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Wine, Elephant Seals, and California Zebras?!?

Elephant Seals

My 2 best friends in the whole world, Lori and Helene came up to visit and we decided to take a day trip to San Simeon to see the Elephant seals at according to the docent, one of only 17 places in the world to view them. On the way we took a detour to Cambria a charming seaside village nestled among towering pine trees. After deciding not to take the exit directly into town and instead to explore the area, we giggled and joked around as we got lost driving in the neighborhoods until we finally made our way back to the main drag and OF COURSE had to stop at the first winery we saw which was Moonstone Cellars. I discuss the Moonstone tasting in the Tasting Cambria’s Moonstone post because there were so many wines that we tasted I felt it needed a posting all it’s own.

Lori and Helene at Moonstone

Lori and Helene at Moonstone

After tasting Moonstone’s wines we hopped back into the car and drove out to Sebastian’s for lunch and as it turned, out wine tasting at Hearst Ranch winery. As we drove out to Sebastian’s, a little general store and deli that was built in 1852 at the peak of the whaling industry by the Sebastian Brothers, we noticed several wild Zebras walking in a meadow. It turns out that William Randolph Hearst had a zoo built in 1923 on the grounds of Hearst castle, to which he added a multitude of animals including Zebras.

California Zebras

California Zebras

After Hearst began experiencing financial problems in 1937 the zoo was dismantled, many off the animals were shipped of to zoos around the country, but many of the animals were permitted to graze and roam freely on the property. Today only a few of the species are left including the zebras that you can see driving down highway 1. We of course had to stop and take pictures from the car, but beware there are signs all over saying “no stopping” so be very careful.

We headed over to Sebastian’s and found it to be a quaint but crowded historic building on a little street that runs parallel to the bay. Which is gorgeous, we actually walked down and walked out onto the pier, where we saw some beautiful birds and a sea otter playing and rolling around in the kelp. Back at Sebastian’s we discovered that aside from serving delicious Hearst ranch beef sandwiches they are also the Hearst Ranch Winery tasting room. Needless to say the first words out of my mouth were “WINE Pairing!!!” Ranch fresh beef and wine, totally!!

Hearst ranch beef sandwich

Hearst ranch beef sandwich

Lori and Helen ordered the French dip (they loved it) and I ordered the sliced steak sandwich. This sandwich was packed with perfectly medium rare, sliced, roasted beef, lettuce, and tomato on a ciabatta roll, served with tortilla chips and a pickle spear.  The most special thing about Hearst ranch beef is that the cattle are grass fed meaning, they practice sustainable farming methods. The steers are free range, antibiotic and hormone free, humanely treated and allowed to be in their natural environment. Hearst Ranch’s beef is raised Certified Humane and meets the Humane Farm Animal care program standards. Grass fed beef is extremely healthy because it is leaner, the omega fatty acid ratios are more favorable, and it can help lower bad cholesterol.

Hearst Ranch winery

Hearst Ranch winery

While we ate in the winery area the winetender brought us our tastings, starting with the first of 2 whites, the 2010 Three Sisters Cuvee white wine. The Three Sisters consist of 45% Roussane, 29% Marsanne and 26% Viognier. These 3 varietals together happen to be a personal favorite when they are blended with each other. This one had melon, peach and mango on the nose with flavors of peach, and nectarine, bright citrus, and butter on a dry lingering finish, but not acidic. This wine won 94 points and Gold at the California State Fair competition.

Next was the 2011 Glacier Ridge Chardonnay also a Gold winner but at the Central Coast Wine competition. This is a new release wine for them and had a pineapple and butter nose with bright citrus and vanilla. The palate offers pineapple and buttery oak, with acidity and a guava finish.

The reds began with the 2009 Three Sisters Cuvee red wine. This blend is known as a GSM…Granache 35%, Syrah 50% and Mourvedre 15%, all wines that typically blend very well together. The nose was big with strawberry and toffee with mild black pepper. I found this wine paired really well with my lunch and didn’t shy away from the fact that I put horseradish on my sandwich. It had complex layers and real shoulders with flavors of toffee, cherry, strawberry and smoke. This wine is a Double Gold best of show winner with 98 points at the California State Fair.

Next we got to try the 2008 Lone Tree Cabernet Franc made up of 93% Cab Franc and 7% Petite Verdot. I really enjoy some of the more unique varietals and Cabernet Franc always grabs my attention when it is on a tasting list. The 2008 Lone Tree Cab Franc won Gold at the Central Coast Wine competition and has a smooth velvety mouth feel. The nose is cherry and currants, the palate has hints of mocha, cola and berry, it is dry and tannic on the mid palate.

Lori, Helene, and Hillary

Lori, Helene, and Hillary

I have been having trouble finding a Malbec that I like. For some reason of all the varietals, Malbec has been the one that I’ve had the most trouble enjoying. However I am happy to say that the 2010 Babicora Malbec was wonderful and it’s a wine club favorite! After tasting it I can see why, I REALLY liked it and in fact I liked it so much I bought a bottle. Aroma wise it’s full of jammy black fruits and passion fruit and the palate is made up of raspberries, licorice spice and cherries. It has a lovely long, warm, finish.

The 2009 Pico Creek Merlot won Gold at the LA International Wine and Spirits Competition. It’s a very nice Robust wine which came off much bigger than the average Merlot with aromas of cherry and plum. The flavor profile has cherry and blackberry with a very nice finish.

I also re-tasted the 2009 Chileano Tempranillo which I really like. You can read more about it on my Taste of the Valleys post.

There were so many other wines that we didn’t get a chance to taste because we had to leave to go see the Elephant Seals. But I have every intention of going back and tasting the rest of their offerings. Hearst Ranch had some wonderful wines and I enjoyed my time in their tasting room.

Over the wine-dark sea.
Iliad, I. 350



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One thought on “Wine, Elephant Seals, and California Zebras?!?

  1. Pingback: Tasting Cambria’s Moonstone « SHEdrinksHEeats

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