About 70 miles north of their Lompoc winery, two vintners were out at sea when a unique form of netting caught their attention.
“We were kayaking on Morro Bay and discovered the farm for Grassy Bar Oyster Co. out in the middle of the water,” said Kate Griffith, co-proprietor of Flying Goat Cellars with her husband Norman Yost, the winemaker who launched the local brand in 2000.
Intrigued by the shellfish farm, the pair returned to shore with a mission to track down its facilitator, which led them to the Grassy Bar Oyster Co. retail shop on the Morro Bay Embarcadero, Griffith said.
The local vintner described the harborside company’s tasty offerings as showcasing “a unique flavor profile influenced by the salinity and ecology of the waters that flow in and out of Morro Bay.”
“We were thrilled about the taste and beauty of the oysters at Grassy Bar,” said Griffith, whose tasting room in Lompoc periodically hosts events where the two businesses—nearly at opposite ends of the Central Coast—get to collaborate.
Shortly after their introduction to the Grassy Bar Oyster Co. during the pandemic, the husband-and-wife duo reached out to the company’s owner and founder George Trevelyan about organizing a wine and oyster pairing.
In 2022, Flying Goat Cellars hosted its first official Bubbles & Bivalves event, in which some of the winery’s libations were paired with shellfish supplied by the Grassy Bar Oyster Co. The next Bubbles & Bivalves will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Those who hope to attend the upcoming luncheon are asked to RSVP by Friday, Oct. 20, to reserve their oyster orders. Patrons of the event get to choose between two wine flight options to pair their shellfish with: a flight of five sparkling wines for $35 or five pinots for $30. Plates of four fresh cocktail oysters will sell for $10 each.
“We always recommend pairing oysters with our Goat Bubbles sparkling wine,” said Griffith, who would personally pick the sparkling wine flight over the pinot flight if push came to shove.
Griffith revealed that her personal favorite of Flying Goat Cellars’ sparkling wines to pair oysters with is the blanc de blancs, although it’s unfortunately sold out at the moment, she said.
“But all of our sparklers pair nicely with the bivalves,” Griffith added. “I’d probably recommend the brut cuvée, which is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, as the best alternative to blanc de blancs.”
Personal preferences aside, Griffith said that guests who take the sparkling wine flight route are encouraged “to try each sparkler with oysters to find the sweet spot for their palate.” Along with the flight options, additional wines from Flying Goat Cellars will be available for sale by the glass or bottle throughout the Bubbles & Bivalves event.
The grapes behind Flying Goat Cellars’ wines are sourced from vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley, including Bien Nacido Vineyard, Solomon Hills Vineyard, and Sierra Madre Vineyard, and the Santa Rita Hills, including Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard, Rio Vista Vineyard, and Ampelos Vineyard.
With its tasting room in Lompoc and primary use of Santa Barbara County-based fruit, Flying Goat Cellars shining a spotlight on a seaside operation in San Luis Obispo County gives the Bubbles & Bivalves event an edge compared to other festivities hosted by the winery.
Along with her recommendations on which wines go well with the Grassy Bar Oyster Co.’s oysters, Griffith also has a few pointers for any potential oyster first-timers who plan on attending the upcoming Bubbles & Bivalves.
“Grassy Bar oysters are so sweet and tasty that I prefer them without anything but my bubbles,” Griffith said. “However, mignonette sauce or a squeeze of lemon are traditional toppings for oysters.”
Next time Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood needs an epiphany, he’ll go kayaking. Send comments to [email protected].