The Basics of Wine Tasting
We often get asked to recommend local entertainment & events, outdoor recreational activities, such as hikes, nature walks and kayaking, and most of all local wineries. The wine regions in this county have bloomed in the last decade, and the area itself has made quite a reputation for providing great vintages of wine.
If you consider yourself a novice here are some tips that could help when tasting in San Luis Obispo county:
• At this point in time there are three recognized wine regions or AVA’s (American Viticulture Areas); sometimes they are referred to as appellations (used more in Europe)
• Paso Robles AVA (there are talks about breaking up Paso Robles into 11 smaller viticultural areas)
• Edna Valley AVA
• Arroyo Grande Valley AVA
• To be classified as an AVA a region must show unique growing conditions and be designated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the U.S. Department of Treasury.
• Paso Robles AVA is mainly concentrated around the West and East side (around highway 46)
• On average Paso Robles is known as a region suitable for bold reds and fuller body whites (higher average temperatures)
• Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley AVAs have a reputation for lighter bodied reds and crisp whites. (cool air and marine conditions keep the temperature on average lower than Paso Robles)
• The label of any given wine can give a lot of information in regards to what you are tasting:
• Is the wine from a larger general regions such as California or is it AVA designate from Paso Robles, Edna Valley or Arroyo Grande Valley? Is it even more specific: estate grown, from a certain part of the estate or even a certain row of grapes on the particular property? (the price of a wine can often correlate to these attributes)
• The vintage: what were the conditions during the ripening process for the vintage you are enjoying? Often tasting room attendants can provide you with such information.
• The varietal or the blend: is it a pure cabernet sauvignon you are enjoying, is it a designated style of blend or is it a contraption the wine maker created? Keep in mind US laws allow for a wine to be at least 75% of a varietal and still be called by the name of that grape. For example you can have a Pinot Noir that is only 75% Pinot Noir and the rest is a blend of Syrah and Grenache. The law allows for the label to say Pinot Noir and all other information need not be disclosed.
• The name of the wine. Often times many wineries create second labels or have unique and clever names for a blend.
• Don’t forget to ask for wine maker notes. After tasting a wine it is fun and interesting to read what the wine maker has envisioned. Sometimes the notes can be very useful if you are purchasing a wine you could not taste. (ie a Library Wine)
These are some basic ideas and points regarding wine tasting in our area. We would be more than happy to assist our guests with wine tasting planning and itineraries.