Thursday, May 14, 2015


Having the opportunity to write for a few different publications has forced me to move out of my wine comfort zone....and explore new (to me) wineries, wines and wine regions along the Central Coast.  And a very good thing!

The Central Coast is just replete with great areas....from Santa Barbara all the way up to Paso (still my passion, but being challenged)!  Santa Ynez, Santa Maria and the Edna Valley to name a few are producing such vibrant and different wines reflective of their specific climate and terroir.

A few recently visited included the Byron** tasting room in Los Olivos where I was graciously hosted by Pati Wilkinson (Estate Manager) and Lucio Uribe (Tasting Room Associate).  Their line up of Santa Maria Valley Pinots is nothing short of amazing...reflecting the dirt, weather and special conditions of this area. Touting themselves as a "Pinot House," they certainly are!

A few weeks later I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen Ross**, of the winery that bears his name, in his San Luis Obispo tasting room.  Again, a region with a special climate for Pinot and Chardonnay.  Stephen's wine education and experience and travels has brought him to the apex of his small production boutique winery. Single vineyard designated wines, specializing in Pinot Noir....yummmy

Lastly....I have to say SOMETHING about a new discovery in Paso!  Not a "new" winery, but new to me.  CALCAREOUS!  Recently having 4 of their wines named in a article:  "9 powerful reds from Paso Robles"....these 4 wines certainly give you a WOW factor!  Anna (tasting room manager) and John (Hospitality/Sales manager) just exude passion and friendliness when walking through the Calcareous line up. Add the comfort of their modern, beautifully designed tasting room and view and you have a piece of Paso heaven.   The winery and wines are NOT to be missed!

So....there you have a quick recap of my recent wine experiences!  ** ( certain to pick up a copy of Wine Country this Month, July edition, to read about Stephen Ross, winemaker, and the Byron Tasting room)!

Cheers to more travels and more new (to me) wines coming up.  So much wine and so little time!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Our Family Passover Seder
Sonderling Style
Paso Style

Passover Seder in our house is always a very special event, with family and friends.  It is steeped in family history and tradition, and as meaningful and important as it is, it is also:  FUN!  We try to make it that way for all:  From the 5 year old to the 93 year old.  It's more than just "telling the story" of The Exodus. It's about blending together family, friends, history and....WINE! Because...on Passover, you are commanded to drink (a minimum) 4 glasses of wine.  At least, in our house!

So, for my friends and followers, fellow sippers, wine lovers, winemaker and winery friends, following is a re-cap of this year's story of Passover, Sonderling style...Paso Style---with some help from some of our best friends.  I hope you enjoy our journey.

The leader of the service would be me, also referred to as The Maven, who 

(Torrin, 2011)

tells the Epoch story of the Israelites flight from bondage, in the land of Egypt.
(Zinfandel, 2010)

Moses, as we all know, in a Brash move, tells Pharaoh "Let My People Go!"
(ONX, 2011)

When Pharaoh relents, Moses then leads the People of Israel on the Mother of Exiles, out of Egypt, towards the Promised Land.
(Denner, 2010)

The Israelites, after being slaves for centuries, were Euphoric to be free.
(Nicora, 2011)

Journeying through the desert, Moses heard G_D Speak, commanding him to go climb up the Toasted Slope of the highest mountain
(Alta Colina, 2009)

Where Moses then received the Sagacious Law (2010)  from G-D.

Upon descending the mountain, Moses saw his Cohorts worshiping a golden calf..
(Caliza, 2011)

And in a fit of rage, threw the tablets of law to the ground, shattering them into Broken Stones.
(Saxum, 2011)

Alas, the Jewish people were now destined to wander the desert, praying there Comes a Time, for Peace on Earth (Paix Sur Terre, 2013).

And that my friends, is the story of Passover, or PASOver....In Style...Sonderling Style! With prayers and wishes for all of you, and blessings, for love and health and happiness, and of course, good wine, for all of humankind.

And yes, we fulfilled the commandment to drink at least 4 glasses of wine, in fact, we manged to drink many many more than 4 glasses....which included ALL of the special Paso-ver bottles shown above!  Sharing special wine with special friends for a special event....and THAT is what wine and celebrations, is all about.
The Before, During and the Aftermath and the Damage we did!
                                                  Before...the Plagues!     

    The table is set....Everything in its place
                              Eating, drinking, and telling the Passover Story
                         The aftermath
                                                    and...the final count!
                                  Our 101 year old Family Heirloom Seder

Sunday, March 1, 2015


OK.....I have to be honest here.  As you all know by now, I am an unabashed PASOfile!  So, having been asked to write an article on Edna Valley Vineyards for Wine Country This Week Magazine (Central Coast edition), I knew I would be moving out of my normal wine comfort zone.
A link to the article follows, I hope you enjoy it:

                              The impressive TR as seen on your approach

(please click on the above link, scroll to the bottom of the page, and fill in "38" then hit enter in order to access the article--this will take you to the proper page).  YOU MAY HAVE TO COPY AND PASTE THE ABOVE URL into your browser in order to access. Then scroll down, fill in 38 and hit enter to bring up the article.


                                    A demonstration vineyard greets you

But now, a few other personal observations and comments about EVV and the Edna Valley!
                                    A picture is worth a thousand words
                                          As you sip their selections
Being used to the small, boutique Paso producers, and doing some research before my trip up to Edna Valley Vineyards, I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this larger producer.

Driving into their parking lot and pulling up right in front of the Demonstration Vineyard, overlooking the expanse of vineyards, Santa Lucia Mountain range and inviting tasting room, my first thought was:  WOW!  There is something special here.   And, so there was.

Walking in we were greeted by Lindsey Jessup, TR manager.   Talk about a smile and twinkle in her eyes and unbridled enthusiasm and passion
that was immediately evident.  As she greeted us, we already knew this would be a very special day.

Standing at the tasting bar, Lindsey started out by giving us not only a historical perspective of the winery and area, but also a quick education of the geology as we gazed out at the vista and Islay Peak, one of 7 inactive volcano domes in the region.  I had NO idea at one time this was a volcanic area.  Suffice to say, the view from the tasting room was mesmerizing.

Then....the wine pouring began.   The first several wines were their nationally distributed wines:  A Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, being the wineries flagship wine.

Following the initial flight, we then settled in for the next 90 minutes or so, as we moved through the assortment of their small lot production wines, 12 in all.

Talking to Lindsey, my friend Paul and I were struck by the way the entire staff related to visitors.  Enthusiastic, fun, educational, passionate.

Edna Valley Vineyard leaves no stone, or vine un-turned in their commitment to quality, and respecting the earth, the vine and what evolves from that.

If there was just ONE major take-away I had from my visit, it is the commitment to education of staff, that is then passed onto the guests.  So important is education, that each harvest two tasting room hosts are selected to work the harvest, and when they are back in the tasting room pouring, it is their responsibility to impart information about that particular vintage to the rest of the staff.

I love Paso.   But the much different, cooler climate wines coming out of the Edna Valley are tantalizing, and so interesting to compare to what my pallet is used to.  A visit to Edna Valley Vineyards, and the Edna Valley is a must!

Move out of your comfort zone and explore the delightful, different wines of The Edna Valley!

Cheers, and thank you EVV and staff for such a gracious, educational, fun visit.  I hope you have enjoyed my latest blog, and the article on EVV.

(feel free to post, share, forward, comment on my remarks or email me at:

Friday, December 12, 2014


Click the link below to the recent story in the Paso Robles Daily News!
(or copy the below link and paste in your URL box).
Ryan Pease

Thursday, December 4, 2014


As published in the Paso Robles Daily News!
(The direct link):

Paso Underground - Orion Stang
Winemaker Orion Stang of Dilecta Wines at the Paso Underground.
Winemaker Orion Stang recently joined the Paso Underground opening a new tasting area for his Dilecta Wines. He is replacing Guillaume Fabre’s Clos Solene. Fabre recently moved and opened his own tasting room and wine making facility in the new Tin City wine area off Ramada Drive.
Paso Underground is a collective of four local boutique wineries, sharing a space in downtown Paso Robles, right off the park behind Villa Creek restaurant. Dilecta Wines joins Edmond August, Turtle Rock and Aaron Wines in the intimate setting.
Currently introducing his second release, Stang’s love of wine and winemaking is part of his DNA. Growing up in the Central Coast, he and his family would often picnic in the fields and burgeoning vineyards, and that was his first introduction to the wonderful world of Paso wines. In 2005 Stang travelled throughout Italy, specifically Tuscany, becoming familiar with Italian wines and winemaking.
On his return, enrolling in Napa Valley’s Culinary Institute, Stang earned his Master Sommelier Certificate and continued his own wine education by working at several well established restaurants. However, he wanted more than to just recommend fine wines, he wanted to make them.
In 2007 his hands-on winemaking education began, working for Eric Jensen of Booker Vineyards, first as vineyard manager then as assistant winemaker. Under Jensen’s tutelage, Stang’s passion for creating wine grew and he began to dream of one day making his own wine.
Several years later, Stang realized his dream with the 2011 inaugural release of the Dilecta label – Dilecta meaning lovely in Latin. Currently, there are two selections: Unorthodox, a big Syrah with fruit sourced from Caliza and Alta Colina vineyards and The Tiller, a Grenache/Syrah blend with fruit sourced from Caliza and Russell Family Vineyards.
Stang’s wines were an instant success, receiving praise from Jeb Dunnick of the Rhone Report, and sold out quickly. At the same time, catching the attention of Scott Hawley of Torrin and head winemaker at Law Wine Estates, Stang was brought on as assistant winemaker at Law.
Clearly, Stang’s contributions to the Paso Robles wine scene, both as assistant winemaker at Law and at the helm of his own Dilecta label, will continue to be significant.
Being a small producer, 250 cases of the 2012 vintage, when the opportunity to join The Paso Underground came up, he jumped on it. As Orion said: “I’m really excited to be pouring with such talented winemakers and to have a spot of my own in the Paso Underground.”
Visit the Paso Underground at: 1140 Pine Street, Paso Robles, Ca. 93446, (805) 237-0799. It’s open Friday and Saturday from 1-7 p.m. and Sunday from 1–5 p.m. Or contact Stang for a tasting appointment at (805) 369-9129 or

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 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 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!

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