Yes, I took most of the month of May (and part of June) off. It was not necessarily by design, however. It was primarily because of, well, real life. And stuff. One word…Escrow.  ‘Nuff said.

That said, it’s nice to be back in the saddle again.

I am working on a Las Vegas project, and I want to be able to share a lot of the photos that I’ve taken over the last couple of years. Most of my stories regarding wine and Las Vegas only have one or two photos in them. Naturally, that gives you a different view of Las Vegas than what is reality. While the wonderful photos that you see in magazines and newspapers are doing a great job of showcasing the tourist areas of Las Vegas, most of Las Vegas is surprisingly normal. And that’s what I want to share.

Look for a post just on Las Vegas sometime in the next few weeks. This is taking far longer than I had planned!

Now back to the topic at hand.

Paso Robles and the Festivals

I decided to forgo the Paso Robles Wine Festival this year in favor of going to the Paso Pinot & Paella Festival instead. It always occurs the first week of June, and even after all of these years of going to the Central Coast, I had never made it.

I decided to go this year with The Wineaux Guy™ and we made plans a few weeks ago. However, due to the passing of his son, he is still dealing with a lot of extended family grief issues and couldn’t take the time away.

My close friend Suzette asked if she could go with me. Of all of my friends and wine club members, she was a Paso Robles virgin. We made arrangements, and I drove my new toy. Not only did we have a wonderful time exploring Paso, but we also spent a lot of time in Templeton as well.

When we finally left on Monday morning, we took the long route down the coast. The reason I went that way is so that we could stop in the wine regions of Santa Barbara.

That meant a much longer trip home to Vegas, especially since there is so much LA traffic involved, but it is a surprisingly peaceful drive just before Los Angeles.

Enjoy the slideshow!

Pinot of Paso Panel Workshop

PAELLA!

Paella is a Spanish dish that includes different combinations of vegetables, rice, and meats, and characteristically seasoned with saffron. However, like other dishes that are indigenous to the area from which they originate, the ingredients can vary widely (and wildly).  All of the Paellas at the festival were amazing and a wonderful representation of what Americans can do with this classic dish.

And, of course, The Pinot

To say that Paso Robles has struggled with Pinot over the years is an understatement. Frankly, I’ve had a few that were at best ordinary. A couple that were less than ordinary were truly terrible.  Of course there were – and have always been – exceptions. Ascunsion Ridge, Windward, Jack Creek, Hug Cellars, and Derby Wine Estates were standouts in any Pinot crowd.

My, how the tides have turned!

I was surprised to see wonderful Pinot Noirs from such wineries as Tablas Creek, Carmody McKnight, Calcareous, and Adelaida. I have to mention Sculpterra in particular because Paul Frank told The Wineaux Guy™ and me several years ago when he was still a student that he would help to put Pinot on the map in Paso Robles. To loosely quote Henry Higgins, “By George, I think he’s got it!” I normally associated those wineries with Rhône or Bordeaux varietals.

We were happily surprised with the quality of the Paso Robles Pinot Noirs. So much so that I found myself thinking: Is there anything that Paso can’t do?!?

I’ll admit that I took a lot more photos of the Paella than the Pinot. Delicious and filling!

I can’t wait to go again, but because it’s so close to the Wine Festival, it’ll mean a coin toss every year. The Paso Robles Wine Festival is far, far larger, of course.  Both are fun!

Happy to be back. Stay tuned!

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