Fall is packed with events in Paso’s Wine Country
By Lisa J. Pretty
On the east coast when people talk about Fall colors they talk about nature’s display of red, yellow and auburn leaves - clearly a wonderful time of year. In Paso Robles wine country, we have our own version of a colorful fall – the white and red grapes hanging on the vines, the spectacular colors as the grapes are crushed and fermented and the tasting rooms tend to be a little more festive to welcome the visitors to help celebrate this special time. An added bonus is you can smell the grapes fermenting and feel the excitement in the air. Fall really is the perfect time to visit Paso wine country.
Several Paso Robles wineries ramped up their hospitality services this summer and most are continuing their concert series and special events into September and October. With 26,000 vineyard acres and over 180 wineries you really need to plan ahead to take advantage of what is going on in the region if you want to attend special events. A new and improved wine region website – www.pasowine.com is a great place to start. The site has been revamped with an emphasis on helping people plan their trip with winery event listings, winery profiles, tips on how to taste, where to eat and even places to stay. If you visit the site, you will see why the Wall Street Journal featured pasowine.com as one of its picks for best wine region websites. I spent a little time perusing the September and October events and as a teaser picked-out a few that I found interesting.
Dance Lessons. How fun to go to a winery, hear some great music and learn to dance. Vina Robles has the perfect location with their new hospitality facility right on Hwy 46 East. The dance lessons were new this year and have been a wonderful success. Each Wednesday in August they had Tango lessons and continuing on in October they will be offering Swing Ballroom Dance Lessons each Wednesday. Instructor Laura Nicholson will teach dance steps of West and East Coast Swing from 6 to 7 p.m. with social dance from 7 to 8 p.m. Tickets are just $13 per person.
Ice Cream Socials. Who doesn’t love ice cream? Chumeia Vineyards makes their own wine flavored ice cream – each month a different flavor is featured. September 4th is a surprise, so you have to attend to try the mystery wine ice cream. You can socialize, enjoy the award winning wines and try their deli items in the picnic area.
Concerts. This year more wineries than ever have started to offer afternoon or evening concerts. Part of this could be that wineries are now able to legally sell wine by the glass and part could be that the wineries are trying to lure more people to their hospitality centers with something everyone loves – live music. While this is nowhere near a complete list, here is a snippet of the September and October offerings (be sure to make reservations with the wineries in advance):
September 5, 7:30 Elissa Lala – jazz it up at D’Anbino Vineyards & Cellars
September 5, 5:30 World Music Sunset Concert featuring Calinambe & Zongo at Sylvester Vineyards & Winery
September 11, 5:30 p.m. Train Wreck Friday at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery with music by Rolf Gehrung
September 17, 5:30 Sunset jam Session at Pear Valley Vineyard with James Hendon, the winemaker
September 25, 7 p.m. Soulamente in Concert at Vina Robles
Setpember 25, Sunset Concert featuring Adam Crowe at Robert Hall Winery
September 27, 4 p.m. Opera in the Vina Robles Vineyard by Pacific Repertory Opera
October 9, 5:30 p.m. Train Wreck Friday at Pomar Junction Vineyard featuring Mike “Lone Cat” Maguire
October 23, 7 p.m. Julie & the Bad Dogs in Concert at Vina Robles
Fun fund raiser. For the forth year, Cause for Paws will help raise funds for the Woods Wine Society. September 12 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Chumeia Vineyards will have a day filled with food, wine, mobile dog adoptions and dog items for sale with proceeds benefiting Woods. All weekend long, September 11-13, several wineries around 46 East will offer Cause for Paws Passports – just visit a minimum of 4 wineries to get an entry for prizes. Participating wineries include: Bianchi, Eberle, Firestone, Martin & Weyrich, Meridian, Pretty-Smith, Sylvester and Tobin James.
Harvest Wine Weekend October 16-18. If you are looking for one weekend to hit Paso Robles when pretty much every winery has something fun going on, this is the weekend. Each year, the third weekend in October is Harvest Wine Weekend and the entire Paso Robles wine community pulls out all the stops to make the experience a memorable one. Each year you will have the opportunity to participate in the winemaking experience (this year try Eagle Castle Winery for “Be a winemaker for a day”) – perhaps even stomp some grapes. Many wineries offer library specials, barrel samples, and fantastic case sales. With the new vintage on its way in the cellar, several wineries make this weekend the time to release their current vintage. There are numerous winemaker dinners, BBQs, blending seminars (this year try Thunderbolt Winery), live music, art shows, you name it – this is the weekend to find something new and exciting in Paso Robles. If you are curious, here is what I’ll be doing at Pretty-Smith: releasing the 1999 Zinfandel Port which was aged in oaks for 10 years, offering free appetizers in the tasting room, vintage clear out case sales, an art exhibit by Fred Ventura and on the Saturday evening I teamed up with the olive oil producers, Allure Estates, to offer the “Pretty Alluring Harvest Dinner” for $60 per person. Early September the entire Harvest Wine Weekend brochure will be posted at www.pasowine.com so check there to find literally hundreds of things to do.
CRAVE October 24. Satisfy your craving at this unique wine tasting experience. This fresh wine tasting event, held the fourth Friday of every October, is geared toward the up-and-coming millenial generation (21 and over, of course) who have an interest in wine.
Be sure to visit Paso Wine Country this September and October for a very colorful experience!