One could not have picked a better day to take a drive up the coast from Los Angeles to the Santa Margarita Ranch for the Sunset Savor the Central Coast. The exceptionally clear sky and ideal weather made for the perfect scenic coastal drive.
Sunset Savor the Central Coast is quite an impressive well-organized event. The selection of wineries was superb and the food samplings were diverse and excellent.The event had a broad based appeal. The novice got a good introduction into the wines while those who are wine connoisseurs could enjoy an incredible selection of wines.
The Central Pavilion featured the winners and finalists of Sunset Western Awards. This competition focuses on bottles from the 13 Western States, which are nominated by a panel of judges. Wineries selected are contacted to submit a wine for a blind tasting competition. My favorites among those in the competition were a smooth full bodied Rubicon 2007 Cabernet Blend from Rutherford, Napa Valley and a Robert Sinskey 2010 Abraxas Vin De Terroir, Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard, Los Carneros. This was a crisp summery blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc. Lastly Long Shadows in Washington had a Saggi, a super Tuscan-style blend combining Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah making this wine a soft yet rich very drinkable wine.
In the Central Pavilion, I was quite impressed with the Shrimp Ceviche from Root 246. A lighter fare served on a flatbread cracker. If you have never been to Root 246 in Solvang it is a must on any trip to the region. The restaurant is a blend of LA trendy and the simplicity of farm to table cuisine.
The Lido Restaurant offered a sampling of Abalone and pork where you had the soft delicate flavor of the Abalone next to the more robust pork. The combination worked and I have to say the abalone from Ocean Rose Abalone Farm melted in your mouth. I will definitely want to try the Lido on my next visit to Shell Beach.
Fig Good Food in Altascadero served a very tasty and fruitful quinoa that contained apricots and pastachios with a honey dressing an orange glaze.
As to the wines in Winemaker Central there were a lot of fantastic wineries represented. I will only be highlighting a few. By far the best-valued wines were from Hahn Family Wines in Soledad, CA. Most of their wines are priced at $12. My favorites were the Pinot Gris, a light flavorful white, the 2010 GSM Red Wine Blend Central Coast and the 2010 Pinot Noir Monterey. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of Hahn’s Wines for such a reasonable price. The wines are very drinkable.
The most active spot in the area was Roxo Port Cellars. The crowds under this tent may have turned some visitors away but it was well worth the wait. Both Ports I tasted had a rich flavorful taste that would compliment the end of any meal. Jeff Steele, the proprietor served me 2007 Negrette as well as a 2007 Magia Preta. My favorite of the two was the Magia Preta, a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon with its wonderfully smooth finish of spice.
Wines to definitely try are those from Halter Ranch Vineyard, Talley Vineyard, Claiborne & Churchill, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Justin Vineyards, Palmina and Niner Wine Estates.
Among the wineries were two oil vendors. Limrock Orchards, which specializes in Walnut oil. The oil has a delicately soft subtle flavor that is not overwhelming to your dish. We Oil represents a wide variety of small oil and vinegar producers. The lime and Tangerine infused oils were zesty and when combined with blackberry or plum vinegar developed a soft wonderfully fruitful taste to them.
In the Winemakers Marketplace three restaurants stood out with their samplings. Cracked Crab with their rich crab bisque, just hits the spot especially on a cold day. The white gazpacho from Adelina’s Bistro in Nipomo was a delicately flavored gazpacho where the tomatoes do not overwhelm this cold soup. This was an idea summer fare. Lastly the shredded lamb with herb pesto was a unique sampling from Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles.
I do recommend if you plan on attending in 2012 Sunset Savor the Central Coast, you allow time to spend two days at the event since there is so much to experience, taste and smell between the wine, foods and seminars.
This celebration of the foods and wines will definitely bring me back to the area to try more since California’s Central Coast is becoming my favorite area for wines in California. Especially when it comes to Pinot Noir and Syrah.