The Wine & Bread Journey

Our new tasting room has brought to fruition many of the ideas and dreams my family has had for a long time. We are now settled amongst our vines and get to watch the day-to-day life of the vineyard. We are now offering new wines and some are estate grown such as the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, or 2016 Malbec (both “yummy” I may add). With the concept of new food offerings, my dad and I discussed starting with the basics…wine, cheese, and bread. I knew at that moment that we had to do bread in house as there is nothing like homemade bread. It was a daunting thought, but one I knew was necessary to accomplish what we wanted.

img_9032

untitled-9135

In 2017 my bread journey began when I was by chance watching a cooking episode featuring Nancy Silverton, the founder of La Brea Bakery. The video inspired me and I knew exactly what I needed to do. I began reading about bread science, which in some ways is very similar to winemaking. It’s about yeast, flour, water, and temperature. Of course, it took me a little time to understand this as I am more right brained. Even though I began to understand the basics I felt unsure where to begin.

A month later I had Chef William Carter walk into our downtown tasting room with his sweet wife, Katherine. They are the owners of the gorgeous Canyon Villa in Paso Robles, which is a very special place to me as I had photographed it previously. Chef Wills and I began to talk about bread and before I knew it, I had a teacher and a mentor. He shared his enthusiasm for artisan breads and specifically sourdough. We discussed doing a starter from our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and it was something he could help me with. I was thrilled!

Once harvest arrived, I gathered the grapes and brought a bucket to Chef Wills. He was wonderful enough to begin the starter as I was in the midst of the busy harvest season. He knew I badly wanted to be there by his side, so he texted me updates through the process. Purple, bubbly…there it was, our Cabernet Sauvignon Sourdough.

Almost exactly a year ago in (Jan 2018), I arrived to the kitchen of the Canyon Villa, bread naive and unsure what to expect, but excited none the less for bread lessons. Chef Wills took three days to show me the ropes and then another three days to have me show him what I learned. It was a great time for both of us amongst the lightly flour dusted air. We fed starters, including our Cab starter, which had turned out beautifully. He showed me how to revive a starter. If you are not familiar, bread starters can out live us as long as they are fed!

img_3153.jpg

I learned about the importance of temperature and baking styles as well as how sourdoughs are a living thing. I began to see how you could combine flours to create more flavor. Sticky hands and happy smiles later I realized not only had I begun a bread journey, but I was further understanding what my dad, husband, and Cody had been doing in the winery.

IMG_2627.JPG

There was something about learning how to control yeast that made me connect that much more with the wine process. In winemaking, the yeast is what creates alcohol by feeding on the sugar of the grapes. In bread making, the yeast is what generates energy and growth by feeding on the flour and water.

It was very special time and I am so grateful to Wills for giving me the opportunity.

Nervous. Staring at a new kitchen with new ovens. “Oh, my gosh, can I do this?” I had only really baked on my own for a handful of times and now the pressure to get bread done for customers was real. The time was here. I took baby steps and began with the focaccia. Once I was able to do that, I pulled out the Cabernet sourdough starter and stared at it. I followed the steps and a couple days later the smell of bread filled the upstairs of the tasting room. We began to cut into the first loaf and to my surprise it was perfect. I tried hard not to seem too much like a giddy child as I walked around to the team saying, “try this…it turned out,” but I was like a proud kid thrilled to show the family. Ultimately, I was happy to finally share the work with the customers.

A month in something happened. The sourdough started to be flat and was uncooked in the middle. I was discouraged and frustrated. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted the best for our customers. I pulled out my notes and bread books and began reading. I frantically looked online at discussions for answers. I wanted to call Wills, but knew it was in the midst of his busy season. So, I began testing. I finally figured out it was the starter and due to my busy schedule, I was not feeding it enough. I began working hard to rectify it and the starter began looking and smelling happy again. Our sourdough was back on track and I realized that much like life (and winemaking), you never arrive…you keep learning and growing. It is for this reason I love baking bread, photography, and wine because they are all processes that are a constant learning experience. This realization encouraged me to start playing more like I do with photography.

IMG_3700.JPG

Most recently I have started doing a hand ground rosemary with olive oil on top of the focaccia. It’s a small change, but one I like. I use a whisk to flick the oil onto the focaccia sponge and it makes me feel like I’m doing a Jackson Pollock. Also, I started doing a simple white bread (still delicious) to help me on weeks when I know I don’t have time to bake a Cab sourdough.

While I love all the breads, my favorite is still the Cabernet Sauvignon Sourdough as it holds the most memories for me. It makes me think of this whole process…the life of yeast, our vines, my family, my time with Wills, and the joys & trials of bread baking. It has been a lot of work, but I am so beyond grateful for this ongoing journey. To learn one skill such as bread and to have it spur realizations in other areas of life is priceless.

Cheers for reading through this long blog and I hope you’ll stop by soon for some wine, cheese, and bread!

-Cecily


If you would like to start your own bread journey, I really enjoyed Tartine’s book. I’ve spotted it at the General Store in Paso Robles.

 

Rain in the Forecast – Time to Pair

With more rain in the forecast, at least in some parts of the country, it means staying in. Here’s some fun pairings for staying in this weekend!

wine_oct17-2340

2014 Zinfandel paired with Games – The lighter body, raspberry notes, and playfulness of the Zinfandel will pair perfectly with game time.

We love games in the family. Chinese Checkers, Bananagrams, Yahtzee, Scribblish…there’s too many! One fun game to check out is Bubble Talk, which is like Apple to Apples but with photos. A fun twist is to add some personal old photos to the stack for more laughter…the more embarrassing and ridiculous the better. Another game that we love/hate is Clue. We love it because it’s a classic, but some of us hate it because SOMEONE always wins (David Parrish, no fair Professor Plum!).


2013 Petite Sirah paired with Reading – The moody Petite Sirah will lend itself to a thoughtful and quiet time with its large palate of purple fruit and rich tannins. It will give you something to think upon, just like a book.

Growing up my parents read a lot, but unfortunately, I never got into reading quite like they did. My parents, David & Lynn, love reading mysteries and James Herriot books because the stories remind them of our farm life. After meeting Ethan, my interest for reading has grown. We sometimes read together and there is something so idyllic about it for me. We usually read something for personal growth like C.S. Lewis. Lately, I can be found with my nose in a book about bread…there are so many bookmarks. The great thing about reading is that it can be for groups, solo, and with wine!


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Blanket & Fire – The Cabernet will be another great lingering wine for the palate with its black cherry and cocoa notes making it perfect for savoring the moment. This might even be perfect with some cheese…make a picnic by the fire with maybe some gouda, charcuterie, and bread.

This is almost a duh, but there is nothing like watching the weather with a cozy blanket and a warm fire near by. I like to pull my two fur ball dogs into the blanket, while we sit on the floor and watch the wonderful drops of rain. It’s peaceful and relaxing…something we all can use in our busy lives.


What about a white?! Okay, okay. So, I’d say get to cooking or baking with the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. I find this to be my cooking wine as it gets my creativity going with its lightness and brightness. Maybe make a pizza from scratch, or learn a new recipe.

Lastly, all that’s missing is music…what’s your jam in the kitchen? I must be an old soul as I listen to a lot of acoustic guitar, instrumental music, and a little French cafe. My go to for a rainy day is Dave Brubeck.


Whatever your plans are for the weekend, may they be enjoyed and stay dry!

-Cecily

 

Wine & Christmas Movies

Cheers!

Happy Thursday!

It’s almost the weekend and I thought it would be a great time to share some fun pairings, but not the edible kind, more like the feeling kind. The holidays are (for the most part) very warm and fuzzy with wonderful family traditions….a twinkling tree, warm cookies, joyful symphonies, glasses of cider or wine, and Christmas movies. Christmas movies were a staple in our house and we had a list we would faithfully watch every year. We still do even if my parents and I aren’t under the same roof. So without further ado, here are a few of our favorite movies paired with our wines:

2013 Sauvignon Blanc – How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966

2016 Estate Rosé – Love Actually, 2003

2013 Silken Blanc – White Christmas, 1954

2014 Zinfandel – The Santa Clause, 1994 & Home Alone, 1990

2013 Petite Sirah – Christmas Carol, 1951

2012 Reserve Silken – While You Were Sleeping, 1995

2013 Reserve Silken – Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 

2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946  

It looks like I’m going to be busy with this list! What would you pair with your favorite Christmas movie?

Cheers!

Cecily

 

Serving Wine

wine_oct17-2293

Happy Friday!

The seasons have surely changed here in Paso Robles with cloudy skies, showers, and autumn leaves. It’s definitely gotten chillier. With the drop in temperatures, it brings up what temperature is recommended to store and serve wine at? We get this question quite a bit in the tasting room, so with Thanksgiving just around the corner it makes sense to serve up some tips in preparation. I’m sure there have been moments of “How to serve Cabernet Sauvignon” when planning for the holidays, well at least this girl has.

Our PFV Wine List:

Sauvignon Blanc: 45˚-50˚ F for serving

Chardonnay & Viognier Blend: 50˚-55˚ F for serving

Rosé: 45˚-50˚ F for serving

Zinfandel (cool grape,lighter style): 55˚- 60˚ F for serving

Petite Sirah: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Cabernet & Petite Sirah Blend: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Cabernet Sauvignon: 60˚- 65˚ F for serving

Of course some prefer 40˚F white wine, or 70˚F red wine, and that’s totally fine. It reminds me of Blast From the Past with Christopher Walken’s character preferring Dr. Pepper warm, while most of the public prefer cold. Everyone has his or her preferences and that’s what makes wine like art, it’s subjective.

Wine Storage

For wine storage, the recommendation for long term storage is 55˚F. If you do not have a wine fridge (understandable), I generally recommend a regular fridge over a dark closet because wine ages 4 times faster in those conditions. What does this mean? It means that it will loose structure, color, and could possibly develop faults. I just wouldn’t plan on long term storage in a regular fridge.

Hopefully this information was helpful. We hope that your Thanksgiving is filled with warmth, love, and memories. I feel so thankful to have my family, good food & wine, and a home as I know that not everyone has these things. If you are looking for a way to give this season, we work with Must! Charities and Paso Robles has a free meal at the Centennial Park on Nov 23rd that needs support. And lastly, there is a wonderful wine event to continue the support of Santa Rosa/Napa/Sonoma in December!

Cheers & Blessings,

Cecily

 

Post-Harvest…the Juice

So, it was a 3 week whirlwind of grapes, grapes, oh, and grapes. On Wednesday, we took a moment with some media guests (thanks again Donna, Tyler, and Mike!) to just do some tasting. And what we found was the fruit of our labor has led to the beginning of beautiful wines!

IMG_5175 2.JPG

2016 Estate Rosé

Aroma, wow, does this wine have it. It was watermelon and rose petals done in such an elegant way. I kept wanting to sniff the wine. The flavor was lovely as the rose petals carried into the palate in such a delicate and loving way. Admittedly, I teared up as that’s just how much I loved it. This rosé is our first and it was made from our Grenache in Templeton. I cannot wait to release this wine! It still has a little more time, but I could have easily drank a glass of it the other day.

IMG_5178.JPG

2016 Estate Sauvignon Blanc 

It was a beautiful blend of tropical and stone fruit. I got white peaches with hints of guava and pineapple. It was light, but far from dull as the attack, acidity, and finish were all there. What amazed me with this wine was how delicate and sophisticated it was…it was at a level we hadn’t reached before with Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc fruit came from our Adelaida vineyard.

2016 Estate Zinfandel

Because we had to taste a red, we tasted the Zinfandel, which had been barreled down a week or two ago. It was a wine in its infancy as it was still pretty bare of oak. That being said the fruit was there. Raspberries, pomegranates, and cranberries. It had touches of sweet cherry candy, but with time that will mellow out. I pictured Thanksgiving…turkey on the table with an herby stuffing. Since I am not a big cranberry sauce fan, I will gladly replace that berry flavor with Zinfandel.

IMG_5173 2.JPG

The other wines are still not done in the tank, but with 3 wines showing to be as wonderful as they were, I cannot wait to try the rest! The guys, Dad (David), Ethan, and Cody have done a fantastic job. The exciting part will be sharing these wines with you in the future. I think the rosé will probably be first, but the release date is unknown currently.

For now, stop in at the tasting room for our newest release, the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. I’m loving this wine and we pair it with a Honey Chevre made by Vivant Fine Cheese & Central Coast Creamery!

Have a great Friday!

Cecily

Harvest

With the welcoming of Autumn, we are definitely in the midst of harvest. So far in the last month we have brought in from our Adelaida Vineyard: Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Zinfandel, various clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. It has kept us the busiest we have ever been, but it is worth it to have our own fruit in the tanks.

The toughest thing this season has been deciding when to harvest. Normally, we are waiting on the brix (sugars), but this year we are waiting on the flavor and the seeds to go from green to brown. We have certain brix numbers we want to reach with each variety, but going too far over will mean not only higher sugar, but alcohol as well.

img_4829

David & Cody talking about when to harvest this block of Cabernet Sauvignon

The weather has also been playing games ranging from hot-hot to mild days. The warmer the weather the faster things go, but with the mild days and cold mornings it slows things down. As farmers though, this is how it goes. The weather is always unpredictable; even with our technology, we cannot harness its wild side.

With the long days, one thing is for sure that we are at least spending a lot of time together.

Happy Harvest!

Cecily

 

 

Seeing Purple – Harvest 2016

On Monday we rang in the harvest season with our only green, golden grape-child, Sauvignon Blanc. It was beautiful and looks like it’s going to be a fantastic vintage! The rest of the season will be filled with blue, purple, and red grapes. Soon it will become a blur of purple as we will be harvesting a total of 11 estate varieties, forecasted to be 60 tons! This will be our busiest season ever, but our proudest.

Since 1995 we have been harvesting our own Cabernet Sauvignon, but this year will be the first year we harvest all estate fruit! Estate just means that it is from our vineyard. So, anytime you see “Estate” on a wine label, it means that the grapes came from that winery’s vineyard. Furthermore, it means that the winery has watched these grapes from slumber, bud, flower, veraison, ripe to juice. It’s a lot more work, but a dream for any winery. This is why this harvest will mean that much more to us.

So, what is on the line up…well, Sauvignon Blanc is one, but the other ten are: Cabernet Sauvginon (obviously, with it being us), Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Malbec, and Zinfandel. These grapes are coming from three terroir-diverse vineyards in Creston, El Pomar, and Adelaida, which are sub-AVAs of the Paso Robles District. Here’s a quote of my dad, David, from a recent article:

“Every year, the fruit is going to be different thanks to weather,” says Parrish. “But what we can count on are these three sites producing certain characteristics consistently. Creston, with its granitic soil and high calcium content produces grapes with beautiful color and flavor. El Pomar produces enormously round fruit and earthy flavors along with great mouthfeel. And in our Adelaida vineyard, with the mix of clay and calcareous, we get pronounced acidity, both full high tannins, great structure, and spice.”

This is why I find wine so fascinating is that every wine is going to be unique due to not only the variety, weather, winemaker style, but also the location (terroir) that the grapes were grown. As my dad says regularly, wine starts in the vineyard…how a vineyard is kept and its location will determine the grapes’ quality. So, here’s a cheers to the 2016 vintage as we feel it will be a great one!

Visit us next week (Labor Day Weekend, hurray!) at the tasting room as we’ll have out some of our Award Winning Wines!

Happy Harvest-

Cecily