We poured wines from Paso Robles, Sonoma, Napa, Lodi and even Contra Costa County. Wineries included: Cass Winery, Kokomo Winery, Tamayo Vineyards, Lapis Luna, and Reynoso Vineyards. All the wines were supplied by Steve Bowie from Distinctive Vines. Steve is also the National Sales Manager for Lapis Luna Winery. One of the newest wineries, that Steve represents, is Cass Winery, out of Paso Robles. Bryan Cass was there presenting his family's wines, and you could really tell his passion for wine, as I listened to him talk about his wine, and gain a lot of new devotees. Throughout the day, I had opportunities to talk with Bryan, and one of the topics was the latest odd weather they have been experiencing in Paso Robles. In April, they were hit with a severe frost, that could dramatically affect this years' harvest. I asked how he felt they survived the frost, and he told me about a full vineyard aspersion system (basically a sprinkler system) that coats the new buds in water and ice, and keeps the frost damage to a minimum. Sounds like Cass Winery is looking good for this year's harvest (so far). I had never tried Cass Winery before, but knew of them. There is a small group of amateur winemakers in Lake Arrowhead, and they have been buying their grapes from Cass.
One thing that I always find interesting is which wines people choose to taste. As usual, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were tasting favorites, but Malbec appears to be coming on strong with more recognition. The slowest movers were those wines which no one was sure what they were. One wine simply called "Red" and another labeled "Cuvee" barely had any takers. Even when the blend was explained, there were only a few takers. There was only one Rose in the mix, but it still appears that people associate rose with white zinfandel, but once they tried it, they were surprised to find out "it's not sweet".
Well this year is over at the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Art & Wine Festival, but it's never too early to start planning for next year. The Festival has traditionally been on the last full weekend on June, so plan on coming up for the 30th version. Spend a day or two on the mountain, enjoy the scenery and friendly mountain residents. You may find (like I did) that art, wine, and mountains are just what you needed.