Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Day Tripping to Dracaena Wines

Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with Lori of Dracaena Wines and Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm in Paso Robles.

Nothing like six gears and a sundress to play hookey from work and meet up with some blogging friends in real life.  I have been lucky enough to meet up with Wendy in her previous visits to California. But it was a first to meet Lori.

I've long been acquainted with her wines, especially as she's helmed #CabFrancDay for one of our wine groups in previous years. Back in 2016, I posted Apple-Braised Duck Legs + Dracaena's Cab Franc for that event; and I shared Steak au Poivre et Thé with their 2013 vintage. But it was a special treat to have Lori do a tasting for us at her vineyard and at the crush pad.

At the vineyard we walked along the edge of her vines in the Plummer Vineyard.

She showed us the two Cabernet Franc clones that comprised their regular Cabernet Franc. Then, pointing in the distance, we saw where the grapes were for their Reserve and heard about the serendipitous pocket that housed a marine layer - of fog - creating an interesting micro-climate for that clone.

We learned about veraison, or the onset of ripening. The French term has been adopted into English use, but means when the grapes change color. That was just beginning to happen for these grapes.

And she poured their 2018 Rosé of Syrah for us. Made from 100% Syrah grapes what were harvested in September 2018, this wine had minimal skin contact and was racked to stainless steel.

This Rosé has a glorious salmon hue and an alluring nose of ripe quince. On the palate there was a crisp acidity that was both cleansing and refreshing.

And we definitely needed refreshing as the thermometers surpassed 110 degrees. F. When Lori asked if we'd prefer to taste in the shade at the crush pad, we gratefully followed her to their shared facility.

At the crush pad, we sipped and compared their 2016 Cabernet Franc, their flagship wine, with their 2016 Reserve Cabernet Franc.

Both have harvest dates in October 2016 with bottling dates in July 2018. I mentioned that the Cab Franc is a blend of two clones while the Reserve is made solely from Clone 4 which is also known as French Clone 332.

The Cabernet Franc is a deep ruby color with softer scents of cherries and vanilla. On the tongue, there's more complexity - with hints of leather and smoke, but not smoke in a bad way. Just smoke as in a lingering flavor that envelopes your tongue. My love of Cabernet Franc has been fickle, but this one was delicious. And I adored the Reserve. I didn't quite catch Wendy, Frank, Larry, and Mary's thoughts. I'm curious.

The Reserve Cabernet Franc had more intensity which I enjoyed. I did purchase a bottle of each and shared them at an impromptu dinner party when two of my high school classmates were in country - one from Japan and one from Spain. Interestingly, descriptors at that tasting were 'silky,' 'supple', 'smooth.' I actually enjoyed the almost herbal sharpness I detected. Regardless, we polished off the bottles with equal measure, so I still don't know which was the crowd favorite.

Read Lori and Mike's story about the name of their company. I had read it before, but it was such a delight to hear her tell it.

Thanks to these lovely ladies for a fantastic afternoon in Paso Robles. I will definitely try to make it back there when Lori is in town. Or, I know she'll be a permanent Californian as soon as she retires. So, that will make timing visits a little bit easier.


  1. Great post Cam. It was such a wonderful afternoon and Lori is certainly an amazing teacher. I, too, loved the reserve, choosing it again for my last pour before we left the crush pad to head to lunch. Great choice of restaurant too. Thanks so much.

  2. Thank you for this amazing post! I had so much fun meeting you both!!! Looking forward to seeing you again soon!!!


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