Apr 26, 2015

Hammersky, Paso Robles California

As strange as it sounds Cabernet was the entry wine for me in the late eighties while living in Paso Robles. There were just a few back then but the ones I remember enjoying many times were Eberle, Adelaida,  and Justin. There were others along the way as well like J Lohr, Parrish Family Winery and Michella. A few years ago we were introduced to a winery that at the time we had not heard of, but were soon to become big fans of. HammerSky Vineyards. Owners Douglas and Kim Hauck purchased the 50 acre property which is in the Adalaida / Willow Creek AVA property in 2007 and had a vision of a unique and picturesque  property, Doug and Kim tastefully enhanced the historic site to become a working winery and Inn that they could share with others. The vision is in place with extra points for overachieving.

The place is simply soul soothing with its tasteful and elegant tasting room with picnic tables just outside and the most welcoming lawn with oak tree area. A unique and tasteful 'Gone with the Wind' style renovated farm house that is the perfect base for a special trip to the area or a spectacular wedding venue. There is also a beautifully done southern style barn for your event.

Along with the beautifully executed property structures Doug was and is passionate about making truly special wines. Wines that express the best characteristics of this special place. There are twenty-five acres of estate vines at HammerSky Vineyards, which Doug and Kim named for their two sons, Hamilton and Skyler that were planted in 1997. The soil in these vineyards compares favorably with that of France’s renown Bordeaux region and is composed of shale, 152 linne calodo calcareous shale soils, limestone and calcareous sandstone. These soils encourage the vines to root deeply, and imparts a balanced minerality to the finished wine. "Hand crafted, and in small lots," Doug describes HammerSky wines as “Couture' crafted wines for the senses". As much as we enjoy some of these wine we are not about to question his description.

While we have enjoyed a number of HammerSky  the one that has truly redefined the baseline for Cabernet was the 2010 Limited Resource Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Now we try the 2012 Limited Resource Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines only yield 2.5 tons per acre by design for this hand picked beauty.
HammerSky says,
Doug’s pride and joy, Limited Resource comes from carefully selected estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This Cab has a beautifully rich ruby color, and a crisp clean nose full of red fruit and vanilla. The mouth feel is rich and full, while complex flavors of black raspberry, cinnamon, earth, and leather intermingle on the palate. A true Paso Robles Cab! Drinkable now, but will age well for the next five years. Eat with grilled meats or hearty pasta dishes.

So what do we think about it? Well lets just say Doug has good taste. This is a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon. So beautifully balanced with a hint violet on the nose as well as some red and black cherry with an interesting strawberry note and a bit of leather. The nice full mouth feel is filled with bright black cherry, Blackberry, plum, vanilla and a dark chocolate tannin finish and is simply well balanced and very well integrated with a smooth finish. This truly is a special wine that is a wonderful complement to a red meat meal. We paired it with a New York bone in steak, French fingerling potatoes, mushrooms and green beans and it was just amazing. For those enquiring minds this ** wine rates a 8 - 9 and is a very special drop. Technical description is 'wow yum'. Bloody Nora this wine is a genuine cracker!

Whether you are looking to enjoy fine estate wines, or relax in a historic farmhouse amidst a working vineyard, you will find HammerSky to be more than you imagine. The tasting room is open Thursday-Sunday or by appointment and the farmhouse is rented year-round. Doug and Kim Hauck, along with the friendly staff will welcome you to indulge in the elegant romance that is HammerSky. So head on over and get a taste of some truly unique and delicious wines and great hospitality and tell em we sent you.

Happy Wine Adventures,


Here is a little video with Doug talking about HammerSky

Apr 19, 2015

Destination Wedding in Monterey California

Talk to any one who has been around a while about weddings and sit back and let the stories flow. There are the stories about people, places, costs and surprises, both good and bad. Now any event can be tough to get to go as planned, but a wedding just ups the stress level to make that happen as well as the number of things that can go differently (read wrong from a brides point of view).

Here is a story of one wedding that went very well and was by all accounts quite cost efficient by wedding standards without sacrificing anything but volumes of people. It is hard to understand the complexities of planning a wedding and the amount of work that goes into it unless you have been intimately involved in doing it. This one was well executed, being well planned and with great help from friends and awesome vendor partners went off without a hitch. The ceremony was even broadcast live to Australia.

Decide on your venues early. Six months is probably too late. At twelve months out try to at least have it narrowed down to your top two or three and decide as quick as you can.

After looking at dozens of options one place kept coming up in conversation. For this destination wedding in Monterey California The Old Monterey Inn was chosen for the wedding and a place for family to stay. To say the folks at the Old Monterey Inn took care of us would be an understatement. The staff was always close by to take care of every request.
The Old Monterey Inn was built by Carmel Martin Sr. who was instrumental in the creation of the city and preserving many of the historical sites open to the public today. It was here, in this house, Mr. Martin planned for and dreamed of his beloved Monterey. The Inn was completed in 1929. The home sits in the middle of beautifully landscaped gardens boasting some 100 trees, which include Monterey Pines, California Oaks and tall Redwoods. Beautiful stonework of which a lot of the original stonework still remains.
After being thoughtfully restored in every detail, including the Martin’s prized gardens the house was opened as a bed and breakfast inn in 1978 and has been owned by Lawrence Havlick for the last few years.

With just over an acre of lovely serenity with an enchanting landscaped garden that is perfect for a stroll down its pathways. Age old oaks, majestic cedars, and large holly trees, sculpted landscaping and roses keep you company as you stroll around or settle in to a secluded spot with a glass of wine (or beverage of choice) in this fairytale setting.

Its nice to have some options and whether you are imagining a private elopement in Monterey for just the two of you, or a small wedding with up to 40 family members and friends, this romantic Monterey bed and breakfast is a wonderful place to create your special experience. Every room and suite at the Old Monterey Inn is designed to enhance the charm, sophistication, and architectural significance of this beautifully maintained English Tudor mansion.

The rooms all offer a private bath with the high quality amenities including specialty lavender soaps and Aveda® products. In addition, each room and suite provides a cozy sitting area next to a private fireplace, complete with candles to create your own romantic oasis. With plush feather beds and down duvets and superb quality linens, soft terry lined robes and slippers, perfumed bath salts, thick towels and current magazines it truly is a luxury experience!

Start each day with a rich aromatic coffee (from a local roasting company!), hot chocolate, or an assortment of gourmet teas. Breakfast consists of a wonderful variety of fruit courses, using the freshest locally grown fruit available, and continues on to the much anticipated main entrĂ©e! You can even have breakfast in your comfy room or out in the beautiful gardens if you choose. The amazing setting of the spectacular period dining room is hard to beat.
The staff are attentive and there to take care of your every need and yet never hover. From the beautiful serene gardens to the comfy and luxurious rooms, the wonderful breakfast and the wine and cheese in the early evening this is a special place that will have you coming back every anniversary for the rest of your life.

Just a thought. You could just go with your significant other and or friends for a getaway of special significance. No matter the reason this is the perfect place and we say you "must go" stay here for a Monterey destination wedding or special getaway. Tell em we sent you.

Happy Wine Adventures,

Apr 12, 2015

#WW 2012 Wrath Pinot Noir, McIntyre Vineyard

There are a lot of wineries to keep up with tasting the new releases. We do our best but time is not on our side. Some times it is also too easy to go back to our favorites. One of those is Wrath in Monterey County. There is good reason for Wrath being a favorite and that is for a number of years they have consistently make some wonderful wines. On this particular visit while tasting some new releases this one just could not be ignored. The 2012 Wrath Pinot Noir, McIntyre Vineyard.

Set in amongst a number of really good wines it was just seducing to the palate. With a most amazing soft warm mouth feel that is full of interesting and enticing flavors this is one sexy Pinot Noir. With enticing lavender nose and delicious dark berry and cherry filling the palate it has an engaging and long finish. This is a Pinot to be reckoned with and so few cases made you had better get to the tasting room near you or get online and get some.

A *** priced wine we rate a solid 8 and one any Pinot fan should get a taste of.

Here is what Wrath has to say about it; Wines made from master-grower Steve McIntyre’s vineyard often exhibit the telltale characteristics of Santa Lucia Highland terroir.  Our 2012 McIntyre Vineyard Pinot Noir—with its vivid fruit and briary undertones is no exception.   Comprised of 100 percent 115 clone and made with 20 percent whole- cluster fermentation, it combines lavender notes with wild berry, black cherry in an energetic blend characterized by bright acidity and purity of fruit. The palate is expansive with a long, fruit-driven finish.

Wine Specs
Vintage   2012
Varietal   Pinot Noir
Appellation   Santa Lucia Highlands
Vineyard Designation   McIntyre Vineyard
Alcohol %   14.1
Wine Enthusiast magazine, June 2015
Rating 95 pts
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, October 2014
Rating 92 pts
Apparently we enjoyed it a bit more than Mr Parker and about the same as our enthusiastic friends not that that would change our opinion. Winemaker Sabrine Rodems consistently makes very good wine and this is just another great example of her work.
So seek out this Wrath wine as it is special and with only 257 cases made it wont be available for very long once word gets out.
Happy Wine Adventures,

Wrath wines are available for purchase and tasting at both tasting rooms so tell em we sent you...

Winery Tasting Room

Open Fri-Mon  11- 5PM. Located at 35801 Foothill Road (at the junction of River Road) in Soledad, CA, 5 minutes west of Hwy 101.  831.678.2212

Carmel Tasting Room

Open Mon-Sat 11-6PM Sun 11-5PM. Located in Carmel Plaza, downtown Carmel at the corner of Ocean Ave. and Mission St., ground floor.  831.620.1909

Apr 5, 2015

#WW A Riesling worth drinking from Joyce Vineyards, California

When discussing wines it is always amazing that rarely if ever does the varietal Riesling get talked about, at least in the USA. While a number of vintners make a Riesling, most average, but they are generally very well priced there is surprisingly little interest in it. In Germany and Austria it is one of the top varieties grown and in Australia, specifically Clare Valley and Eden Valleys of South Australia it is a very sort after tipple. Riesling was estimated to be the world's 20th most grown variety.

So this begs the question of why this simply delightful wine is not more popular in the USA. Well someone smarter than us will need to figure that out as we continue to go taste and enjoy good Rieslings wherever we find them. One such great find is from a small family owned winery in Carmel Valley California. Joyce Vineyards is gaining a reputation for lovely wines. With a great portfolio of wines from sub $20 to some superb special releases there really is something for everyone.

Having enjoyed the 2012 Riesling previously we were drawn back when the rumor mill started talking of this vintages great Riesling. Not ones to shy away from the work of tasting and telling we were on it.

The Joyce 2014 Riesling from the Tondre Grapefield in the world renown Santa Lucia Highlands is a cracker! Purely and simply delightful. Here is how it went. Step one, went in for a taste. Yum (full tasting notes later). Continued tasting the new releases. Some more Yum's. When leaving realized that the notes were limited as too much focus was on the tasting and talking to the lovely tasting room staff. Then a brilliant plan was born, purchase two bottles to take away to taste privately and do an assessment, that'll do the trick.

First bottle; sat down to taste and write a review and got side tracked by emails and dinner activity and then noticed the bottle was empty. Notes were non existent but the one sure thing was that it was very much enjoyed.

The second bottle was taken along for a big event weekend and it was used to share and check the responses to the neophytes that usually just go for Chardonnay or Cabernet / Merlot (older crowd). The 2014 Joyce Riesling was well received with most wanting more. Which by the way was not forthcoming as there was still the tasting review to do. Next morning (11am) something delightful was called for to calm some nerves and well, yeah you guessed it, I knocked off the last two glasses. Oops!

What is remembered is the lovely balance and ease of drinking (whole bottle consumed and looking for more) and that clean mouth feel. With tart pear and a slightly sweet tart apple (trust us on this) as well as citrus notes and flavors and a subtle and enticing honeysuckle. With a nicely balanced acidity this wine keeps you coming back for more.

Serve this Riesling a little warmer than would be typical at about 54 deg F. This allows for all those delicious flavors to come out to play.

A **** priced wine that falls on the scale at 7-8. This is a wine that you can serve with confidence to any wine drinker. The perfect afternoon (late am) evening tipple to start the party whether it be a casual BBQ or a swank soiree, this is it!

Head on over to Joyce Vineyards tasting room and get some for yourself or order some wine online.
Tell the good folks there we sent you. While you are there tasting maybe you will see us there getting some more of this lovely Riesling.

Happy Wine Adventures,

Joyce Vineyards Tasting Room

19 East Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, CA
11:30am – 5:00pm 7 days a week.
Phone: (831) 659-2885
Fax: (831) 659-2885
Email: info@joycevineyards.com