generations are at the helm of wine production.
Founder – Austin Hope Winemaker – Austin Hope