Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Cypress Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea Offers Mixology , Local Cuisine and History .

Carmel-by-the-Sea , those words pretty much sum it up ! This quirky, quant town with no addresses is perhaps one of the most interesting and beautiful towns we have visited in our extensive travels in the area.  Carmel is full of legendary boutique hotels, restaurants and lounges many of which are actual historic landmarks.
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Spending the day walking around Carmel can make you pretty thirsty and we were told right where to go for a happy hour that featured, history, local cuisine and handcrafted cocktails from a mixologist , the historic Cypress Inn and Terry’s Restaurant and Lounge .
Upon arriving at the Cypress Inn, we were greeted by the very pleasant and knowledgeable General Manager Fiona who gave us quite an education on the long and storied history of the Inn. She explained, Cypress Inn is all about ambiance and decor, personalized service, amenities, and 100% dog-friendly so you can stay and dine with ALL of your family members. She added they specialize in   classic hospitality and old-world luxury.  They keep it intimate with only 44 spacious, elegant guestrooms and even a sunlit garden courtyard that looks like the ones you have seen in countless movies in times gone by.
While walking through the lobby we were overcome by the old world charm and art of all disciplines that speak of a time that embraced elegance and refinement. Really understanding this historical landmark gave us a true appreciation for what was all around us.   In 1906, Sidney J. Yard, an artist known for painting watercolors in the English manner, built Carmel’s first art gallery right which is now the Cypress Inn. The space was later used by another famous artist Miss Mary DeNeale Morgan.  Then In 1929 Dr. Rudolf Kocher, working with one of Carmel's premier contractors, Hugh Comstock, constructed the present building.
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Originally the Hotel La Ribera,  it was featured in the local press when it opened as "one of the show places of the Monterey Peninsula."  In the 1960’s, Earl E. McInnis and his son, Frank, took over management of the hotel and newly renamed it “Cypress West”.  It was restored and upgraded to its original splendor, enticing many of its nostalgic guests to return to their favorite hotel. Why so pet friendly you may ask?  For more than twenty years, Cypress Inn has been jointly owned by Doris Day and Dennis LeVett.   Doris’s long deep devotion to animals helped put Cypress Inn on the map as the “pet friendliest” Inn in the “pet friendliest” town in America.
Now that we knew the history, it was time to quench our thirst with the area’s best cocktail selection at Terry’s Lounge.  We can describe Terry’s as classy and intimate, making us feel once again like we were walking into a classic movie and we were the guests.
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The Bar is dim with low green light hues shining onto glass shelves, showing off row after row of classic spirits and bitters.  The cocktail menu features quotes from classic Hollywood stars in each section of their diverse list.  As we approached the bar several stars of yesteryear have quotes ensconced on the wall, our favorite being, “The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.”- Humphrey Bogart.   To help make the world a better place, we took our seats at the bar and began our exploration of spirits.
Looking over the list, we noticed some classic cocktails of course and some signature ones as well.  Always a favorite is the historic Sidecar.  This classic cocktail features Courvoisier, Cointreau, and fresh lemon juice.  Our knowledgeable barman explained, the renown “Harry’s Bar” of Paris is generally credited with inventing the Sidecar in the 1920’s for a patron who often rode in one. While many variations can be found, this is the original.
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Another fan favorite for decades is also found on the list. How could we pass up the Perfect Manhattan. A mouthwatering blend of Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon, sweet and dry vermouth and a dash of bitters. This personal favorite is named after New York’s Manhattan Club. Being so different at the time, The Manhattan took over the top spot previously held by gin martinis.



Many of the cocktails have a Hollywood connection. With yet another great quote we enjoyed, “You should get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini.”-Mae West, 1937’s “Every Day’s a Holiday”. We took at look at cocktails with a movie star past that are on this one of a kind list.
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The Mary Pickford cocktail looked intriguing and its history is equally interesting. Sexy Leblon, Bacardi Superior Rum, pineapple juice, maraschino liqueur and grenadine was a cocktail we could not pass up. We learned that it was created during the 1920’s, for screen actress Mary Pickford and invented by Fred Kauffman at the Hotel Nacîonal de Cuba when Mary was filming alongside her husband Douglas Fairbanks and the legendary silent movie actor Charlie Chaplin. How’s that for some Hollywood history in a glass?
As we continued down our historical path of spirits we just had to dive into some gastronomic delights from the kitchen.  Being in site  of the white sand beach and deep blue water we decided to keep it fresh and local.  A lovely, perfectly crispy fried monterey Bay calamari dish was a good way to get started. These eight succulent gifts from the ocean had a light, crisp tempura with a mix of Middle Eastern spices and a mild Harissa aioli that married together perfectly.  Simple, fresh and divine, a dozen Oysters on the half shell with Lemon Shallot mignonette and tangy horseradish sauce “hit the spot.”

Crispy Fried monterey Bay calamari dish . eight succulent gifts from the ocean  light, crisp tempura with a mix of Middle Eastern spices and a mild Harissa aioli

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Our palates cleansed with fresh delights from the sea , we ordered up another cocktail with a Hollywood past.  The Marlene Dietrich Cocktail is the “biggest “cocktail we have had thus far. Consisting of Canadian Club Whisky, Grand Marnier, fresh orange juice over ice with orange and lemon peel garnish was a favorite of the day. Once again, our always educational barman said this libation was invented in a Hollywood nightclub in the 1930’s. Legend has it that Marlene Dietrich used to suck on lemons during film making to keep her mouth muscles taut for the camera and gave her that classic famous look.
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The list is so interesting it will take multiple visits to work our way through.  We already have a few targets in mind for our next visit. The Gibson, which features Boodles Gin, dry vermouth and a cocktail onion garnish. A common theory states this was named after a New York bartender who was tasked with “something different “He placed an onion in place of an olive in the customer’s (magazine publisher Charles Dana Gibson) gin martini and thus a new cocktail was born. Also tops on our list, The Stinger,An interesting mix of Christian Brothers Brandy and white crème de menthe. This classic was born during the prohibition out of the need to disguise the taste of homemade spirits!
Even though the bar is hard to leave, the dining area features amazing fare that is sure to please everyone.  For those who want to indulge in seafood Terry’s has several standouts.  Pan-Seared Scallops roasted with baby spinach and truffle red potatoes is sure to be a hit. Also, rich Dungeness Crab Cakes - served with orange, cranberry and Grand Marnier chutney will impress your palate. And why not a local treat? .  Enjoy Sixteen Monterey Sand Dabs lightly breaded and grilled, with tarragon sauce served with fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables to finish it off.
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For the carnivores at the table,  a must try is the  Braised Short Ribs in  red wine reduction, seasonal vegetables, rosemary and parmesan cheese baked polenta or the Lamb Lollipops, Pan-seared with mint-pistachio pesto and sweet potato fries. No matter what culinary mood you are in, Terry’s has a cocktail and a dish for you to enjoy.
Visiting The Cypress Inn was an experience that we will do again and again. If you are in Carmel, stop in to the Cypress Inn, bring your pet, feel the history and enjoy great local cuisine and a classic cocktail. It will be a memorable occasion.



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Celebrity Chefs, Mixologists and Sommeliers ascend on Las Vegas for Inaugural Life Is Beautiful Festival in October .

If you haven’t been to Las Vegas recently you would not recognize what is happening in the Downtown / Arts District. A true revival is taking place right before your eyes.  In October, this vibrant area of Las Vegas will shine with a plethora of culinary stars and events for everyone.
There will be more than 60 chefs and restaurants, 24 wineries and 24 breweries participating in this culinary festival being held October 25th-27th and a kitchen full of celebrity chefs as well.  Names you are sure to recognize are Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Jonathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, Aaron Sanchez, Cat Cora, Rick Moonen, Scott Conant, Tom Colicchio, and Michael Symon just to name a few. These icons of TV and Kitchen will be on hand to show off their tasty culinary skills to eager guests.
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“The food experiences of Life is Beautiful Festival were carefully designed to be interactive, innovative and unexpected,” says Jolene Mannina, Head of Culinary Arts for the festival. “Working with the vision of our Culinary Advisory Board of 12 world-renowned Chefs, we’ve created an approach that we feel will set us apart from other food festivals, giving both our patrons and chefs a chance to enjoy something new, fresh and, of course, delicious.”
Chef Aarón Sanchez
Chef Aarón Sanchez
If you are into Mixology  and Chefs  working together , get your glasses ready for  Nancy Silverton, Akira Back, Richard Camarota, Frank Goriceta, Carlos Guia, Joseph Leibowitz, Hiew Gun Khong, Nina Manchev, Tony Abou-Ganim, Drew Levinson, Andrew Pollard, Eric Swanson, Kent Bearden, Thomas Burke, Michael Shetler, Kevin Vanegas, Jack Kramer, and Mike Tadich.
The event will  also feature a Culinary Village and will be home to the world’s best chefs and restaurants. The  The Alchemy Gardens Presented by Wirtz Beverage is sure to be a hit with Craft brewers, wine makers and distillers are working together to provide liquid entertainment
Chef Todd English
Chef Todd English
The Celebrity Chefs have their own demonstration kitchen and is sure to be one of the biggest attractions of the weekend.  Chefs Bruce and Eric Bromberg, Scott Conant, Jet Tila, Jonathan Waxman, Cat Cora, Chris Cosentino, Rick Moonen, Aaron Sanchez, Hubert Keller, Kerry Simon, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Mike Minor, Donald Link, Grant MacPherson, Carla Pellegrino, Jason Tuley, David Myers, Elias Caro, Josh Graves and Todd English will be taking the stage for the guests culinary enjoyment.
To kick the event off  , Restaurateur  Elizabeth Blau and Chef Hubert Keller will host  Take A Stand  grand opening  gala  to benefit Three Square Food Bank and Communities in Schools The  dinner will  feature Hubert Keller, Michael Mina, Todd English, Akira Back, Paul Bartolotta, Grant MacPherson, Charlie Palmer, Megan Romano   serving eight courses  paired with  wines and  cocktails .
Chef Kim Canteenwalla
Chef Kim Canteenwalla
Yet another exciting event will be Grills & Guitars. This a BBQ you will not forget  with Chefs   Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Jonathan Waxman, Cat Cora, Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon, Nancy Silverton, Jet Tila, Scott Conant, Kim Canteenwalla, Aaron Sanchez, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Rick Moonen & David Myers cooking  and sharing their best .
Chef Rick Moonen
Chef Rick Moonen
Many of us enjoy dinning tours and Life is Beautiful will provide an excellent way to experience a tour that will please your palate. The Culinary Crawl is a three-hour dining tour that will introduce guests to a variety of tastes. Who wouldn’t enjoy being escorted to three different venues, each with a different chef host who has customized a unique experience that pairs their creative dishes with specially selected drinks provided by Wirtz Beverage Group?
Chef Tom Colicchio  Photo : Chris Lamarca
Chef Tom Colicchio
Photo : Chris Lamarca
It’s not often one is fortunate enough to attend an inaugural event that is sure to continue for years to come. We know where we will be in October?  Do you? For more information, Regular Two-Day General Admission & VIP Tickets for the 2013 Life is Beautiful Festival are available for purchase at www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Visiting Carmel by The Sea ? Hofsas House makes you feel like family .

As we bid Paso Robles a fond farewell, we headed up the road to the picturesque town of Carmel by Sea.  This time we were heading in the same direction as Hotelier Donna Hofsas did many years ago when she left Los Angeles to take up residence in Carmel in the 40’s.
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Donna went on to transform tiny cottages into an outstanding family run hotel that has been in operation since the 1950’s.  Donna Hofsas  passed in 1999 but her legacy has carried on through her granddaughter, Carrie Theis, who now continues to manage the European style hotel while offering the same old world charm and personalize service that Grandmother Donna  instilled in her since the tender age of 5.
With modern amenities, personalized hotel packages for pet lovers,  summer vacationers, or  those looking for a romantic get-away, everyone is  well taken care of at the Hofsas House.
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We agree with a name that refers to this outstanding Inn as a House, because, it is like coming home to visit with those that are near and dear.  As you enter the quaint sitting room adorned with Bavarian themed art work done by Donna’s friend of yester-year, acclaimed artist Maxine Albro, you feel like you just stepped into a the home of an endearing friend.



As we entered our suite, we were drawn again to the old world charm, but also the attention to detail and of course the view from the patio as it  over-looks  the town of Carmel  with sweeping panorama  views of towering pines and a glimpse of the twinkling Pacific Ocean.
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Being pet parents, our doggie friends were given fluffy pet beds, treats, including a Frisbee for the beach and even doggie shampoo.   The Hofsas house is truly living up to the reputation of being the top destination for those traveling with their pet children.



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GopetFriendly.com named Carmel as the Nations “Best Cities for Pet Travelers, beating  out 113 other cities for that ranking.  We offer our Kudos to the Hosfsas house for lending to this most worthy award.
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For many of us, our pets are our dearest family members and we applaud Hofsas house and other outstanding hoteliers and restaurants in Carmel by the Sea our deepest appreciation for recognizing an honoring this area of travel that is now becoming more and more popular.




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Not only does the Hofsas House offer pet packages but they also other personalized services to make your stay in Carmel as relaxing and care-free as possible. 

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From arranging tee times on the world’s best golf courses to tickets to the Near-by Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carrie and her staff will make sure every detail of your trip is accented with her caring and concern. 
You will feel like coming back again and again to those who truly make you “feel like home” while taking care of all the details.  For more information on packages, room rates and amenities go to www. Hofsashouse.com  

The Daily Meal Launches " The World of Wine " and sets the bar high .

The Daily Meal, the mega food and drink site from Spanfeller Media Group  has launched The World of Wine, one of the single largest resources for wine lovers available on the web ,merging insightful descriptions of the world's great wine regions and grape varieties, with tips on wine–food pairings, recipe ideas, winemaker's notes, and suggestions for similar wines.

Comprised of more than 60,000 wines, The World of Wine allows for expert-driven content, curated by editorial director Colman Andrews — himself an experienced wine writer to live side-by-side with reader-generated reviews. The much anticipated guide arrives in beta, after yet another season of enormous growth for the website, and makes The Daily Meal a frontrunner in online wine coverage.
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Users can search for wines rated by the finest authorities in the world (Wine Enthusiast, Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, and more), or participate in the conversation by reviewing one of their favorite bottles for the world to see.

Readers  can also browse through The Daily Meal’s own tasting notes from some of the world's leading wine experts to find out what they're drinking now, and what they love.
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"By combining tasting notes and buying information for so many wines of every kind," says Andrews, "along with food-and-wine pairings, winemaker profiles, behind-the-scenes winery lore, travel tips for wine-lovers, and much more, we've designed The World of Wine to become an essential source for everyone from thirsty beginners to experienced connoisseurs. The Daily Meal is dedicated to 'All Things Food and Drink' — and we'd like to think that The World of Wine offers 'All Things Wine.’”
Discover The World of Wine here. http://www.thedailymeal.com/wine

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Afternoon with Chateau Margene Owner / Winemaker Michael Mooney Schools Vino Las Vegas Editors on Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon .

Oh yes, wine country, you know, you've seen the pictures, rolling hills,Vineyards, the picturesque winery on a hill in the distance, the smell of fresh air and dirt roads leading far into a vineyard that never ends.
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When talking about wine country in the United States two words unusually come to mind, Napa and Sonoma, and rightfully so. These regions are the home of world class wines, renowned winemakers and lovely vineyards. However, it can be much more interesting to visit other places that offer world class wines. Turn down a road in Paso Robles or the Edna Valley or many other wine regions in the country and it can be like a treasure hunt that promises great riches when you reach your destination. We decided to find new friends and see some old ones in the Central Coast of California.
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On our journey we decided to stop into the Central Coast town of Paso Robles, famous for their Zinfandels but we know there has got to be much more than to this area, after all, our country is about diversity.We stopped in to see one of the long-time experts in Paso Robles, Michael Mooney winemaker and owner at the famous and highly allocated Winery Château Margene.
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After driving through hairpin turns, wishing we had a Ferrari just to add some additional excitement, we arrive at the winery and Michael is there waiting for us.


We joined Michael on a beautiful afternoon sitting on the patio overlooking the  Vineyard with some beautiful bottles of wine and lots of glasses! This is going to be fun.
As Michael began to pour the first wine, we wanted to learn more about how he got started in the business of providing great pleasure to thousands. After all, a major ingredient in wine-making is the story behind it and Chateau Margene is no exception.
Michael explained he caught the wine making bug and wanted to establish a vineyard, build a Winery and establish a home. He came from a high-tech background and  admitted he didn’t know anything about winemaking but Nevertheless, he took up  residence in the summer of 1998. Not wasting any time, he planted his 5.5 acre  estate in the fall of the same year.
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Michael got the ball rolling pretty fast. Château Margene’s first wine was a Cabernet produced in 1997 sourced from both the east and west side of Paso Robles. 2011 was a monumental year for this high-tech executive turned winemaker. They bottled the first estate wines,  a 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2001 reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
Of course the first question people ask is why Paso Robles?   Michael explained that he drew from his high-tech background “it’s all about the heat index and consistency” he said. “Of course we first looked for land in Napa and Sonoma but we weren't really happy with the consistency on the heat index we found.” He added. He headed south and then he found his promised land of what would become Chateau Margene. Paso Robles was a place to be with the heat index that was consistent;  perfect for Cabernet and that's how the story began.
Being the Corporate guy he is, Michael and his wife Margene put together a 10 year plan.  Step one, hire the best venticulturalist we can find. Step 2, hire the best winemaker we can find and step 3 “We listen and we learn” he stated. And that they did, in 2000 Michael and Margene started making their own wine after listening and learning for three years.
The work certainly paid off in 2003. 312 Wines were entered in the international Cabernet shootout. 12 were selected as being “standouts “ One of those standouts was the 2000 Chateau Margene Cabernet Sauvignon which finished seventh and went on to tie for first place! Not bad for a high-tech Executive turned winemaker.
Chateau Margene Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Paso Robles
Chateau Margene Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Paso Robles
Enjoying an afternoon overlooking the rolling hills, we continued our  enlightening conversation as Michael poured our first treat. A tasty Chateau Margene 2010 somewhat young, this lovely blend 79% Cabernet 16% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot is exquisite. Blackcurrant and blueberries make you feel like you're  walking through a blueberry patch in the forest. Speaking about forest, it also features Cedar notes as well. The Cabernet was sourced from five different vineyards. That’s what Chateau Margene is all about. The 2010 has a nice long finish with moderate tannins.
We got and education Michael Mooney style on oak barrels. He personally likes 30% new oak. He knows of course, many wine makers like 100% brand new oak but he is always “looking for the fruit to be a star” he said.
Recently, Michael and some of the other winemakers, 16 them to be exact, formed the Cabernet collective because they feel that Paso Robles can make some of the best cabernets in the world. They have a scientific term called diurnal shift. This is term for a huge gap in daily temperatures. In Paso Robles for example, in some areas in August at 5 PM it could be 100F, at 6 AM it could be 50F. This is great for balanced acidity and for lovely Cabernets.
As we said earlier Paso Robles is very well known for making very good Zinfandels. We were schooled on the Paso Robles AVA from one who knows. There are 613,000 acres planted in the Paso Robles AVA. Michael went on to say of those 613,000 acres only 9% is Zinfandel. The next most popular for consumers are the Rhone varietals and they only account 14 to 17% of the total. The hugely overlooked and very good Bordeaux varietals account for a majority at 55% percent of the 613,000 acres planted. That fact alone just goes to show how much fun exploring a new area can be and by knowing those  little interesting facts you may find true "wine" gems along the way.

Chateau Margene Meritage 2009 Paso Robles
Chateau Margene Meritage 2009 Paso Robles
Chateau Margene 2009 Meritage was next in our glass of pure enjoyment. Meritage is always a personal favorite. This Bordeaux style blend is very typical of what should we would expect from the west side of Paso Robles. A sexy, elegant blend  of 40% Cabernet 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc makes this wine perfect any time of year, with food or by itself, you can’t go wrong. Michael himself enjoys the Meritage because “This is what Paso Robles is all about” he said swirling his glass with a smile.
And then we come to a great story. All wines have a great story and we already  know Margene and Michael’s story, but now we are told a story within the story. It is a  story about a Bandito, Mexican land grants, Derringers, gangs, and revenge.
In 2011 El Pistolero”, an entry level program was introduced to offer premium  wine at an exceptional value. But, now we going to hear the rest of the story.  Michael’s family goes back seven generations in California.  Ignacio Linares was a soldier on the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition into California in 1775.  Ignacio’s grandson, Victor Linares was granted a Mexican Land Grant in San Luis  Obispo County, by then Governor Juan B. Alvarado, for Rancho Canada de Los Osos in 1842. Michael explained that Victor Linares is his great, great, great uncle.
 El Pistolero Cabernet Sauvignon , Paso Robles
El Pistolero Cabernet Sauvignon , Paso Robles
The United States, under US law took the land grants from him. This mild-mannered uncle became a famous Bandido , joined the Jack Powers gang and fought for revenge until Victor himself died in a shoot out at the family ranch in Los Osos . That is the rest of the story, as they say. And you can read it for yourself on the back of the label of the bottle.  You can assuredly taste the history of seven generations behind this wine. Another lesson learned; take time to read the story, it is probably an interesting one.
With afternoon fading away, the sun getting lower behind the hills we still had Chateau Margene’s flag ship wine to savor. It was a slow build to a crescendo, with previous wines and the great stories of hard work and a proud family history.  It was time for 2007 Beau Melange. This was a very special treat as it’s sold out and second of all it's pretty pricey. This lovely wine is sourced 100% from the Eastside estate and it only produces  1.3 tons per acre. This is Michael's  baby. He takes care of each vine and treats it just like his own flesh with care and attention.
Chateau Margene 2007 Beau Melange
Chateau Margene 2007 Beau Melange
We had this bottle opened for a while. We really wanted to see what this  2007  vintage would be like  when fully and naturally exposed to air for the first time in 6 years. This flagship, beautiful Cabernet is aged 32 months in French oak 50% new oak. On the nose, blackcurrant, smoke, dark fruit and leather jump out. On the palate it is an explosion of deep fruit, spice, balanced tannins and a long lingering finish. This true trophy wine is a perfect marriage of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc and 22% Merlot and a pleasure by itself or with food.
Drink now if you can find one or cellar it to 2020 and it will age nicely. In short, spending the afternoon on the back porch with Michael was an educational and enjoyable experience. We heard inspiring stories and learned technical facts about the appellation. The next time you're in Paso Robles don't just think about Zinfandels, enjoy some of Bordeaux varietals and seek out a tasty Cabernet from Chateau Margene,Eberle or Adelaida. They all have amazing wines.
We raise our glass of Chateau Margene 2007 Beau Melange and say thank you to Michael for spending time with us.  We head out once down the wine trail of life through Paso Robles and continue north for a whole new adventure.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Vino Las Vegas Editors stop in for lunch and a taste with Winemaker Matt Ortman at Villa San-Juliette Winery created by Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick In Paso Robles.

Ajullerte2s the summer kicks the thermostat into overdrive here in Las Vegas we had a chance to move on to the Central Coast of California for refreshment on every level.  We escaped the rising temperatures; while raising our glasses a few times over the course over an 11 day food. Wine and travel odyssey.  Not only does the Central Coast of California offer delightfully refreshing weather, but tastes, sights and sounds that refresh the soul and the palate.


We all want to get away from time to time and with some of the World’s best wines and breath- taking venues so naturally accessible in the land by the Pacific, get out of the heat and into the vineyards this summer.
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Our journey began in the early morning as we made our way to Paso Robles California for an early afternoon appointment at the stunning, new winery Villa San-Juliette, and we mean stunning.  What captures your attention as you drive up to the Tuscan styled villa is the enormous graceful oak tree that engages the entire property with the grandeur of nature.
 Nigel Lythgoe
Nigel Lythgoe

















Villa San-Juliette Winery is the creation of Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, who are committed to sharing the good life and their delicious wines.   The star of the show is their beautiful 168-acre country vineyard in Paso Robles, California, where Ken and Nigel are there quite often and always excited to indulge in the winery experience with new friends.
Ken Warwick
Ken Warwick
We could not think of a better way to talk about the history of this picturesque property than two television producing legends tell it themselves with their own reality show about them! .   When hottest television producers in America ventured into a world they knew nothing about, their sweet dreams slowly ferment into sour grapes.




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You must watch their vineyard series Corkscrewed. http://www.hulu.com/corkscrewed-the-wrath-of-grapes  It’s a series that features Nigel and Ken in front of the camera, rather than behind it, as they negotiate with local farmers and winemakers, curse wild boars and vineyard pests and are eventually welcomed into the Paso Robles wine community. The Liverpool-born owners of Villa San-Juliette make for an odd pair, as they learned firsthand the challenges of grape growing and living in wine country.

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Nigel and Ken have both been talented enough to enjoy the luxurious Hollywood lifestyle that comes with a string of prime-time US network hits , this project was by far their most challenging. Originally, the purchase of the vineyard was planned for a consortium of buyers, all friends. However, one by one, the investors pulled out leaving Nigel and Ken to purchase the beautiful 168-acre vineyard in Paso Robles, California, alone.



VSJ Cabernet Franc
VSJ Cabernet Franc
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Problems arose from the outset. Arriving at the vineyard in a Bentley, dressed in designer clothing, Nigel and Ken tried to convince the jeans-clad community of their interest in horticulture. From there hilarity and complications persisted; yet, like most of their television projects, failure was not an option.



In May of 2008, the first estate-grown vintage was bottled, and since then five have been released under the Villa San-Juliette Label ,all to positive reviews. Their stunning 14,000-square-foot Tuscan-style estate and tasting room exhibits the pinnacle of European luxury and elegance, showing that, once again, Nigel and Ken have created a star.
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Villa San-Juliette showcases the terrior and the unique qualities of the varietals that receive their sustenance from the land.  With the expertise of wine-maker, Matt Ortman, those grapes become that exquisite elixir in your glass.
 Matt Ortman,
Matt Ortman,




We were honored to enjoy a lunch over-looking the massive grand-oak, fountain, and vineyards.  President, Hillary Trout joined us and spent time explaining how this property was transformed from vines that were relatively new, because most the vines on property had to be burned do to a virus that deemed them unusable.  With skillful labor and much love the property has been resurrected and now is now “starring” this fabulous wine growing region.
Hillary Trout
Hillary Trout
We have traveled extensively in California’s Central Coast for almost a decade. Villa San-Juliette is a one-of-a kind Vineyard. The  tasting room and winery are  the likes of which we have not seen in the area and the wines are simply amazing .
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Winemaker Matt Ortman, Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris , Cuisineist Wine Editor Scott Harris





Better yet, on your next trip through Paso Robles stop in to Villa San-Juliette have some wine, enjoy a f!tasty lunch by the fountain and oak tree looking 168 acres of rolling vineyards and see for your self

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

VINO LAS VEGAS on the Road : General Manager Victor Popp makes staying at La Quinta, Paso Robles feel like home and he bottles his own wine for your enjoyment .

Paso Robles is gaining the reputation as a fine wine destination getaway for tasting Bold robust Zinfandels and Lovely Bordeaux Varietals. With wineries springing up throughout the region, many are making the sojourn to this Interesting wine region.
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While preparing for your trip to this area, plan on staying at the La Quinta, Paso Robles. Located right on Hwy 46 this hotel can boast a five star reputation, given the accolades that are being lauded by locals and travelers alike.  La Quinta, Paso Robles, well deserves the rave reviews that it is receiving. With General Manager, Victor Popp at the helm, this nationally known chain, has been up- graded to five star status.
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VWC Innviting Red Blend , Paso Robles

Mr. Popp’s ingenuity, caring, and expertise, has translated into an outstanding hotel experience for every type of traveler. Given, his many years of expertise in the industry, his vivacious personality and attention to detail, many are singing praises for a hotel that is catering to wine aficionados, pet lovers and families who are on the road.  They can also accommodate tours to the region, wedding parties, and just about anyone who just wants to get away for the weekend.
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Each person that walks through lovely grounds adorned with rose bushes is greeted by a friendly staff that is well-versed in all aspects of hotel operations.
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The  rooms are well-designed, with lovely linens, and comfortable furnishings,  that can accommodate families traveling with  fido, or those on a romantic weekend for two. There is a lovely dining area with gratis breakfast, and a happy hour featuring many of the local wines and cheeses from the area.  An in–house gift store features outstanding local wines won’t have you going home or to your room empty handed.
We have been fortunate to have stayed at this lovely hotel several times, and this time, Mr.Popp warmly greeted us with a gift of wine made by himself and his staff. Now, how is that for hospitality? As we made our way around the area, discovering some new local wineries and local fare, we were glad to know that our return would be to a place where we would be refreshed and renewed.
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Victor Popp and his staff crushing grapes for their first bottling of Innviting

Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott