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Stay & Play in “America’s Happiest City”

We are proud to call San Luis Obispo home. Between San Francisco and Los Angeles, our town is nestled  along the coast on California’s historic Highway 1. This tourist destination has become popular due to its sunny weather and slow paced lifestyle, which is why the town is called SLO! In fact, Oprah Winfrey herself named San Luis Obispo “America’s Happiest City.” Check out her video here! You won’t want to miss a chance to visit (or live) in this gorgeous region of California home to SLO Wine Country.

slo, san luis obispo, Claiborne & Churchill

Wine:

We may be biased, but we think this is one of the best highlights of the region! Following in the footsteps of Napa and Paso Robles, the Edna Valley has become an established wine region. As SLO Wine Country shares, “in 1979, Lawrence Winery was established as the region’s first modern winery, and the property is today home to Center of Effort Winery. Chamisal Vineyard began making its own wine in 1980, and Edna Valley Vineyard followed in 1981. Claiborne & Churchill Winery, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, and Talley Vineyards soon added further momentum to the local winemaking scene. These early wineries paved the way and put SLO Wine Country on the map.” The region welcomes thousands of guests each year to taste our award winning wines. The cool climate and diverse soil profiles help create amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay along with other varietal wines. Check out the SLO Wine Country Map to see where all the wineries are located in our region. Look here for six unique wine trails to hit, including Claiborne & Churchill on the Old Edna & Biddle Ranch Road Trail. Grab a picnic and enjoy your day with some great wines!

slo, san luis obispo, Claiborne & Churchill

Play:

The gorgeous weather, breathtaking landscapes, and close vicinity to the beach gives our locals and visitors unlimited options of things to do! The best way to take in our rolling hills or coastal views is to take a hike! Look at our previous blog post to see the perfect trail for you here – from a casual stroll to a challenging hike!

Spend the day relaxing by one of our many beach towns just miles from SLO. Shop our local spots such as Downtown SLO, the quaint Village of Arroyo Grande, or the Pismo Outlets! Even shop for dinner – checkout the SLO Farmers’ Market on Thursday nights offering an amazing selection of local produce. Find an event to attend, everything from an art show to a concert on the SLO Happenings App. This is a great resource to create a fun trip to SLO!

slo, san luis obispo, Claiborne & Churchill

Dine:

The Central Coast has become known as a “foodie” destination! There is no shortage of great restaurants from breakfast to dessert. SLO Wine Country has a great list of some of the top restaurants to hit! Trying to figure out where to visit for dinner? Ask a local!

slo, san luis obispo, Claiborne & Churchill

Stay:

There are a wide variety of options to stay while you are on your trip! SLO Wine Country has a list of their suggested hotels here! The most well known place to stay is the famous Madonna Inn. The whimsical guest rooms are perfect for a unique experience with access to a delicious steak house, boutique shopping, and horseback riding. Grab a hotel in Downtown SLO or one with an ocean view! Wanting to try something other than a hotel? Checkout VRBO or Airbnb for fun options, including our Winery Guest Cottage!

Start planning your weekend getaway or summer vacation to SLO; you will love the time you spend in “America’s Happiest City.” Make sure to visit us at Claiborne & Churchill while you’re here!


PortObispo 2015 & Recipe Pairing

We are excited to announce our 2015 PortObispo dessert wine is now available just in time for Valentine’s Day! Grab a bottle here to share with your special someone or to end the meal at your next dinner party.

We make our PortObispo in the traditional fashion, vigorously fermenting ripe red grapes until the sugar level has dropped to around 6%, and then fortifying the wine with grape spirits to an alcohol of 18%, at which level the wine stops fermenting and remains sweet. The wine is then aged for 15 months in well-seasoned oak barrels.

There are many occasions when one can enjoy a glass of this smooth and balanced (and downright yummy!) PortObispo, but the classic food pairing is with a rich chocolate dessert.

Claiborne & Churchill, Port, Dessert Wine, Recipes

Quick Bites with PortObispo:

  • Soak dried cherries overnight in PortObispo, then pour over vanilla ice cream
  • Poach crisp winter pears in a mixture of PortObispo, water, little orange juice, splash of brandy, little sugar, cinnamon stick, and a few cloves. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream!
  • Hollow the center of a piece of cantaloupe, then fill with PortObispo
  • Toast some walnuts over the fireplace. Pair with crackers, a slice of Stilton cheese, and PortObispo

Chocolate Fondant Recipe:

Claiborne & Churchill, PortObispo, Recipe

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • Some Cocoa powder for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of flour

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter four large muffin tins or ramekins and dust them inside all over with cocoa powder. Melt the chocolate and buttering a pan over hot water, stirring until smooth and blended. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until fluffy. Gently fold in the chocolate-butter mixture and then the sifted flour. Pour into tins or ramekins and bake until the tops are cooked slightly firm to the touch, but the insides remain hot and molten. This can vary from 8-15 minutes. Turn out onto dessert plates and garnish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with fresh berries. Enjoy!


Winter Release Tasting with the Winemaker

Come and join us for one of our Winter Release with the Winemaker tastings! These intimate events take you through a tasting of our newly released wines guided by our winemaker, Coby Parker-Garcia. This fun and interactive experience has been a favorite amongst the staff and we are now giving you the opportunity!

 

tasting, claiborne, claiborne & churchill

 

What?

The tasting will begin by exploring the newly released wines as you analyze the characteristics you pick up on and discuss why those characteristics are showing through. Our Winemaker Coby will educate Club Members on the growing season for these grapes, the production process of the wine, and food pairings in addition to sampling cheeses that have been perfectly paired with artisan cheeses from Fromagerie Sophie.

 

Who?

This is an event for wine lovers and novices alike. We want to have an intimate experience allowing a small group to hear the decisions that went into making the wine, what characteristics are coming out in the wine, and what these wines pair well with. With only 18 guests per seating, you will have the chance to interact with the winemaker himself and ask him your questions! Though it is only available for members of our wine club, it is not too late to join!

 

Tasting, Claiborne, Claiborne & Churchill

When & Where?

These 6 tastings are going to take place in our cellar at the winery. Check out the time most convenient for you!

Tuesday, February 7 – 3pm

Tuesday, February 7 – 6pm

Thursday, February 9 – 3pm

Thursday, February 9 – 6pm

Friday, February 10 – 3pm

Friday, February 10 – 6pm

How?

Buy your $10 ticket on our website here! Tickets are limited to two per Club Membership.

Not a member? Learn more here and sign up to be a member here!


Intl. Riesling Foundation Taste Profile

The white varietals of the Alsace region in France are extremely versatile and can be made into very sweet wines or very crisp dry wines.  Here at Claiborne and Churchill we have made Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat for over 30 years in a dry style.

Since Rieslings are made in a variety of sweetness levels, how do you know if your bottle is going to be dry or sweet? Most wineries will specify on the bottle, but not all do! Even if it says ‘sweet’ or ‘dry’, you can not trust what’s on a label because there is no scientific definition of these terms and it’s simply the winery’s interpretation. So, exactly how dry or how sweet are these wines?

The International Riesling Foundation, IRF, has the answer. The group created an official scale for Riesling wines to let the consumer know just how sweet or dry it is. The scale can be used on bottles, any promotional material, or even verbally to help explain the taste of that wine.

There are four categories for the scale: Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet, and Sweet.

International Riesling Foundation: Riesling Taste Profile

The winemaker calculates the ratio of residual sugar to acid in the wine. The smaller the ratio, the dryer the wine; the larger the number, the sweeter the wine. The winemaker then measures the pH of the wine to determine the specific category it fits in and where the arrow should be placed on the scale.

Riseling Scale, Claiborne & Churchill Winery, IRF

Claiborne and Churchill utilizes the Riesling Taste Profile to showcase the dry yet crisp qualities of Riesling that our winery is so well known for. We have seen that it is really helpful for our customers and hope it will spread to some of our other white varietals. Keep your eye out for the IRF’s scale on your next bottle of Riesling or come on in and grab a bottle of our newly released 2015 Dry Riesling!


Wine Tasting: Why does it work?

wine tasting, claiborne and churchill

Wine tasting in California has evolved into an ever growing industry associated with leisure and tourism. Originating in Napa, it then spread to the Edna Valley in the early 1970s according to SLO Wine Country. Thousands of people flock to California wine regions each year to taste the wines produced.

So, how do you get the most out of tasting? Let’s talk about it!

Make sure you are tasting the wines in the best order. Generally, start with the whites, then reds, then finish with desserts. This makes sure the tannins of the reds don’t affect the taste of the whites. If you are tasting at a winery, they will have a tasting list to follow that will have the wines listed in the best order to taste. Follow these steps to get the best impression of the wine: swirl, sniff, sip, swish, and swallow or spit.

Anyone that  has been tasting before, is likely to know that. But scientifically, why does wine tasting work?

Even though it is titled “Wine Tasting” after our sense of taste, this activity uses almost all of your senses. Especially smell!

claiborne and churchill, wine tasting

Before taking a sip, it is suggested to swirl around the wine and smell it to see the aromas the wine brings out. This can be just as much a part of the tasting process as tasting! Sometimes if you enjoy the taste, you will still be turned off because of the smell!

Now take a sip! The wine will hit your taste buds and immediately release a reaction, whether it is sweet or sour!

Then, it’s back to you sense of smell! People will say that they taste things like berries and cola when they try wine. However, we don’t get that reaction through our taste buds. It’s through smell! When you swirl your sip around in your mouth the aromas travel internally to your nose when you identify the flavors you think you are tasting.

We can’t forget about the sense of sight either! This has to do with how the wine looks in the glass, but also so much more. As a kid, everyone was told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but you can’t help it! This also applies to wine labels. The better the label deign, the better the first impression. Tasters also judge the bottle by the winery it was made by and where they purchased it. There will be a better expectation for a bottle coming from a well-known high-priced winery than a bottle from your local grocery store.

The best way to make sure your sense of sight doesn’t influence your wine tasting is to use a black wine glass!

Who knew we had to thank our nose for so many of the details we pick up when tasting a new wine? So now it’s time to put this knowledge to work. Cheers!


Dinner On The Deck with Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, Claiborne & Churchill, Dinner on the Deck

Last week the staff at Claiborne & Churchill came together for a fun evening. Clay & Fredericka hosted a Dinner on the Deck at their home. This evening under the stars was filled with some great wine, great food, and great company. We all enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together outside the winery. This event was dedicated to one of our favorite varietals, Pinot Noir.

Coby, our winemaker, led a tasting challenge.  Similar to a party example in our last blog post, we had to match the bottle of wine to the wine region provided. The regions to pick from were: Oregon, Santa Barbara, New Zealand, Burgundy, Sonoma, and San Luis. We had a great time and were truly stumped at some of the pairings.

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2014 Marlborough Pinot Noir

Winery: TWR – Te Whare Ra

Region: New Zealand

This wine is a mix of two different vineyards in New Zealand. Harvest was in March of 2014 after what they call a “textbook summer.” It spends 11 months in French oak with 796 cases produced.

2012 Chorey-lés-Beaune

Winery: Tollot-Beaut

Region: Burgundy

The winery produced two cuvees that will be merged to form a blend the January before it is bottled.

2014 Pinot Noir

Winery: El Lugar

Region: Santa Barbara

The fruit for this wine is from Santa Maria and uses two clones: Pommard & Martini. It was harvested in August of 2014 and it spent 11 months in French oak barrels. It was bottled nearly a year later and 164 cases were made.

2012 Russian River Pinot Noir

Winery: Alysian

Region: Sonoma

This wine was made of six different clones from five different vineyards, which are all Russian River vineyards. Then, it spent fourteen months in barrel with about 30% of that being new French oak.

2013 Select Pinot Noir

Winery: Brick House

Region: Oregon

This ‘Select’ wine includes fruit from all of this winery’s Pinot Noir clones and blocks. After spending 15 months in neutral French oak, this wine was bottled in February 2015. They produced 535 cases of this barrel select wine.

2014 Classic Estate Pinot Noir

Winery: Claiborne & Churchill

Region: San Luis Obispo

The Estate Twin Creeks fruit included three clones: #113, 2A, and Martini from the Edna Valley. After harvesting September and early October 2014, it aged for 10 months in 35% New French Oak. This 29 barrel blend then was bottled in August 2015 making 787 cases.


All of the staff had a great time trying to match up these delicious Pinots with the region they originated from. After this tough test, we enjoyed a number of other great Pinots with dinner. Pinot Noir has had a home at Claiborne & Churchill for decades and we loved getting to see how other regions are utilizing this amazing grape.


Host a Wine Themed Party!

Greengate_Photo, Host a Wine Themed Party

Looking to do some entertaining this summer? We have all the details on how to host the perfect wine party!

Wine Tasting Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

This is sure to be a fun night trying out a variety of red, white, and dessert wines. Start off the night by making sure everyone knows the right way to taste! To get the best sample, make sure to swirl, sniff, sip, swish, and swallow or spit. Then get to tasting! We suggest having two white, a rosé, three reds, and a dessert option. Even consider taking your party to the next level with printed wine tasting card from Club W here to track your tastings! Compare your favorites to your friends’ picks! Enjoy your top picks with some food to celebrate the rest of the evening.

Blind Wine Tasting Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

Put your wine tasting knowledge to the test against your guests!  See who is the wine expert of your party! Pick a few varietals to highlight that are either all red or all white. Or, have two rounds: the white, then the red! Cover the bottle and give them a number to keep them straight. Then print out descriptions about the wines to help them guess the varietal. Don’t forget to find the corks so no one can cheat! Can your guests watch the wines up correctly? Maybe get come little gifts for the winners!

Wine Pairing Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

You can find so many things to pair with wine! Get your friends together to try some of them out. Using a paper tablecloth makes it easy to label all the food and show what wine it should be paired with. It may be hard to figure out what pairings to use with all of the options, but our favorite is pairing the wine with cheeses, meats, and other easy finger foods! This doesn’t take much prep leaving you plenty of time to spend with your guests. For dinner, you could also have a casual evening with a wine and pizza pairing! What about dessert? There are plenty of options for that as well. End the night by pairing wine with some sweet treats like, candy or chocolate!

Wine Art Party:

Host a Wine Themed Party

Art bars have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Guests are able to spend time together with a glass of wine while they follow the instructor to make their own work of art. Why not have your own art bar for a night? Get creative! Invite your friends over for a night of wine, art and fun. With some canvases, brushes, and paint, you are on your way to becoming Picassos! Easels can be expensive but you can make your own out of unused pizza boxes. Check out how here!

We may be biased, but we think the best party is a party centered around wine! Try out some of these parties with your friends!

 

 


Trails of SLO Wine Country

We may be a little biased, but we believe that the trails of SLO Wine Country are surrounded by some of the most spectacular views and breathtaking nature. These trails are a fun way to get active while admiring our scenery! The Central Coast’s moderate climate also allows us to enjoy this beauty almost 365 days of the year. The Claiborne & Churchill staff is excited for a summer filled with great hikes, and we wanted to share some of our favorites with you!


Easy

 

bluff trail, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Bluff Trail

4.7 mile loop

291 feet elevation change

This trail is a nice easy loop that takes you through the beautiful coastline of Montana de Oro State Park. Open year round, it offers great views of the ocean and wild flowers. It is a great trail for kids, but dogs are not allowed.

bob jones, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Bob Jones Bike Trail

2.6 mile out & back

101 feet elevation change

This trail is friendly to walkers, runners, bikers, kids & dogs! Stroll along the foothills with beautiful views and end up in Avila Beach. It can get crowded during weekends and holidays, but the scenery is worth it!

oso flaco, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Oso Flaco Lake Trail

1.5 mile out & back

6 feet elevation change

This is the easiest trail that starts by a lake near Nipomo and ends up by the Pacific Ocean. The board walk of the trail leads you above water and sand with gorgeous views of the wild life.

reservoir canyon, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Reservoir Canyon Trail

5.0 mile out & back

1286 feet elevation change

This trail is accompanied with beautiful scenery but the big benefits are the breathtaking views from the top. It is a great opportunity to bring kids and dogs to see the wildlife, wild flowers & waterfall along the way!


Moderate

 

bishop's peak, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Bishops Peak Trail

6.6 mile out & back

2332 feet elevation change

Hike the highest of the Nine Sisters, a chain of volcanic peaks stretching to Morro Bay! This trail leads to gorgeous views of San Luis Obispo and the coastline along the Pacific Ocean. This trail is even more spectacular when you watch the sunrise of the sunset from the top!

cerro san luis, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Cerro San Luis Trail

4.0 mile loop

843 feet elevation change

Hike around Madonna Mountain where the trail is surrounded by beautiful green landscape and wildflowers. See the town of San Luis Obispo from above and enjoy views of the coast. It is a great hike and dog friendly!

islay hill, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Islay Hill Trail

1.7 mile out & back

488 feet elevation change

This trail takes you to the top of the eastern most of the Nine Sisters. It is one of the quickest of these moderate trails taking less than an hour total. The views from the top are 360 degree sights over San Luis Obispo and Edna Valley.

valencia peak, claiborne & churchill, hike, Trails of SLO Wine Country

Valencia Peak Trail

3.3 mile out & back

1108 feet elevation change

This trail takes you up Valencia Peak in Montana de Oro. At the top, you will be rewarded with gorgeous views of Morro Bay, Cayucos, and even further on clear days. Leave your dogs at home for this one!


We hope you put some of our recommendations to the test! Tag us in your hiking pictures and share with us which trails are your favorite. We believe a nice cool white or rose is the perfect way to celebrate the accomplishments of a long hike. Cheers to a fun summer spent in the surroundings of our Central Coast!

All information and pictures from alltrails.com.


Roll Out the Barrels

roll out the barrels, claiborne & churchill

Join us for this fun weekend celebrating the great wines of SLO Wine Country. The 26th Annual Roll Out the Barrels celebration brings winemakers, locals, and visitors together that have one thing in common: the love for wine. Don’t miss out on this weekend full of great wine, great food, and great company!


SLO Wine Country Roll Out the Barrels Events:

Barrels in the Plaza

Mission Plaza, Downtown San Luis Obispo

Thursday, June 23rd – 4:30-7:30pm

4:30 VIP Early Entry, $100 – 5:30 General Admission, $80 – At the door, $90

The weekend starts out in the heart of downtown San Luis. Fifty wineries and restaurants are coming together to share with the attendees. This night filled with food and wine pairings will be accompanied by live music from the Damon Castillo Band. There is no better way to kick start the Roll Out the Barrels Weekend than this!

Taste the Coast Collaborative Winemaker Dinner

Claiborne & Churchill Winery

Friday, June 24th – 5:30 Wine Reception & 6:30 Dinner

Tickets $160 per person

This year Claiborne & Churchill is hosting the Roll Out the Barrels Special Event! We are excited to have the Taste of the Coast Collaborative Winemaker Dinner at our winery also featuring Peloton Cellars, Stephen Ross, Tolosa, and Verdad. These wines will be paired with a five course prepared by Brian Collins, chef & owner of local favorite Ember Restaurant. 


Claiborne & Churchill Roll Out the Barrels Events:

Aromatic White Wine Challenge

Saturday, June 25th – 11am-3pm

$15 per person – $10 for Club Members – Waived with $50 purchase

A Claiborne & Churchill staff favorite! Join a C&C team member in our tasting/barrel room to test your palate with a fun and challenging blind tasting of aromatic white wine! Each guest is given a flight of five wines to compare and contrast the aromatics, color, mouthfeel, taste and finally determine which varietal is in each glass. Guest who get all five varietals correct win a free Claiborne & Churchill logo hat!

Aromatic White Wine Tasting & Oyster Reception

Saturday, June 25th – 10:30am – 12:30pm

$50 per person – $40 for Club Members

Join C&C Winemaker, Coby Parker-Garcia, on our crush pad overlooking our Estate Vineyard for an educational blind tasting of our signature aromatic white wines. From wine to glass, Coby will walk you through the key attributes of the five highlighted varietals. Following the seminar, guests will enjoy a reception with fresh oysters in our garden with bistro seating and a picturesque view of the surrounding Edna Valley.

Pinot & Paella: The Past, Present and Future of the Twin Creeks Pinot Noir

Saturday, June 25th – 5-7pm

$65 per person – $55 for Club Members

Calling all Pinot lovers! Join us for a five year vertical tasting experience featuring library and current vintages plus a barrel sample of the 2015 vintage of our Twin Creeks Pinot Noir. Winemaker Coby Parker-Garcia will discuss the growing conditions, different clones and the winemaking practices of these limited bottlings. Enjoy a Paella and Pinot reception in our garden with bistro seating and live music by Chris Beland. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste and purchase these wines including futures of the 205 vintage that’s still in barrel!


The 2016 Roll Out the Barrels Weekend is sure to be a hit! SLO locals can use the promo code “GOLOCAL” to save $20! Not only is it a great time for locals but also visitors to the Central Coast! They are offering 20% off your Roll Out the Barrels ticket when you book your stay in SLO! Check out more information about it here and we’ll see you at Roll Out the Barrels 2016. Cheers!


Recipe: Rosé Sangria

Rosé, Sangria, Rosé Sangria, Malbec, Claiborne & Churchill

With the upcoming release of our 2015 Cuvée Elizabeth Rosé of Pinot Noir and 2014 Malbec, we decided to do some taste testing to find our favorite Rosé Sangria. Brook Thompson, our Wine Club Manager, made three different recipes for us to try. Below is the recipe for the undisputed winner. This delicious Rosé Sangria will be perfect for the upcoming spring and summer months! The dark color from the Malbec and pomegranate juice will set it apart from all the others. Let us know what you think of our recipe and feel free to share your favorite recipe with us!

Rosé, Sangria, Rosé Sangria, Malbec, Claiborne & Churchill

Rosé Sangria Recipe

Ingredients:

750ml – 1 Bottle Cuvée Elizabeth Dry Rosé

6 oz Malbec

3 oz brandy

2 oz triple sec

1 oz limoncello

1 cup orange juice

1 cup pomagranate juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 cup blackberries

1/2 orange sliced

1/2 lemon sliced

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients together in a large pitcher. Continue stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover pitcher and refrigerate for 24-48 hours before serving. Add ice to pitcher upon serving.

For added sweetness, add frozen orange/pineapple juice cubes in lieu of ice.