Spring flings! I mentioned Hospice du Rhone takes place in Paso Robles the last weekend of May in last week's wine column. If you are a fan of Rhone varietals-namely grapes like syrah, grenache, viognier and roussanne, plan to spend some time in Paso Robles and get more acquainted with these noble grapes which seem to thrive in this part of the world. Call 784-9543.
Bouillabaisse is back! For years the Brander Vineyard near Los Olivos sponsored the Santa Barbara Bouillabaisse Festival. After a hiatus of several years, it's back and set for Sunday, June 1 from 1-4 p.m. This epicurean affair is a benefit for the Arthritis Foundation of Santa Barbara. Participating restaurants include Aja and bouchon in Santa Barbara, Cafe Chardonnay at the Ballard Inn, Santa Barbara's Four Seasons Biltmore, Miro Restaurant, New West Catering in Buellton and the Vineyard House in Santa Ynez.
Participating wineries will include Brander, Mosby, Sanford and Zaca Mesa.
Tickets are $75. For reservations or more information, call (805) 892-5556.
Support your public radio station! You could do it with a pledge during one of their pledge drives, or you could attend this year's KCBX Central Coast Wine Classic set for Tuesday, July 8 through Sunday, July 13.
The culmination of this gala week of food and wine is the Grand Wine Tasting which takes place at the Avila Beach Resort on Sunday, July 13 from 1-4 p.m. Cost is $50.
For more information on the Central Coast Wine Classic, call (805) 781-3026 or visit the website www.wineclassic.org
In the Vineyard
Wine grapevines are hermaphroditic. That means that the plant pollinates itself. Other plants, for instance, corn, needs cross-pollination. You need male plants and female plants and the birds and the bees to get corn on the cob.
But not so with wine grapes. And of course, grapevines do have flowers-nothing of note-nothing you would ever find, or want to find, in a florist shop. This is the time of year when flowering occurs. From the flower comes the fruit. Excessive wind, cool temperatures, rain and fog are all factors that affect how the fruit develops.
Winemaker and friend, Benjamin Silver, told me so far things look good in the vineyard. Wind like we have been having always makes me nervous though.
The 1995 vintage was disastrous here in the county. Pinot noir yields were off as much as 75 to 80 percent. This time of year, therefore, is really critical in the growing cycle of the grape vine. I will keep you posted.
Tip of the Week
Went to dinner last Saturday night at the Swiss Chalet on Broadway. I called for a reservation, brought in several bottles of pinot noir that the restaurant graciously opened for me. I really enjoyed their salsa, turkey noodle soup and the 13 ounce New York steak. The steak and the salsa went particularly well with the pinot noirs, a Testarossa pinot from Pisoni Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County, and a Siduri pinot from Hirsch Vineyard in Sonoma County. I'll be back!
Times wine columnist Bob Senn lives in the Los Alamos Valley and owns the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
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