Our first stop was at DAOU, where we had made a 12:30 p.m. reservation and barely made it on time after all the LA traffic and departing Huntington Beach at 8 a.m. Most of the wineries now prefer reservations and private tastings to open tasting rooms of the past. The DAOU winery is spectacular with breathtaking views at an elevation of 2,200 feet above the Adelaida District. Jennifer and I decided to ignore the cold crisp breeze rolling through the mountains and selected to sit outside for our tasting. While the Falcons soared beneath us, Jennifer and I quickly became at one with the lawn furniture and the wine while both releasing full sighs after the long drive. The presentation at DAOU was overwhelming, and I have now learned that I need to drink the wines we purchased at home before commenting on my likes or dislikes.
Our second stop of the day was at Denner Vineyards which we had visited before some eight years ago. Denner produces some of Paso’s best wines, so we had to return to this gorgeous winery. The prices bunched me up a bit, but I wanted more and purchased one bottle of their 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a big buck winery and it shows from the moment you pull into the parking lot with astonishing views and friendly consultants. Our appointment was with David who described the wines seductively with a touch of humor along with his celebrity impersonations. Good times were had and we will return. Should we be carrying a big bag of gold, we plan on staying at the Comus house in one of their four rooms at Denner. These rooms are magnificent with a commanding view of the valleys below.
Closing time at most of the Paso wineries is 5 p.m., and we were running out of time, so we pulled into Jada which is just down the street. I liked the wines, although I was still a little overwhelmed by the prices at Denner and didn’t purchase anything at this stop. We ran into a nice couple and came to find out that he had also graduated from Edison High school two years before me. This kicked up the energy level, so we had one more stop in us at Dilecta. The owner and winemaker are Orin Stang, who had previously worked at Booker and Law Estate Wines. The tasting room was a small barn offering no views, but Stang poured the wines himself. I purchased two bottles: one was named Tiller, a Syrah and the other – an unorthodox Syrah. While walking back to the car, Jennifer commented that she didn’t care much for the wines and questioned me on why I had purchased them? I simply said, “I don’t know.” The odd thing is when we returned home, these wines were fantastic, and I won’t hesitate to purchase more. This is when it came to me that the hilltop wineries with their views seemed to have made their wines taste better.
After a lunch break, we headed over to Turley because they have always been my favorite red Zinfandel vineyard, and as always was not disappointed. In fact, their prices are much more affordable than most of the hilltop vineyards.
So that’s it…another memorable anniversary in Paso. I will be getting back on the water in my next column with a review of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race starting on March 2. Wish us luck and we’ll be sailing on the yacht Horizon again.
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.