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.