Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Roll out the barrels

It's never too early to start thinking about the weekend (it is Tuesday already, right), and this one's a doozy -- four days of events at San Luis Obispo's wineries.

The SLO Vintners' annual Roll Out the Barrels was essentially my introduction to the wineries of Edna Valley when I moved here two years ago. Through one wine-soaked afternoon, I hit all the larger wineries such as Edna Valley Vineyard and Tolosa and discovered some smaller gems, like Piedra Creek and the adorable Italian family that runs it. My friend and I sipped barrel samples, sampled a wide variety of gourmet treats and even took home a goldfish won in a carnival-like game at one of the wineries. I had never been much of a wine drinker before that, and tasting all the offerings really helped develop my palette (ok, I got as far as "I like this one," "Don't like that one," but it was a start!)

Find the details below, and watch SLO Vintners' video promoting the event on our web site.

The event kicks off Thursday with Barrels in the Plaza from 5:30-7:30 p.m. There will be wine from the participating wineries, food samples, live music and barrel-making demonstrations, all in the inviting Mission Plaza downtown. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.slowine.com.

Friday brings winemaker dinners at five wineries, Edna Valley Vineyard (805-544-5855) at the penthouse suite of the Dolphin Bay resort in Shell Beach, Kynsi Winery (805-541-3083)at Novo in downtown SLO, Per Bacco Cellars (805-787-0485) at, of course, Cafe Roma (they have the same owners), Wild Wood Winery (805-541-9922) at Palazzo Guissepes in SLO and Baileyana/tangent Winery (805-269-8200) at Pelican Point in Shell Beach. Seating is limited at all the dinner; reservations are required and should be made through the wineries. Cost ranges from $75-$95 per person.

The main event -- Passport to Wine Country -- goes on Saturday and Sunday, as passport holders venture from winery to winery for special tastings and entertainment at the 12 SLO Vintners' wineries. Tickets are $45 for the two-day event ($35 for designated drivers) and also can be purchased at www.slowine.com.

Talley Vineyards (805-489-0446), which is not a member of the Vintners Association, is holding its own spring open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. There will be complimentary wine tasting, appetizers and music by the reggae-inspired Shival Experience.

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