Wednesday, October 31, 2007

After Halloween, it's Harvest (again)

The harvest celebration has come and gone in Paso Robles, but it's hitting SLO this weekend, and there's still time to get tickets to many of the festivities.

Friday night features winemaker dinners at area restaurants. Some are already sold out, though reservations for others are still available. The most unique might be dinner in the rose garden at the Mission de Tolosa with Tolosa Winery.

Saturday from 1-5pm the wineries and local restaurants join together for the Grand Tasting at Avila Beach Golf Resort, with food and wine, live jazz, live and silent auctions. Tickets are $75.

Sunday, I'll be stomping grapes at Per Bacco Cellars, one of many special activities at the wineries of the San Luis Obispos Vintners and Growers Association. Among other activities, Baileyana will break in its new bocce ball courts and many others are featuring special food and/or live music.

Find information on all the events here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A hauntingly good time for all

There are countless Halloween activities out there tomorrow night, but here's one that can be enjoyed by young and older.

With Oktoberfest drawing to a close (though Thursday-Saturday celebrations continue through this weekend) Old Vienna in Shell Beach is transforming itself into the Enchanted Black Forest.

For singles and parents, the bar is open for spirits and witch's brew, and kids can keep themselves occupied with the free "not-to-haunted house," spooky snacks and wormy swamp punch.

Festivities go from 5-9pm.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Brew and food masters

If beer is more your thing, another option for Saturday night is the Brewmasters Dinner at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.

For $30, you get a four-course dinner paired with beers from Central Coast Brewing. The meal prepared by Chef David McWilliams starts with a ponzu-glazed scallop with julienne Asian pears on the half shell paired with honey wheat ale. The second course is stuffed heirloom pork belly, baby arugula, frisse with Golden Glow veal jus paired with Golden Glow Ale, followed by a third course of porcini mushroom malfatti and shaved pecorino cheese paired with Scotch Ale. And for dessert, a German chocolate cake served with Central Coast Stout.

Call 805-595-7302 for reservations.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Haunting the caves

So every town and city can have their haunted houses, but how many can offer haunted caves?

It's the last weekend before Halloween, and Saturday and Sunday feature Eberle Winery's Haunted Caves tours, from 5-6:30 and 7-9 both nights (for ages 10 and up).

The winery decorates and decks out its 16,000 feet of underground cave to become one of the spookiest events around. Above ground, there are games and bounce house.

For older kids (21 and up), there is complimentary wine tasting.

Divine music in a divine location

Regular live music venues are scant in SLO County. But a lot of fantastic acts come through the county for special events and performances at our many wineries. This weekend brings one such act.

Harry Manx is bringing his renowned folk-world-blues music to Stacked Stone Cellars at 6 p.m. Saturday. (Gates open at 4:30. Bring a blanket or lawn chair.)

Manx plays his blend of blues and Indian ragas on a 20-string guitar/sitar hybrid called the Mohan Veena, a lap slide guitar, blues harp and six-string banjo. You can listen to sample of his music here (click on Media Player)

The appearance was arranged by Matt's Music Stage and School (formerly Divine Appointment Guitars) in Paso Robles. Tickets are $20; call 805-237-0054 to purchase. Dinner and wine will be available for an extra charge.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's here! Harvest time is here!

When I was little, Halloween was my favorite holiday. Now I look forward to the end of October for another reason -- the harvest festivals in our two distinguished wine regions.

Vineyard workers already have been hard at work harvesting this year's grape crop and it's time to join them in celebration.

Paso's Harveset Wine Tour spans this weekend, with three days of events hosted by the wineries. There's so much to choose from, it's almost overwhelming. There are winemaker dinners, cooking classes, food pairing seminars, tours of the vineyards, barrel tastings, live music, barbecues and picnics. You can find a full schedule on our web site here or at the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

The Edna and Arroyo Grande valleys follow Nov. 2-4 with the SLO Vintners Harvest Celebration. Friday night, the wineries host their own winemaker dinners. Saturday from 1-5pm they join together for the Grand Tasting at Avila Beach Golf Resort, with food and wine, live jazz, live and silent auctions. Tickets are $75. You can buy tickets online here. Sunday brings open houses at the member wineries, with free admission for those with bracelets from the Grand Tasting. You can find a list of all the planned festivities, as well as information on Friday's winemaker dinners, here.

Harvest is definitely one of the best time to get out and visit our local wineries, so go enjoy!

And to read a story about this year's harvest, which is small but reportedly high quality, click here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fall afternoon in the apple orchards

While we still have plenty of beautiful, warm days, it is starting to feel a bit more like fall.

And a favorite fall family activity is heading out to the apple orchards of See Canyon.

What to do with all those apples? Find some ideas, and a little taste of the apple experience, in our recent story here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A cook-off and a chow down

Sunday brings a celebrity chef Oktoberfest cook-off at Peachy Canyon Winery, with hors d'oeuvres from the chefs of Villa Creek, Artisan, Dining with Andre and the Culinary Academy.
The appetizers will be accompanied by beer from Downtown Brew and Firestone and wine from Grey Wolf, Jan Kris, Windward, Vineyard, Midnight Cellars, Dark Star Cellars, Zenaida Cellars and Peachy Canyon.

The Sip of Paso and a Taste of Talent event benefits the North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation, which uses the money to fund various performance groups and its annual production of "The Nutcracker."

There will also be a live and silent auction plus live entertainment. It goes from 2-5 pm at the winery at Highway 26 West and Bethel Road; tickets are $35. Call 805-835-1678 to reserve.

Speaking of Oktoberfest, I got to celebrate last week with dinner at Old Vienna Inn in Shell Beach. I enjoyed a robust goulash, flavorful potato soup and an excellent (and very large) Franziskaner wheat beer. Read more about the food and festivities, which last all month, from Dining Out writer Dawn White here.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wine and music at two local events

Following a first-year festival that suffered from more visitors than apparently expected -- an avocado festival that ran out of guacamole? -- I'm going to head back to Morro Bay for more of a sure thing, the long-popular Harbor Festival. It runs from 10am-6pm both Saturday and Sunday along the Embarcadero, with tons of food, wine and beer and live music; admission is $8. Read more about it in Ticket here.

If you'd rather focus more on just wine and music, Sunday brings the finals of the Winery Music Awards, which features two local bands competing in the final six. It goes from 2-8pm at River Oaks Hot Springs and Spa in Paso Robles; tickets are $50. Read more about the local bands in our story today and in the SLO Goings blog.

Tuesday also brings a tough choice: Satire king and Cal Poly alum Weird Al Yankovic performing at his alma matter or the Dark Star Orchestra at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande. Dark Star goes far beyond the usual Grateful Dead "tribute band" with dead-on performances of live shows. Read more about Weird Al here and about Dark Star here.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

McCarthy's is finally reopening!

Need I say more?

McCarthy's Irish Pub reopening Friday

But first, a short look back at the last day at the old McCarthy's, including the parading of the bar down Higuera Street to the new location: Watch the slideshow with audio

Foist today!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sample a fine Vintage

Among my duties here at The Tribune is editing the twice-yearly Vintages magazine, and I'm proud to announce that the fall issue has just debuted.

In it, you'll find features on luxury hotels of the Central Coast, a Spanish wine that is increasingly being produced here and winemaker dinners, staple events of our local wineries.

You'll also read about our picks of what wine to buy now, notes on tasting rooms, hotels and local attractions, a recipe for a delicious dish to pair with almost any white wine and a trip through Paso's eastside, as well as maps, a guide to the county's tasting rooms and info on upcoming events, including the popular harvest festivals.

You can pick up the magazine in most local tasting rooms or find it on our web site here.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What others are saying about us

The good folks at the Washington Post apparently like what the Central Coast has to offer, even off the coast itself.

The paper's travel section recently featured a piece on touring SLO and Paso and the surrounding spots. You can read it here.

The New York Times, meanwhile, is gushing over the olive oil of Pasolivo, which recently won two best-in-show awards at the International Olive Oil Competition in Los Angeles. Read the article here.