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3060 El Cerrito Plaza #113
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Winery: Last Summer
Region: Central Coast, more on this though
Why? Maybe the best old world style Grenache made in the new world
|Mark’s Video Intro for This Wine: Read or Listen Here|
So, this is one of those wines that I actually did ship last vintage as well. The reception was strong, but that write up can be found at
That’s a good reminder that I should include a vintage when I post this stuff on the blog, in case I end up doing more than one vintage of a wine.
Ok, so off the top of my head I was going to talk about how Jen’s inaugural effort that I shipped last year, ended up 91 points from Wine Enthusiast or that this one ended up with 93 points from Wilfred Wong…..but then I noticed something interesting.
Every so often I see a winemaker or winery doing something that reminds me of slight of hand, trying to get people to understand a wine by changing the growing location a bit. In this case, unlike some others, it’s just that, trying to get people to understand, but I think it’s worth a note.
So if you read anything written about this wine, it’ll say that this is a Central Coast wine. Sure, fine….I mean, that’s a damn massive growing region of course, check out the Central Coast AVA:
So the Central Coast AVA begins in roughly, Santa Cruz and runs south of Santa Barbara. It takes you, driving a bit better than the speed limit, about 4 hours to make that trek on the 101. There’s also, some area east that’s included, in one of the region’s largest AVA’s in terms of usable vineyard space. After all, much of Southern Inland is so darn hot, even the craziest folks around wouldn’t grow grapes there. The San Joaquin Valley is known for cheap, bulk wine and little else. That doesn’t seem likely to change.
So the Central Coast in many ways stands alone in California as the only spot to get usable grapes while keeping pricing reasonable.
While winemakers naturally look to the region as a spot to gain some reasonably priced grapes, a few things have happened. First, some of the warmer parts of the wider AVA have gained some notoriety. Namely places like Ballard Canyon and others around Los Olivos, but those have a marketing challenge these days because while people “know” that there are good grapes grown on the Central Coast, they are all thinking those grapes are Pinot Noir, largely because of the movie Sideways.
For a small winery, you can feed into that on some level. After all, a Central Coast designation in consumer minds means quality and a certain type of wine. While this is a Grenache, stylistically it may remind you more of a Pinot Noir than anything else. It’s that light.
But, the grapes are from a very specific part of the AVA that you probably haven’t heard of: San Luis Obispo County.
SLO is known as a small college town on the Central Coast, aside from a sibling(ish) rivalry with Santa Barbara, it doesn’t get talked much about. The wine region is a bit different than many of its neighbors on the coast. First, it’s often colder, especially as you move closer to the coast. But, it’s also more sunny on average than many vineyards further south. It’s a strange dichotomy that causes more Rhone varietals like this Grenache to ripen, while at the same time.
The end result? You get this Grenache. It’s dark in your glass, that’s due to the cold growing temperatures. But, it’s also light on its feet and pretty acidic. That’s because it actually did ripen.
An interesting wine? Of course. A standard California Grenache? Not a chance. In the wine industry we all talk often incessantly about new world growing regions vs old world growing regions. It’s often all hyperbole because all of France isn’t old world in the way we think about it, after all the Languedoc is warmer and sunnier than much of California.
San Luis Obispo County like much of Santa Barbara was once considered a marginal growing region. At best. These days? This is mainstream and while we will always continue the old world vs new world debates, some winemakers, especially young winemakers will simply quietly produce wines that would remind us of one region or the other, if we could only take away our own set of preconceived notions.
Finding them can be difficult in the current 3 tier system, if you live further away than realistic searching allows, but the folly of controlling alcohol via state by state law is a question for another day (I don’t begrudge the controlling, just that the playing field changes based on the political or personal beliefs of each state attorney general…for anyone, or any business that stuff is hard to predict).
In any case, if you’re in a red wine club….enjoy this one!
Help my small business grow & drink for free. Please consider sharing this bottle and this newsletter with friends. If they choose to join a wine club, or if you give a wine club gift, I’ll ship you a month’s worth of wine, for free. Just drop me a note and let me know, or use the “order notes” section at checkout and mention this offer.
At times, I feel like my to-do list is continual struggle between the here and now and the long term.
I think that’s consistent for most small business, especially when you’re trying to find some growth.
But, for the next 3-4 months, it’s head down….trying to get things handled in a more timely and efficient manner than before.
I’ll focus on the now and leave the future projects for the future. First up?
I’m working on bringing back our affiliate program. More info on that as time goes by.