On June 3rd we hosted our 2nd annual Winemaker Dinner in the Gardens. We have wanted for a long time to host an unforgettable event for our guests on our spectacular grounds. This year did not disappoint! The menu was planned and prepared by talented local Chef Charles D. Paladin Wayne to accompany a curated selection of wines.
The evening began with an array of passed appetizers and an early debut of our 2016 vintages of both the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Live, acoustic music was played in the background throughout the evening, giving the guests the feel of an intimate concert outside in the warm summer breeze.
The Salad Course began the dinner with a Crunchy Citrus Salad. This delicious salad included shaved fennel, heirloom tomatoes and carrots, daikon radish, wheat berry, orange segments, and a sublime Three Citrus White Balsamic Vinaigrette. We accompanied this vibrant salad with our 2016 Chardonnay that is incredibly well balanced with a fresh minerality that complimented the zesty flavors nicely.
The First Course was a phenomenal dish of white Sea Bass with a smoked corn relish, braised kale and mustard greens, beurre blanc, and a red wine Nantua (a classic French seafood sauce). This dish was not only absolutely delicious (there were guests who used the freshly baked bread to mop up every last delicious morsel of sauce at the end) but the presentation was lovely, adorned with fresh edible flowers. This dish was served with two vintages of Cabernet Franc– a 2007 and our new 2013 that will be released in the Autumn. The light spiciness perfectly held it’s own to the smoky, briny goodness of the sea bass.
The Second Course brought us back on land with tender braised Brisket served with potatoes Dauphinoise and organic market vegetables with a red wine demi-glace. This hearty course was flavorful and the decadent. The brisket was succulent and the potatoes Dauphinoise are potatoes Au-Gratin to the umpteenth level. This was paired with two vintages of our classic Bordeaux blend Reflections– 2008 and the new 2013 vintage that will also be released in the Autumn. This bold red wine held up well to the big flavors of the dish and added a pleasant fruit aspect to the flavor profiles.
And finally, it was time for the Sweet Endings. We were served a trio of sweet tastes- a passion fruit creme brulee, grilled stone peach chocolate ganache tart, and Leo Leo pistachio gelato in a delicate basket weaved of caramel. We paired these perfect little tastes with our 2013 Late Harvest Petit Sirah– a little touch of warmth and sweetness to bring the whole thing together.
Our Winemaker Dinner was a thorough success in our eyes. The ambiance was just what we strove for- perfect weather, music that complimented the mood wonderfully, and great times had amongst friends both new and old. The food was fantastic and it was fun tasting through the different vintages of some of our favorite wines! We hope that people will want to join us again next summer for another magical evening!
Paul and Chef Charlie having a great time.
Such a beautiful evening!
See you next year!
It’s that special time of year when the ranch wakes up again after a long winters slumber. The days are getting longer, the skies are filled with majestic hawks gliding about for a snack, and all the flora is starting to burst with green life. The vines are pruned, having soaked up the bounty early spring storms bestowed upon them; now we see verdant buds peeking their heads out. Before we know it, lush fruit will be hanging from their spindly branches. Spring time is bottling time for the winery; this year we are bottling our 2016 whites and 2014 red vintages.
The gardens are looking lovely and really benefited from all that wonderful rain we received this year. The irises and tulips and wild flowers are blooming and soon we’ll have gorgeous gladiolas pop up as well. The vegetable gardens are slowly growing, with the tomatoes getting started in the green house and the onions already sending their shoots forth towards the sun. Rosemary and lavender create a carpet of periwinkle and purples around us and chubby birds gorge themselves on fallen olives. Our chickens on the hill are thriving. The baby chicks we brought in a month ago, are growing up to be not so little and the hens are fat and sassy as usual. It’s going to be a great season for farm fresh eggs in a variety of stunning colors. If you didn’t know, there is nothing better than a fresh egg from a happy chicken.
April start wedding season for us, as well as kick off our Picture Perfect Sunday series. Break out your picnic blankets and pack some snacks, we are open 7 days a week for you to enjoy a time in the gardens. We can’t wait to share our beautiful place with you and let you enjoy it as much as we do!
The rain held off for us to enjoy another year of our favorite event, Roll Out the Barrels. The two sessions of the event were full of great club members ready to taste through our delicious barrels of 2013 wines. This year we had 33 barrels and six varieties to taste; Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.
The 2013 growing season was the second year of widespread drought in Paso Robles. We had only .70 inches of rain in January compared to the 9 inches we have had so far this year in 2017. Fortunately, a permanent crop like grape vines takes multiple years before the vines begin to show stress. One unusual advantage to drought conditions is low susceptibility to the extreme cold snaps that usually follow storms. The actual amount of frost days in 2013 was THREE, and the lowest was only 34 degrees. So unlike 2011, with over ten inches of rain where we experienced a fifty percent crop loss due to frost damage, 2013 had a great yield of about 260 tons of fruit. This is about 15% above our average crop.
Therefore, the vines had very uniformed canopies and we were able to ripen the fruit to optimum flavors and stay on our somewhat normal picking schedule although in general, 2013 was a quick and early harvest that started about three weeks earlier than normal, starting about mid August. What you have experienced in tasting these wines were fruity, full flavored red wines. Most of these wines originated in 100 percent new French oak. They should lend themselves to complex, bold flavors with great potential for successful aging.
Here are the official results:
The three Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with the most votes will go into our Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon and Reflections. The two Merlot barrels with the most votes will go into our Clone 3 Cuvee and the top voted barrel of Syrah will go into our Rhone blend Expressions. Thank you once again for all your help in creating these delicious wines, we can’t wait to taste them with you!!!
Paul Hoover was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. Born the youngest of the Hoover siblings, early on Paul had an entrepreneurial spirit. As a kid he would collect seeds off of the flowers growing among the neighborhood and sell them in envelopes to his neighbors. He cultivated vegetable gardens (and obviously tried to sell those as well) as well as rabbits, fish, etc. When he was 16, his mother invited him to bring his boat to help supplement the water ski club at West High in Bakersfield. It was there that he met his partner in crime, Patricia. She was 15 and throwing ropes in Paul’s boat. And the rest, they say, is history.
Paul and Pat came to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the late seventies. Paul graduated with a degree in Ag Business and Mechanized Ag. While completing his last years at Poly, Paul started bar tending at the San Luis Bay Inn in Avila Beach. While his love was Agriculture, the career opportunities in the Hospitality industry were very attractive. Soon after graduating from Cal Poly, Paul was promoted to General Manager of the 76 room hotel, restaurant and golf course. With very fast growth of Laral Hotel Group, he soon would be named executive vice president and oversee the management of 10 hotels and several restaurants across the western United States. He worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years. Paul developed both a strong knowledge and love of the retail side of wine industry from the hotel & restaurant business.
In 1998 a career opportunity presented itself which meant much less travel than required with the hospitality industry. He was offered a position in the field of Health Benefit sales at Morris and Garritano Insurance in San Luis Obispo. He eventually would be named CEO of Morris and Garritano Insurance. Throughout both of these demanding careers, Paul still managed to stay connected to his love of the land, whether planting large vegetable gardens or being a 4H leader for various animal groups. Paul and Pat raised two children, Ben and Stephanie, in Atascadero who participated in all of the agricultural ventures as well as every sport that was offered to them.
As an amateur wine maker during the 1990’s, Paul continued to keep his hands in Agriculture. In 1995, the Hoovers began experimenting with their own small vineyard. When the kids would be competing at the Mid State Fair with their animals, Paul would enter his homemade wine into the competitions and slowly, he started winning awards! When the kids moved on to become Cal Poly students themselves, Paul decided it was time to invest in a larger vineyard and started to develop the winery and tasting room that is now known as Still Waters. Although “Hoover” could have been an entirely appropriate name, “Still Waters Vineyards” was anointed when daughter, Stephanie, designed the label reflecting the family’s favorite pastime of water-skiing and always looking for the perfect “still water”. The original label is a picture that Pat took of their son, Ben, fishing on a quiet lake of still water above Lake Tahoe.
Still Waters Vineyards is the realization of a lifelong dream for the Hoover family. After many years of running large hotels, restaurants and insurance companies, Paul’s motto and company goal for Still Waters is to stay small, have fun and focus on quality. Paul can be found in the tasting room most days, (unless of course the fish are biting), and loves entertaining the guests with both lovely wines and lively stories. Above all, Paul and Pat know they would not be where they are without the amazing longtime staff that supports them and is responsible for the success of Still Waters. General Manager Kasey, Winemaker David, Tasting Room Manager Taylor, and vineyard team of Carlos, Pedro, Charlie and Jesus are responsible for the fulfillment of this dream. Kasey, Carlos and Jesus have been with Paul since the first days of Still Waters! Thirteen years later, Paul is constantly working with the whole team to find ways to improve the wines and vineyard practices. He is proud of the long standing direct to consumer policy in the tasting room and the successful relationships with the wineries and home winemakers that the vineyard supports. Through it all, there is still plenty of time to focus on quality and continue to have FUN!
For many years Paul participated with the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance as an associate member. Then with the opening of Still Waters Vineyards and Winery, he had an opportunity to serve 6 years on the Board of Directors of the PRWCA. He currently serves the industry on the San Luis Obispo County’s Ag Preserve Committee. He also is currently a board member of the Cal Poly Corporation.
Paul Hoover is an extraordinary man. He has the unique ability to share his passions with anyone and have them utterly enthralled in his tales. He is beloved by his family, friends, and employees. He is honest, he is hilarious, and sometimes outrageous. His infectious spirit is the backbone of Still Waters and we are extremely proud (and not at all surprised) that he is 2017’s Paso Robles’ Wine Person of the Year.
It’s hard to believe that we are nearly at the end of another year. Christmas is nearly upon us and soon we’ll ring in the new year. As we spend time with loved ones and think about the year, we can’t help but feel blessed. 2016 was a great year for Still Waters, with many triumphs and adventures along the way. We had our best harvest yet, with the harvest this year totaling at 70 tons, compared to last year’s 28 tons. That will give us nearly 4,000 cases, a vast improvement from the 1600 from last year’s. We are blessed for such a good year to supplement the last few! Everything is tasting fabulous and we cannot wait to share with you all what we have made. This year we have sold fruit to 12 different wineries and our home winemaker’s club is nearing 80 individuals. We have 24 chickens and one small but mighty rooster, producing some of the best eggs we have ever had. We participated in 4 Paso wine festivals this year- Blend Fest, Vintage Paso, May Festival, and Harvest Festival. We hosted our first ever Wine Olympics during Harvest festival that included barrel rolls and grape stomping. February saw our annual Roll Out the Barrels which continually proves to be one of our most cherished events. In June, Still Waters hosted our first annual Summer Winemaker’s Dinner, showcasing some fabulous vintages paired with delicious courses Our summer was highlighted by the Picture Perfect Concert series, the first starting on mother’s day with the beloved Louis Ortega. Our menu has expanded with the addition of the Sangiovese and the stand alone Grenache.
It’s that time of year again… when the stores are crammed with orange and black wrappers, their artificial sugar singing to you to relive your childhood. You want to make your candy splurge worth it; these kid-friendly snacks deserve an adult upgrade. After intensive internet and personal research, we have for you a list of wines to pair with the candy you either pilfer from your child or buy yourself (no judgement).
Nerds: Any sparkling wine will do- make your own adult version of Pop Rocks!
Candy Corn: Chardonnay is a fantastic wine to compliment the rich sweetness of the candy. (Personally verified.) Also, bubbles, because obviously.
Kit Kat: Take this crunchy confection to the next level by pairing it with a medium bodied red (we like Merlot or Sangiovese) or… bubbles. What can we say, bubbles rule everything around us.
Butterfinger: This creamy, crispy treat is complimented by a rich white (lookin’ at you, Chardonnay) or a bold dessert wine (late harvest, port, etc)
Twix: A perennial favorite, Twix is delicious with a bold red, think Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
Snickers: The perfect combination of all of the food groups (chocolate, nuts, caramel) this tasty treat lends itself well to any red of your choosing. We love our Merlot with anything, but you can get creative.
Reese’s: You know what is delicious? Chocolate and peanut butter and Cabernet Sauvignon. We will stand by our statement.
M&M’s: These little beads of happiness compliment a variety of reds well… try a Sangiovese or a Grenache for a lighter pairing or go bold with a Cab. Did we mention Merlot is literally delicious with most things chocolate?
Whoppers: Crunchy, chocolaty, perfection. Cabernet Sauvignon gives this a whole new level of amazing.
Hershey’s: Classic, we like a Zinfandel or a Chardonnay with this simple delight.
This past weekend we celebrated Harvest Festival 2016. What a fun weekend we had! For the first time we hosted a “Wine Olympics” where guests were invited to participate in various wine-themed challenges. We had barrel rolls, wine trivia, a bung toss, and (our favorite) grape stomping! Never underestimate the fun of stepping into a barrel full of cold, squishy grapes! People squealed with delight as they smashed their way to fermented goodness ala Lucy and Ethel. Each guest got a crisp white t-shirt to step onto and forever immortalize their juicy foot prints. Saturday we spent the day down in the barrel room, tasting and playing while the first rain storm in ages kept things interesting. Sunday was much of the same, though we had the talented local musician Nataly Lola singing up on the grass for us. Thank goodness for pop up tents! The much-needed rain didn’t stop us from stomping away again, causing way too much laughter. Pat made delicious pork and chicken sliders that were enjoyed all afternoon and the day was just perfect and fun.
Hello first day of fall! It is finally that time of year where the air starts to shift and the leaves start to change. Out we pull boots and sweaters even though it’s still 80 degrees during the day – just because we are so ready for Autumn to grace us with her presence. Fall is a time of transition…from months of hot sun, and sunscreen slick skin to crinkly leaves and comfort food. We know it’s not quite time for us to bundle up for the season, but we can’t help but want to embrace the change. For us, that’s choosing a wine and a recipe to kick off our fall-centric aspirations. We want a wine that can take us from Summer to Fall without getting too ahead of ourselves. We want to respect the warm autumn sun and the cool breezy nights. So we’ve thought about it for you. Merlot and Cab seem obvious choices…we have all winter to dig into those…so let’s compromise. What about a Rosé? Sure it sounds like a ubiquitous summer wine, but it is much more than that. It is the wine that transcends both red and white. It cannot be contained in one category, much like the season of Fall. Here at Still Waters we think Rosé is as fun as can be. Utilizing a “drip tray” technique, we create a wine that is light and dry, smelling of maraschino cherries and tasting faintly like bright green apple. It is transparently crimson, holding onto its last vestiges of rouge tint; yet it is fresh and acidic, just like those bright warm Autumn mornings and evenings. This is a wine that does not demand fancy, just fresh and hearty. We want to compliment those bright flavors with something savory and delicious, with just the right amount of hearty flare. After much thought, we think that we’ve got a recipe to pair along with this wine to span the gap between summer and fall. We love the idea of a fresh seafood paella, with all of its briny marine bounty and spice to enhance the flavors of our Rosé. Truly, does nothing sound better than cooking up a large pot of this luscious fare and pairing it with a truly sublime, multifaceted Rosé? We didn’t think so.
Harvest has been in swing for a little over a week now. Debuting his first year as an official winemaker for Still Waters, David Beress is ready for action. David hails from Foresthill California and moved down to SLO to attend college. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Wine and Viticulture in December 2015, David went to work the harvest in New Zealand. After six months, he made his way back to Paso Robles and his place besides Paul making wine! Read on for a little more info about our newest winemaker!
How did you become interested in wine?
My interest really started when I was given the opportunity to work for Still Waters. Through family friends (Kasey Helt our General Manager and I grew up in the same town) I started as an intern and over four years grew to consider wine my passion and what I want to do with my life.
What do you enjoy most about making wine?
I love watching the process of a wine change and grow through its life cycle. From when the fruit is on the vineyard to harvest to fermentation to bottling and everything in between…wine is a living thing that is constantly evolving into something wonderful. I love being able to alternate from being outside monitoring the grapes to inside the lab making the wine I had been cultivating. It is an incredible feeling once it all comes together into something good.
What is your favorite wine to make? Or varietal that you love?
That is not an easy question but I would probably say it’s pretty tough to beat a good Merlot, which just happens to do pretty darn well here at Still Waters.
What is your favorite wine-related memory from your trip to NZ? (Where did you go in NZ?)
I worked and lived in Cromwell, in the central Otago district in the south of New Zealand. It is very rural and very beautiful. One of my favorite parts of being in this incredible place was being able to work with and get to know people from all over the world. We shared our thoughts and views on wines and it was amazing being able to learn like that.
Can you talk about some of the things you learned while you were in New Zealand?
Besides learning how to understand their slang and accents I also had the chance to work with Pinot Noir, a varietal that flourishes there but I have yet to work with in the states.
What can you say about this year’s vintages?
Compared to the light fruit load of 2015, I think this harvest is looking decent, albeit an early one. The guys have done their part to get the vineyard looking great and healthy. You can only do so much, the rest is up to mother nature and screwing it up in the winery.
Do you think younger people can get into wine? It feels like wine has always been something our parents were into. Now that our generation is getting older, how well do you feel our industry is bringing in younger people?
I do think that younger generations can and are getting interested in wine. I think that as the wine industry grows and becomes more widespread it will become more popular and accessible to a larger audience. Both younger and older generations are able to get into wine tasting and are learning how to appreciate wine more.
Favorite time of the year in the vineyard?
The vineyard is a great place year around, but besides harvest I think one of my favorite times in the vineyard is during and after pruning. A nicely pruned vine is almost like a piece of art work, it’s a great thing.
We are always looking for an excuse to get together with friends and (sometimes) drink wine. A little education is always beneficial as well, so we felt that a wine tasting party would be just the ticket to turn an otherwise ordinary night into something a little more exciting. You can host a wine tasting party with any wines of your choosing, based on criteria like style, region, and vintage. You could even try a blind tasting or just have your guests bring a bottle of wine of their choosing.
For this party we are going to highlight to the five whites from Still Waters- Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvee Blanc, Chardonnay, and Viognier. We chose the white flight because nothing tastes better in this hot weather than cold wine! Read through the steps to (easily) host your very own wine tasting party- Still Waters style.
You’ll need a few supplies to make this an official party. Keep your guest list small! You should realistically estimate about a bottle of wine per guest with pours of 2 oz for each tasting (and revisiting!).
One clear wine glass per person is fine but if you want to encourage the compare and contrast of the wines, we suggest providing two glasses per person.
You’ll want to provide dump buckets for your guests as well as palate cleansers such as water crackers or bread.
Provide pens and paper for your guests to write down their notes.
When comparing wines, you’ll want to be able to see the colors of your tasting as this speaks volumes about a wine.
Make sure your party area is well lit and a white back drop is provided. We like to roll out white craft paper for easy cleanup.
Wine and food tasting is one of the great pleasures in life so be sure to provide tasty refreshments for your guests to graze on. Cheeses are always a great way to elevate your tasting so we recommend providing at least three different types. For your lighter, more acidic wines we love fresh mozzarella, burrata, or chevre. Brie and Camembert are wonderful compliments to bigger wines like chardonnay. We also love to compliment the fruit forwardness of the viognier with a light salty blue cheese or a manchego. Add in some fruit, nuts, and olives for a satisfying appetizer spread. A few other recipes to consider are baked ricotta with lemon and chives, grilled stuffed mushrooms, and puff pastry cheese straws.
Advise your guests to refrain from wearing heavily scented perfume and hold off from burning scented candles during the party. You don’t want other scents competing with the wines, it’ll skew your observations. If you’re feeling particularly committed, check out from the library The Wine Bible by Karen Macneil to help give you an idea what you’re looking for in tasting the varietals.
After that, have fun! Have the chilled wines (between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit) in order from lighters to heaviest and let your guests start from the lightest and move their way down, taking notes and sampling snacks all along the way. At the end of the night, talk about what you thought of the varietals, what you liked, and maybe what you didn’t care for. You’ll come away with a bit of new found knowledge and of course have a lot of fun!
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