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Old Spanish Nights - California Wine Festival


Casa de la Guerra Adobe Courtyard, 15 East De la Guerra Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA


Old Spanish Nights was the opening event of the California Wine Festival.  It was held on Thursday, July 16th from 6.30pm – 9pm and featured 18 Californian wineries and 9 restaurant and food providers.


Casa de la Guerra is an old Spanish colonial courtyard located just off State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.  It was a warm summer’s evening and as we arrived, we were presented with wristbands and wine glasses.  A band was playing Spanish music, which gradually increased in tempo as the evening progressed.  They were joined by flamenco dancers and by the end of the evening there were a few more dancers on the floor!


It was great to have the opportunity to enjoy some good wines in a comfortable and relaxed setting and have time to chat to the people who make them and/or promote them.  It was also nice to be able to sample some local restaurant offerings. 


I had the pleasure of spending time with the following:


Lucas Meisinger

Lucas works in production and sales at Lone Madrone, which is located in Paso Robles.  The winery was founded in 1996 and many of their vineyards are dry farmed.  Some vines are trained like those in the Southern Rhone; bush vines, which produce very low yielding deeply coloured fruit. They use only native yeasts and native malolactic bacteria, preferring to let the grapes express their natural flavours.  Brother and sister team, Neil Collins and Jackie Meisinger are the winemakers.


Kevin and Wendy Morrow

Kevin and Wendy own Tara Bella Winery in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County.  These guys produce some amazing wines and are the only Cabernet Sauvignon producers in the Russian River.  They are passionate about what they do and focus on producing very high quality limited production Cabernet Sauvignons.  They have also just released a 2011 Petite Syrah and a 2014 Rose.  They have 2 basset hounds – Presley and Thornton – and are producing a calendar of them in their various outfits!  They also run “The B”, their version of a B without the B, located above their barrel room, overlooking the vineyard.


David Parrish, Ethan Ray and Cecily Parrish Ray

David is President of Parrish Family Vineyard, his daughter, Cecily, is General Manager and her husband, Ethan is Assistant Winemaker/Vineyard Manager. The winery is located in Paso Robles.  I initially began talking to Ethan as I noticed from his business card that we share the same surname.  Coincidentally enough, he told me that his mother’s name is Susan.  I also spoke with David who told me he had previously worked with Robert Mondavi, amongst others.  The 2012 Zinfandel they had brought for tasting is the first Zin they have produced and they were careful to select grapes only from the north side of the vineyards as they receive minimal sunlight which helps retain their true flavours.


Mark and Julie Wasserman

Mark and Julie are owners of Vinemark Cellars which is also based in Paso Robles.  Mark is also the winemaker.  He is now 65 years old and became interested in winemaking through his grandfather, Papa Joe, who used to make wine but on a non-commercial basis.  Mark’s aim is to produce high quality limited production wines from premium vineyards in California.  He is another strong advocate of letting the vineyard express itself in his wines and the wines he produces are big, bold and fruity with good supporting tannins. 


Below are some memorable wines:


Ahnfeldt Wines (

2012 Chardonnay – gently oaked, tropical aromas and flavours of guava, white peach and pineapple


Summerland Winery (

2014 Viognier – lots of apricots and cream

2014 Chardonnay – green apples, honey and a hint of oak


Vinemark Cellars (

2012 Monterey Chardonnay – very creamy, generous amounts of butter, oak and vanilla and plenty of ripe tropical fruit.  One of the best Chardonnays!

2013 Petit Syrah – a seriously big wine, black fruit, oak, smoke and soft tannins


Klinker Brick Winery (

2014 Albarino - refreshing, light and floral, with hints of pear and medium acidity 


Roth Estate (

2011 Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc – this reminded me of the Sauvignon Blanc I had tasted the previous day from the Santa Barbara Winery - not overtly grassy like some New Zealand examples – acidity was lower and the wine more rounded - but it still had that classic grassy nose that typifies this varietal.


Verdad Wines (

2013 Albarino – another albarino with lower levels of acidity that generally seen in similar wines from Northern Spain but with plenty of floral notes and pear and white peach flavours.


Lone Madrone (

2012 La Mezcla Roja - Cinsault, Counoise and Grenache - light and fruity, with fresh strawberries on the nose

2012 Sheep Camp Zinfandel - red cherries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and a hint of spice 

2010 Old Hat - 71% Zinfandel and 29% Petit Syrah - vibrant red, dried cranberries, black fruit, excellent structure and good supporting tannins 


Tara Bella Winery (

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 4 (the Argentine clone)

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 7 (the French clone)

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 4

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 7

All of the Tara Bella wines were classic full bodied Cabs, packed full of rich, jammy, black fruit and supported by smooth fine grained tannins.  All were exceptional.    


Parrish Family Vineyards (    

2012 Zinfandel – ripe black fruit, very soft tannins and a long spicy finish

2010 Reserve Silken - Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah – silky smooth, heaps of jammy black fruit and a long elegant finish. 

Both of these wines were excellent.


Copyright of - July 2015

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