Monthly Archives: November 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Gifts that give back

Nearly every year, we here at Parker Sanpei have made a point of listing our favorite charitable companies whose products give back a portion of their proceeds to worthy causes.  This is especially appropriate for Giving Tuesday – this Tuesday, December 3 – the first Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, wherein charitable giving is the focus!  Just in time, here are our 2013 picks:

For the Gourmand: must! charities

must_logo_1c-580x308must! charities’ mission is to bring the community together to create sustainable health and hope in the Northern region of San Luis Obispo County. Using the existing infrastructure of the wine industry in and around Paso Robles, must! charities is currently collaborating with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County to take a small and proven meals program to virtually every eligible child in the north county.

“With the partnership of other local non-profits that serve these children, we are providing healthy meals and snacks in their own neighborhoods. As a mobile project, we reach the most remote places in our county.”

To fund projects like these, must! Charities partners with local wineries and a handful of restaurants to receive a portion of the proceeds from each sale. Partners include L’Aventure, Eberle Winery, La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant and Il Cortile Ristorante. For a complete list of partners, please visit

For the Outdoor Enthusiast: Orvis Company

4H05XB3khaki_lgThe Orvis Company, based out of Vermont, specializes in high-end fishing, hunting and sporting goods, as well as sporting adventures from fly-fishing excursions to international safaris. As the oldest mail-order retailer in the United States, the Orvis Company is renowned for donating 5% of its pre-tax profits to conservation programs – over $10 million in the past decade alone. Recent projects include re-establishment of a migratory whooping crane flock and protection of songbird migratory corridor in Jamaica. For more information on Orvis conservation projects, please visit

For the Music Lover: Vers Audio 

AllJump2pFrom iPhone cases and earbuds to complete sound systems, Vers Audio makes each of its gorgeous products out of sustainably grown and harvested wood like beech,bamboo and walnut. And for every tree used, the company plants 100 trees with the help of the U.S Department of Forestry and the Arbor Day Foundation.

Since our very first day, we have been committed to 3 simple values: thoughtful design, best-in-class sound quality and a continuous pursuit of environmental sustainability – ‘sound sound’ for short. These values drive everything that we do, from selecting low-power components to little things, like eliminating twist ties. We’re passionate about making a difference where ever possible, large or small.

For more information on Vers Audio, visit

For the Beauty Queen: Sephora Values Inside Out Program

s1553254-main-heroSephora’s Values Inside Out program matches individual Sephora stoes with local non-profits. Each store has the opportunity to choose a charity they feel passionate about and help by providing funds, raising awareness, and volunteering to help that organization fulfill its individual goals over the course of 2013.

While supplies last, when you buy this exclusive Sephora Collection set for $20, Sephora will donate $13 to charity. Bags sold on will benefit The American Heart Association, while purchases made in store will benefit that participating store’s charity of choice. (For instance, our local Sephora in San Luis Obispo supports the Woods Humane Society of the Central Coast.)

Set includes:

  • Lip gloss mini in a dusty pink shimmer shade
  • Nail polish mini in a warm champagne shade
  • Gold glitter liquid eyeliner mini
  • Collectable cosmetics bag

For more information about the Sephora Values Inside Out program, please visit

For the Kid In All of Us: B. Toys

12025312_121110064217B. Toys are so beautifully packaged and thoughtfully created, it’s icing on the cake that the company is also philanthropic. For every B. toy bought, the company gives 10¢ to Free the Children, a non-profit begun by 12-year-old Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he and a handful of friends sought to fight international child labor.

Over one million youth from over 45 countries have become a part of their mission: to free children from poverty and exploitation and free young people from the notion that they are powerless to effect positive change.

So far Free The Children has built over 650 schools in communities around the world, providing education (the only way out of poverty) to 50,000 children every day. And it’s inspired young people throughout North America to develop as socially conscious global citizens and become agents of change for their peers across the globe.


For more information on Free The Children or B. Toys, please visit or


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Thanksgiving Wine Pairing How-To


No question: We at Parker Sanpei love Thanksgiving, not least because it’s all about FOOD. And while we doubt very much that the original Thanksgiving meal included wine, there is no better opportunity to play at pairing wine with classic dishes. Thankfully (pun intended!), the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving meal are varied enough to warrant buying several bottles to share with family and good friends. Here’s a little tutorial on what to look for when purchasing wine for Thanksgiving, and suggestions on what to buy.

Pairing wine with food is very simple, really. To select a wine for each course, you will either MATCH the dish’s flavors and weight, or COMPLEMENT the dish’s flavors and weight.

mushroom stuffing

Hazelnut, Sage and Mushroom Stuffing

Match the dish’s flavors and weight. Let’s say you’re serving a woodsy mushroom-infused stuffing alongside your turkey. A classic wine pairing for mushrooms is Pinot Noir, as it often exhibits the same autumnal earthiness. Overlapping or layering flavors in this way is one of the easiest ways to pair wine with food. A great wine to match your mushroom stuffing is Laetitia Vineyard & Winery’s 2011 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir ($40).

AstrolabeBut also consider the weight of the cuisine. Mashed potatoes? Heavy. Perhaps a big, mouth-filling Chardonnay like J.Lohr’s 2011 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay ($25). Asparagus with sesame oil vinaigrette? Light. Think a grassy, crisp Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand like Astrolabe’s 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (NZ$20.99).

Simple Roast Turkey with Rich Turkey Gravy

Simple Roast Turkey with Rich Turkey Gravy

Complement the dish’s flavors and weightMaybe you’re planning to whip up a simple roast turkey with rich gravy for the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner. Think about that juicy, succulent meat and buttery gravy. It would be pretty tough to match the weight of gravy (!) but with a zingy, high-acidity white wine like Riesling or Pinot Grigio, you can cut through fatty and salty dishes to refresh the palate with each sip. We like the 2012 Pacific Rim Dry Riesling ($10), both for its deliciously crisp aromas and flavors…and for its price tag.

There you have it: a two-point how-to on holiday wine pairing. Whatever you choose to drink this season, we at Parker Sanpei wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!

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How to keep a good thing going: SUSTAINABLE AG EXPO 2013

Central Coast Sustainability Conference Takes on Topics of Water Management, Animal Integration and Chemical Resistance in Agriculture

_DSC7450Love your evening glass of wine? Ever considered that it might be a finite “resource” with an end in sight? Here on the Central Coast, wine means water, and water is something that everyone – from farmers to residential communities – just can’t get enough of.

To address issues like the balance of water resources, the upcoming Sustainable Ag Expo will take place November 18 and 19 at the Madonna Inn Expo Center in San Luis Obispo, California.

Vineyard Team logo_2013-01Presented by the Vineyard Team, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable viticulture practices on the Central Coast since 1994, the Sustainable Ag Expo’s general session entitled “Balancing Water Resources in Expanding Communities” will take place on Monday, November 18, and will present tools and resources to help growers improve and document their responsible management of water and prepare for possible policy changes in the future.

Kris Beal, Executive Director, Vineyard Team

Kris Beal, Executive Director, Vineyard Team

“Competition for limited water resources is bound to heat up as the demand for water grows,” said Vineyard Team Executive Director, Kris Beal. “Not only do growers need to achieve the highest water use efficiency for their farms, but they need to be engaged in the long-term conversations about sustainable basin management.”

During the session, Beal will outline the demonstration and education programs of the Vineyard Team’s water initiatives, alongside a distinguished three-person panel addressing topics specific to the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, statewide trends and case studies regarding groundwater management. The panel will include Paavo Ogren, Director of San Luis Obispo County Public Works; Paul Sorensen, Principal Hydrogeologist of Fugro; and Tim Quinn, Executive Director for the Association of California Water Agencies.

In addition to the general session on water management, the Sustainable Ag Expo will feature

  • A Holistic Management session on the immediate and long-term benefits of integrating animals in orchard and vineyard operation – such as the use of raptors for rodent control or sheep for weed suppression. Held Tuesday, November 19, this session will provide attendees an overview of integrating animals into orchard and vineyard systems via the experience of top industry experts and farm managers.
  • A general session to address the continuous challenge of chemical resistance to insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides by pests, diseases, and weed species entitled, “Managing Resistance by Pests, Diseases, and Weeds.” On Tuesday, November 19, three distinguished panelists from the University of California system will lead the discussion on best management practices for preventing and overcoming resistance development.

Cover cropping

Staged in an accessible format under one roof at the Madonna Inn Expo Center, the 9th Annual Sustainable Ag Expo offers inventive presentations and an innovative trade show specifically targeted at farmers, agricultural professionals, and pest control advisors. The two-day educational meeting provides ample continuing education credits and an exhibitor showcase.

Since its inception, the Sustainable Ag Expo has focused on the latest trends in sustainability and hot topics in California agriculture. Visit for more information, including attendee registration and the full schedule of events.

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A Harvest for the Books

Our friends at the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux) Collective recently breathed a sigh of relief as Harvest 2013 wrapped up. And the good news? By all accounts, this will be a vintage to remember for Paso Robles.

Jason Joyce

Jason Joyce

 “The 2013 vintage is a classic example of why Paso Robles is such an exceptional location for growing Bordeaux varietalsBeing weather-obsessive as most winemakers are, I knew this was going to be a year for dense Cab. Dry conditions like this year usually produce small berries which have a concentrated skin-to-juice ratio. This provides the wine with ample color, fruit and depth. But these are typically a given when producing Cabernet in Paso. Nowhere else is the richness and fruit of Cabernet so consistently expressed as in Paso Robles.

In an almost inverse challenge to other regions, the structure elements of acid and tannin are what I’m most concerned with capturing each vintage. Also, the heavy seed tannin concentration is high enough that I won’t need wood tannin from new barrels, so I’ll use less new oak than the pre-harvest plan called for. With this commitment to producing a wine that needs aging comes another requirement (and here is where the true miracle of this vintage has shown itself): With each lot of rich, ripe fruit harvested last week, I expected to see the berries sapped of their acidic strength by the warm September sun. Not the case at all. The pH and total acidity readings have been incredibly high. This is an absolute necessity for the creation of age-worthy wines, as without this acidic backbone, these dense ripe wines can be too easily off-balance, flabby, and without real character.

So all in all, at this earliest of stages in the wines’ life, I could not be more enthusiastic about the vintage. It may not be until 2016 that these wines are ready to taste, but if there is enough patience to let natural aging run its course, this vintage has all the requisite fundamentals for the production of remarkable Bordeaux varietals.”

Jason Joyce, Winemaker, Calcareous Vineyard

Ethan Ray

Ethan Ray

“This year is turning out to be fantastic for Paso-area fruit in general, and I think many grape farmers in the area would agree. For us, we have been blessed with both a large, healthy crop-load, and amazing quality as well. Some of the clones that usually seem to struggle somewhat with fruit-set and the development of sugars have shown up in full-force this year with an impressive fruit-set, terrific flavor, and ideal sugar development. The berry size is small, with an excellent and ideal skin-to-pulp ratio, which we can already see will beautifully impart its luxurious colors and flavors unto this year’s vintage.

The talk of the town this year is the timing of these crops. I believe that most farmers are seeing their crop’s development as being weeks ahead of the last few years, due to good weather early on, and not having to battle much in the way of frost problems around bud-break. Also, with the fruit’s development being ahead of the expected schedule, it means that we will be able to comfortably develop the sugars we need, as well as the flavors we want, before the rainy season hits us. This is an unusual, but huge, blessing for us and our harvest.

We are very excited and enthusiastic about this year’s crop and believe it will produce an excellent harvest, and in turn, some very special wine.”

Ethan Ray, Assistant Winemaker/Assistant Vineyard Manager, Parrish Family Vineyards

Michael Barreto

Michael Barreto

“An early and warm spring got the growing season off to a quick start. Some cool stretches in the summer allowed varieties like Merlot to coast a bit and be ready for harvest around the same as an average year. However, for us, Cabernet Sauvignon will be coming in around two weeks earlier than normal. Our harvest size should be about average with nicely-sized clusters that should provide nice flavor and concentration.”

 Michael Barreto, Winemaker, Le Vigne Winery

David Galzignato

David Galzignato

“Jada Vineyard is located in a unique mesoclimate. 2013 is looking to be a perfect vintage for our vineyard site. I wouldn’t label our vineyard as a ‘cool’ site, because of our total degree days, but it does prove to be cooler than others in the area. This has factored into our 2013 harvest, allowing flavors, color, and tannin to develop at a slower and more even pace. In late September, we were just starting to pick some of our blocks.

The challenging side of the 2013 vintage is dealing with uniformity issues within each block. The key to rock star wines this year, for our vineyard and location within the AVA, is patience and picking extremely small sections of each block, and only when they are ready.If I were to pick the entire block at the same time, it could jeopardize the wine quality.”

David Galzignato, Winemaker, Jada Vineyard

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