Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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.

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Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott