Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wine wherever? Right here! In the OC!

Orange Coast Winery Wins Ribbons at Orange County Fair

Still a delicious read.
Back in 2011 I agreed to edit Wine Wherever in California's Mid-Coast & Inland Regions for my friends, publishers Dahlynn and Ken McKowen. Not long ago, I recalled how, as I scrolled through the manuscript, I dreamed about the days ahead when I could follow in their footsteps.
 Alas, I have yet to take that trip. If I don't do it this year, I'll give it priority in 2018. Nonetheless, recently I thumbed through the book again, savoring vicariously the delights of visiting wineries.I was reminded of how the the McKowens did much more than pop in and
My new wine glasses.
sip as they traveled the region, gathering their material for this book. As they claim in their introductory paragraph, "As national award-winning travel book authors, each of us possesses an avid interest in history and in people...Wine tasting is a wonderful adventure, not only for one's palate, but for the mind and body as well."

Admiring the Orange Coast inventory...
I agree it's an adventure. And I didn't want to wait another year for another, as appealing as the Central Coast trip may be. I figured there must be some place where I could indulge in a wine tasting on a lazy Sunday afternoon right here in Southern California. So last month as I did my online Christmas shopping, I browsed Gruopon and came across an offer for a wine tasting for two that included a gourmet cheese platter and two souvenir Bordeaux-style wineglasses. I decided this would be an adventure my friend, Linda, and I could enjoy during the post-holiday January lull. I anticipated we'd likely need to drive to Temecula or at least to Laguna Canyon to take advantage of this offer...but then my eye fell on the location of the winery. Why, it's just a few miles away, in nearby Newport Beach! 

The last wine tasting I'd shared with Linda had been two years ago at the Italian castle of Verrazzano in Chianti, between Florence and Siena.  But this past Sunday I warned Linda as we headed out that we'd be in somewhat simpler surroundings this time around. Indeed, Orange Coast Winery calls itself a "urban boutique winery," with an entrance in the rear of an industrial park on a Newport Beach side street. I didn't spy any nearby vineyards.

Here's the explanation: At this self-described urban microwinery, vintners crush, age, and bottle their own vintages using local California grapes. Inside its capacious cellars, juices from grapes grown in regions such as Paso Robles, Napa, and Sonoma age in oak barrels. The resulting vintages are available for purchase onsite, online, or through a nearby genie, and also fill glasses Thursday–Sunday in the attached tasting room. There, patrons can meander through rows of barrels, stop to rest their glass on a granite-topped bar, and on nicer days, catch a salt-sprinkled breeze through the open warehouse door.

(Since I posted this I received this clarification from Debbie Wiens: Presently, we only source grapes from my husband's original vineyard in Lodi, along with several of his old friends and neighbors. We also source grapes from our Temecula vineyards. All of our grapes we use come strictly from vineyards that we personally own or directly manage. We're also open 7 days a week making it completely accessible to our members and the public!)
Doug and Debbie Wiens, owners

The Newport Beach winery opened in 2011, and showcases a variety of whites, rosés and reds. Our personal server (or genie) Carsten Coombs, provided us with the wine list, and suggested we begin with whites and progress toward the heavier reds as we each selected our six tastings. He made certain that our glasses never stood empty for long, and served us water from time to time so we could cleanse our palates.

Carsten additionally gave us the inside story on the winery, on how Doug and Debbie Wiens decided on this locale, and on each wine we selected. He even told us a little about each of the cheeses on our platter. Though it was hard to choose among all the varieties, tempted by their mouth- watering descriptions, I finally settled on a 2016 Pinot Grigio, a 2016 Endless Summer White Blend, a 2016 Rosé of Malbec (a Gold Medal winner at the OC Fair), a 2014 Winterfest Red, a 2013 Big Wave, and a 2015 Reserve Primitivo. Of the six, I'd rank the Winterfest as my's described as a "light-bodied wine containing notes of cranberry and orange with touches of holiday spice and oak. It pairs well with appetizers, cheese and fondue."
Linda and I linger by the sangria punch

Our artisan cheese platter included chèvre (goat) cheese with olive oil and rosemary, smoked Gouda, gorgonzola with clover honey drizzle, pecorino romano, marcona almonds and orange marmalade. For those with heartier appetites, the winery offers a variety of dips and spreads, flat breads, paninis, and even a platter of artisan cheese and cured meets, that includes pickles and mixed olives. Yes, there are gluten-free options.

The winery sponsors a couple of wine clubs, with complementary tastings and pick-up parties in a private club room. There's a "Sangria Sunday" punch also offered in the club room.

Though I still need to wait another year for the trip up the coast, I'll definitely be back to Orange Coast winery soon. I still have my eye on cozying up to 2013 Endless Summer Cabernet Sauvignon. If it lives up to its billing, I might take a bottle home. After all, who could resist a wine that's imbued with "herbal aromas of rosemary and eucalyptus with rich dark fruit and velvety finish?" Oh, and you'll never guess what the winery suggests pairing this baby with: Chateaubriand with mushroom sauce, grilled asparagus and vanilla bean crème brûlée. Now does that sound like a romantic supper or what?

You can learn more here:

Orange Coast Winery
869 W. 16th, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Entrance and Free Parking In Back
(949) 645-0400 
Tasting Room Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday: 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: Noon to  9:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 8:00 p.m.

For delightful reading about California wineries farther north,  you can still buy Wine Wherever from the Publishing Syndicate website:

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a fun experience, perfect outing for January.