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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Schweiger Vineyards: 4 Generations of Family Fun

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(800 and counting), and visit all 600 wineries (350 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Schweiger Vineyards. It is 55 acres of serenity located on the top of Spring Mountain about an hour ride from our Danville home.

The Schweigers  have owned this pristine piece of property for 53 years spanning 4 generations of family living and working this spectacular piece of real estate producing elegant wines.
Our host for the day, Laurel Shapiro, was full of wine passion and very proud to share her knowledge about their great juice.  We enjoyed sampling the wines on the balcony of their warm and friendly tasting room overlooking the happy vines planted on the heavenly hills surrounding their property
We began with their 2013 Chardonnay that had rich flavors of peach, lemon, pear and apricot that was refreshing and retails for $35.. There are only 3 wineries that produce Chardonnay on Spring Mountain and have created a winner. Although my palate like Laurel's is described as "ABC- anything but Chardonnay", this was great and came back to Danville with us.

We then tried the 2011 Merlot hailed as Spring Mountain's "signature varietal" with blueberry characteristics that was very good and sells for $52.
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is a blend of 97 per cent Cabernet  Sauvignon and 3 percent Merlot. It is aged in French Oak for 32 months creating a full yet elegant mouth feel. It retails for $65..
The 2011 "Dedication" is a blend of 58 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 32 percent Merlot, 6 percent Cabernet Franc and 4 percent Malbec creating intense berry and stone fruit aromas with a silky and balanced finish. It retails for $95.

Our favorite was the 2012 Family CuvĂ©e that had a memorable blend of 76 percent Cabernet Sauvignon,  19 percent Petite Syrah and 5 percent Cabernet Franc and retails for 65 dollars. We also took a bottle of this home with us.

Schweiger also offers private parties and a wine club. They were preparing for their annual lobster fest that sounded like lots of fun.

After our tasting, we had lunch at one of our favorite places famous chef Thomas Kellers Bouchon in Yountville. The restaurant requires reservations offering an elaborate Oyster Bar and carefully crafted specials with superior service. We enjoy their warm and delicate Quiche that is the best we have ever eaten. Linda enjoys their Irish Coffee made with Equator coffee and we always enjoy treats from their  fabulous bakery next door. This time we especially enjoyed their toffee and decadent chocolate eclairs.
For more information and to schedule a tasting go to:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Justin Winery: Producing World Class Wine On The Central Coast"

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco Restaurants( 800 and Counting) and visit all 600 Napa Wineries(350 and counting), my wife Linda and I  recently traveled to Paso Robles home of 200 great wineries on the Central Coast.

From our home in Danville, it is an easy 3 hour drive and about an hour South of Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula. We stayed in the heart of downtown Paso Robles at the famous Paso Robles Inn.  It is walking distance from the park and downtown area, packed with many great restaurants and wine tasting rooms. The Inn also has a great Steak House and each room is named after one of the 200 wineries nearby. The rooms also have patios with a mineral bath tub overlooking  impeccable gardens and modern 2 person swings to take you back to your childhood days and relieve any stress from the rigors of city life.

We chose to have a private tasting at nearby Justin Winery. In 2015, it was named Winery Of The Year by Wine Enthusiast. If you dine at their great restaurant, the wine tastings are complimentary. Also, if you are a Wine Society Member tastings are nearby at an elegant tasting room paired with various cheeses and very good prices to take a few bottles home with you.

There are also 5 spacious rooms available ranging from 600 to 1400 square feet if you want to stay and visit the many wineries nearby.

Our tasting host was very knowledgeable and passionate about sharing his wine knowledge. The cheese pairing with the tasting is very well done and adds to the richness of the wine.

We began with the 2013 Chardonnay that was aged in French Oak for 18 months, very refreshing on a warm day and retails for $40.

The 2013 Justification is composed of 58 per cent Cabernet Franc and 42 per cent Merlot billed as blending the old world and new world. It retails for $50 .

Our favorite was their celebrated Isosceles 2013 composed of 75 % Cabernet Sauvignon,16 % Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot. We also tasted the 2012 Isosceles Reserve that is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14%  Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot and 1% Malbec. Both were great with the 2013 retailing for $70 and the 2012 Reserve for $105 per bottle.

The final taste was the 2013 Savant composed of 65% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Grenache, and 4% Petite Syrah. It retails for $50.

The bottom line is that "Paso Robles Rocks" and is producing some great juice. We would highly recommend a visit to this wine making heaven on the Central Coast. The area is a very beautiful and has lots of great wineries to visit and it is not too far from Danville and the San Francisco Bay Area.

For more information and to schedule a tasting at Justin go to:


Friday, August 12, 2016

Bacara Resort And Spa: Relaxed Oceanfront Luxury

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (800 and counting) and visit all 600 Napa wineries(350 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Santa Barbara. 
From our home in Danville, it is an easy 5 hour drive. We stayed at Bacara Resort and Spa on the Santa Barbara coast offering 78 acres of relaxed luxury. It is located about 2 hours north of Los Angeles and offers 3 restaurants, world class spa, meeting rooms, wine tasting, and some great golf courses nearby.
We had a nicely appointed room and very comfortable bed with pool and ocean views from a large balcony.
The service staff has golf carts that will shuttle you to the restaurants or spa after a day at the beach or nearby Sandpiper Golf course that is known as the "Pebble Beach" of the Central Coast. We enjoyed playing the course with many holes overlooking the deep blue Pacific. It offers 4 sets of tees for to satisfy all skill levels. After golf, the spa offers an extensive list of treatments to soothe your soul and pamper any of your golf aches and pains. 
On site, Foley Wines has an elegant tasting room with many of their great wines and daily wine tastings and a knowledgeable staff of wine lovers. If you purchase one of their great wines, you can bring it to dinner for a $15 corking fee. 
Angel Oak is their new restaurant that just opened 1 month ago. Like an eagle, it proudly sits high above the ocean with spectacular vistas and sunsets. We ate on the patio of this great place and enjoyed a knowledgeable, attentive and happy wait staff feeling lucky to be working at this beautiful restaurant. They have an extensive wine and drink selection and blankets and gas heaters provided if it gets too cool. 
We began this foodie experience ordering one of their specialty cocktails called "Smoke On The Water." It is fabulous and finished tableside  with Woodford Reserve Select Barrel, Apple Brandy, Creme De Noyaux, All Spice, Smoked With Cherry Wood. 

Chef Alexander Bollinger recommended we try the bone marrow for an appetizer. We were not disappointed as it was cooked to perfection with oxtail marmalade, pistachio gremolata, herbs and grilled sourdough.
There is a wide variety of steaks and seafood dishes all served with warm homemade rolls and house butter made with coriander-lime-espelette or truffle and herb. 
We chose to dine on the light side ordering a jumbo shrimp cocktail with 3 large shrimp served on a bed of popcorn, Caesar salad with Pecorino Romano, boquerones, radishes and herbs. We also tried the French Onion soup served steaming hot with a variety of imported cheeses that was the best we have ever experienced. 
Since it was Linda's birthday we were advised to try their famous candy bar desert. It was presented with a birthday candle and happy birthday written in chocolate gracing the plate. It is dark chocolate cremeaux, peanut butter crunch and salted caramel ice cream that was fabulous. The couple seated next to us ordered Baked Alaska flamed at table side with toasted coconut ice cream, strawberry elderflower gel and grand mariner that added to the fun of this special foodie experience.
We would highly recommend this resort and on your way home to stop at one of the 200 wineries making great juice in Paso Robles only 2 hours away. 
For more information go to: