09/20/06 – North Central Coast (pt. 1)

By Jesse on September 19, 2006

Wine slobs,

First and foremost: amazing trip on Saturday. A great time had by all, no doubt about it. We hit one winery (Bridlewood) and a very impressive FIVE tasting rooms: Summerland, Consilience, Longoria, Epiphany, and Daniel Gehrs… not to mention taking lunch in the infamous Los Olivos Cafe (as featured in Sideways: “I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot”). Thank you so much to all of those who came out and made the pilgrimage so memorable. Especially Daryn. Daryn was very memorable. Andrew as well was memorable. Joe not so much. I can barely remember Joe doing anything scandalous.

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It was an amazing day, and I think we can all agree that there will be another trip some time very soon… a day trip would be easy, or perhaps we’ll do an overnight in Santa Barbara, and there was even talk of a Napa/Sonoma overnight trip.

One note for those who took the trip: please remember to hook your driver up with some gas money at the next meeting. As I mentioned in Friday’s e-mail, we’re figuring about $30 worth of gas per car, so that should be around $10/person. Please settle your scores with whomever drove you at your earliest convenience.

This Wednesday night we move further north into the region referred to in the Wine Bible as the North Central Coast, which itself features several smaller appellations. The three most prominent seem to be Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Clara Valley, and Monterey County . Monterey is the biggest and is a huge agricultural area: besides growing grapes, more than 50 percent of the United States’ broccoli, strawberries, mushrooms, artichokes, spinach and lettuce are grown here. The three smaller appellations, which are very prestigious and also very small indeed, are Chalone, Mount Harlan and the Carmel Valley. Finding a wine from one of the latter three might be a challenge, but might also be worth it in terms of quality. However, you should definitely have an easy time finding excellent wines from Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Monterey in your local wine shop.

On Wednesday, we’ll focus on reds, and we’ll follow up with whites next week. The appellations of the “Northern Central Coast” vary significantly in microclimates, even within the specific regions themselves. Some are 2,000 feet above sea level, facing the cool winds of the Pacific, and some are deep inside sun-baked valleys. Therefore, the region’s reds include both cool-climate varietals like Pinot Noir and warm-climate grapes like Zinfandel and Cabernet, plus such varities as Syrah and Marsanne that fall in between. Please look for any red wine produced in one of the six appellations listed in bold above. Top wineries include Chalone, David Bruce, Calera, Ridge, Morgan, and Bonny Doon (makers of “Cardinal Zin”).

We’ll be meeting at Andrew’s shag pad in H’wood. Bring a nice bottle of red, bring some money for your driver, and bring an extra glass or two… we’ll see you raving sociopaths on Wednesday night at 9:00.