From the Grapevine: Tastes of the Valley [WINE REVIEW]


Dr. Joel M. Fisher


Dr. Joel M. Fisher Ph.D is a renowned wine enthusiast, educator and columnist.  He also leads Los Angeles’ biggest and most prestigious wine, brew and spirits festival LA WineFest.  This week Dr. Fisher visits Pismo Beach’s Tastes of the Valley:

It was Friday morning, and my birthday. What was I doing in the car pointing north on the 101? I should have been home relaxing, and looking forward to getting together with friends. Instead, I was racing north to meet a group of people I didn’t know, and only two of whom I did know. Georgina Stassi was doing an event for the Central Coast Wine Classic and its founder, Archie McLaren.

Even with traffic, and a lunch stop north of Carpenteria, I made it to my destination by 4 pm. Reservations had been arranged at The Best Western Plus Shore Cliff Lodge, in Pismo Beach. Described as one of the premiere hotels in the area, I walked into a large, welcoming lobby, with a terrific view towards the beach. The panoramic views from 90 feet above the Pacific Ocean are indeed striking, and on more than one occasion I sat on the balcony looking at the ant like figures walking by the onrushing waves to the south of the hotel.

Pismo Beach's Best Western Plus

The Lodge offers scenic ocean views from every guest room, with either a private balcony or a patio. All of the rooms also feature a refrigerator, microwave, and a coffee maker with Seattle’s Best Coffee. Greeted by a welcome bag from the hotel’s hostess, I certainly did feel like a long time traveler being greeted by old friends.

It was a good feeling, and one that continued as we traveled to the site of the evening’s activities, Tastes of the Valleys. Located in central Pismo Beach, the fully stocked bottle shop features over 400 wines from more than 170 wineries from the Central Coast, and from throughout the world.

As Archie was now there, I asked him what he liked to start with, and he, familiar with the selections, thought I should begin with the Beckstoffer Seventy Five, a Napa Cabernet. The wine opens with an explosive nose of black currant, vanilla,

bacon  and spice. Showing terrific concentration this wine is described as voluptuous, dense and powerful.  Throughout , it maintains good acidity, structure and finish. Alcohol is 14.3%.  I thought Archie was right on with this introduction to the wine bar. If you’re wondering what the heads of two of the larger wine events in the state were talking about, it was concerning both of our events and maybe being able to help each other.

Our  genial host is Ash Mehta, who with his wife, Lissa Hallberg, were celebrating their 25th anniversary that day.  So, we all honored our special events.  I liked the feel of the place, with wine boxes willy nilly all over the floor.  The Pismo location attracts both tourists and locals, and I was informed that the original Solvang TOTV is extremely popular among visitors to the area.The store’s wine friendly menu presents cheese, salami and cured meat platters I should note that prices are generally lower than at winery tasting rooms and from other purveyors of the grape.

Dr. Joel Fisher (R) with Archie McLaren (c) and guest

We continued to taste, while I met and greeted friends of the Classic, several sponsors,including  Noreen Martin, owner of Martin Resorts, in whose property I was staying.  Bev Aho, Volunteer Coordinator for the Classic and various dignitaries.

Between types of wine, I was poured a palate cleanser by San Tasti, a company I have known since its beginnings and a repeat visitor to LA WineFest.  This sample was their new cucumber flavor.  I thought it terrific, and so told Nicole Chamberlain at our meeting the next morning.

And on I went after that session to Paso Robles.  We’ll talk about that next week….

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