Our adventure has been a patchwork quilt assembled on the fly with pieces of National Parks, American treasures, fun sights or activities and family and friends. We made it further up the coast of California following our departure from LA. Pismo Beach is the “home base” for the next several days as we explore further up and down the coast. We picked Pismo because as Maureen looked at the map she recognized that we would be near one of her old co-workers, Brent, from the Minneapolis Metro North CVB. We were able to meet up with Brent and his husband Dean and their niece for dinner last night. We had a great dinner on the beach and enjoyed catching up after 14 years as well as a great sunset, tasty clam chowder and some tasty drinks!
At dinner, Dean offered to escort us on a winery tour if we wanted. Of course, Maureen and I willingly took him up on it! We met up with him this morning and we hit the road. The first stop was at the Chateau Margene tasting room in Morro Bay. We enjoyed walking around the harbor/Bay Area and then had a great tasting with Steve. He took his time with us and walked us through what we were smelling and tasting. We enjoyed several wines and ended up with a couple in our possession!! If I had really known what was in store for us, Chateau Margene was just the warm up!!
Morro Bay is on the coast and the next stop for us was in the Paso Robles area of the region. Paso is close to San Luis Obispo (or SLO) for those following us on the map. To get to Paso, we took a winding back country shortcut through the hills. Dean navigated the turns and twists while Maureen and I had the chance to see vineyards, olive trees, avocado trees and even a shepherd and his goats grazing the cliffs (he even waved to us)! Just about the time Maureen kicked her nausea bracelet on to high, our drive was done!
We arrived at Epoch Estate Wines and began an experience I will never forget! Unbeknownst to us, Dean has a good friend who works at Epoch. When we arrived, she had us set up for a private tasting in the cellar room (even Dean was surprised by this)! She gave us a glass and our first sample and then walked us around the property some while explaining the legacy of the property and buildings. Epoch was founded in 2004, but comes from roots that date back to the late 1800’s. The original location for Epoch was on land once used for a winery by Polish pianist and Prime Minister Ignasky Paderewski. Paderewski was perfecting his winemaking in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, at the same time as the first bonded winery was in full production on York Mountain. Andrew York and Paderewski became friends and the Paderewski grapes would often become wine on the York Mountain Winery. In 2010, Epoch was able to acquire the York Mountain property as well and has been restoring it back to its glory (along with making some tasty wine).
History aside, Katie became our wine educator for the rest of the day. I’ve done wine tastings that take 20 minutes, but we were with Katie for over 2 hours!! She walked us through whites and reds as well as bottled wine and wine straight from barrels. I learned some of the basic ways to evaluate color, clarity, nose/smell, palate, structure, finish, and so much more! We talked about what it takes to make great grapes for even better wine. Most of the wine around the Paso region are blends of different grape varietals. Additional different types of casks are used for fermenting, including steel and concrete. Aging occurs in new and secondary use barrels. Katie really was fantastic and really helped us appreciate everything we were enjoying!
When we set off on this adventure, I knew we would see great sites. I even knew we would enjoy some great time with family. What I didn’t realize is that by reaching out to our extended family and friends, those we haven’t seen in a long time, they would help to enrich our travels. Friends and friends of friends have helped us have joy. One of our real lessons: be nice to people!!