SUNSET Magazine kicks off SAVOR the Central Coast , 4 days of celebration in downtown San Luis Obispo

California's Central Coast is fast  becoming  a favorite for Foodies and Oenophiles alike.
The home of great food , wines and renown Chefs we placed it on our list a places to visit over 6 years ago and it just keeps getting better and attracting world wide attention.

Sunset Magazine is a primer magazine that has  always pointed its readers in the Western United States to  the finer things in life from Spas, Resorts , Dining and much more.  The Central Coast got some great news when Sunset Magazine wanted to bring this area to the attention of  its readers.
Sunset Magazine , City officials, Farmers and Vineyard owners worked together for over a year to create an event on a scope this area has never seen. SAVOR The Central Coast was created and is sure to become one of the finest events in the country.

The event is a 4 day celebration of  the beauty and bounty of this lovely area. The four day odyssey began for some ,  in downtown historic San Luis Obispo for a kick off event attended by many of the people who put this whole event together

The organizers and guests alike could not have hoped for a better evening than a cool , cloudless night above San Luis Obispo as the festivities began.
Many winemakers  were on hand stationed outside the Fremont Theater to pour some of their best for the guests as they strolled down Monterey Street with live music and local restaurants passing out tasty morsels.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero took to the stage with excitement as the years dream was now a reality with his city being the center of many of the events .  After the Mayor officially opened the event the festivities began at full speed  with music , food and of course wines.

As the evening continued guests were dancing in the streets to the music and to the anticipation of what the next 4 days of this inaugural event would bring.  Over the upcoming days guests were looking forward to taste locally grown produce and artisan foods , attend cooking demonstrations from celebrity Chefs and sample some of best wines in the country from over 200 wineries.  Sunset Magazines Editors were going to be on hand as well to show guests how to grow vegetable gardens , make preserves , and even raise chickens. There was going to be something for everyone to enjoy and many waited with great anticipation for the events to start the next day and the days ahead.

Join us as we take you to downtown San Luis Obispo and launch the 1st
SAVOR the Central Coast.

SUNSET Magazine's Savor the Central Coast draws over 7000 guests to sip and savor this very special region

The Central Coast of California has been overlooked for far too long. The area roughly is bordered by Monterey  to the North, Paso Robles to the East , Santa Barbara to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The Central Coast is home to a vast array of Vineyards , farms , Orchards of all kinds and lovely beach towns that feature some of the best , sustainable bounty from the sea found anywhere.

And when you speak about sustainability , this area is leading the way in using sustainable products from the land and the sea.

Sunset Magazine's SAVOR the Central Coast is  a  new four-day food and wine event dedicated to celebrating the beauty and bounty of this area .  The inaugural years drew 7,200 participants to Santa Margarita Ranch and locations throughout San Luis Obispo County . The event is partnership between Sunset Magazine, the premier publication of Living in the West, and the San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau . The majority of SAVOR attendees came from California, but also from as far away as Canada, Florida, Texas, Washington and Oregon to sip and savor the best from the Central Coast.
While attendance at the four-day event drew and astounding  ammount  of  participants, the organizers kept to their goal of minimizing the event's carbon footprint.  Less than 200 pounds of waste from the event was generated; everything else was  composed for the Sunset Kitchen Garden or recycled.

The SAVOR event showcased the wine grapes and wine making talents of winemakers from 100 wineries from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Ventura counties, representing 18 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).  The unique terroir-driven event provided participants the rare occasion to taste as many as 500 wines side-by-side by varietal and by region  tatseing the difference of the areas many micro-climates.

Forty-one varietals from Albarino to Zinfandel were available for tasting as well as  Bordeaux, Rhone and field blends, Kosher wine, ports, late harvest and dessert-style wines as well.

 SAVOR also  featured to cooking demonstrations by The Food Network’s Tyler Florence and seminars by Sunset’s Food Editor Margo True, the event also provided a backdrop for 35 noted chefs from the Central Coast region who provided wine-paired tastes using the region’s freshest ingredients, including 100 percent Sustainable Seafood and locally raised lamb, beef  poultry, eggs  cheeses and  dairy products, produce and herbs. 

Rancho Santa Margarita was founded in 1787 by Spanish Padres and began as farming and ranching outpost to support the near by missions. Since 2000 the 13,000acre  ranch have been owned by the Rossi, Filipponi and Wittstrom families . In addition to the ranch , its 975 acre vineyard was one of the first to practice sustainable , conservation practices. This  historical ranch was the home of the SAVOR Main events that brought the Vineyards , Farms and purveyors all in one place for a celebration of the Central Coast like none other we have ever seen.

Walking into the Main Event was quite overwhelming at first. Guest's had the opportunity to put a brand new Volvo through its paces on a test track or take a train once owned by Walt Disney himself around the sprawling ranch.  The Main event also featured a Farmer's Market.  This magnificent Market sponsored by The California Farm Bureau Federation gave us the opportunity to come face to face with growers who feed the country.  The Sunset Kitchen Garden is a 2 acre  garden that was planted for the event as was at its peak just in time for guests to stroll through and attend demonstrations  on how to mix fruit trees , vegetables and flowers for a garden that not only please the palate but your eyes as well.

The Savor Market place was the center of most of the activity at the Main Event. Over 100 wineries from Monterrey to Ventura were on hand pouring some of their AVAs best.  Ampelos Cellars was one of our first stops and enjoyed their very nice Organic , Sustainable and Bio Dynamic wines from the Sta Rita Hills . Of course a few legends were there as well. Kenneth Volk  , a winemaker that has been making some of the finest wines in California for over a quarter century was there treating us to his best. Michael Michaud ,  Chateau Margene , Justin , Tangent  and Byron  wineries were all  pouring their well known and legendary wines. 

When you attend an event this large not only do you want to visit the famous names but youn should seek out new wineries as well.  We did just that.  Kynsi Winery  in Arroyo Grande is a small  family owned winery specializing in growing cool weather varietals.  We enjoyed their  Ben Nacido Vineyard Syrah  2007 . This Syrah showed off the special characteristics of smoke and spice of the vineyards micro-climate. Cerro Prieto Cellars in Paso Robles  is a true boutique vineyard only producing  1 ton/acre . They recently scored two international gold medals in their first year.  We sampled their great wines and were impressed.

The Seminars had something for everyone to enjoy and learn.  Fresh from the Fields Breakfast was hosted  by Sunset Editor-in-Chief Katie Tamony  and provided attendees with a true California breakfast and showed how to incorporate locally grown products into their morning meal.  Sunset Food Editor Margo True showed guests the difference in cuts of Lamb in her very educational seminar. Not to be out done , Chef Tyler Florence of the Food Network  hosted "Dinner at My Place " and prepared his ultimate seafood dish.  From learning about Riedel Wine glassware , a Battle of Morro Bay Chefs to a Goat  Cheese overview guests had the opportunity to  Sip , Savor and Learn more about the Central Coast.

As the first SAVOR was coming to an end   even the weather cooperated.   Outdoor winemaker dinners were untouched by unusual thunder and lightning storms, and the fog stayed away for finale dinner and concert by Amos Lee and Chris Isaak, followed by an extravagant fireworks display over San Luis Bay that was spectacular.

Sunset Magazine's Inaugural SAVOR the Central Coast provided guests three  days of food , wine and entertainment and  showed the world how special the Central Coast of California is.  This fertile area has been overlooked for a very long time but after attending the First SAVOR the Central Coast that is sure to change . We look forward to the next SAVOR the Central Coast next year and are sure it will be even better with the first year's event starting them off on a road to success.

The Cliffs Resort and Spa in Pismo Beach provides its guests a perfect getaway with a view

The Cliffs Resort has been a favorite of Food and Wine aficionados for many years. Major annual wine events such as The World of Pinot Noir and The Central Coast Wine Classic are held right on their grounds with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.

Located  halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, The Cliffs Resort is perched atop bluffs overlooking some of the world's most pristine beaches. The Cliffs  Resort is unlike any other we have visited in our travels. This beautiful resort and spa is  in harmony  with nature with its breathtaking ocean setting.

Built in 1987 , the Cliffs has taken its place among the best on California's Central Coast and its awards speak for itself.  Many hotels are close to the water  but this one sits on its very own bluff,  Now how special is that ?


Every guest room and suite at The Cliffs Resort brims with extraordinary indulgences. Guests  find upgraded bath amenities, enjoy complimentary wireless Internet access and spacious work areas. As the luxury alternative to traditional Pismo Beach  hotels, this award-winning resort boasts guestroom accommodations to suit every taste and wallet .

We opened the door to our suite and we gasped with excitement.  The Signature suite is the  largest and most well-appointed suite in the hotel. Our attention was immediately drawn to the patio doors.  We opened the  doors a  found a beautiful  grass lawn and bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean less than 50 yards away from our patio.

This  large multilevel floor plan has a separate living room and seating area just inside the patio doors with a panoramic view of the bluffs. The Italian marble bath with a whirlpool provided a nice way to relax after a long day and read the newspaper over a nice glass of Central Coast wine. And as night falls,  what a better place to sleep but on the pillow-top king size bed with sounds of the ocean right out side of your door.

The SPA :

Guests at the Cliffs can enjoy award winning pampering at their Spa.
Ease away tension with a variety of Massages from the Signature Massage , Deep Tissue and Thermal Sea Stone Massage just to name a few.  Or  cleanse your skin with a Skin Soother such as the Sea and Salt Scrub or the enticing White Wine and White Algae Mask.

Whether your preference is a relaxing, full-body massage or extra attention paid to areas that requires a  particular focus, their  gifted therapists will tailor your treatment to best accommodate you. The Spa's  Skin Soothers  draw inspiration from both the nearby wineries and the Pacific Ocean located right outside the SPA windows

 The Spa at The Cliffs features facials by Osea and Epicuren. Osea has become the industry leader in high-tech, all-natural, marine-based skin-care products to balance and care for your skin. Epicurean products incorporate active enzymes and gentle ingredients, to provide advanced therapeutic facial care to cope with all skin imbalances and conditions.

With services for Men and Women alike , The Spa  at the Cliffs Resort is a great way to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body .

Marisol at The Cliffs Resort

“Marisol” translates to "The Sun and the Sea" and no where is this more evident than through the flavors of the food at this ocean view restaurant . The menu at “Marisol” has been developed as a marriage of California Coastal Cuisine and Modern Latin Flavors

 All of the dishes at “Marisol” are prepared  by, Chef de Cuisine Gregg Wangard featuring produce from fields of local farmers, seafood fresh off the boats of local fishermen, and naturally raised meats and poultry.

We stopped in at Marisol numerous times during our visit for Lunch , Happy Hour , Dinner and Breakfast . No matter what meal we were having the entire staff from the bar , servers and Management and the Chef himself were friendly and personable.

Fried Calamari – Marinara, Basil Pesto Aioli and Lemon was a lunch favorite as well as the Morro Bay Oysters that were so fresh the melted in our mouths.

Dinner at Marisol  provides a wonderful way to dine and watch the  sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  Chef Gregg Wangard's Ricotta Ravioli - Sausage, Fennel,  and Lemon Crema dish provided an nice combination for an earthy dish with locally produced ingredients.

Salads at Marisol are fresh from the near by farms with one of our  favorites being  the Ralph Johnson Little Gem Caesar Salad  with White Anchovy, Parmesan and Herb Croutons .

Marisol offers casual lunch dining, Evening cocktails, daily Happy hour appetizer specials a Sunday Brunch and a   breathtaking Bar and outdoor patio, overlooking the pool and ocean to locals and guests alike. Of course their large wine list is a who's who of the Central Coast Vintners and their wonderful products from Rose to Syrah.

Bring the Entire Family on your visit to the Cliffs:

The Cliffs offers many amenities and great service to its guests .  On our visit we brought our entire family to enjoy this very special resort with a view. The  Resort is pet friendly and your best friend is also invited to dine alfresco at Marisol and then take a relaxing walk along the bluffs above the Pacific ocean.

Shortly after we checked in , a knock at the door brought us a very special amenity.  A large pet bed , two silver bowls and a special dining menu. Pets have the option of many dining choices at the Cliffs  that include in room and alfresco dining .

The Woof Woof Boeuf :
Steak , Eggs & Hashbrowns
   Tenderloin Tips , Scrambled Eggs , Hashbrowns , Pig Ear "  Bacon Bits "

Chow Hound Chicken
   Boneless , Skinless Chicken Breast , Bamati Rice and Scrambled Eggs

Tree Hugger
  Brown Rice , Green Beans , Carrots and Potatoes


We travel in the Central Coast often and will return to The Cliffs Resort and Spa. Where else can you have nice glass of wine from your private balcony  with a view, take a dip in the pool overlooking the ocean and dine at one of the areas best restaurants.  Staying at the Cliffs makes it very hard to go anywhere else.

For more information about the Cliffs Resort please visit The Cliffs Resort and Spa

Wine , Food and History come together at Mission San Luis Opispo de Tolosa for SUNSET Magazine's SAVOR the Mission

California's Central Coast is well known for its Vineyards , Seafood , Agriculture and a long history of Spanish Influence that goes back over 200 years.

SUNSET Magazine brought all of these elements together under the  stars  in Mission Plaza at Mission San Luis Opispo de Tolosa for a very special evening to SAVOR the Mission.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded 1772 on the Central Coast of California  on a site located halfway between Santa Barbara  and Monterey . It was named after Saint Louis of Anjou, the bishop of Toulouse. The Mission church of San Luis Obispo is unusual in its design in that its combination of belfry  and vestibule is found nowhere else among the California missions. The main nave is short and narrow (as is the case with other mission churches), but at San Luis Obispo there is a secondary nave of almost equal size situated to the right of the altar, making this the only "L"-shaped mission church among all of the California missions. The Mission is still active today 238 years after it was founded.

As you walk through downtown San Luis Opispo one can not help but feel this historic Mission's presence before you even see it.  This is a dinner that many were looking forward to from the minute SUNSET Magazine announced its events for this very special weekend.  Guests arrived looking forward to a dining experience that  featured the culinary talents of some of San Luis Opispo's best Chefs and a very impressive line up of Vintners as well . Sunset Food Editor Margo True was on hand to enjoy the Food , wine and what should be interesting conversation at the long communal tables.

San Luis Opispo Vintners had a nice line up of their best waiting for the guests as they entered the plaza. Eleven  nearby wineries of Alapay , Ancient Peaks , Cerro Caliente , Chamisal Vineyards , Claiborne & Churchill , Edna Valley  Vineyard , Laetitia , Niven Family Wine Estates , Pithy Little Wine Co, Salisbury Vineyards , Saucelito Canyon , Sinor La Vallee , Talley and Tolosa  all took time out from a busy harvest to attend this historic event.

We have attended events in the past where guests are seated at long tables and we find this quite enjoyable. On this night , locals from San Lusi  Opispo , many from elsewhere in California and those who traveled many miles, all dined  together and in many cases made new friends by the time the event came to an end.

Music was a big part of the event . Once the guests were seated and the winemakers started making their  first visits to the tables the legendary Red Holloway and his Band took the stage . Red and his band provided the final ingredient for this one of a kind dining experience with the Mission serving as the backdrop.

Passed Appetizers :

Spicy Ahi " Tacos "
Native Restaurant and Lounge
Chef Sean  Faries

Sauced Cocktail Frites
Bel Frites
Fred and Joyce O'Toole

First Course :

Two Color Melon Gazpacho with Arugula
Big Sky Cafe
Chef / Owner Charles Myers

Main Course :

Grilled Lamb Loins , Potato Dauphinois  and Seasonal Vegetable Ratatouille
Et Voila
Chef Jose' Dahan

Salad Course :
Local Mixed Greens  with a Goat Mozzarella Tartlet
Cafe Roma
Chef Marco and Saro Rizzo

Dessert Course :

Bombe ( Quince Sherbert , Apple Mousse , Caramel Cigar with Rum Caramel Sauce.
Two Cooks Catering
Chef Russ Thomas

Bread by Hush-Harbor Artisan Bakery

 Many were in awe of this dining venue on  a perfect fall evening in the very alive and vibrant city of San Luis Opispo .  The Mission provided diners a venue with spirituality and history along with San Luis Opispo's hottest Chefs and of course wines from only a few miles away. The conversation at the tables was informative and lively and we are sure new friendships were  established.  SUNSET Magazine's SAVOR the Misson was an enlightening experience for all that attended this unique dinner.

Ancient Peaks winemaker dinner with The Range in Santa Margarita shows some of the areas best as we SAVOR the Central Coast with Sunset Magazine

SUNSET Magazine's 1st SAVOR The Central Coast featured the best everything the Central Coast of California has to over from world class wines , sustainable and organic seafood , grass fed beef and free range chicken as well a fascinating history that pre-dates the United States. Winemaker dinners were held all over the Central Coast.   We joined winemaker Mike Sinor at the Range in Santa Margarita for a dinner that still has our mouths salivating for more.
The daily topic as guests attended the many SAVOR events was "where are you going to eat tonight ? "  We answered we were going to The Range in Santa Margarita for a dinner under the stars .  The reaction was always the same.  " The Range ?  You will LOVE  it !  "  We have felt that we know this area pretty well but , The Range is the best kept locals secret we have found in this area for a very long time.

Jeff and Lindsey Jackson offer an old west , casual atmosphere and feature a menu that is constantly changing.   The menu shows Chef Jeff's  inspiration to source products from small local producers many of which produce organic and sustainable goods.  His wine list of course features the best of the central coast as they are located right in the middle of it.  This restaurant is small and keeping with its old west decor and atmosphere , no reservations or credit cards are accepted.  First come , First serve is their motto so our suggestion is to get there early.

As the appetizer of Bloom Micro Greens  and Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was served , winemaker Mike Sinor explained the wonderful history of Ancient Peaks Winery. Millions of years ago the ocean floor rose and  the earth's coastal plates  collied and  formed tall peaks that surround their organically farmed Margarita Vineyard near Paso Robles.  Ancient Peaks has produced wines that have caused  quite a stir in the world of wine.  For example , the Oyster Ridge 2006  earned 90 points from Wine Enthusiast , the Zinfandel 2006 scored a very nice 93 points from Wine Spectator and the Merlot 2007 earned 90 points and was Editor's Choice of Wine Enthusiast.
This family owned winery specializes in estate-grown fruit and is owned from three long time winegrowing famlies the Filipponis , Rossis and Wittstroms. Mike Sinor is a hands on winemaker and makes sure the vineyard's true character is reflected in his wines made  with Sustainable viticultural practices.  The Margarita Vineyard has earned the very difficult SIP  ( Sustainability in Practice ) certification that shows the quality of the winemakeing that is done in the vineyard .

First Course :
Babe Farms organic parsely root bisque with hazelnut sage brown butter
Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc 2009 
The fresh sage and parsley  paired with the crisp Sauvignon Blanc provided  notes that showed off the dish and its natural flavors and aromas of the area.
Course Two:
 Roasted Cal Poly Organic Free Range Chicken , Kendall farms creme fraiche and shitake mushroom stroganoff in puff pastry.
Ancient Peaks Malbec 2007
We had many great dishes over this one of a kind weekend , but this dish is most likely THE BEST dish we had the entire time we were in this very special area.  The chicken was moist , full of flavor as the shitake mushrooms added body and earth elements that paired well with the Malbec.

Course Three :
Santa Margarita Ranch Grass fed beef daube , Babe Farm celeriac root puree , baby carrots and Oyster Ridge brasing jus.
Ancient Peaks Osyter Ridge Cuvee 2007
This dish provided the guests a feel for what this area is all about.  The vast and historic Santa Margarita Ranch is literally located right out side of  the windows of The Range.  The ingredients combine for a taste of Santa Margarita itself with Chef Jeff using the Oyster Ridge Cuvee provided  a nice touch.

Course Four :
Bitter Chocolate Torte Cabernet Sauvignon , plumped cherries and chilled cardamom sabayon
Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Yes,  you can use a big Cabernet with dessert when done correctly. This  Cabernet Sauvignon from the close by Margarita Vineyard  was a  spot on pairing with the last course.  Aromas of plum and cherry come through on the nose with cassis and  black berry jam ending with a long finish with balanced tannins.

Historic Santa Margarita provided a very special backdrop at The Range and Ancient Peaks winemaker dinner.  This intimate affair at SAVOR the Central Coast provided guests a dinner that showed off the food and wines of the area with an historical and sustainable perspective. Both terms describe the Central Coast of California to a Tee . We travel this area often and we know The Range and Ancient Peaks Winery will be two stops we will not miss .

Bledsoe Family Winery Opens Its Walla Walla Winery At The Box Factory Location.

Not long-ago Drew Bledsoe was throwing touchdowns in the NFL. Shortly after his retirement in 2007,  they planted their first vineyard. ...

Blog Archive