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On the Air & In the Vines

Posted November 19, 2014

‘Harvest on the Coast’ is the newly coined name by our friends at the San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association for their annual harvest celebration.  Once again, three days of festivities were anchored by the grand tasting at the Avila Beach Resort. Avila is always a great backdrop to a wine event, and it’s especially appropriate when you consider, it’s the coast itself that is responsible for a lot of the character that you find in SLO wines.

San Luis Obispo is a cooler wine region than its neighbor to the north, Paso Robles. Varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can be made at a world class level under these conditions, and you see a lot of wineries in SLO wine country taking full advantage of the cooler growing climate, and ocean influence.

The Saturday Grand Tasting collects all nearly 30 winery members of SLO wine country with their latest releases and then pairs them with some of the best restaurants around.  Live music, as well as both a silent and live auction makes sure there are tons of things to do in between you refilling your glass, or going back for thirds to the Cracked Crab booth for the crab bisque. Or was that just me?

I wanted to convey the feelings of this harvest, from those closest to it, for my listeners on The Krush 92.5. I broadcasted live from the tasting and talked to winemakers to get a true feel for the 2014 vintage.  The verdict: Short and quick.  Happened early, and happened fast. Simply put, asking a SLO wine professional about the 2014 vintage is sure to set you up perfectly for a classic ‘that’s what she said.’

I interviewed Mike Sinor, winemaker for Sinor-Lavallee in Avila Beach.  He confirmed, “2014 was an early vintage…very condensed vintage. It was a dry year, we had a warm spring, bud break was early, therefore the plants say, ‘Hey I’m done’.  Although a short and fast harvest can mean some cellar challenges, I assure you the winemakers definitely enjoy being done with harvest and available to one, shave, and two, celebrate with all their friends, family, and fans of their wine.

One trend we are noticing is hard apple cider.  Avila Beach and surrounding areas have been growing some amazing apples for a long time, and we are starting to see a lot of folks jump on the cider craze.  Kelsey See Canyon has expanded their apple cider line, and names like Bristols, Reef Points, and The Horse Thief are just a few that have sprouted and turned more than a few wine drinkers, including this one, into hard cider fans.

Johnny Kenny of The Horse Thief explained to me that in the same way we see ‘wine trails’ that include several wineries in a general location, soon the area will have an ‘Apple Trail’ that will showcase the different options for a day of cider tasting.  I loved The Horse Thief because it was dry and crisp, and it came in a 750ml (a standard sized wine bottle), as opposed to a smaller more beer-like bottle. This stuff is made very similar to wine, some even being aged in French oak. If you’re not a hard cider fan yet, get on it, because next year I will be sharing SLO at the first Hard Cider Festival.  You heard it here first.

San Luis Obispo Wine Country is a tight nit group consisting of more than wineries, but restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that continue to show that this area can, and does make world class wines.

Learn more about them at slowine.com.

Adam Montiel hosts Up & Adam in the Morning on Q104.5, and The Cork Dorks on The Krush 92.5 in San Luis Obsipo