Santa Maria Sun / Eats
Educational evening classes offered at CORE Family Winery's tasting room
BY WENDY THIES SELL
Dave Corey, a Santa Maria Valley winemaker and former competitive cyclist, talks almost as fast as he pedals his high-performance Cannondale road bike; he still rides 200 miles a week on the back roads of Santa Barbara County, except during the busy grape harvest.
Get him on the topic of wine and he has both the endurance and the knowledge to talk for hours.
That comes in handy when hosting his educational evening wine classes at the CORE tasting room in Old Town Orcutt, which he owns and operates with his wife, Becky.
She describes the classes as “fun, topical, what people are curious about.”
Past topics have run the gamut of wine:
One time, Dave brought in wine samples from his barrels and class participants made their own wine blends, tasted them six weeks later, and then, a couple weeks later, voted on the best wine.
Another time, the class drank CORE wines with chocolates.
“We found that grenache is the best pairing with chocolate,” Dave said. “A lot of people say [cabernet sauvignon] and chocolate. It definitely was grenache by far! It was everybody’s favorite.”
They’ve also offered wine and food pairings: Spanish ham and cheese with Dave’s Spanish wine varietals—grenache, tempranillo, and mourvedre.
Dave is one of the only wine producers in Santa Barbara County making high-end mourvedre, a dark, spicy, complex red.
“We’re really known for mourvedre, which makes us really unique,” he said.
Dave grew the grape for seven years, so he has experience with the heat-loving varietal. In the past, he has sourced mourvedre grapes from vineyards on Paso Robles’ west side, the Templeton Gap, and eastern Santa Barbara County.
CORE Wine Company produces a wine called “Mister Moreved.” The 2008 vintage is mostly mourvedre blended with a small percentage of grenache—all made with Santa Barbara County grapes. A road bike graces the wine label.
Dave produces a wide variety of varietals: viognier, grenache blanc, a roussanne/marsanne blend, grenache, a syrah/grenache/tempranillo blend, and several others under the CORE wine label.
CORE’s motto is, “The core of every wine begins in the vineyard.”
Dave has book smarts and street smarts when it comes to viticulture and sustainable agriculture, holding a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in entomology and plant physiology. He also worked as a pest control adviser for Cambria Vineyards and Kendall-Jackson, and began the viticulture company, Vital Vines.
“I’m really critical of the way grapes are farmed,” Dave said.
He picks and chooses the best fruit he can get his hands on, buying grapes from a number of high-quality Central Coast vineyards.
“What we’re known for is high-end blends,” he said. “There are not many wineries known for that, and blends are very popular.”
His popular Kuyam label is all Bordeaux blends such as “Thirteen Moons,” which is a cabernet sauvignon/merlot/petite verdot/cabernet franc blend.
The C3 wine label, which is a partnership among Dave and his sisters, is strictly tempranillo.
Dave and his mom and uncle produce another wine label, Turchi, which is cabernet sauvignon and malbec.
“We do have a $61 wine, but we have a lot of really high-quality [wines] in the $18 to $25 range, which most tasting rooms don’t. And red wines, not just white wines or rosés,” Dave said. “That’s been the biggest complaint of tasting rooms: there’s not a lot of quality that’s under $25 retail.”
Dave also produces a syrah/malbec blend called “Rice Ranch Red,” which is a nod to his heritage.
“My great grandfather was Marion Rice, who was the mayor here in Santa Maria back in the ’30s and ’40s,” said Dave.
The Rice family arrived in Orcutt in 1873, making Dave a sixth-generation resident of the Santa Maria Valley.
Dave and Becky dedicate a wall in their tasting room to their impressive display of Rice and Corey family history, showcasing old photos, news clippings, and family keepsakes.
The Coreys feel right at home in Old Town Orcutt, raising three young boys and opening a wine tasting room in 2009, eight years after starting the winery. Dave makes the wines in his wine production space at the Santa Maria Vintners’ Park complex on Blosser Road.
The tasting room, located at 145 S. Gray St., just off of Clark Avenue, is open Wednesday through Sunday afternoons. They are open until 7 p.m. on Fridays for music or movie nights.
They also open select evenings during the month for wine classes and painting parties.
“Wine and Design” recently started offering art classes at CORE’s tasting room on the second Wednesday night of every month. For details, go to wineanddesignus.com/orcutt.
For information about the monthly wine education classes, check out the CORE Family Winery Facebook page or go to their website, corewine.com.
Sun wine and food columnist Wendy Thies Sell is thirsty for knowledge. Send story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.