If you’re thinking about buying a proper gift for your wine-loving family and friends, the gift of wine will always be welcome.
But perhaps you’d prefer to choose a gift that will last a lifetime?
I have some excellent ideas for buying local gifts that your lucky friend will enjoy for many years to come.
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"The Winemakers of Paso Robles" is one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen about any winemaking region. The newly published coffee-table book by Julia Perez, an impressive 11-by-14-inches tall with amazing photographs and intimate stories, earned my respect, as I’ve been writing about most of the winemaker since 1996.
Perez, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a professional photographer. Her biography explained: “She has lived in every corner of the world — photographing safaris in Tanzania, mosques in Turkey, temples in Hong Kong, and war-torn ruins in Southern Spain. She has long been a great lover of wine and fascinated with winemakers. Over the past few years, she has been fortunate to have taken photos of vineyards, wineries, and winemakers all over the world.”
The stories were written by longtime wine columnist Paul Hodgins, from Orange County. For over two decades, he’s written a column he calls, Good Libations.
In this Paso Robles-focused book, you’ll discover why a Frenchman named Stephen Asseo left the world-class region of Bordeaux to make wine in America. Frustrated by the many rigid French rules guiding winemaking, Asseo desired the freedom to create the type of wines he wanted, whether it was a 100-percent varietal, or a blend (French call it a cuvee) of varietals.
After finding Napa and Sonoma far too expensive to get started, he checked out the region recommended to him most -- Paso Robles. Not only was property more affordable, it was an up and coming wine region that had proven itself among wine experts. He reportedly visited 50 Paso Robles vineyards, and the last one became his brand, L’Aventure. It’s an amazing story about a relative newcomer who earned his Paso Robles brand world-class fame, and more media attention on the winegrowing region.
The great thing about the focus of Perez’s book is the fact she highlighted both the famed newcomers like Clos Solene, Daou and L’Aventure, alongside the region’s pioneers like Adelaida, Castoro, Eberle, Justin, Peachy Canyon and Wild Horse, among many other great brands that came in between those years, all still beloved in San Luis Obispo County's northernmost wine region.
There are 50 winery stories that truly prove these artists were driven by passion, and dedicated to growing and crafting fine wines. You know your-wine loving dad or auntie will love this gift.
Learn more at www.thewinemakersseries.com or search for it on Amazon. Either way, it sells for $119 retail.
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Now here’s a gift idea that will have any wine aficionado’s mouth watering: The Boutique Wine Box, a six-pack of half bottles of boutique wines.
I loved both the Santa Barbara County and the Paso Robles collectible boxes.
Available at Costco at a very reasonable price, you can also find both boutique collections at California Fresh in Pismo Beach and El Rancho Market in Solvang. Check them out at www.boutiquewinebox.com. The Santa Barbara County six-pack is only $49.99 and the Paso Robles six-pack is $54.99.
What’s especially nice is the array of different varietals and blends of wine that are unique. It’s like getting an educational taste test kit.
A book about wine and the rich history of the wineries will make the receiver happy every time they read it, and receiving six half-bottles of killer artisan wines is always great.
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How about a wine adventure with family and friends that will provide the recipients a gift they will long remember?
Why not buy your BFF a Santa Ynez Valley Wine Adventures Winter Pass and one for yourself from the Santa Ynez Wine Country Association, then hit the wine trails together?
The association's 15 family-owned, boutique winery tasting rooms are open nearly all yearlong. They include longtimers like Buttonwood, Kalyra, Lucas & Lewellen, and Rideau, plus 11 more wineries. The 15 tasting rooms are located in Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Buellton, where there’s a new brand named Buscador.
You can visit each winery once with the Winter Pass for a flight tasting from now through Jan. 31. If you use up all 15 tasting flights before the deadline, the deal ends. Get all of the delicious details and order tickets for $45 per person online at www.santaynezwinecountry.com
The passes can also be purchased at Imagine Wine in Santa Ynez, Alexander & Wayne in Los Olivos and Casa Cassara in Solvang at $50 per person.
Do search online for other wine regions you like, they all offer many wonderful wine adventures well worth your valuable time. It’s a sure bet to make unforgettable memories for you and your besties.