Getting Uncorked at Forks and Corks!!
The day started out a bit shaky, because Doug woke up feeling really nauseous and as much as I tried to help settle his stomach, the poor guy was a mess and ended up having to back out at the last-minute. So he took me over to meet up with the “party” bus that was going to take me and the other members of the #ShareSLO Street team up to Halter ranch for the Paso Forks and Corks Festival benefiting MUST Charities a local charity who alongside other local organizations work to create long-term, sustainable transformation within the region.
We arrived at Halter Ranch and went to check in at the winery but discovered that the check in point was a bit further down the road. We weren’t deterred though, we were a little early so what else better to do than some wine tasting to kick off the day! But we can talk about that in another blog, this blog is about Forks and Corks! And be prepared it’s going to be long…because there is so much to talk about. So make sure you grab a glass of wine before sitting on a comfy chair or couch and put your feet up, for a detailed trip through the Forks and Corks festival.
After wine tasting and bathroom breaks we were off to the meadow area where the full event was taking place. We walked across the covered bridge and were welcomed as we got our badge lanyards (with a ticket to vote for best dish attached), wine glasses, and plates with plastic ware. And we were off and tasting. First stop was at Villa San-Juliette. If you’ve ever seen American Idol you may recognize the owners of this winery because they are Producers, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick. During their pursuit to purchase and start their vineyard and winery, they filmed their entire experience in a show called Corkscrewed the Wrath of Grapes – which is hilarious by the way. I had been wanting to taste their wines for a while but haven’t made it up to the winery, so thought this was the perfect opportunity. One of my favorite varietals is Petit Verdot which is usually used as a blending grape, but it is also great as a single varietal. So I was pretty excited when that was being offered for tasting. I found it to be quite jammy with blackberries, tobacco and mild black pepper.
Next I picked up some heavenly baked goods from SLO Baked. They had an assortment of almond croissants, chunks of marble rye, and a magic bar – containing coconut and chocolate chips, walnuts and a moist crust. All delicious, and all completely wicked for the hips!
Then it was over to Red Carpet winery a subsidiary of Addamo Vineyards. I had their Chardonnay this is a very tasty wine, with tropical fruits and balanced acidity. It is a fruit forward and really is a pretty wine. I walked over to Roost a new restaurant in Templeton and they were serving samples of an Asian style salad with shredded pork, red cabbage, fried wonton strips, and a dressing. It was very delicious and went well with the wine.
I made my way across to Graveyard Vineyards, another winery I’ve seen around but never been to and asked, the vendor what her favorite or most recommended of all the wines were? This was a question I asked repeatedly throughout the day, because I knew if I tasted every wine, beer, or booze at every booth I’d be more than crocked by the end of the day – as it was by day’s end I had my “wine flush” on and was feeling nicely chill. She said they were most well-known for the Deliverance, a Chocolate Port. It’s a fortified Syrah dessert wine with grape spirits and infused with 3 different types of chocolate. It is definitely decadent.
I went over to BarrelHouse Brewing Co. and got a taste of their stout. It hinted at sweetness and had a slightly bitter finish and a nice creamy texture. I was told they use real milk products in their cream stouts to enhance the creaminess. BHBC is the newest craft brewery on the Central Coast and they host concert evenings in their beer garden.
Of course I had to go over and say “Hi” to the folks at Opolo winery. Jeff from my Epicurean post, wasn’t there this time but I got to meet some other great people and taste the 2011 Montagna-Mare, their 56% Sangiovese and 44% Barbera blend. I really enjoyed it and recommended it to another taster.
Then it was over for walnuts at MM – Manzanita Manor Organics. Their orchards are located in the Adelaida Foothills of Paso Robles. Their walnuts are 100% organic rich and nutty. They are also a winery that uses all Portuguese grape varietals and strictly make dessert wines. I tasted the 2010 Vinho de Sobremesa red dessert wine. It was light and not syrupy and sweet but not too sweet. The grapes are grown in 2 Horse vineyard which was planted in 2003.
At this point it was time for more food and some of the #StreetTeam members came over and told me I just had to taste this roast suckling pig dish. I believe it was being served by Indulge Restaurant but by that time there were so many things happening I can’t remember for sure. What I do remember is it was very good. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to handle all my accoutrements as well as pen and paper to take notes.
Turns out we now have a full on distillery at Villacana winery in Paso Robles. Re-Find makes handcrafted spirits, such as Gin and Vodka. Normally Vodka is made from potatoes or grain but this vodka is made from red wine grape spirits. Their Gin, also made with red wine grape spirits is a proprietary blend of botanicals including juniper berry, coriander, orris root, lemon & orange peel, grains of paradise, and lavender to give it a rich gin flavor. An interesting fact I learned is that although he uses grape spirits to make his products, even if he “watered it down” to get the lower, less than 25% alcohol level, unlike Soju they are still considered a hard liquor. Turns out in California, only spirits out of Korea are exempted from the liquor laws relating to distilled spirits. Which seems a little unfair to me but fighting City Hall right now is not an appealing proposition.
Then it was off for more of the hard stuff. Don Q Añejo Rum is imported from Puerto Rico by a local distributor. The unique thing about this rum is that it is aged in American White Oak barrels from three to five years. They also claim to have the happiest Angels in the world, I would say they have the most crocked Angels in the world! The “Angels share” is a term that’s used to describe the percentage evaporated from an oak barrel, when aging its contents. Where as in Scotland they lose about 2% to evaporation, when Don Q ages their rum, they lose on average 10% to the Angels share. Using molasses as a basis for the entire process Don Q has managed to come up with a solid rum that’s smooth with some but not over powering heat.
I popped by the Cuvee booth and got to taste a meatball and peach skewer which had a zesty sauce on it, made by Chef Mari. It was very good and something I think they should consider putting on the menu if they ever decide to dig a bbq pit in the parking lot. We’ve written about Cuvee before, but are due for a new blog now that it’s under new ownership. I moved on to La Guardia’s Italian Deli and learned that they will be closing down for a little while to re-vamp and update their location. They seemed very nice and I’d like to go in when it’s all shiny and new and have lunch there sometime.
I moseyed on over to the SLO Brew booth, where I got a glass of Reggae Red this red ale has a distinctive hop bitterness, which is off set by the added wheat and malt. What makes this a Reggae Red you ask? Well they use the hemp seed Mahn! While I was over there I got a pork belly, goat cheese, and drunken cherry skewer from Cypher. That was a tidbit with a surprise of hidden jalapeno heat. They paired that with their 2010 Anarchy, Unconventional Rhone Blend, from Paso Robles. It’s a blend of 38% Zinfandel, 35% Mourvedre, and 27% Syrah to create a chewy berry filled red wine that picks up hints of the barrel oak for a creaminess on the palate.
I moved on to Jack Creek Cellars whose sole purpose is to create great single varietal wine, from a single vineyard. They focus on Rosé, Chardonnay, Grenache, Pinot Noir and Syrah. As well as SummerWood winery whose wines are made only from grapes grown on the West side of Paso Robles in the Willow creek and Templeton gap areas. I want to say I tried the Jack Creek Cellars Grenache and the Summerwood 2010 Vin Rouge – but I won’t lie and say it for a fact. Because, by the time I got around to these tables I was feeling pretty “happy,” a lot was going on around me, and not every vendor told me the name of the wines. So I can’t be sure exactly what wines I tasted from about this point on, since I couldn’t take notes. What I do remember is I liked them and now I’m going to have to go back up to Templeton and Paso to do a complete tastings so I can write about each wine with more certainty.
Then it was over to Calcareous Vineyard’s table. I had heard a lot about Calcareous before but I finally got to the vineyard earlier this year for our 21 year Anniversary Stay-cation- stay tuned, I will eventually write that blog. Anyway I remember what I tasted because as you can see, I took pictures! The Lily Blanc is a blend of 46% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 24% Marsanne and is aged in stainless steel to produce a wine with delicate flavors and pit fruits. The Tre Violets on the other hand is a seductive blend of 48% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache. Making it a full-bodied Rhone that when blended together into a single wine spent an additional 22 months in the barrel.
Moving on to Derby Wine Estates I tried 2 wines but they only had a wine label I could take for the 2009 Fifteen 10 Red so that’s what I can tell you for sure I tasted. It is a blend of 37% Syrah (29 brix), 27% Grenache (24.8 brix), 18% Counoise (23.0 brix), and 18% Mourvèdre (20.9 brix) with flavors of dark berries, cherry cola with a bit of spice and has smooth tannins. Right down the way Stroopie Gourmet was giving very little “bites” of “stroopwafel” a Dutch treat that is a caramel-filled thin wafer. They said it was “a gooey treat” but my piece wasn’t big enough to be “gooey”. The little piece I had, tasted good but I would have preferred if they had given out bigger pieces to really get the true idea and experience of what it is. So I will have to try it again the next time I have an opportunity.
I made it over to Sextant just in time to get a little food in my stomach prepared by The Pairing Knife. The creation being served was a crostini with, I want to say tri-tip topped with caramelized onions and a bleu cheese sauce. I not being a bleu cheese person, was given one with out the sauce and it was delish. I paired it with one of the Sextant wines. I like Sextant, their tasting room is not far from my house in Old Edna and their wines are very good though my very favorite is their 10 Knots Beachcomber a blend of Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne (not offered at this event).
Then it was over to Leo Leo Gelato, which I had been hearing about all day. I was so excited to try it only to discover from the to adorable guys manning the booth, Niccolo and Andre that they had just run out. I was most disappointed but Niccolo made it up to me with a little something he’d brought a long to get into the “spirit” of the event. The buzz about the Gelato was pretty wide-spread so I know it had to be good. Their store front location is across from the Paso Robles Event Center where the Mid State Fair is held. And since they will be serving Gelato at the fair, and since I have tickets to go to a concert there, I’ll be looking them up for some samples!
To end my day on a sweet note I stopped by Paso Port to try some of their Ruby. Paso Port is a family owned winery that specializes as the name states in Ports and fortified dessert wines. Their Ruby port is good with rich dark berry notes and hints of licorice and a jammy finish. But my very favorite is their Angelica (not offered at the event), a wonderful aged White Port made of blend of Verdelho, Muscat Blanc and old vine, dry-farmed Chenin Blanc and fortified with a neutral brandy. This is another winery I really enjoy but haven’t been to yet so that would be on my list to visit in the near future for sure.
There are definitely some food places I know I missed in this blog, though I tried to hit at least all things cork’d because after all, I am SHEdrinks. So for time, a hazy memory of what was served at each location, and not being HEeats, here is a short list of some of the food booths I tried or saw there, but couldn’t give specific details on:
FireStone Walker - their sliders were a huge hit, but I didn’t get a chance to try one, since the line was long all day.
I’d say a great time was had by all and hopefully, we’ll be able to you out there next year!!!
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