California’s Central Coast Winery Guide

Ξ May 11th, 2008 | → 3 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Book Reviews |

Though I’ve come a bit late to the review party let me add my 2 cents on quite a good book that has recently crossed my desk: California’s Central Coast, The Ultimate Winery Guide, From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles. Oddly faulted for its incomplete listing of wineries it is, nevertheless, by far the most successful effort to date to provide a traveler’s companion to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties’ wine country.

The venerable Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat writes the honest intro. Fine photos by Kirk Irwin work well alongside Mira Advani Honeycutt’s general but helpful explorations of local townships and hamlets, farms and lodging. Preliminaries done, Ms. Honeycutt dives into the text proper. The Wineries section is divided between Santa Barbara County containing the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys, and San Luis Obispo County’s Arroyo Grande, Edna Valley and Paso Robles. Serviceable maps make the search easy.


A modest fifteen wineries are covered for Santa Barbara Co., another 17 for San Luis, not bad given the wonderful detail Ms. Honyecutt and photographer Mr. Irwin provide. Tired of two paragraph glosses, the rush some wine writers seem to be in to get to their next destination? Then this book is for you. A well written background history and bio of each selected winery and owner(s) is given, mentions of celebrated cuvées, along with tasting notes, the winegrower’s philosophy, current and future projects, precise contact info, including telephone numbers and web addresses, are there as well. Babcock, Melville, Rideau, Summerwood is a sampling of the coverage, though, to tell the truth, I would have preferred a bit more written about Cold Heaven Cellars. Morgan Clendenen, in association with Yves Cuilleron, produce under the Domaine Des Deux Mondes Saints and Sinners label, the finest California viogner I have ever tasted.


Strangely absent, given Ms. Honeycutt’s evident enthusiasm for the region, is any mention of whether one winery or another might be biodynamic, certified organic, or even ‘green’, a theme an increasing number of wine enthusiasts want highlighted, I would argue. Maybe in the second edition! (Actually, one biodynamic producer is accounted for: Beckmen Vineyards.)


I like this book. It is a well-researched effort, written by someone clearly in the thrall of the region. Her enthusiasm is contagious! For those who take exception to the book’s limited coverage of the region supplemental info may be found both on the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association web site and on that of the San Luis Obispo Vintner’s Association. For Paso Robles click this.


3 Responses to ' California’s Central Coast Winery Guide '

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  1. Arthur said,

    on May 12th, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Are the extended winery descriptions original text or are they the result of cut-and-paste from winery website to a word editor?

    This is the second book I am aware of that purports to be the guide to Central Coast and then fails to acknowledge anything north of San Miguel.

    The other book in existence (claiming to be guide to the central coast) was sent to me for review last year. Once I saw that the AVA profiles were plagiarized form the copyrighted content on my web site – I was just a tad displeased.

    I have not seen this book nor have I heard of Ms. Mira Advani Honeycutt, so I cannot make any judgments, however, given past experience with books of this type, I would want to know more to answer both my opening question and why the Central Coast Wine World ends with the northern San Luis Obispo county boundary.

  2. Administrator said,

    on May 12th, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for writing, Arthur. The text is not a cut-and-paste job of winery promo material I sampled. In fact, some of the winery web sites have yet to be up-dated to conform with Ms. Honeycutt’s observations! Of course, some repetition is inevitable. One cannot change Mr. Clendenen’s c.v., for example. And a gloss of a vineyard’s oft-repeated history can be a painful exercise in economy. But Ms. Honeycutt does a good job in breathing life into what would otherwise be a mere inventory of facts, and she adds a great deal of fresh detail.
    The book’s author blurb reads, in part, “She [Mira Advani Honeycutt] is the wine editor of the New York-based lifestyle magazine KARMIC and has covered the wine regions of California, Oregon, France, and Italy for American and international publications, among them the Hong Kong Tatler and the Los Angeles Magazine. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the LA Times, Hollywood Reporter, and the San Jose Merc. She has served on the board of the American Institute of Wine & Food, and is the founder ond producer of the Asia Pacific Fusion Food & Wine Festival. She lives in Los Angeles.”
    As to ‘why the Central Coast Wine World ends with the northern San Luis Obispo county boundary’ I cannot say. But it may have to do with the sheer magnitude of such an undertaking. As you know, the Central Coast AVA begins in the SF Bay area. The Santa Cruz Mtns. AVA, where I live, has somewhere around eighty wineries alone! In fact, as I mention in my post, she has been faulted for the limited number of wineries covered. My guess is that her editor(s) at Chronicle Books, San Francisco, may have had a hand in making it the ‘traveling companion’-style book has turned out to be. That and a bottom-line, hard-nosed estimation of where the greatest number of consumers reside.
    Finally, it is clear the way is wide open for yet more books on this expanding wine region. You are ideally suited and informed to write a very good one! Cheers.

  3. Arthur said,

    on May 12th, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Thank you for your response, Ken.

    I have no problem with people publishing books to make a buck. I have no problem with people competing with me. I don’t care too much for plagiarism and lazines, though. I appreciate you clarifying this for me. It seems we share the same point of view on this issue.

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