The SOMM Journal

June / July 2017

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12 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2017 { discoveries } Stolo Family Vineyards 2016 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, San Luis Obispo County (SRP $25) This cold-fermented, stainless steel white gleams from the glass, with grassy notes and unripe pineapple. The acidity is searing and a squeeze of lemon juice on the finish keeps it tasting fresh. A wonderful food partner. Stolo Family Vineyards 2016 Estate Gewürztraminer, San Luis Obispo County (SRP $25) is a top pick for us. The family owns three out of the four Gewürz acres planted in San Luis Obispo County. Lanolin, white flowers, lychee, crisp apricot—and more if we had the room – are held together by a crisp acidity. Wow! Stolo Family Vineyards 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo County (SRP $25) features rasp - berry and slate on the nose. It washes across the tongue with a creaminess from resting on the lees for a few months. Watermelon makes a textural bubble-pillow sensation on the finish. WHEN IT COMES TO UNDISCOVERED wine country along California's Central Coast, Cambria would not come to mind of most wine professionals. That's because there is only one commercial wine-produc - ing estate in Cambria—and we found it (or rather, they found us). In 2002, Maria Stolo Bennetti's parents bought a nine-acre former dairy farm with a 19-century house, three miles up the San Luis Obispo County coast, just east of the resort beach town of Cambria (home to the famous Hearst Castle). Now the prop - erty boasts 52 acres—23 planted to vines and ten with potential for future growth. "We call Stolo Family Vineyards the rogue winery," claims Bennetti, who presides over the grape-to-glass set-up at the estate as General Manager. She also runs the tasting room and direct-to-consumer sales, but hopes to soon see the Stolo labels grace wine lists in several markets with their wholesaler's help. Winemaker Nicole Pope studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and, with her height as an advantage, found volleyball as a favored sport. With experience work - ing harvests in Australia and South Africa under her belt, she also came to under- stand Burgundian varietals through stints at Domaine Carneros and Talley Vineyards. She joined Stolo in late 2011, and became the second winemaker—following Stephen Ross, who made Stolo wines at his facility while also producing his own label. "My focus is cool-climate varieties," Pope tells The Somm Journal. With a hand in Stolo's selection of varietals, her awe-inspiring Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noirs are not only stellar examples of what the region can produce, but an eye- opening insight into creating great juice in a proximity of less than three miles to the Pacific. Pope's husband, Lucas, is Stolo's Vineyard Consultant. "In the next couple of months, we're looking to turn in our petition for a new AVA," attests Bennetti. "The proposed SLO Coast AVA goes approximately seven miles inland, but covers Cambria, Cayucos and the northern border of the San Luis Obispo/Monterey County line and also encompasses the Edna Valley AVA and Arroyo Grande AVA." With average daytime temperatures of 74 degrees and reliable early morning fog, the climate is ideal. Soils vary and many are rocky, calcareous hillsides, but the "newer" sites are flat, deep soils with loamy clay and ancient river stones. Pending a new AVA, Stolo labels proudly announce the winery's Cambria location. PHOTO COURTESY OF STOLO FAMILY VINEYARDS PHOTO COURTESY OF STOLO FAMILY VINEYARDS PHOTO COURTESY OF STOLO FAMILY VINEYARDS Wines by the "C" THE BEACH TOWN OF CAMBRIA MAY BE CALIFORNIA'S NEXT COASTAL WINE TRAIL THANKS TO STOLO FAMILY VINEYARDS by Meridith May General Manager Maria Stolo Bennetti (left) and Winemaker Nicole Pope. Fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean lingers just beyond the Stolo Family Vineyards estate in Cambria, CA.

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