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San Francisco Wine School: Week 7 San Luis Obispo County

Mustard and vines.
Mustard and vines.
Kenneth Fish

Since the midsection of California is so big in regard to its wine country, it has taken three weeks just to get to the southern end of it. This week’s San Francisco Wine School California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS) adventure takes a look at San Luis Obispo county and the five AVAs (American Viticultural Area) contained therein. The wines from this region, which includes Paso Robles, York Mountain, Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande, and Santa Maria, are as diverse as the territory from which they come.

This up and coming area is producing some great Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Rhone Varietals, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, and the popularity of the wines from this area is growing every day. A quick trip to your local Trader Joe’s is all it takes to find a sizeable selection, and for the most part the prices are almost too good to pass up. If you happen to be passing through the vast expanse that is Central California, it would certainly be in your best interest to check out a few wineries, especially since there’s almost 400 from which to choose.

This week I tasted a 2012 Gewurztraminer from Vintjs, and a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Baron Herzog. Both of these wines were surprisingly inexpensive, and I think I know why. Neither of them really blew me away. Both lacked depth on their own, and when paired with food, neither stood up to the challenge. This isn’t to say they were awful, but they certainly weren’t great by any measure.

It must be mentioned that these two wines are not representative of San Luis Obispo County. When I was picking up the two wines for this week’s tasting, I purchased four others from the same area and they were all quite good. I intentionally chose the least expensive for the tasting to see if price mattered in regard to taste. In this particular case, I think it may have played a significant role. They simply tasted like cheap wine. Live and learn.

If you want to take this or any of the other classes on offer or if you’d like more information about the San Francisco Wine School, click here. Stay tuned for the rest of the CWAS adventures of yours truly.