As much as we love Napa and Sonoma, our palates are occasionally wont to wander. Paso Robles is on the tips of wine connoisseurs' tongues these days, so we headed south to check out what's being touted as California's hot wine region du jour.
No longer just a sleepy SoCal enclave for posh retirees, Santa Barbara is getting in on the hipster scene with the rise of the Funk Zone, a warehouse district that's been transformed over the past few years by a new set of creative tenants—tattooed and Warby Parker–spectacled makers of all kinds.
Free wine tastings have gone the way of Napa and Sonoma lore—if we want to sip the good stuff, we have to pony up. But we also believe that you get what you pay for. These five new spots aren't just pouring wine—they are offering luxury experiences we won't soon forget. Those memories? Priceless.
Though their first exposure to wine may have been a box of Franzia, the cohort of millennials interested in drinking and tasting real wine, and the amount of disposable income they have at hand to do so, is on the rise. Yet big wine tasting events haven't shifted to meet the interests of younger wine drinkers, with sedate environs and dull classes focusing on those who've already become connoisseurs. The twentysomething team of Tyler Balliet and Morgan First, otherwise known as Second Glass, are aiming to change all that.
Yesterday I blind tasted a wine at RN74 with a couple of top sommeliers. It was light colored, obviously Pinot, probably Burgundy. Bright with perfume and fresh berry fruit flavors, the wine had punchy acidity, a lean body, and a bit of tannin. I guessed 1988 Chambolle--a lean, high acid year that also made lovely perfumed wines. The sommeliers guessed younger--2001 and 1996. We were all wrong, it turned out, but I was the closest. It was indeed Chambolle. Yet my vintage was off by 26 YEARS! The wine was a 1962.
Spring has sprung, and what better way to celebrate the changing of the clock than by indulging in some oenophile fun?
As part of the 31st annual Russian River Wine Road, 100 wineries will open their doors to the public starting March 13 in a three-day festival full of barrel tastings, chats with winemakers, and chances to explore the stunning Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valley wine regions. Additionally, you'll have the opportunity to purchase limited-edition "futures"--wine that has yet to be bottled and will be picked up 12 to 18 months later--at a discount.