Ryan Chartrand

Imagine going to Bull’s one afternoon and slamming $20 on the counter and having all the alcohol your blood circulation levels could handle. This is essentially what a wine festival is and Saturday’s Wine and Style event at the Madonna Inn proved to be no exception. Not only did you get to walk away with a special “commemorative” glass to mark the event, which you may have a hard time remembering happening, but you also got (in most cases) “unlimited wine tastings.”

So as I arrived at the Wine and Style Festival, they gave me some silly little wine glass and sent me on my way to taste as many of the vendors’ wines as possible. Once I had my fill, I went outside to eat and had my pick of Oasis, Art’s Caf‚ and some crepe place. It really couldn’t have gotten any better!

I digress, let’s get back to wine festivals. With a serving of wine being approximately four ounces and a sample being one to two ounces, you are essentially trying half a glass of wine for each different varietal. If you start out with Chardonnay and work your way down to Pinot Noir or Syrah, that could be between three to six “tastings.” I have been to wineries where there are 14 different wines on the menu and they pour every single one. This is no different at wine festivals, in fact, they try to roll out the carpet and give more samples during these functions. So take your tastings and multiply that number by the amount of wineries present (in this case 26) and you have landed yourself in a metaphorical drunk tank.

Two weekends ago, Paso Robles wineries sponsored the unveiling of Crush, an open house for all of the wineries showing off their new wines from this year. With tacky cover bands and all you could eat meatballs, the wineries were off the hook! Though it should be known that “crush,” or harvest, where they take the grapes from the fields to the holding tanks, then to the barrels, is still actively continuing.

This upcoming weekend, I advocate anyone with a small range of wine knowledge to a vast plethora of wine know-how to attend the Harvest Celebration in Edna Valley. The entire celebration begins Friday and continues through Sunday. On Saturday there will be the Harvest Celebration hosted by the San Luis Obispo Vintners Association at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. You can find more info at www.slowine.com, but tickets cost $70.

But have no fear, poor college students. On Sunday, the entire Edna Valley is hosting their Open House! What does this mean? This means find a designated driver for this weekend because there will be food, wine, bands and debauchery in your future. Of the many participating, Baileyana, Claiborne and Churchill and Edna Valley Vineyards will be some of the more prominent local wineries, just to name a few.

The admission price of most wineries will be free if you attended the Saturday event but don’t let that stop you. Wineries are charging between $5 and $10 for admission to their Open House. Look at it this way – it always costs money to taste, but this weekend, they are taking out new vintages, live bands, and in a lot of cases, all you can eat appetizers. I look forward to seeing you tasting this weekend, my wine minions! But before you go I have some Tasting Room Etiquette for you:

1. Be friendly: Ask the pourer his/her name and how their day is going, etc.

2. Don’t be pushy. They know you’re there. If not, politely wait for eye contact and tip your glass to them.

3. Know the area. For example, know that Edna Valley mainly produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Also know that Edna Valley is a coastal region cooler than Paso Robles.

4. Ask what makes the wine you are trying different from others.

5. Lastly, under any circumstance, do not drink from the Spit Bucket!

Feel free to submit any recommendations, favorite wines or recipes to laurenjeter@gmail.com.

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