Kathy Marcks Hardesty: Wine clubs make for great parties
Last weekend I attended a wine club pick up party that was practically in my backyard, it happened in Avila Beach at the Sinor-LaVallee tasting room.
I live in Pismo Beach, just 10 minutes away from Avila Valley, and 20 minutes away from the Santa Maria Valley border. In my mind, they are all practically in my backyard.
All Central Coast residents can be in the heart of Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo county wine country in very little time. That has made my job of covering both wine regions very convenient. And now that the tasting rooms are open again, even if it’s only for outdoor seating, we are fortunate enough to enjoy their fine wine tastings again. It was such a joy to return for wine tasting.
The Sinor-LaVallee new release tasting party offered members four wines, a rose, chardonnay, pinot noir, and syrah. It wasn’t limited to wine club members, they are open to the public if there was available seating on the patio.
Now they usually serve food, like a buffet of very good charcuterie or a Mexican buffet. But this time, they hired catering partners chef Spencer Johnston and Lannon Rust (known locally as the “805 wine guy”). They served us fresh oysters from Morro Bay Oyster Co. and ceviche made with fresh snapper from the Avila Bay Pier Seafood caught that morning.
They also served a Oaxacan style guacamole with spicy peanuts and bits of yam with crispy grilled corn tortillas. The chef did a fantastic job of making the foods wine friendly, meaning not overly spicy which could overwhelm the delicate flavors of the wines. It was all quite impressive. Their company is named Danior Kitchen, which is easily found on the internet.
Winemaker and owner Mike Sinor provides a new release party every spring and fall, which is complimentary to wine club members who are picking up their wine shipment at the same time. They do allow walk-ins, but there is a tasting room fee. If you become a wine club member here, you get complimentary tastings whenever you’re visiting the area, exclusive savings on wine club shipments and any other purchases, and access to member only events.
Not only that, the tasting room is open daily, noon until 6 p.m. for outdoor tastings. Learn more at sinorlavallee .com. That’s nothing new here, however, nearly all Central Coast wine clubs make very similar offers. It’s their way of showing how much they appreciate their fans.
I looked into another tasting room I’ve always favored, Costa de Oro in Santa Maria, where they have really good wine and food tastings during their pick-up parties, with the bonus of excellent live music. Winemaker and owner Gary Burk is a fine musician and singer himself, so he brings in some great acts each weekend.
With its convenient location at the eastside onramp for Stowell Road, it’s a great choice for entertainment on the weekend, Fridays and Sundays. Burk told me they will be bringing back their very popular “Trivia Parties” the first Saturday of each month, where guests answer 30 questions about a theme, like the year 2020.
With Costa de Oro’s wine club, you have a choice of three, six or 12 bottles per quarterly shipment, and choice of pick-up, or shipping (which always goes out the same week of the pick-up party). Members get 20 percent off all wine purchases (except growlers), 10 percent off merchandise, $5 tastings for you and your unlimited number of guests (show your appreciation by buying wine to take home), wines by the glass for $10 each, or wines on tap for $7 each, and access to promotional flash sales that aren’t available to the public.
To join the wine club you must provide a credit card, and should you choose to quit, you can do it after only two shipments. Another bonus, if you are a pick-up member, you can switch your wine club bottles any time.
I often do that with my wine club memberships. If there’s a varietal on the list I don’t care for, I change my order. But I’m still ordering the required number of bottles of the wines for my pick-up.
I once had a wine tasting room tell me they didn’t like me changing the order around. They actually wanted me to take the entire wine club shipment as is. I told them, I always buy more than you require from a member, yet you don’t want me to buy what I like? I quit their club immediately. That’s not showing appreciation for the customer in my book.
Costa de Oro is currently open every day except Monday, from noon until 6 p.m. The hours differ on Friday when they have music from 5 until 7 p.m. The band plays music in softer volume on Sundays from 3 until 5 p.m., and on the latter day tastings are available during music performances. They give you all the best treatment because they do appreciate you.
Reach Kathy at kathymhardesty @ gmail .com.
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