Monday, November 24, 2014

Moving OUT of my Comfort Zone

The Santa Ynez Valley and Los Olivos Experience

It's been way too long since my last post.  And no, I haven't given up Wine or Paso!  I attended the Paso Garigiste Grand Tasting a few weeks ago.....which was in a word:  AMAZING! FUN! EXCITING! EXHILLERATING! (OK...4 words). Please follow the link below for my recap in the Paso Robles Daily News.   So many of my good wine friends pouring, so many new wineries met....and as they say, so much (fine) wine, so little time!
         
                                                     (Click n sip)!

 (and please see below for a link to some of my past SLO Visitor's Guide articles).

Meanwhile, a lazy Sunday afternoon yesterday, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. My wife, having a birthday luncheon with her sister and mother left me alone. So what to do?  Call up Dana and Matt and say:  ROAD TRIP?!?!  Something NEW!  Something OUT of our ordinary Paso trip and out of our comfort zone.

So...into the car we went, up to the Santa Ynez Valley...and Los Olivos for some....what else...wine tasting!   A pleasant and easy 1-3/4 hour drive.  And there we were!   It's been awhile since I've been to Los Olivos.  The little town now thrives with about 50 tasting rooms!  Amazing the variety that is there.  A little tasting, a little lunch, a little more tasting....and an easy  drive home....in time for dinner.

Whereas we tasted at 6 different tasting rooms.....two stood out as exceptional!
STOLPMAN Vineyards, with a wonderful lineup, but their (IMO) standout was their 2011 L'avion 100% Sanya Ynez Valley Roussanne.  This is just an amazing wine.   Smooth, supple, a wonderful mouth feel, honey, and just overall YUMMY!  Can't wait to open it with some very special people.....soon.  I had tasted STOLPMAN about 6 months ago at the Lompoc Ghetto.....and glad to get reacquainted!





And then....we met Emily, at the LARNER VINEYARDS Tasting room. Well....our first sip and there were instant smiles on Dana, Matt's and my face. This was an OMG moment!   And we had just started....sipping their 2012 Ballard Canyon Rose!  Smooth, elegant, zippy, fun.  We all thought the same thing:  TURKEY DAY coming up!  And this will go SO well with the Thanksgiving Turkey.   We were then treated to the Larner Syrahs.  OK.....truth be told, we are all Syrah addicts.  And Larner's Syrahs:  OH YEAH!   One of the very nice things about the wines being poured in the TR is that they are 2010's (and a 2009)!  These baby's have been given time in a bottle....and it shows.

Being walked through a tasting by Emily, their TR manager,  just adds to the experience.  Full of personality, passion and enthusiasm and knowledge about everything Larner, you know the moment she greets you in the small, intimate tasting room, that you are in for a special treat!  And it was!  Thank you Emily!

Such a great day, making new wine friends and stepping a little out of our normal comfort zone.  We will definitely start finding time to spend up in the Santa Ynez Valley, sampling the plethora of wines from soooo many excellent, small production wineries.  It's kind of nice that all you have to do is park your car and start walking.  SO many wines, so little time, but more time to look forward to in "the Valley."

As always, please feel free to become a follower, forward my blog, post it on your website, on Facebook, comment or email me!

Until the NEXT wine time!
Cheers,
don

Please click below to view some of my past articles in the SLO Visitor's Guide.




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CAVE KAYAKING..Life outside of Wine!

I just discovered...there IS life outside of wine!  Come on along on our Cave Kayaking tour.....July 14th, Santa Cruz Island:  Left from Ventura harbor about 9:00am.....arrived the island about 10:00am.....set up and orientation...then hit the water about 11:00am....Pretty stiff breeze made some of the paddling challenging but fun!  4 hours on the water.....back on land exhausted about 3:00pm....lunch and then the 4:00pm ferry back to Ventura.  AMAZING water clarity....some of the caves really deep....dark...and then you get that surge and wave to push you through a smallll opening....enjoy the pics....ANYONE WANT TO SIGN UP FOR NEXT YEAR?
Amy....our AMAZING guide!  Geologist, Naturalist
she tuned into us and really gave us a great long afternoon

 Hey..someone actually got the picture taker in!
 Getting ready to go on thru
 That's better..a little deeper and darker
 The clarity is amazing...seafloor covered with urchins
 Inside looking out
 Just hanging out
 OK....NOW we are in a CAVE
 Bats anyone?  Nope..just Cormorants
 Blue water
 Think Heather had fun?
 And Steve and Dina
 On the beach

Leon and Jay
 NOT for claustrophobics....


Ventura Harbor Welcome Back Committee

Monday, May 26, 2014

TEN THOU$AND THANK YOU$!

How do you thank, so many wonderful friends, family members and acquaintances,
so many wonderful caring people
for their support
of a most important cause:
The EIF Revlon Run/Walk Against Women's Cancer



Team Double D's is thankful and humbled by YOUR support
and donations
We Want To Thank you
TEN THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE TIMES

Our FUNdraising efforts got off to a great start
with a GREAT Wine event
Supported by these most amazing, dedicated, generous winemakers:

Alta Colina.....The Tillman Family
Caliza....The Bowker Family
Clos Solene....Guallaume and Solene Fabre
Daou Vineyards....Daniel Daou and team
Epoch.....Jordan Fiorentini and the entire Epoce team
Mitchella....Angela Mitchell
Nicora.....Nick Elliott
Onx....Jeff Streakas
Paix Sur Terre....Ryan Pease
Per Cazo....Lynne Teckman
Saxum....Justin and Heather Smith
Shai.....Shawn Halahamy
Torrin....Scott and Viquel Hawley
Vines on the Marycrest.....Victor and Jenni Abascal

Over $2000 was raised in a single afternoon with a silent auctions of these incredible wines...but THEN.....
the energy kicked in....and so did the donations...
from friends, friends of friends, relatives...until we reached the incredible total of
$10,125!
Thank you All!
Team Double D's

May 10th, 2014...the Revlon Walk Against Women's Cancer!







OLE! The Wines of Spain!

OH.....what a twist!  (And first, my apologies for posting this over a few weeks after the event...new computer, new software, and not knowing how to download the pictures)!

Another wonderful (AKA Winederful) night of fun, friends, great wines and great food.....our wine group met at the home of Paul and Ellen!  And tonight's chosen wine category was:  SPANISH!  A twist from what is normally a California region or varietal!

As we arrive, ready to dance the Flaminco, test ourselves against Spanish Bulls, and search for The Impossible Dream.....we are greeted with a glass of wonderful bubbly to start the evening.  OK...it was Italian Bubbly...but...that's close to
Spain.....right?

 Bubbly
Gets us in the mood

By now you loyal readers know the drill.....we meet and greet....wine and dine on appetizers.....set the mood.....and then..get serious....

 Yummies
And more yummies

The brown bags...numbered....poured one by one...sampled, tested and tasted and rated....



While....we eat and enjoy....and laugh and drink....so let's cut to the chase.....since pictures ARE worth 1000 words.....


The Group....minus photographer as usual

Of course we KNOW....as Paul is famous for pulling something old and rare from his cellar....that there will be, well, something old and rare that we will taste! (Keep this in mind later on).

And Mike has already declared:   He has researched what he brought two years ago at another Spanish night...which won!  And..since he has more....and it's aged a few years.....he's expecting to take top honors.

Jacquelin, Dana and Matt and Lynn and I are kind of...well...hoping to find something exotic, memorable and exquisite, since we know so little of Spanish wines!  So....let the eating and the tasting begin!  As Ellen has laid out a scrumptous Spanish meal for us all......everything you can imagine...No Bull!


After we have sipped and been sated, it's time to rate and review......and the wines tonight were:  (And please forgive the brief descriptions, as I really have no clue how to read these Spanish Labels)!

2004:  Vina Ardanza.....
2004:   Culmen Rioja....
2006:   Pago de Sangara
1998:  Rioja Vina Tondonia Blanco...wait!  A 1998>? and a WHITE?  Something OLD?  Something (very ) different?  Oh....we all know where THIS must have come from!.......and
2011:  Brao....young and bold....definitely not old.
The reds....all so different...and definitely testing our (California trained) pallet and taste.  The white....unfortunately, served last following all the reds...at a disadvantage to "win"...but definitely something different to wine!

YEP!  Paul's #1!!!

Finally.....all the wines scored up.....it's time to unwrap!   From "last" to "First"...and the winner..is revealed! And...its:
the 2011 BRAO!  And...WHAT a surprise THIS is...because....THIS is the wine...brought by Paul!  Something young, vibrant, different...but NOT from his cellar!  Paul now reigns supreme....and saves having to put his donation into the wine kitty!  WHAT a surprise to all......!  Cheers!


OLE!  Ellen, the Hostess

The evening complete, it will soon be time for the next wine night....sometime after vacations, etc.  It may be awhile...but we will all look forward to seeing who brings what...and..will Paul surprise again? Will he pick something old and rare, or something new and delightful?  One thing for sure.....everyone wines and wins at wine night!

                                                     OLE!





Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Paso Winemakers Helping to Find a Cure for Women's Cancer--One Bottle at a Time

A Pictorial Tour...(with a little commentary):
Helping to Fight Women's Cancer
One Bottle at a Time

On April 6th, a FUNdraising event was held to raise money for the Revlon Walk Against Women's Cancer.  It would not have been the success it was were it not for a group of caring, incredible winemakers.....This blog post is a THANK YOU for your help.

You are not only the best of the Paso winemakers...but you are simply the best people, you are people who care!  I am honored to count you as friends and to drink and share your wines, and so grateful that you joined my fundraising effort and helped make this event a smashing success!

Bring a Bottle To Share and FUNdraiser Afternoon

On April 6th, at our home, 40+ fun loving, wine loving, food loving people gathered together to help this important cause. The guests brought a total of 23 bottles of fine wine (plus two of Champagne) to share, while bidding on 22 auction lots of boutique, incredible wines provided by 14 elite winemakers...all proceeds to be donated.

Among the bottles people brought to share, sip and enjoy with each other during the afternoon and into the evening included (but were not limited to):  Plumpjack Chardonnay, Seghesio Zinfandel, Saxum Booker Syrah, Clos Solene Homage A Nos Pairs, Onx Mad Crush, Donnhoff Riesling, Torrin Banshee, Epoch Zinfandel, Sextant Night Watch, Curtes Pecorino, Alta Colina, Bouchard Aine & Fils Beaune Premier Cru, Cuvee No. 734 Jacquesson Brut Champagne, Daou 1740 and about another dozen bottles, mostly from Paso...but also including Napa, Sonoma, Italy, France...it was simply a wine lovers delight!

And then there was the food...OHHH...SOOO much GOOD food...and desserts.  But the guests and their enthusiasm made this a happening.....and at the end of the day....Thanks to the gracious contributions made by the winemakers below....over $2100 was raised...to be donated to the EIF REVLON RUN/WALK AGAINST WOMEN'S CANCER,  for credit to Team: Double D's!

For those who have not had the pleasure of enjoying these fine wines, look for the labels below in your specialty wine store, at your favorite restaurant or in Paso Robles.....taste what Paso is all about when you taste these fine wines!  And when you visit Paso Robles, try to meet some of these incredible people.

Cheers,
Don and Lynn Sonderling

THE ALLSTAR WINEMAKER  LINEUP---Helping to fight Women's Cancer
one bottle at a time.
Thank you for your contributing to our FUNdraiser!

Alta Colina:  Bob, Lynne, Maggie Tillman
Caliza:  Carl and Pam Bowker
Clos Solene:  Guillaume and Solene Fabre
Daou Vineyards:  Daniel Daou, and "family"
Epoch:  Jordan Fiorentini, Christina, Mark and the Epoch team
Mitchella:  Angela and Darren Mitchell
Nicora:  Nick Elliott
ONX:  Jeff Streakas
Per Cazo:  Lynne Teckman
Paix Sur Terre:  Ryan Pease
Saxum:  Justin and Heather Smith, Sierra Slade Christensen
Shai Cellars:  Shawn Halamy (Santa Ynez)
Torrin:  Scott and Viquel Hawley
Vines On The Marycrest:  Victor and Jenni Abascal

and....a special thank you to:
Rebecca McKay, Ethan Newman, Shelley Grant, Chris Laudadio and Uncle Chuck,  for your personal wine donations to the silent auction......and to everyone who has contributed to this worthwhile and important cause.

Enjoy the pictorial tour of our event....AND...if YOU want to help and join our elite contributors....just CLICK on the link below...which will take you directly to Team Double D's donation webpage!  Help make a difference!

http://do.eifoundation.org/site/TR/RevlonRunWalk/LARRW?team_id=17105&pg=team&fr_id=1151
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GREAT WINES.....GREAT PEOPLE.....GREAT FUN.....GREAT FOOD....ALL FOR


A GREAT CAUSE!       LET THE AUCTION FRENZY BEGIN!




          SHAI:  2009 ADOME

           ALTA COLINA: 2010 GSM and 2011 Old 900


CLOS SOLENE: 2007 Essence de Roussane & 2011 La Petite Solene

         Daou:  2006 Cabernet MAGNUM 
                     

     EPOCH:  2009 ESTATE BLEND
   MITCHELLA:  2010 Innuendo Noir


    NICORA:  2011 Euphoric
    TORRIN:  2007 Akasha 


    SAXUM:  2006 BOOKER SYRAH--MAGNUM
   PER CAZO:  2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
                 


    PAIX SUR TERRE:  Songs of Its Own (GSM)
           ONX:  2010 and 2011 Praetorian 


     VINES ON THE MARYCREST: 2011 My Generation
   CALIZA:  2012 Kissin Cousins and 
    2011 Azimuth

During the afternoon, as the above wines were auctioned off, everyone was enjoying themselves with a plethora of food, wines and champagne.....meeting new friends and catching up with old friends.

Don't these all look like happy people?  What's NOT to be happy about!

 












                   just a few of the 25 bottles that were open and being enjoyed

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------
           DID SOMEONE SAY:  FOOD????













                                            and that's only about half                                                  of what was served! 


THE MORE YOU EAT....THE MORE YOU DRINK...
THE MORE YOU DRINK....THE MORE YOU BID
RESULTING IN A BIDDING FRENZY AS WE CLOSE THE BIDDING OUT




$50 MORE WINS IT..GOING ONCE...GOING TWICE...GONE!
---------------------------------------------------
AND WITH LOTS OF SMILES
GOOD WINES
GOOD FRIENDS
GOOD FOOD
AND A GREAT CAUSE






The afternoon successfully comes
to a close....
raising over $2100
to help find a cure for women's cancer
One Bottle at a Time!

Thank you all for your support

Thank you for following my blog

Please feel free to post on your website, on FB, share it with friends, comment,
and enjoy a good glass of wine by one of the elite winemakers that were so generous with their donation!

ds