So much good wine to discuss. I neglected Treana and Austin Hope in last night’s post. Treana has been one of my favorite wines for some 5 or 6 years now. The place further piqued my interest when my friend Barbara Smith, with whom I’d been in contact at Wild Horse Vineyards when she worked there, jumped ship and went to work for Austin at Treana. Having a contact opened up the opportunity for me to meet Austin Hope and discuss his unique Rhone varietals.
Treana is the mother label, of sorts, for the eponymous label as well as Austin Hope wines and Liberty School Wines. Treana’s claim to fame for the past couple of years has been a beautiful white Rhone blend called Mer Soleil, a delicious Paso showcase of Rousanne, Marsanne and Viognier. Truth is, it’s the wine that got me introduced to good Rhone varietals. When Barbara went to Treana, I was really pleased to know she was taking such a great step. This is a quality establishment.
Their Syrah and blends also are intriguing and I tasted through a couple of them at the event, particularly West Side Red which was a great Rhone blend that had the wonderful bright red fruits on it while letting out a good solid smoky finish. It was delicious.
The trip itself was a real delight with our pals Scott and Jen. Scott and I have known each other since college and have a nearly 20-year long and storied past together. Jen is his wife of some 3 years or so and she and Sue get along famously. They have 4 kids with one on the way and so Jen was our designated driver–who really did very little driving. In fact, I don’t think she did any. Ah, well….the best laid plans and all that.
We stayed in San Luis Obispo at the Lamplighter Inn, a Comfort Inn and Suites property. I had originally obtained a “two-bedroom suite” with two king beds because we thought our daughter was coming along. She’s 5, but we let her have her own room even when we travel which is a nice advantage. Aunt Laurie stepped up and offered to watch her for the weekend and so the Wolfe’s took Peanut’s room. Well, such as it was. There was indeed one bedroom, no question. A good sized suite, this was–the second king bed was out on the other end of the living room. It was a big room, indeed, but our bed was right there in plain view of the front door and the windows (shades drawn, of course) and then there was a bedroom for Scott and Jen.
The property itself is right in the heart of hotel row in SLO. It’s an older motel and so it’s a three story walk-up with outside corridors (balcony walkways, really) and the result is, it wasn’t the quietest motel in the world. But that usually only presents a problem when we travel with Peanut. We’ve consequently taken to staying in nicer accomodations to avoid what I’ll refer to with deep political incorrectness, as the rif-raf. This motel’s contestant in “how to be a loser” was a guy who, on Saturday night around midnight, opened up his room door and began cranking old 70’s rock. Bob Marley, Journey, The Who—it was coming from a radio station for which our primordial-man had a penchant. I could hear every detail of the music–along with many of the man’s neighbors telling him to shut up. I finally called the front office and the guy on duty was kind. He went over to try to quell the problem, but our anti-hero was a bit bigger than he, so when I spoke to him a second time–he very calmly explained he was trying to avoid a call to the police. Publicity and all that. I assured him, calmly and collectedly, that as a writer for several magazines who was here on a press junket writing about a trip to the wine festival, that all the publicity he didn’t want was coming his way if he didn’t see to it that this was ended. He then made, I think, a brilliant move.
He called his manager at home and explained the sitch. Our anti-hero was a guest of more than a few nights, apparently on a two-week trip, and removing him would be….delicate? Well, whatever. The clerk assured me that the manager was calling our villain’s room post-haste and informing him that if he didn’t mend his evil ways, he would be booted out with no refund of any kind. Sure enough, within a minute of that phone call, the noise stopped. And I went back to listening to the various snores and grunts coming from the rest of my room’s occupants. Heavy sleepers piss me off.
Oh, but that’s the silly part and really, was not important in the grand scheme. We had so much fun, so much good food–so much good wine. We ate breakfast at the great Central Coast establishment, Joe’s. Joe’s makes their own ranchera sauce and consquently, their own Chilaquiles, that are absolutely to die for. Scrambled eggs, the sauce, cheese, tortilla chips–and in the supreme version, tri-tip and sour cream—home fries and refried beans. Friends, it was a perfection of amalgamated food stuffs that still brings a smile to my face–even if it does bring a sinking rock like feeling to the gut. Well, not really–but it ain’t no low-fat, crispy, organic absurdity. “It’s hot, it’s brown and they’s plenty of it….” Man, is it good. I bought three bottles of the ranchera sauce which Joe’s has packaged, with garlic. If I could have gotten a case, I would have.
More than anything, we enjoyed each other’s company a great deal. On Friday night, we stopped on the way up at Firestone’s Tap Room and Restaurant and had a great meal with the very best beer on the west coast (Firestone Unfiltered). Scott and I shared laughs that were wholly of our own making and asked Sue to drive as we sat in the back of the venerable mini-van watching The Incredibles.
The festival itself was a grand event which opened up even more as we had a little social lubricant to fully enjoy the day. Since Jen wasn’t drinking, she mostly stayed at the little “camp site” (for so these patches of ground strewn with blankets, folding chairs, coolers, grocery bags of assorted goodies of every kind– are known) reading. Sue, Scott and I went about tasting only the best and I got to go to a press junket in the morning that I already wrote about.
The event itself was very different this time and I will write about that later in the article I’m working on for California Wine and Food.
Firestone is opening up a winery and vineyards in Paso which I think is a great idea. I’m a softy for the Firestone products, though I know their wine programs need a little more work to really come online. I think they are serious about it and they’re working on it. The committment to Paso Robles is a smart one and Adam (to whom I spoke on Saturday) called it a “no-brainer.” He’s right. Paso’s wines are so good, they’ve exploded. I used to write about how it was the “up and coming” area and now—it’s arrived.