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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Edna Valley Wine Tasting

Edna Valley has one of California's longest wine growing seasons, and has earned international acclaim for stunning Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Indeed, this small region with just two dozen wines has a lot more to offer. After my first week back at work and lovely weekend weather, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take Kristin on a tour and do a bit of tasting.
Edna Valley's close proximity to San Luis Obispo makes it an easy day-trip for wine tasters in the area. We left downtown SLO on Broad St., which eventually turns into Route 227 and connects all the way through Edna Valley to Arroyo Grande Valley and to Pismo Beach via Price Canyon Road. A handful of wineries are located along Route 227, or further east towards Orcutt Road. We decided to turn off at Orcutt Road and make our first stop at Niven Family Wine Estates.
This beautiful tasting room (pictured below) is the first found when traveling south on Orcutt Road from San Luis Obispo, and is home to five different wine brands: Baileyana, Cadre, Tangent, Trenza, and Zocker. This is my third vintage with Niven Family Wine Estates and I believe the wines produced are excellent, plus their long tasting list of award-winning wines offers something for everyone. The Cadre Pinot Noir is stunning, produced from four vineyards located in different Central Coast AVAs.
Our next stop was Saucelito Canyon, just around the corner on Biddle Ranch Road. Though their tasting room sits right in the heart of Edna Valley, Saucelito Canyon's estate vineyard is actually located in the neighboring Arroyo Grande Valley AVA. They are most renowned for their estate vineyard, including three acres of Zinfandel first planted in the 1880's that still produces grapes to this day. Kristin and I sat down on the tasting room patio and tasted through the four wines on offer here: 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 Sauvage Blanc, 2010 Estate Zinfandel, and 2010 Dos Ranchos Zinfandel. I quite liked all the wines on offer, but was pleasantly surprised by the Sauvignon Blanc's lovely tree fruit flavors with undertones of fresh cut grass. It was very reminiscent of wines I made while working in Marlborough.
Our next stop was Chamisal Vineyards (formerly Domaine Alfred). This property has Edna Valley's oldest continually producing vineyard dating back to 1973. Today, their 80-acre estate vineyard is primarily split between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also has several acres of Grenache, Pinot Gris, and Syrah. We were lucky enough to try the recently released Pinot Noir Rose, with bright cherry flavors and beautiful acidity; an excellent example of a developing wine style here in California. My favorite wine here was their 2009 Califa Chardonnay, a good combination of new and old world winemaking styles leading to a full-bodied wine with lovely tropical fruit and vanilla flavors.

Our last stop as we headed back towards town was Tolosa Winery. Like most Edna Valley wineries, the majority of Tolosa's production is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; but unlike most of its neighbors, Tolosa has expanded their brand in the past several years to include several wines from outside the AVA; I liked their Roussanne from San Antonio Valley.


  1. Also loved the real buttery Chard several years ago at Talley Vineyard right at the turn-off to Lopez Lake. Great day tripping through the varius vineyards. Cheers!

  2. Yes, Talley is another lovely winery here. I'm hoping that I'll have to chance to do another tasting trip during the next month or so, although work is starting to get busy now!