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Far Out Wineries
A Very Cool Wine Experience
By Linda Kissam, 'Food, Wine & Shopping Diva' Travel Expert
So what do you get when you take a handful of diverse people like chefs, photographers, investment bankers, hippies, actors, financiers, studio drummers, brew masters, wine importers, engineers, developers, and an attorney-
When I first heard about this group from fellow writer Tom Plant, visions of the 70’s danced in my head. Would I need to catch up on my 70's lingo: To the max, groovy, fab, and cool? No, but each one of those words definitely describes my experience there and I am sure I’ll be using them somewhere in this article. And in my estimation – they may be a moderate ways from the west side wineries -
17 wineries make up this consortium of premium small lot, family owned wineries.
Over my two day stay, I was lucky enough to do a luxury farm stay, visit three wineries, and relax with a couples vineyard foot soak. Fellow Wine Chix, Ginger Giordano was on another assignment, so I enlisted my husband to fill in for her. I am always on the lookout for the undiscovered, or under covered wine regions. Read on to see why this group is so special and deserving of more media coverage and a ton more tasting groupies.
We arrived late afternoon at the Dunning Vineyards Estate Winery guest villa.
To my great surprise, my GPS was spot on. No problem finding it. Thank goodness as my husband is one who enjoys the adventure of finding his way on his own; no asking for directions as that breaks some kind of manly code. If it were Ginger and me, we’d me hanging out the window flagging every car and vineyard worker we could see for help.
The Dunning guest villa is a striking private retreat located in Paso Robles Wine
Country. It’s a private 600 square foot Bed & Breakfast retreat featuring a luxurious
one bedroom suite with panoramic vineyard and coastal mountain views. Located on
40 acres of gently rolling hillscape this is a private luxury VIP experience. Just
us, the vineyards, the hawks, eagles, and assorted wildlife – big and small – left
us to relax and reflect. Parking our car, we heard the sound of a patio fountain
leading to our vineyard sanctuary. Inside classical music, a wine & cheese platter,
chocolates and a delightful 2008 Vin de Casa rich red wine blend greeted us. Further
investigation led to a huge fluffy king side bed, spa tub/two person "santi jet",
flat screen TV with satellite, wireless Internet ( a must for hubby and me) , and
full kitchenette. These amenities brought a gasp of appreciation from two weary
travelers. As private as it is, it’s only 10 minutes from town and many many other
Up the next morning we took an early agricultural tour ($25 per person) on property
lead by owner/winemaker Bob Dunning. It’s a great way to learn the vineyard to
glass story from a master. It’s fascinating and includes a private reserve tasting. Our
tasting was led by owners Jo-
Back up the winding road to the villa, we were looking forward to our vineyard foot
soak with Vino +Therapy Studio owner Neena Benson.
She was waiting for us on the patio. The sensual aromas of grapes and natural oils caught up with us as we climbed the steps to the patio. I have to tell you, there is nothing like this where I come from. And in fact, Neena told me her spa services are based on a similar experience available in Tuscany. So now, nestled on top of a high hill with sweeping vineyard views and armed with a glass of Dunning’s 2008 Chardonnay, we soaked our feet in an infusion of natural winemaking byproducts of grape seed skin and stem antioxidants, nirvana has been reached.
Neena provides private spa services to those who request it, but her home base is in Atascadero (just 10 minutes from the Far Out Wineries). What she offers is a personal journey that begins the moment you arrive at her studio. This may be the only spa I know of that has a liquor license! So expect to be served a glass of wine and a total skin & body wine experience. Whether you are someone who enjoys a great glass of vino, or you're a wine connoisseur and love to take care of your skin, Neena has something for everyone. Neena will be franchising …and to my great delight perhaps in Temecula. Bring it on; my friends and I are ready for you!
Our next stop was Le Cuvier Winery.
Again, our GPS was right on target. I was having a very good day. Le Cuvier is a 3.400 case winery is open to the public Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for wine tasting and specially paired foods. It is working towards becoming a winery that is open only to wine club members. Our 90 minute appointment reflected winemaker John Munch and general manager Mary Fox’s love of food and wine pairing. Assisted by wine club manager Tiani Bajema, we had a sit down tasting consisting of elegant wines and perfectly paired bites that I am not sure mere words can describe.
What you’re looking at with this winery is the wine experience as it was meant to be. Take a passionate winemaker (John), combine him with a focused organizer who loves to entertain (Mary) and throw in a creative self-
John sources his grapes off property. I see this trend more and more. It makes sense on many levels, both economically and quality wise. John explained, “I’ve been in this area many years. I know where the quality grapes are, so all I need to do is buy them and then work with the grapes to produce the best wine possible. Our vision here is entertain and educate, with a heavy emphasis on the educational component.” I certainly got that through the food & wine pairing my husband and I shared with him, Mary and Tiani. Each course was presented beautifully. A clear, precise, unhurried explanation was given as the paired food and wine was set in front of us. A relaxed conversation ensued that made us feel like a treasured member of the family.
From the first course of a uniquely styled 2007 Viognier ($37) paired with Thai Peanut
Sauce & Carrot Queens, to a second course of Cold Lentil Salad paired with a lovely
2007 Pinot ($38), to the dramatic third course 2007 blend L’enfant du Pape ($46.25)
with assorted gourmet cheeses, to the luscious fourth course 2007 Cab ($46.25) paired
with Blue Cheese and Cream Cheese with celery …everything was perfectly paired. I
must say the celery with the Cab was an eye-
I am telling you here and now…especially those of you who think they’ve had exceptional wine experiences before – you must, must try this winery. Provocative wines, thoughtful pairings, warm hospitality embraces and a truly inspirational take on making clients happy, make the words “Far Out” take on a whole new meaning. John & Mary occasional give dinner parties in their home. If you’re going to the Paso area, make sure you check out their Web site to see if you can join them. Prices are reasonable for the total wine experience. Heck…even they weren’t I’d be pulling out my credit card anyway.
The last winery of our visit was Nadeau Family Vintners.
Dry farmed, hand-
My husband the engineer was fascinated. I was groovin’ on the structured, fruit forward mountain-
Robert has a strong enology and viticulture background. He’s bright, inquisitive,
and focused. Several Paso wineries hire him as a consultant, and I can see why. After
speaking with him and tasting his wines, I get the sense that he’s not afraid to
try new things while keeping one foot firmly planted in the basics of fine viticulture
and winemaking. You can expect each of his small lot vintages to produce consistently
premium results…although I know he’s not afraid to craft an unusual variety for wine
enthusiasts. “Just a barrel or two of something different -