H-NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Oct 16, 2012 8:57 PM by Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News

No Place Like Home: Fall on the Central Coast and Harvest Wine Weekend

We are more than halfway through October already. Believe it or not, that means winter is just around the corner. And that makes it one of the best times of year to call yourself a local. Because in Autumn, there's all kinds of proof to be found, There's No Place Like Home.

They may not be as obvious as other areas of the country, but the signs of fall are out there everywhere right here at home. The position of the sun means rivers of diamonds on the Pacific almost all day long. Perfect temperatures along the coast make it a crime not to carve out some downtime there. And the leaves are starting to turn if you turn your head just far enough to take a peak.

And, if you venture out to any winery in the area, it's obvious fall is in full swing. Harvest season means growers are hustling to get grapes off the vine at just the right time. And with each varietal hitting peak at different times, it means they've been busy for weeks.

"So we started on August 31st and it actually goes on to November 15th, depending on the temperatures." says Paul Hoover, owner of StillWaters Vineyards in the El Pomar region.

"Our latest varietal that we harvest here is our Cabernet Franc, and my wife usually wants it harvested before Thanksgiving. I try but the weather makes that decision. It does look like this year we may get it done in time for her to be happy."

Hoover likes to let Mother Nature handle refrigeration during harvest. That means taking advantage of cool nights and getting grapes to bins long before sun-up. Afternoons are spent pressing grapes and preparing the vines that will be picked the next day, clearing leaves so crews are picking only ripe and ready fruit in the dark wee hours of the morning.

"And then we have just grapes going into the trays, into the bins and into the wine. So that way we don't have any leaves coming into the winery. No leaves in the wine, 'cuz it changes the flavor."

It all is really a labor of love for most local vintners like Hoover, which is why this weekend, Harvest Wine Weekend, is such a big deal to them.

"It's our celebration about everything about the vine. About this entire year that has been spent on this vintage." Says Christopher Taranto of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

StillWaters will join about 150 other wineries hosting events designed to draw you out to pay a visit. It's not at one central locatioin, but all over Paso Robles' Wine Country. Barbecues, grape stomps, educational seminars, sit-down dinners...unique opportunities at each stop.

"Especially to the personality of that winery." says Taranto. "So they're into cars, or if they're into really into education, then they're going to let those things shine out of their personalities."

They're work may not be quite done, but barriing a curve ball from mother nature, they have a pretty good sense of what the 2012 vintage will be like.

"As a grower, you'll rarely get us to say it's really good because we're kind of superstitious, but uh, it's really good, you know." says Hoover.

The thing about fall on the Central Coast is the weather. It doesn't look and feel like this in most places come harvest time. And even though the celebration will wrap up this weekend, harvest doesn't. They'll be picking olives till Christmas time. And so will the magic moments to be savored in the coming weeks. And there are plenty of places to park yourself to take it all in: Soak up the sunshine overlooking our open space, cool down in the shade of ancient olive groves, or head to the beach for another perfect backdrop to cool your jets.

Whatever you do, don't miss out on this magic time of year, and all the proof to be found, There's No Place Like Home.

Wine Harvest Weekend is this weekend in Paso Robles. For a list of all the events tied to that, click here.

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