Russ Winton: Wine List

Central Coast wine competition winners

Row of vintage wine bottles in a wine cellar (shallow DOF; color toned image)
Row of vintage wine bottles in a wine cellar (shallow DOF; color toned image)

This year, the Central Coast Wine Competition set a record with more than 700 wines entered and nearly 150 gold/double gold awards.

The 2018 blind tasting took place at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. Wineries from eight Central Coast counties, Alameda to Ventura, are eligible to enter. Eighteen judges unanimously agreed the best wine in the show was the Alara Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc from San Benito County. The winery was also given a double gold medal, best in class (Grenache Blanc) and the best white wine award. Cass Vineyard won best red wine for its 2016 Mourvedre along with a gold medal and best in class (Mourvedre). Opolo Vineyard won best pink for its 2017 Rose along with a gold medal and best in class (Any Rose Blend). Laetitia Vineyard & Winery was given the best sparkling wine for its 2015 Brut Rose and a gold medal and best in class (Methode Champenoise). The Mission Angelica from the Glunz Family Winery was awarded the best dessert wine and the winery won a gold medal and a best in class (Fortified Wine). The complete list of medal winners can be found at

Yosemite culinary festivals

I love Yosemite. In 1958, I remember walking to the big campfire in the Village. A lady took the stage and sang “I am calling you-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooo, is the answer true hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooo.” My mother sang along because she knew all the words. I was only 10 and thought that was pretty cool. But not as cool as the fire fall. We had to be very quiet to hear the Glacier Point guy yell “Hello” to the village and then the village would answer back. Finally, the village would say “Let the fire fall.” And they did and wow! Very cool.

Sixty years later, I go to Yosemite to taste wines, which is all part of the “Grand Grape Celebration,” this Nov. 25 to Dec. 7. The “Taste of Yosemite” will be held Nov. 4-16 and the elegant seven course “Bracebridge Dinner” will be held Dec. 10-22. I still love Yosemite. To find more information on any of these great events go to

What’s on our table this week are roses. The 2017 pinkies are available and the 2016 vintage should be on sale. We blind tasted eight 2016s from the Grocery Outlet and the top two were the Comtesse Florence Cotes de Provence and Bila-Haut Pays D’ Oc M. Chapoutier, both $5.99. Also on our table were the 2017 Charles & Charles Rose and the Robert Hall Rose de Robles, both medal winners and readily available under $12. Happy wine hunting. Cheers!

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