Exclusive Elite Wine Experiences
These unique happenings are not advertised to the general public. This is just a handful of the under-the-radar experiences I am able to offer.
Chateau Margene: Elevated Tour & Tasting Experience
This private winemaker one-on-one experience with Owner/Winemaker Michael Mooney or Assistant Winemaker Jon Mooney takes you into the vineyard where a variety of farming and viticultural topics are discussed, followed by the crush pad and their special fruit sorting and handling techniques, then into the barrel room to cover approach to winemaking style and methods, cooperage, aging, and so on. The experience finishes with a sit down tasting of current offerings in varietal-specific Riedel glasses and charcuterie board with artisan cheeses, cured meats, almonds and dried fruit. $60 PP non-club/$30 PP club, subject to availability- approximately 90 minutes in duration. Reservations required.
Mystic Hills Vineyard
Mystic Hills Vineyard is about as boutique-y as it gets, with their eight acres of grapes out in the wilds of Ranchita Canyon, just outside San Miguel. Joel Cox dreamed of having a few blocks of Bordeaux varietals when he was working on location as a film editor in France. A couple decades, and a couple dozen Clint Eastwood movies later, Joel had the wherewithal to follow his heart into winegrowing, thanks to his 40 year ongoing relationship with Mr. Eastwood. Recognition of his work reached its height when he was awarded the Oscar for editing Unforgiven, which also happens to be the name of his flagship Bordeaux blend. Joel has received numerous awards during his career, but let’s get to the wine.
Joel had the serendipitous good fortune to be introduced to Keith Roberts in a tractor booth at the Mid-State Fair a few years back. Keith’s day job is managing over 3,000 acres of grapes for Wente Vineyards statewide. He knows a thing or two about farming, and as it turns out, winemaking. Since the first vintage their wines have produced lots of medals, and MHV has also been named Monterey County Winery of the Year for 2015, 2016, and 2017 (don’t freak out- they’re just a couple miles down the road from Ranchita Canyon Winery and Villa San Juliette, less than a mile inside Monterey County). Despite the very high quality, Joel is adamant about keeping his prices under $40 per bottle, because his main interest at this point is building a legacy for his family. Speaking of family, you’ll never meet a more grounded, genuine and friendly bunch in your whole life. This is one of the experiences my clients talk about every time we get to together for another wine adventure…and yes, that’s Joel’s Oscar my client is holding- rewarded by a photo op holding the Oscar with Joel for joining their wine club. 72 hours advanced booking required.
Guyomar Wine Cellars
Ishka Stanislaus has been dry-farming his hilly 35 acre vineyard for over 20 years, originally under the direction of local grape growing legend Richard Sauret. Naturally such high quality fruit begged a request from widely acclaimed winemaker and neighbor Steve Glosner, to buy Ishka’s fruit for his own wines, Ports, and spirits. Steve made his name at Justin in the mid ‘90’s with the wines he created that became part of the iconic Isosceles Reserve, which was awarded 98 points by Wine Spectator, plus quite a number of startups that have become well-known names on the Central Coast wine scene.
Ishka specializes in Rhone varietals and Zin, and delicious, interesting blends made thereof, plus straight Zin- all made by the master Steve Glosner. Tasting includes charcuterie and cheese plate with artisan sourdough bread. 72 hours advanced booking required.
D’Alphonso Curran Wines
Kris Curran and Bruno D’Alphonso are one of the most celebrated partnerships in the Central Coast wine region- partners in winemaking, and partners in life. Kris was the founding winemaker at Koehler and became Santa Barbara County’s first rock star winemaker by the acclaim she received from the movie Sideways as the brains behind Sea Smoke’s Pinot Noir. Bruno was Richard Sanford’s winemaker for over 20 years, eventually owning part of the business. Both have bachelors degrees in winemaking. Not only will the amount of winemaking information imparted by these two blow your mind, but you will be totally entertained by their larger than life personalities and colorful repartee’. When Bruno takes you on a vertical tasting barrel romp with his wine thief, be prepared to be amazed and hold on to your glass!
Jonata flies quietly low, and leaves a subtle yet lasting impression on wine world radar in its contrail, but these wines loom big: big flavors and big scores. The entire operation is top shelf from its polyface sustainable farming practices to elegantly appointed estate hospitality center. Matt Dees has been the principle architect of all things Jonata since 2004, making careful choices about varietals planted on their 84 acre vineyard, to crafting the wines’ unique and amazing tannin structure and flavor profile. It takes the talents of both Matt and vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano to coax great fruit possibilities out of the obstinate Careaga Sandstone that layers this 586 acre chunk of 1845 Spanish land grant in Ballard Canyon, once known as Rancho San Carlos de Jonata. Truly this is one of the most memorable and exciting pinnacles of wine enjoyment and eno-education on the Central Coast.
Meet Len Gelfand: Gelfand Vineyards
Len Gelfand needed a hobby when he and wife Jan retired to Paso Robles from his position as president of a large insurance company in 2,000. He figured 20 acres of densely planted vines would keep him busy enough. At around a thousand cases produced each year, busy enough it is- since he has no employees. Fortunately for us, his excellent Cab, Zin, Syrah, and Petite Sirah, plus notable blends thereof, and dessert wines, blossomed into something almost resembling a full time job. His son Jon frequently lends a hand as assistant winemaker and all around right hand man, especially during harvest and wine club events. Like many boutique wineries, it’s truly a family affair with granddaughters now becoming old enough to pitch in. Len really tries hard to act like a retired guy- travels to wine regions throughout the world with wife Jan when those strategic intervals in winegrowing and winemaking present themselves, and also insists I bring my people before noon so he can enjoy the rest of the day being left to his own devices. I’ve been a member of his wine club for a few years now, so he has a harder time saying no. By appointment 72 hours in advance.