Quaint stone buildings, cool dark cellars full of oak barrels, and fertile fields of grapevines?these are the images that Carina Cellars hopes to evoke with its European-style wines, which celebrate grapes that originated in the Rhone region of France. The winery sources its favored grapes from vineyards all along the central coast, especially Paso Robles and the Santa Ynez Valley. In the late 2000s, Carina also purchased 83 acres of land it called Rancho del Cielo??ranch of the sky,? after its steep slopes?to grow its own vines of viognier, syrah, grenache, and other grapes.
Though Carina Cellars? wines are manufactured using Old-World techniques and grapes, the terroir of California?s central coast shines through to define each style. Its whites feature a smooth 2006 viognier from Stolpman Vineyard, whose limestone soil adds a hint of minerality to the flavors and aromas of fruit before a butterscotch finish. In addition to several single-vineyard reds and carefully harmonized red rhone blends, Carina Cellars cultivates a list of reserve wines that includes Iconoclast, its rich flagship blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Iconoclast's initial earthy aroma gives way to lush currant notes and a mocha finish, showcasing the care with which it was aged in small batches.
Vintner Joey Tensley found his calling at the tender age of 12, when a radioactive wine bug bit him in a Bordeaux winery. He broke into the business 10 years later in 1993, eventually establishing his own brand that exclusively creates vineyard-designate syrahs. In 2002, he partnered with longtime enophile and businessman David Hardee to create Carina Cellars.
The impressionist painters who inspired winemaker Bion Rice raised shimmering mirages in which soft-edged daubs of paint seem to grant motion to ballerinas or swaying river rushes. At Artiste, Bion draws inspiration from their work, attempting to raise distant landscapes with grapes rather than rough brushstrokes. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes call up the sun-steeped fields of the Napa Valley, and chardonnay grapes carry one away to the Russian River Valley on straw-hued sweetness. Bion calls the blends “impressionist cuvees,” and he produces small batches of them, their corks sealed beneath thick, hand-dipped cloaks of crimson wax.
The bottles are labeled with colorful impressionist paintings, and in a tasting room and studio, the harmonious relationship between wine and art is even further cemented. The whisper of brushes on canvas drifts from paint-dappled tables, where guests bring to life sweeping forest vistas or criminal lineups of pine trees. A rotating array of paintings lines the walls, including works from artists such as Aldo Luongo, an Argentinian artist whose contrasting colors and rippling brushstrokes seem to gaze up from a clear lake. Wine glasses chime together, punctuating the lilting rhythm of classical guitarists or the constant weeping of trombone players during live music events.
From its perch overlooking the Santa Maria Valley, Toretti Family Vineyard yields 500 cases of Pinot Noir ever year. That's been the standard since 2000, when winemaker Robert Torres first planted pinot grapes into his five-acre land. Today, his pinots treat palates to a blend of complex, fruity flavors, including sugar-glazed strawberries and toasted oak. Though the valley's wind, soil, and fog are an especially apt match for pinot, syrah, chardonnay, and a handful of other wines likewise bear the Toretti Family Vineyards label. Samples abound inside the estate's tasting room, at wine events throughout the year, and whenever you feel like using up a genie wish.
Located in the heart of Los Olivos, J Ludlow Vineyard's sunny tasting room beckons visitors inside. There, staffers wield bottles behind the bar, pouring generous tastings of pinot grigio, ros?, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. J Ludlow Vineyard offers an array of award-winning, locally produced Bordeaux style wines that tasters may also purchase and enjoy by the bottle or glass.
The Saucelito Canyon story begins in 1880, when three acres of Zinfandel vines were planted in the rugged terrain of the upper Arroyo Grande Valley on California’s Central Coast.
A new chapter was written a century later, when Bill Greenough painstakingly restored the abandoned old vineyard in 1974.