Our periodic wine mingles seek to offer occasions for people to socialize over new and different wine styles and flavors. Why nurse a glass of a single varietal or be limited to a flight of three wines at a wine bar when for the same amount of money you can enjoy and learn about a range of wines among walls of art? And no one is required to be trendy, beautiful or sexy, just able to converse intelligently.
This month we feature the rising star wines of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The SLH, located above the Salinas river in the Monterey AVA, is one of California’s premier, cool-climate winegrowing district. Its 50 mountainside vineyard estates, produce some of the best New World Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.
Vintners and winery reps from Wrath, Hahn/Lucienne, J Lohr/Highlands, Bernardus, and Morgan, together with the Executive Director of the Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans association pouring Testarossa, will be present to discuss the unique features of the appellation.
For those who wish to rate and rank the wines being sampled we will provide a ballot using the five star system that allows 1/2 stars. Our unique approach is based on the premise that certain special wines have an appeal to a broad range of different palates which rarely please the refined tastes of the wine pros. We want to offer attendees--who represent a cross section of regular wine drinkers who buy wine to have with their dinner--the opportunity to decide on their preferences.
To be able to balance your ballot, food plate and wine glass each attendee will receive a specially designed larnyad like this. No more having to juggle all the various functions like the photo above taken at a recent taste-off.
The wines will be paired with some tasty nibbles in-cluding gourmet rustica pizza with a variety of toppings
We will also raffle off bottles of the featured wines to assist our non profit project PAIRINGS--pairing wine with philanthropy which among other causes has helped raise funds to purchase backpacks for underprivileged kids, encourage young black girls to get excited about technology, support global cooa farmers, protect Bay quality, and aid the Japanese tsunami victims.
Current Payment options: Late Birds can bring a friend for the price of single ticket. Be sure to have your receipt with you.
Every truly great winegrowing region is defined first by its terroir – its location, climate, and soils. Secondly, and equally important, it is defined by the “people on the ground.” The personalities that farm their vineyards and provide the perfectly ripened raw materials each vintage to the winemakers.
The Santa Lucia Highlands is no exception – the winegrower, the vineyard manger, the vineyard crew here are paramount. They are the “interpreters:” the folks, who through their year-round efforts, allow each unique vineyard to speak its own unique message in every bottle. The Santa Lucia Highlands appellation is fortunate in having more than its share of dedicated, visionary growers: Gary Pisoni. Dan Lee. Gary Franscioni. Rich Smith. Nicky Hahn. Steve McIntyre. Rob Talbott. Charlie Wagner. Steve Pessagno. Ray Franscioni. Joe Wagner. John Boekenoogen. Kelly McFarland. Mark Manzoni. Joe Alarid. Kirk Williams. Just a few of the faces of the SLH, the vineyardists whose reputation and livelihood are on the line, every single harvest.
The earliest vinifera plantings, in what was to become the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, took place in the 1790s, with the arrival of the first Spanish missionaries and conquistadors. The modern era, however, began in the early 1970s, with initial plantings by Rich and Claudia Smith at Paraiso, the McFarland family at Sleepy Hollow, Phil Johnson at La Estancia, and Nicky Hahn at Smith & Hook.
A second wave of vineyard development occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Outside the area growers, such as Caymus’ Wagner family at Mer Soleil, Robb Talbott at Sleepy Hollow, Morgan’s Dan Lee at Double L, and Steve McIntyre recognized the district’s potential. They were joined by generational resident ranching and farming families Pisoni, Franscioni, Manzoni, Boekenoogen, and others who aggressively converted their properties to wine estates. Within 20 years, the planted vineyard acreage had tripled and then tripled again.
It was Nicky Hahn who first suggested the designation Santa Lucia Highlands when proposing the twelve mile- long, raised benchland above the Salinas River for special consideration as a unique winegrowing district. In 1991, the Federal government approved the Santa Lucia Highlands as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA).
A Special Sense of Place: THE SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS…
Every great winegrowing district has one thing in common: a truly special location or sense of place. For the SLH, that sense of place stems from its elevated, mountainside perch and its close proximity to the cold waters of Monterey Bay.
The vineyards of the Highlands are planted on the terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, overlooking the Salinas River Valley. Here, fogs and breezes off nearby Monterey Bay funnel southeast, between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan ranges, creating a cool, true Region I climate. The vines elevated sites take full advantage of the morning sunshine before the stiff, afternoon maritime winds slow down photosynthesis, making for long, gentle ripening. The typically long SLH growing season of early bud break, lack of fall rains, and prolonged harvests allow the grapes to develop full, phenolic ripeness and flavors.
Approximately 6,000 acres of vinifera are under cultivation in the SLH, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the predominant varietals. Every vineyard is a living laboratory, with new clones, trellising systems, and farming regimens constantly being explored. “Growing Green” is more than a catch phrase here; conscientious viticultural standards, whether organic, biodynamic, or sustainable, have long been the norm.
Representing the appellation, the Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans is an association of the AVA’s vineyards and vintners that grow grapes here or use this unique region’s fruit to craft their vintages.
When & Where
Bay Area Wine Society/wine.coop/PAIRINGS
PAIRINGS offers similar services to assist other organizations with fundraising.