Friday, October 31, 2014     Volume: 15, Issue: 34
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Wine after dark: Night owl oenophiles should flock to Old Town Orcutt

BY WENDY THIES SELL

Do you work 9 to 5 and want to try a local winery’s new releases, but don’t want to play tourist on the weekend?

Most wine tasting rooms close by 5 p.m., so what's a wine loving-weekday worker to do?

Old Town Orcutt has several options after work.


AT THE CORE
Winemaker Dave Corey handcrafts several labels of wine and sells them at his CORE Family Wines tasting room in Orcutt.
PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL

Any night of the week, there are wine tasting options in Old Town Orcutt; whether it’s Ca’Del Grevino wine bar and cafe, Trattoria Uliveto, Pasión, Lucia’s Wines, or Wine Country Orcutt, or special tastings at CORE Wines, Far Western Tavern, and Old Town Market.

Lucia’s wine tasting room at 125 E. Clark Ave. is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. Lucia’s also is also host to Monday Movie Night, Wednesday Open Mic Night, and performances of local bands.

There are 12 fresh, brick-oven pizzas on the menu in addition to appetizers and salads—or drop in for Taco Wednesday or Tostada Thursday.

Lucia’s produces its own wines, including chardonnay and pinot noir from the Santa Maria Valley, syrah from the Edna Valley, and cabernet sauvignon from the Santa Ynez Valley, all created by owners Ben and Lucy Gonzales.

The website is lucias-wine-co.com.

Just around the corner at 130 N. Broadway, Wine Country Orcutt is open until 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Knowledgeable hosts Don and Sherrill O’Neill pour a wide range of wines from boutique wineries and craft breweries in their cozy tasting room/shop.

Wine Country brings in musicians, winemakers, or brewers to entertain and/or educate their customers.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, from 7 to 9 p.m., musician Keith Cox will perform there. Wine Country will hold a Tapas Potluck on Saturday, Aug. 23, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Customers bring Spanish tapas to share, and Wine Country provides the plates and utensils. For $10 you can pair appetizers with a Spanish wine flight.  

For more information, call Wine Country Orcutt at 937-4146.

Another Old Town Orcutt wine tasting room, CORE Family Winery, offers evening opportunities.

CORE stays open until 7 p.m. on Fridays, with movie nights or live entertainment, while pouring their own labels CORE, Kuyam, Turchi, and C3.

Enthusiastic winery owners Dave and Becky Corey have planned a couple of nighttime events in August, before the busy harvest season kicks into high gear.

On Wednesday, Aug. 13, Wine & Design comes to CORE at 6:30 p.m. for a painting class/wine tasting. The painting class is $35 per person. Guests may buy CORE wine for an additional $6 to $12 per glass. Sign up through the tasting room by calling 937-1600.


SURROUNDED BY WINE
During a recent wine tasting at Old Town Market in Orcutt, winemaker Norm Yost poured his Flying Goat wines for several dozen customers.
PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL

On Thursday, Aug. 14, CORE will hold a wine and cheese class at 6:30 p.m.

“Explore four cheeses, each paired with two wines and decadent chocolate truffles [and] with Candy Core [late harvest grenache] to finish off the evening,” wrote Becky Corey in an email to the Sun.

The cost is $20 per person, $10 for wine club members.

CORE is currently at 145 Gray St., Orcutt, Suite 103. This fall, the wine tasting room will move down the street into a historic bank at 105 E. Clark Ave.

Check their website, CoreWine.com, for more information.

Kitty-corner from CORE, you’ll find the largest wine selection in Old Town Orcutt at Old Town Market.

Owners Mark and Wendy Steller carry more than 800 wines from all over the world, with more than 100 wines from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

“I claim to have the best wine collection on the Central Coast,” Mark declared. “I’m not 100 percent sure if that’s accurate or not, but that’s my claim.”

Every Saturday evening from 5 until 8:30 p.m., Mark brings in a local winemaker to pour wines, or he offers samples of his wine picks of the week.

One recent Saturday, esteemed Lompoc winemaker Norm Yost, owner of Flying Goat Cellars, poured his excellent wines: a pinot gris, three pinot noirs, and a Goat Bubbles sparkling wine.

“It’s always great when the owner comes. They’re artists, and they’re sharing their art in a glass with you,” Mark said.

Across the street, the Far Western Tavern is celebrating a prestigious wine honor, the 2014 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine.

“We have invested considerable thought, effort, and expense into developing our wine list, which makes this recognition all the more gratifying,” said Benjamin Chanler-Laurin, Far Western general manager and sommelier.

Approximately 2,500 bottles of Central Coast and international wines are housed in the Far Western’s multi-level cellar.


TASTE AT NIGHT
The Far Western Tavern in Orcutt will be host to two winemaker dinners the next two months and evening beer tastings every Thursday in October.
PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL

This year, Chanler-Laurin started an “after-hours tasting room” upstairs at the tavern.

Every Thursday night, March through July, the Far Western was host to a different local winery.

“The idea was to say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re gonna stay open. We’re gonna give a platform from 5:30 to 7:30 [p.m.] to any Central Coast winery that wants to come with their own wine,’” he said.

The Far Western’s next winemaker dinner—a four-course, five-wine dinner with Flying Goat Cellars—is Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. The menu features amuse-bouche, Pacific halibut, ratatouille, veal osso buco, and chocolate truffles.

Call 937-2211, Ext. 104, for reservations.

Chanler-Laurin is organizing a Champagne dinner in September at the Far Western, “where we line up some of the best Champagne in the world.”

Then, in October, they celebrate Octoberfest with a California beer tasting every Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

In late October, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company comes to the Far Western for a multi-course beer-maker dinner.

So there are plenty of opportunities for wine- (or beer-) loving residents of the Santa Maria Valley to stay close to home.

Mark Steller at Old Town Market sums it up well: “I’m all about Old Orcutt. I want to see people enjoy themselves locally. You don’t have to drive 50 to 100 miles to have fun. Stay in your backyard.”

 

Submit story ideas to Sun wine and food writer Wendy Thies Sell at wthies@santamariasun.com.