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Cheese Plate from Fromagerie Sophie (part III)

Read below for a description of each Fromagerie Sophie and Claiborne & Churchill pairing, and if you like the sound of these, come in to our tasting room today to try them! See our Wine and Cheese Pairing Part I and II here.

Cheese Plate: (4nd Cheese) Selles Sur Cher with the 2013 Runestone Pinot Noir

4. 2013 Runestone Pinot Noir with Selles Sur Cher

When we had our staff tasting with Fromagerie Sophie, we learned that wine and cheese pairings should be complementary, delicious, and memorable, but that the best pairings are surprising. You can’t go wrong with goat cheese and Pinot, but this pairing of Claiborne & Churchill Runestone Pinot Noir and elegant Selles Sur Cher, a soft, french goat’s milk cheese dusted in black vegetable ash, really shocked us, and in a good way. Like the Runestone Pinot, this cheese has a long, fascinating finish that develops in the mouth over time.

The Mold and the Beautiful

The use of ash in cheesemaking is a technique that’s hundreds of years old. Originally meant to preserve the surface of young cheeses, it is now known that the use of ash helps in the development of beautiful, distinct surface molds, like those that you will find in this Selles Sur Cher goat cheese.

Cheese Plate (Cheese #5): Beenleigh Blue with the Claiborne & Churchill Syrah

5. 2013 Syrah with Beenleigh Blue

Nothing pairs better with a bold, spicy red wine than blue cheese, and this pairing is no exception! Beenleigh Blue is a pasteurized sheep cheese made with vegetable rennet. It comes from Sharpham Barton, in South Devon (Southwestern England). The remarkably mild, elegant blue-veined cheese has unique, sweet aromas of nectar and honeysuckle, and its semi-soft, fudgy, flaky texture reminds us a bit of coconut. Only a few bottles left of this delicious Syrah!

All About Ewe

According to one of Beenleigh’s distributors – Neal’s Dairy Yard, in the UK – the milk for this English cheese comes from a flock of 250 ewes who graze on grass and clovers in the summer. Based on the time of year the cheese is made, it may take on distinct flavor characteristics: winter cheeses are more light and citrusy, while summer cheeses are more robust and earthy.

Enjoy these Pairings With Us

These pairings are a truly remarkable way to experience our fine wines and the incredible cheeses that Sophie and Paul have scoured the world for, bringing the best that Europe has to offer here to our little town on the Central Coast. Come experience these pairings daily at our Claiborne & Churchill tasting room, open daily from 11-5, and when you are done, stop by Fromagerie Sophie on Garden Street and pick up some cheese to pair with wines at your next gathering!

Wine Tasting Flight: $12 (Free for Cellar Club)

Cheese Plate with Pairing Guide: Small $12 ($9 for Cellar Club)

See our Wine and Cheese Pairing Part I and II here. Hope to see you in the tasting room soon!


Cheese Plates from Fromagerie Sophie (part II)

Read below for a description of each Fromagerie Sophie and Claiborne & Churchill pairing, and if you like the sound of these, come in to our tasting room today to try them! See our Wine and Cheese Pairing Part I here.

Cheese Plate: (2nd Cheese) Gorwydd Caerphilly with Claiborne & Churchill 2014 Dry Riesling

2. 2014 Dry Riesling with Gorwydd Caerphilly

Claiborne & Churchill Dry Riesling, one of our most popular wines, is a surprising and satisfying complement to this raw cow Caerphilly from Somerset, England. Caerphilly is a mold-ripened, cow’s milk cheese traditionally eaten for lunch in old times by Welsh coal miners. Originating in Wales, it is now made primarily in Somerset, England. This cheese has rich, earthy, savory, and creamy flavors and a moist and slightly crumbling texture.

Fun Fact: It’s Alive!

With this cheese, make sure you taste the rind. You’ll note that the cheese appears to have a layered, varicolored appearance. In this semi-aged cheese, these distinctions in appearance and flavor come from proteolysis – the process by which proteins, under the rind, are broken down by enzymes. This happens from the outside in, giving the rind its musty, earthy flavor, and the cream just beneath rind an oozy, mushroomy quality.

Cheese Plate (3rd Cheese): L'Etivaz with Claiborne & Churchill 2014 Pinot Gris

3. 2014 Pinot Gris with L’Etivaz

The ideal pairing for our full-bodied, creamy-textured Pinot Gris, this unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland is not to be confused with “swiss cheese” (the bland one with the holes). This alpine cheese is famous for its smooth, creamy texture and robust flavor, achievable only in the alps, where it is made when the alpine cows are grazing on flowers in high, summer pastures. Today, L’Etivaz is still made in the old style, stirred in copper cauldrons over wood fires on the mountainside!

New Appellation, Old Style

In the 1930s, when the Swiss government pushed through new regulations on the production of Gruyère, several cheesemaking families broke away to preserve their traditions. Thus, we see the birth of L’Etivaz, a cheese named for the Swiss village where the co-op originated. In 1999, L’Etivaz was given the distinction of being an Appellation d’Origine Protégé, a status previously only granted to wine regions.

Enjoy these Pairings With Us

These pairings are a truly remarkable way to experience our fine wines and the incredible cheeses that Sophie and Paul have scoured the world for, bringing the best that Europe has to offer here to our little town on the Central Coast. Come experience these pairings daily at our Claiborne & Churchill tasting room, open daily from 11-5, and when you are done, stop by Fromagerie Sophie on Garden Street and pick up some cheese to pair with wines at your next gathering!

Wine Tasting Flight:
$12 (Free for Cellar Club)

Cheese Plate with Pairing Guide:
$12 ($9 for Cellar Club)

See our Wine and Cheese Pairing Part I here. Stay tuned for more cheese pairings!


Claiborne & Churchill Presents: Cheese Plates from Fromagerie Sophie

If you haven’t met them, Sophie and Paul Boban-Doering are the owners of Fromagerie Sophie, a cheese shop in downtown San Luis Obispo that has quickly proven itself to be one of SLO’s most treasured and unique gems. When Sophie and Paul opened Fromagerie Sophie, the cheese game in SLO was immediately elevated, and no one is more appreciative of that then those in the local wine industry.

Here at Claiborne & Churchill, we finally have the opportunity to offer our guests a fantastic new tasting experience: a flight of five wine-paired cheeses from Fromagerie Sophie! Each pairing was painstakingly and lovingly selected, and the cheese plates are offered daily in our tasting room. Recently, our tasting staff had the pleasure of receiving an educational cheese tasting with Paul, and we couldn’t be more excited to talk about these cheeses with you and share some of the stories that he passed along to us! Each day this week, we’ll be telling stories about a different cheese from our cheese flight.

Read below for a description of each Fromagerie Sophie and Claiborne & Churchill pairing, and if you like the sound of these, come in to our tasting room today to try them!

Cheese Plate: (1st Cheese) L'Muse Signature Gouda with Claiborne & Churchill 2014 Dry Gewurztraminer

1. 2014 Dry Gewürztraminer with L’Muse Signature Gouda

Our well loved Gewürztraminer, with its bright, spicy aromas and notes of lychee, is the perfect pairing for this caramely, aged gouda from Beemster, Holland. L’Muse Signature Gouda is aged for two years, and is deep amber in color with well-distributed protein crystals. Creamy with slightly salty, nutty notes, this cheese has a deep, complex, and long finish that sets off the bright acidity, spice, and tropical fruit of our Gewürztraminer!

Whats that crunch?

You’ll notice this cheese has some tiny, crunchy crystals in it, giving it a remarkable texture. The crystals found in exquisite aged goudas, cheddars, and grana padanos are not “salt crystals” as some suspect. Rather, they come from tyrosine, an amino acid found in cow’s milk protein. When, during the aging process, the amino acid chains break down, tyrosine is released into the cheese, forming those amazing little crunchies!

Enjoy these Pairings With Us

These pairings are a truly remarkable way to experience our fine wines and the incredible cheeses that Sophie and Paul have scoured the world for, bringing the best that Europe has to offer here to our little town on the Central Coast. Come experience these pairings daily at our Claiborne & Churchill tasting room, open daily from 11-5, and when you are done, stop by Fromagerie Sophie on Garden Street and pick up some cheese to pair with wines at your next gathering!

Wine Tasting Flight:
$12 (Free for Cellar Club)

Cheese Plate with Pairing Guide:
$12 ($9 for Cellar Club)

Stay tuned for more cheese pairings!


A New Year, a New Look, and Two New Vintages

 A New Year, a New Look, and Two New Vintages

Here at Claiborne & Churchill, we want to wish you all a very happy, healthy start to your 2016! In the spirit of celebrating “the new”, we have several announcements about exciting things happening at our winery in San Luis Obispo.

Renovated Tasting Room

We opened our straw bale winery here on the Central Coast back in 1996, and since then, we’ve grown a lot! For the last few years, we have put some serious elbow grease into expanding our garden area to accommodate more guests, and now we have an updated tasting room to go with it! Our indoor renovation includes a new feature wall and rolling barn door, both made with reclaimed wood from our old dairy barn. We now also have large crystal tasting glasses, new lighting, and a beautiful, custom stone-topped bar. Be sure bring your friends — with an expanded serving area, it’s the more the merrier. Added bonus: Ladies, you’ll be more comfortable than ever. (The new bar has hooks where you can hang your bags and coats!)

Now that our garden and tasting room are all ready for 2016, we’d love to host your next private event. Contact Angela at angela@claibornechurchill.com for details and pricing.

New Year, New Tasting Room: Claiborne & Churchill Tasting Room

New Website

If you’re reading this blog, you may have noticed that we recently overhauled claibornechurchill.com with the goal of making our website more usable, visually pleasant, and informative for you. Feel free to explore our site, and if you’re new to our blog, check out some of our recent posts to learn about the 2015 harvest, recent events, and more.

Guest House Available for Vacation Rental

One of the more exciting pieces of news we have is that next door, we’ve been hard at work remodeling a two-bedroom duplex cottage on our property. Soon, it will be available for vacation rental! If you are from out of town, staying with us will be a marvelous way to enjoy the heart of wine country here in San Luis Obispo. Centrally located, we’re only a five minute drive to Pismo Beach and a fifteen-minute drive to Cal Poly. Stay tuned for photos of the space and pricing information. Note: Club members will have access to a special, discounted price on accommodations!

New Year, New Wines: Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Blanc and Runestone Pinot NoirNew Releases

This holiday season, we released brand new vintages of two of our most anticipated wines: 2013 Runestone Pinot Noir  and 2014 Pinot Blanc. Be sure to come by our tasting room for a pour of each of these exciting vintages.

To all our readers, Happy New Year, and we hope to see you soon!


’Tis the Season – Holiday Events at Claiborne & Churchill Winery

We can’t believe it’s already December! We’re decking the halls of our beautiful, newly remodeled tasting room, and to celebrate the holidays and share our new space with you, we are pleased to open our doors to friends, fans, new visitors, and our wine club with two festive events this week! Come raise your glass and enjoy the holidays with us!

Holiday Open House – Open to the Public
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Time: 5:30-8:00 pm
$5 tasting fee for visitors

In the giving spirit? Well comp your tasting fee if you bring canned goods or an unwrapped, new toy for donation to Season of Hope!

Join us in our newly renovated tasting room for a fun-filled evening of Holiday Shopping! Enjoy a tasting of our aromatic white wines (Dry Riesling, Dry Gewürztraminer) and hand-crafted Pinot Noirs and Syrah. Enjoy our live holiday music, and take advantage of great holiday wine specials. We can even create custom gift boxes for your friends, family, and co-workers! Come hungry: The Grilled Cheese Incident food truck will be there, too, selling their delicious sandwiches!

Claiborne & Churchill Winery Holiday Events

Cellar Club Pickup Party
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Complimentary for Club Members
Time: 3-5:30pm

If you’re in our Cellar Club, we hope you’ll join us to pick up and taste our Holiday wine selection. Enjoy small bites paired with the featured wines, listed below!

To RSVP to our Pick Up Party, click here.  All members are complimentary; guest tickets available for purchase by members.

HOLIDAY WINES

2014 Dry Riesling
A favorite around here! We couldn’t resist putting it in our Cellar Club Holiday Shipment.

2014 Pinot Blanc
Grown by our friends and neighbors at Laetitia Vineyard, this delicious white wine is 100% SIP Certified. Pressed whole-cluster and then fermented in well-seasoned, neutral French oak barrels, this wine has body, richness, and bracing acidity.

2013 Runestone Pinot Noir
After years of pouring our beloved Runestone Pinot Noir under our original gold and burgundy label, we knew it was time for an update. We are so excited to unveil our beautifully repackaged 2013 Runestone Pinot Noir, available to both the C&C Cellar Club and the public.

2013 Classic Pinot Noir
This stunning and well-priced 2013 Classic Pinot Noir is available to Cellar Club only for this shipment and this shipment alone!

From all of us at Claiborne & Churchill Winery, we wish you a happy start to your holiday season, and we hope to see you this week! If you are interested in receiving more information about our Wine Club, please follow this link.


2015 Harvest Recap with Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia

Harvest 2015 has officially come to a close, and we are heading into a new season here at the winery. Despite the doomsday reports in the news about the impact of drought on California agriculture, we are really excited about what this vintage has in store. As can often happen, the dry climate this year really stressed the vines, which has led to some incredible fruit quality.Claiborne & Churchill Staff Picking the Estate late harvestRiesling

 

Spider web in Estate Riesling VineyardAs many people have noted, picking also came early this year. One question we often get from visitors is how an early harvest impacts the wine. Does the shorter growing season have a positive or negative impact? There are different views on this, but I tend to see this as a good thing. We are looking for maturation of the fruit and proper ripeness, and whether that happens early or late does not necessarily have much impact on quality. The benefit of an early harvest is that we are able to get the fruit off the vine and process it sooner, which minimizes the risk of something going wrong. The longer the fruit hangs on the vine, the more risk we see of damage due to weather like wind, rain, and frosts, as well as harm from pests like gophers, ground squirrels, and birds. Fruit that ripens quickly is generally safe from these hazards.Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia

This week, we officially finished up harvest as our staff lent a hand to pick the rest of our Estate late-harvest Riesling, fruit that will be used in our 2015 Nektar. It was a fun way to get our hands dirty out in the vineyard one last time as we celebrated the end of another successful season here at Claiborne & Churchill! Now, for me, things will slow down a bit as we shift from around-the-clock pressing, fermentation, and punchdowns to monitoring the wines, topping barrels, and planning our 2016 bottling schedule. Out in the vineyard, the vines are starting to lose their leaves and will soon be dormant. As for me, after the craze of crush, I’m ready for a little breather, too. I’ll be sitting here in California on the edge of my seat with a glass of Pinot in hand, waiting to see how and when this El Niño winter everyone is talking about plays out. We just had our first big storm of the season yesterday. But stay tuned: experts are saying there’s more on the way.Claiborne & Churchill Harvest Intern: Jake Nivison

From all of us here at Claiborne & Churchill, we’re wishing you and your family a wonderful autumn. Stop by and visit us soon, or plan on attending one of our upcoming events! Before you know it, these 2015 wines will be ready to pour, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on. 


Event Recap: Sunset Savor the Central Coast

Savor the Central Coast is Sunset Magazine’s annual wine and food festival, highlighting all that our unique region has to offer. For its sixth year running, Savor came to the historic Santa Margarita Ranch this weekend, and the Claiborne & Churchill Winery family joined the fun! We were thrilled to introduce C&C wines to so many new people, both locals and out of town visitors, and we truly enjoyed the offerings of our neighboring wineries, breweries, artisans restaurants, and farmers. We couldn’t wait to share some of our favorite finds with you!

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Wine, Beer & Spirits

We were lucky to have a booth next to Niven Family Wines and Chamisal, and our tasting area, with lots of bar space and seating, had a great turnout! The guests seemed to really enjoy all the wines from all our Edna Valley producers. Bailayana wowed everyone with their delicious and creative wine cocktail made with their Albariño and splash of Pinot Noir! Among our winemaker Coby’s favorite libations of the weekend were the Pinot Noirs from Wrath, the Opal Saison/Farmhouse Ale from Firestone Reserve, and the spirits from Krobar Craft Distillery, a new producer in Paso Robles focusing on Gin, Neutral Brandy, and Rye Whiskey.

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Eats

There were incredible gastronomic offerings at this event, but it goes without saying that Thomas Hill Organics from Paso Robles stole the show with their sliders made with ground lamb, pecorino Romano, organic arugula, house-made aioli, and perfect little buns from La Migliore bakery.

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Artists & Artisans

Our manager, Angela, is notorious for returning home from events empty-handed. But this weekend, she couldn’t resist buying two prints from Teréz Tyni, local landscape painter and co-owner of Upper Crust Trattoria, a great local Italian Restaurant that has featured Claiborne wines for many years. Also worth a mention was a local jewelry producer, Olive & Poppy. Our tasting room attendant, Kate, fell in love with their ultra-hip barrel stave bangles. She talked about them all day, and then finally snagged one before the event ended.

Agriculture

Angela and the girls loved California Grown’s demonstration stage and flower booth, where guests could pick stems and foliage to make beautiful handmade arrangements. The California Fig Advisory Board’s kiosk was also a crowd favorite. There, they promoted fig cultivation in California while tempting guests with their hearty fig layer bars. Angela grabbed the recipe to share with you, included below.

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Better with Every Year

Each year, Savor the Central Coast gets better and better! We couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this region, and we are grateful that Sunset has taken notice of what we already have known for a long time: that the Central Coast of California is simply the best on place on earth to live, eat, farm, and make wine. Enjoy the recipe below!

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Fig Layer Bars
From the California Fig Advisory Board

INGREDIENTS

Filling
1 package (8 oz) dried California Mission figs, stemmed and finely chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup hot water

Crust and Topping
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
Ice water, as needed

DIRECTIONS
For filling, combine figs, sugar, walnuts and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.

For crust and topping, in mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add salt and vanilla; beat together. Add oats and flour. Mix until blended. Press half of flour mixture evenly in bottom of lightly greased, shallow 9 by 13 inch pan. Spread filling evenly over all. Add water to remaining flour mixture and toss lightly until ball forms and cleans sides of bowl. Turn onto light floured surface and roll into rectangle to fit on top of pan and arrange on top of filling, trimming edges to fit.

Bake at 350º for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan. Cut 4 by 12 into 48 bars.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

Enjoy!

Were you at Savor the Central Coast this year? If you visited our booth, tag @claiborneandchurchill in your Instagram photos!


Harvest 2015 with Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia

Harvest is in full swing here at Claiborne & Churchill! This week, we tracked down Coby in the cellar and asked him all our winemaking questions about Harvest 2015.

Coby Parker-Garcia, Winemaker 

Harvest seems to be firing on all cylinders! How much have we picked so far?
As of this week, we are 95% done with picking everything. Pinot Gris from Laetitia came in yesterday. We also got Merlot from Vintage Cowboy, which will go into the Port. Last week, we finished picking Gewürztraminer, Estate Riesling, Riesling from Talley, and Pinot Noir from Wolff. We picked some Pinot Noir early for Rosé, too, to keep that low alcohol and good acidity. Everything is looking really good so far.

Any exciting new changes?
This year, we got Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from across the street at Greengate Ranch & Vineyard. That’s the first time we’ve gotten fruit from them, and we’re stoked about that. Also, recently Twin Creeks Vineyard was granted Estate status, which is really exciting. Now we can make Estate Pinot Noir using Twin Creeks fruit.

Any cool new winemaking gadgets you are using this year?
We have a new CO2 sprayer. It’s this tank that sprays carbon dioxide snow. It’s really fun to use.

What’s it for?
We add CO2 before and after fermentation. It’s a heavier gas, so it weighs down on top of the fruit to prevent it from touching oxygen.

Why don’t you want oxygen touching the wine?
Oxygen touches the fruit and juice throughout the winemaking process. It alters the color and flavor of the wine, and has the effect of aging it. We try to minimize that wherever possible. This CO2 helps us keep the wine from oxidizing.

Can you walk us through that process?
After the fruit comes in, we process it, and then we put it into three-quarter or one-and-a-half ton fermenters. Then, we spray CO2 on top, or we can gas a whole tank with CO2 before we put the fruit in. In those cases, we fill the tank with carbon dioxide so it’s filled with heavy gas. Then when the fruit goes into the tank, it hits CO2 instead of oxygen. That is really important in preserving the quality of the wine.

We’ve heard you can use CO2 spray, or use dry ice instead. Is that true?
Yes, but dry ice chills the fruit down. If you add enough of it, it will actually lower the temperature of the must. Even though the CO2 is cold, it won’t have the same chilling effect on the fruit. Dry ice is really good, but it’s expensive. Instead of using dry ice, we pick our fruit early in the morning or late at night. When the fruit comes in, it’s already really cold, so we don’t really need to make it colder.

Doesn’t wine release it’s own carbon-dioxide during fermentation?
Yes. For example, when we are doing punchdowns, manually pushing down the cap of the wine, CO2 will come up. But as fermentation goes on, that slows down. Toward the end, very little CO2 is being made naturally. That’s where it can become a problem. When oxygen reaches the wine at that point, it can create volatile acidity and other issues. You spray the C02 over the bin, and it’s like a blanket. It keeps the wine safe.

So, it’s super important.
Yep. Really important.

Have any winemaking or harvest questions for our winemaker? Comment below, and we’ll choose a few questions to answer in later posts!


Sips & Songs Concert Series Kicks Off with Success!

We had a successful turnout for our first Sips & Songs concert of the 2015 season. Local band Hilary & Kate set the tone for a perfect evening of wine, food and good company in our beautiful SLO Wine Country. Hilary Watson (vocal/guitar) and Kate Feldtkeller (vocals/guitar), along with dobro player Emmett Franz, delivered a harmonious combination of bluegrass, folk and gospel!

The 2015 lineup consists of some of the Central Coast’s finest musicians and with that we’ve made some exciting additions to our winery! Guests were pleasantly surprised to find that we added new onsite parking and expanded our garden patio. This addition provided guests with plenty of seating options, vineyard and mountain views and easy wine bar access. We look forward to phase two of our garden expansion project coming this summer!  Mark your calendars for Occasional Mustache and The Pairing Knife this Friday, June 5 from 5:30-7:30pm.

View 2015 Concert Schedule.


Riesling: The World’s Greatest White Winegrape?

For over 30 years in California’s Edna Valley, we have quietly produced what is considered one of the most dependably delicious Dry Rieslings this side of Alsace, France. Always erudite, educational and entertaining, our founding winemaker Claiborne Thompson shares what he’s discovered about what many consider to be “the world’s greatest white winegrape.”

Claiborne & Churchill Dry Riesling

Is Riesling a German word? Any idea what the root of the word is, or its meaning?
Its name is a bit of a puzzle. It’s possibly related to the German word reissen, “to tear, to carve, to cut,” but attempts to explain this connection are pretty lame.

Where does the Riesling grape originally come from?
It’s origin is no doubt to be found in Germany, specifically the Rheingau. There is a reference to “riesslingen” vines in a document from 1435, written by a cellarmaster with the amusing name of Klaus Kleinfisch (“Littlefish”) to his boss, the Count of Katzenelnbogen (“Cat’s Elbow”). The whole story sounds to me like a Mel Brooks comedy sketch.

Do you know how old it is?
Really old, probably going back to Roman outposts along the Rhine.

How did you get into Riesling?
Well, both my wife Fredericka and I have connections to Germany, and Riesling is the German grape par excellence.  I first visited Germany when I was 17, so my first wine experience was with Riesling. Fredericka’s mother is German (from the Rheinland), so she no doubt has a bit of Riesling running through her veins.

How does Alsatian-style Riesling differ from German Riesling?
When we started Claiborne & Churchill, we took our inspiration more from the (once German, now French) province of Alsace, across the Rhine from Germany. In Alsace, Riesling is king; it is the most planted varietal there, and nowhere else in France do they allow it to be grown. The Rieslings from Alsace tend to be drier, more structured and full-bodied than those in Germany. They are definitely not “sweet sipping wines.” (Having said that, it must be pointed out that these days German Rieslings are getting drier and drier.)

Claiborne & Churchill Estate Riesling

Where does C&C Riesling come from?
At Claiborne & Churchill we source our Riesling grapes from two regions: (1) our own Edna Valley, including our Estate Vineyard, and (2) Monterey County, specifically the Arroyo Seco area, where cold weather produces intensely aromatic grapes.

What are some typical aromas and flavors associated with wine made from Riesling?
One of the great things about Riesling wines is how they reflect a sense of place, of terroir if you will. But what all Rieslings have in common (if grown and made properly) is an abundantly floral and fruity aroma in the nose and a wallop of bracing acidity on the palate. In its youth you might find hints of apple blossoms, of peaches, of honey. As a Riesling ages it takes on more depth of flavor, and often develops a bouquet referred to by the off-putting word “petrol.”

What are the challenges to making it?
Riesling is a bit of a challenge to grow, because it is a late ripener and fairly susceptive to rot (including the precious “noble rot”). The grapes need to be pressed slowly and long, to get the best juice. Fermentation should be cold.

Claiborne & Churchill Dry Riesling

How long between pick, bottling, and release?
Riesling can be bottled relatively soon after it is made, but it needs a bit of aging before release. It is unfortunately true that most Rieslings are released too early (including ours) because people prize the youthful fruitiness more than the more profound flavors that the patina of age gives. Oh well, each to his own!

How do you most enjoy Riesling?
Riesling is famous for being the most versatile of wines and the most food-friendly. We enjoy it by itself as an aperitif wine (especially if it has a tiny touch of residual sugar), but it really stands out on the dinner table. I love it with poultry (Chicken in Riesling is a standard Alsatian dish), and fish, particularly shellfish. I think Dungeness Crab and Dry Riesling is a match made in heaven.

What other regions are making Riesling that you enjoy? (New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, etc)
Outside California, Germany and Alsace, good Rieslings can be found in Oregon and Washington, in the Finger Lakes region of New York , and in Australia. Each Riesling bears the hallmarks of its place of origin.

We will be releasing our 2014 Dry Riesling on May 1st 2015.