Stars of Paso Robles Wine Makers Lunch at McCormick&Schmicks

Friday, May 13th 2011 Ian Blackburn, Southern California’s leading wine expert and the founder of, orchestrated an intimate lunch at McCormick and Schmick’s in Beverly Hills introducing three remarkable winemakers of his “Stars of Paso Robles” line up


Paso Robles, home to more than 200 wineries, has made its way up as a popular destination for vine connoisseurs and novices alike. It is a reachable destination, approximately 3 1/2 hrs or 204 miles North of Los Angeles (located off the 101 N or the 46 W after the 5N freeway).

When it comes to its reputation, the area has been mostly known for producing great Cabernets in the past. 

As of lately, winemakers in the region have been more courageous, producing more diverse vines under dynamic leadership, moving to the forefront of the vine scene.

Sitting with Christina Turley (Turley wines), Joel Petterson (director of communications Treana wines) and Michael Mooney (Chateau Margene), 

observing the genuine interaction between them and their support for each other’s wines, one could feel a mixture of passion and excitement, making it clear that times have changed for the better in Paso.

The four-course meal started with a colorful salad of beets on arugula, with walnuts, avocados, grapefruit and feta cheese.

The salad was perfectly paired with the 2008 Turley Zinfandel, Pesenti Vineyard

a “white wine for red wine drinkers”, as Christina Turley described.

This was a very rich white wine one could almost taste the volcanic soil and the long legacy of Turley Zinfandels in the family. Christina’s father, Larry Turley started the vineyards in 1993, manifesting his love for old wines.

Next was a delicious Alaskan halibut with an Edamame and corn succotash, parsnip puree and beurre blanc sauce

paired with a full body, floral 2009 Treana white wine, by far the sweetest and most delicious fish meal I have had the pleasure of tasting in a long time.

In contrast to that the next meal consisting of Hawaiian Albacore tuna with fried tempura and a cucumber salad in miso vinaigrette

seemed creative but a bit too raw and fishy for my taste.

The Albacore tuna meal was paired with Mr. Mooney’s refined 2009 Chateau Margene Pinot Noir, definitely my favorite red vine of the day.

The Pinot Noir retails $72 and is not only a success story but trust me well worth the price with its elegant, settle and traditional taste.

Last on the menu was a tasty braised short rib stuffed pepper with Almond Romesco and tomato sauce

, paired with an attractive 2008 Treana Red, Cabernet Sauv/ Syrah, a wine enhanced with the tastes of tannin and French oak.

Last but not least the charming 2007 Chateau Margene Cabernet Sauvignon was served. With its rich tastes of cassis, black fruit, mint and mocha this was the perfect finale for this lunch, setting the tone for many more parties and holidays to come.

Top 5 Things I learned at the wine tasting:

1)   Most of Paso’s producers are taste room oriented. So get in your car and head North, no appointments are necessary.

2)   Paso Robles has a wide variety of restaurants. On the wine makers Top 5 list are: Hoover’s Beef Palace, Villa Creek, Bistro Laurent, Il Cortile and Artisan.

3)   Zinfandel can be as red as a Cab or Pinot. The pink Zin is considered the white Zinfandel. The color has to do with how long the juice of the grapes was kept with the skins. The longer it was kept with the skin, the deeper red the Zin will be.

4)   Sun, sea, and soil are called the trinity and effect the taste of the wine

5)   Go to more wine tasting!! Practice makes perfect and enhances not only your palate but also your rosy skin tone!


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