Monthly Archives: March 2015

LOCAL LOVE, LOCAL FLAIR: Downtown San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Gets An Upgrade

 

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Three decades after its inception, the world-famous Downtown San Luis Obispo Thursday Night Farmers’ Market is stepping up its game.

Over the next six months, the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association will unveil several improvements that build on the market’s success, including better access and infrastructure; technology that puts shoppers in real-time contact with farmers and their produce; and augmented hands-on educational opportunities for people of all ages.

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To celebrate the refresh, on Thursday, April 9th from 6- 9 p.m., the Farmers’ Market is kicking-off with a free, all-city street party that starts with the unveiling of the new Downtown Association farmstand and market information booth. At 6 p.m., Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson will be on hand to christen the farmstand with seasonal produce from the market at Chorro and Higuera Streets, offering drawings and giveaways of new Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market merchandise like trucker hats and tees.

Then at 6:30 p.m. the market’s mascot, Downtown Brown, will lead the way to the first of the Downtown San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market “Fresh Picked” Concert Series presented by the San Luis Obispo Collection featuring local favorite, The Damon Castillo Band, at the Harvest Stage located in the Union Bank parking lot.

“After an internal review, we realized that there were a few things that we could do to really take our market to the next level,” says Downtown Association Executive Director, Dominic Tartaglia, whose organization oversees the Farmers’ Market. “After thirty-two years holding this event we had to dig deep to see what those improvements were but, ultimately, we developed a strategy to make the user experience more pleasant and the vendors’ experience more profitable. We want this to be a market that locals continue to attend each week and be proud of when they bring guests with them.”

While improvements roll out, the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market will forever remain:

  • all about LOCAL
  • DIVERSE in its offerings and appeal
  • dedicated to HEALTH and WELLNESS
  • honoring of its rich HISTORY
  • an unforgettable EXPERIENCE, and
  • the HEART of San Luis Obispo and the week.

Established to provide the community with a positive gathering space that also supports local businesses, “Thursday Night Promotions” (as it is officially named) began in 1983 when the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association closed six blocks of Higuera Street from 6-9 p.m. to offer entertainment, special activities, food and shopping every Thursday night. Not long after, farmers were invited to sell their harvest and the event soon became known as the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market.

Since then, Thursday Night Promotions has developed into a weekly, year-round street fair that is consistently named among the nation’s best, complete with top-shelf entertainment; abundant local produce, proteins and grains; family activities; delectable prepared foods; value-added products; and a bicycle valet.

Pierre Rademaker

Pierre Rademaker

“Higuera Street is truly this community’s ‘living room,’” says Pierre Rademaker, longtime resident and owner of Rademaker Design, “and Thursday Night has become our way of sharing it with family, friends and visitors.”

Amber Bixler

Amber Bixler

“Every week, I look forward to Farmers’,” says Amber Bixler, owner of Elevenses Mind & Body Therapy. “My senses are stimulated by the aroma of delicious food from the street vendors, the sound of local musicians and the bright colors and textures of locally-grown foods. This is one reason I love SLO: We are a community that fosters family-run farms and businesses. There’s no better way to showcase that support than through our Thursday Night Farmers’ Market.”

Ken Hampian

Ken Hampian

“The Farmers’ Market is an economic and tourism juggernaut, to be sure,” says former City Manager for San Luis Obispo, Ken Hampian. “But more than that, it’s a civic gathering place, an opportunity for local residents to interact.”

Mike White

Mike White

“From day one, the Farmers’ Market has meant so much to us,” says Mike White, owner of Boo Boo Records, one of Rolling Stone magazine’s top record stores in the nation. “Aside from the statewide (and beyond) spotlight it brought to SLO that has resulted in year-round attention, the actual Thursday night spike in business has been huge.  Really, the Farmers’ Market took SLO to the next level in terms of our ranking among small towns in America and Boo Boo’s is forever grateful.”

For more information about improvements to the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market or the April 9th kick-off party, please visit DowntownSLO.com/Farmers-Market or call the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association at 805-541-0286.

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“Why Gewürztraminer?” And other good questions.

Clay Thompson & Fredericka Churchill

Clay Thompson & Fredericka Churchill

Full disclosure: We at Parker Sanpei represent Claiborne & Churchill Winery. But it’s equally true that we absolutely love their Alsatian-style dry white wines and cool-climate Pinot Noir. So when we heard that the 2014 Dry Gewürztraminer was being released, we caught up with Founder, Clay Thompson, to get the skinny on the foibles and triumphs of this fascinating, outlier grape. After all, Thompson is known as “The Godfather of Gewürz.”

What does this crazy German word Gewürztraminer mean?

Clay Thompson: “Gewürztraminer” is actually TWO words. The first part (“Gewürz”) is a normal German noun, meaning “spice.” The second part (“traminer”) is not a normal noun but a variant of a place-name, a town called “Tramin,” located in the German-speaking area of Northern Italy.

What are Gewürztraminer’s origins?

For decades we’ve all been spouting the party line that the Gewürztraminer grape originated in Tramin/Termeno, and in fact there are thousand-year-old records of a wine there called “Traminer.” Now along comes DNA research showing that Traminer is actually a variant of a somewhat obscure grape called “Savignin Blanc” (not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc), and its home is northeastern France and Southwestern Germany rather than northern Italy.

How and why did you get into Gewürztraminer?

My wife [partner, Fredericka Churchill] and I were always rather “European” in our wine preferences. We were both very fond of German and Alsatian wines, so when we got this wacky idea to leave our comfy jobs in academia and move to California “to start a winery” (as if that were a simple thing to do), we took our inspiration from those wines. In the summer of 1983 we went to Alsace and hiked along the “Wine Road” from village to village, tasting the wines and talking to the vintners. We came back inspired and in the fall bought eight tons of Gewürztraminer and Riesling grapes from a local vineyard and made the first vintage – 550 cases – of Claiborne & Churchill.

How does Alsatian-style Gewürztraminer differ from, say, German Gewürztraminer?

Dry_Gewurztraminer_no_vintage_lIt’s generally agreed that the Alsace versions of this wine are more aromatic than their German or Italian cousins. But historically there is another major difference between Alsace wines and the German wines across the border. In a nutshell: Germans make ‘em sweet, Alsatians make ‘em dry. Everybody knows how lovely the delicate sweet Mosel wines are (and how cloyingly sweet the inexpensive versions like Liebfraumilch are). And everybody knows how firm and dry and well-structured an Alsatian Gewürz or Riesling is. For years we have explained our C&C wines in this way. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said, “try it, it’s fruity but dry,” I could have retired long ago.

Where does C&C Gewürztraminer come from?

In the early years, our Gewürz came from here in the Edna Valley, then from neighboring Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties, finally settling on the latter; especially the Arroyo Seco area, where a very cool microclimate produces wonderful aromatics.

What are the typical aromas and flavors associated with wine made from Gewürztraminer?

Some common descriptors are quite flattering (“damask rose” as one wine writer said of ours), and some, really weird (“cold cream”). The most common is probably lychee. Sometimes Gewürz goes through a grapefruity phase as it develops, and takes on rich and heady notes of ginger, allspice, and other baking spices.

What are the challenges of making it?

As Gewürz ripens on the vine, the famous spicy flavors and aromas start to develop just as the acidity starts to drop. It is important to catch this moment and harvest it before the acid disappears, leaving you with a very flabby wine. In the cellar, fermentation should be temperature controlled (i.e. cold), so you don’t lose all those aromatic esters.

How long between harvest, bottling, and release?

At C&C, it is always the first wine to be bottled, soon in the new year. It can be released after a few weeks’ bottle-aging, although there is something very special about an older (five to ten years) Gewürz, when it has acquired the rich and complex patina of age.

How do you enjoy Gewürztraminer best?

I enjoy Gewürztraminer best in months that contain a vowel, preferably on days that contain a “d.” But seriously, it is not only a great aperitif wine, but is also a great wine to pair with spicy, exotic, foods like Thai, Indian, Szechwan, and Japanese. It also matches up well with those in-between dishes, like pork, ham, turkey and salmon.

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