A little over a year ago, I stumbled across this article from the New York Times and forwarded it to a couple people (check it out to see the picture of the coffee-packed civet dung…awesome). A little email chain ensued, where one person wrote “Gross! Poop coffee!” and another wanted to give it a try. I was interested, but I wasn’t going to order any. It sells from $100-500/lb.
Then we found ourselves in Chiang Rai, in a coffee shop called Doi Chaang @ Art. As I mentioned, several of the hill tribes in northern Thailand grow coffee, including the Akha farmers living in Doi Chaang village. They have a partnership with a company called Doi Chaang Coffee, which distributes their coffee globally and runs a couple really nice shops. While Alex lounged in a big arm chair, geeking out on his iPad and charting our scooter route for the day, I poked around the coffee beans in a display case. I was looking through the different blends when I spied some bags of Wild Civet Coffee. Whaat??!
After our recent trip to Tres Sabores and Buehler, we couldn’t wait to follow it up with another trip to Napa. Alex happened to be working in the area (and staying in a nearby hotel), so it was almost by accident that we ended up spending a full day in Napa. Unlike other weekends in wine country, we had no plans, didn’t really feel like drinking much wine and felt great about taking it easy.
We woke up and rolled into town to grab coffee and
cupcakes breakfast at Oxbow Public Market. Ritual Coffee Roasters has a storefront there (the same Ritual Coffee that I tried out in the Mission) and Alex wanted to give their coffee a go. He ordered a pour over coffee, begrudgingly paid ~$4, but loved the coffee. I focused my efforts on a latte and a carrot cake cupcake from Kara’s.
After Ritual, we got sidetracked by Whole Spice. I’m pretty sure they aren’t affiliated with Whole Foods, but I think that is the association they might be going for.
Now that I’m in the final throes of the semester, it seems difficult to believe that just a few weekends ago we were running around carefree in Napa. But, we were! As I was suffering through a round of papers today, I thought I’d look back over pictures from two recent Napa trips and pretend that we were still out in the sunshine among the budding vines with glasses of wine in hand (nevermind my advisor peering over at me from his office). Here’s some pictures from our first trip. I’ll have a post from our second trip later this week.
Our springtime adventures in Napa started on a chilly and beautiful day a couple months back when my friend, Christina, was visiting. Alex, Christina and I drove up to check out a few vineyards recommended by our friend Phoebe (I was so happy to have recommendations — I always feel a little lost in Napa). Based on Phoebe’s tips, we ended up scheduling tours at Tres Sabores and Buehler. She knew we love having a good tasting experience (read about our wine preferences here) and she assured us both would be loads of fun. She was right!
Tres Sabores is an organic vineyard that uses sheep to mow the weeds between the vines and guinea hens to eat the pests from both the ground and the sheep. Sheep = extremely cute. Especially when they nuzzle together.
Last weekend Teel, Joe, Alex and I headed out into the rain and went to St. George Spirits in Alameda. (And, yes, we followed St. George with that crazy food bender on Monday…love out of town visitors!)
Alameda Point is the decommissioned military base at the end of Alameda island. The whole area is amazing. The base shut down in 1997 and has been more or less vacant ever since. A few of the former aircraft hangars are leased out, but for the most part it’s acres of asphalt. One of the hangars is occupied by St. George Spirits, which is most well known for its Hangar One vodka.
This is the last post in a 3 part series on drinking wine in Paso Robles. If you missed parts 1 and 2, you may want to start there. Part 1 is an overview of Paso Robles as a wine region. Part 2 tells you about all the wineries we visited during our trip. This final part showcases Starr Ranch Winery, one of the wineries we visited on our trip.
Our last stop of the day on Saturday was Starr Ranch Winery. Before going to Paso, while we were researching where to visit and scouring every corner of the internet, this winery didn’t come up much. We found Starr Ranch because of a conversation at Turley — the sweet woman who was pouring for us mentioned we could find her son, Ryan, making wine there.
Starr Ranch was scheduled to close at 5:00p and we pulled into the driveway at about 4:55p. In the rush to get in the door, I only took terrible, blurry photos. So, instead, here’s a picture of the Starr Ranch property that’s shown on their website (though, this is pretty much how it looked for us, too).
The path up the driveway and through the hills around the winery was gorgeous. Next time we’ll try to picnic somewhere around there.
We walked into a big barn, down a corridor lined by wine barrels, and up to the tasting bar just as a group of people were finishing up. We nervously asked the woman behind the counter, whom we later found out was owner Judy, if we were too late. She shook her head and happily agreed to pour for us.
If you missed Part 1, you might want to start there: Part 1 is an overview of Paso Robles. This post is about each winery we visited. Part 3 is photos of wine barrels and tanks at Starr Ranch Winery.
Here’s a scan of the map that’s given out everywhere around town (thank you Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance).
Here I zoomed in and circled the wineries we visited. I had to write in Epoch, a new winery we visited. I also included a couple food places (see Hot Tips in Part 1).
We split up the tour into 2 days. We weren’t entirely organized. Saturday we were able to make it to a lot of different wineries and Sunday…we were moving a little slower…so we only made it to a few spots.
Before we go any further, though, it’s only fair to be clear about our wine preferences. Alex and I think that what makes for a great bottle is the quality of wine + the quality of the experience. For us, the contents of the bottle absolutely matter, but what takes a wine from good to great is related to who we’re with, how we’re feeling, the weather that day and the food we’re eating. Neither one of us would want to drink a 1961 Cheval Blanc out of a Styrofoam cup all alone at McDonald’s (yes, I made a Sideways reference…help me). What are we looking for? A high quality product plus a casual and intimate setting where we get to interact with people who are excited about what they’re serving and want to teach us a little about what they know. But, everyone’s tastes and preferences are different.
We like wine and drink a lot of it, but we’re hardly qualified to judge its finer points. Alex actually has a good enough palette that he can pick out those odd wine flavors, like “pineapple” and “barnyard,” but I definitely don’t. So, instead of talking about the details of the wine too much, we want to show you what the wineries of Paso Robles look like, tell you some of the highlights of each winery we visited, and let you know where we’re planning to go back on our next trip down there (yes, there will be a next trip!).
And we’re off!