CABS of Distinction: Winemaker Dinner at Paso Robles’ Le Vigne


Le-Vigne-WineryThe second Annual CABS of Distinction took place Wednesday April 23-Sunday April 28 in Paso Robles, CA.  The first day’s activities included an “En Primeur” and current vintage tasting of the complete participating 24 wineries.  Afterward attendees were invited to one of several wineries to attend a winemaker’s dinner.  We chose Le Vigne to preview and celebrate their new tourism center which opens to the public on Friday April 25.

Le Vigne is just minutes from the freeway, but it’s tucked away into a dusty corner of the land.  It’s welcome is meant to remind you to leave your worries outside, step in and enjoy some time discovering delicious tastes.  It’s foyer is designed to greet walk-in customers looking to taste, with a private dining area to the side and a warehouse seen during tours.

Earlier in the day winemaker Michael Barreto teased us explaining how his wife Joey had been working away in the kitchen all day to create a delicious artisan feast.  We were excited to be sure.

Dinner started as a fresh arugula salad with nuts and balsamic vinegar dressing was served.  Simple and delightful; reinvigorating our sense for what was about to come.  Our second course was a well-balanced cheesy risotto that was equal parts rich and robust — just right.

Throughout dinner Michael shared his background and the inspiration for his wine.  He was raised on a dairy farm in Hanford, California. After graduating from CSU Fresno with a degree in Agricultural Business he entered the fresh produce industry.  It was during this time that he was able to visit agriculture and wine regions. He expanded his knowledge and love for wine; and in 1997 returned to CSU Fresno to study enology. He made his first barrel of wine at home just a few years later, and its encouraging reception inspired him to enter winemaking full-time. Michael and his wife Joey (previously mentioned as tonight’s chef) moved to the Central Coast shortly thereafter where he began working at a nearby winery. He quickly moved from cellar work into the laboratory. It was there that Michael was offered the opportunity to begin with Le Vigne Winery.  

Back to dinner.  The third course was delicious steak accompanied by a mix of farm-to-table vegetables.  Delicious food kept being served.  While many of us were filing up, we couldn’t deny not just that quality of the meal, but also how beautifully each dish was paired with Le Vigne wines.

And with that, the fourth course overwhelmed us all.  A cheese plate offering dairy delectables including “Ewenique“, a local sheep Gouda, “La Tur“, a 3-milk (cow, goat, sheep) cheese, “Bleu Buffala“, blue Italian water buffalo cheese, and “D’Affinois“, a double-cream French Brie. With Prosciutto, Breseaola, and small slices of Chocolate-Fig-Almond cake.

Certainly our dinner’s cup runneth over (almost literally) when dessert arrived.  Flan; which several of the guests paired with  espresso.

It was a pleasure to taste Le Vigne Winery and meet winemaker Michael Barreto.  Their tasting room is now open and the public is invited.