46 West Wineries Block Party – Paso Robles (2018)

What happens when you take more than a dozen talented winemakers, add a caterer known for great food, mix in a dance-inspiring band, all in a friendly and laid-back block-party atmosphere that feels like a neighborhood get-together?

You get one of the most fun events in Paso Robles wine country—the 46 West Wineries Association Block Party.

Two Times the Fun
Because one great party is not enough, the wineries along the scenic Highway 46 West Wine Trail of Paso Robles gather twice a year—summer and fall—to celebrate wine, friends, and fun.

The Summer Block Party is held on the Saturday closest to the Fourth of July (but not actually on July 4th if it falls on a Saturday). The Harvest Block Party is held the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. For each block party, the location rotates between different members of the 46 West Winery Association.

Here’s a glimpse at the fun from a past block party evening.


The Inspiration
Going strong for about 10 years now, the Block Parties are celebrations for both attendees and member wineries of the nonprofit 46 West Wine Association.

“The Block Party, which used to be called West Fest, is a chance for the wineries to share their wines with people who enjoy them,” said Maribeth Jacobsen, co-owner of Doce Robles Winery, and one of the founders the Association.

“It also gives winery staff the opportunity to talk, catch up, enjoy dinner and music, and really celebrate what we all do,” she said.

2018 Harvest Block Party Details
Date: Saturday, September 1, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 pm
Location: Dark Star Cellars (www.darkstarcellars.com), 2985 Anderson Road, Paso Robles, CA, 805-227-4766
Caterer: Paso Catering (www.pasocatering.com) will be serving traditional Spanish Paella with chicken and sausage. Delish!
Music: Sound Effect (FB @soundeffectband), a five-piece band from Oxnard with a repertoire ranging from funk to R&B, soul, rock, and jazz.

Maribeth Jacobsen and Katy Michelle Doce Robles Winery photo
Maribeth Jacobsen, co-owner of Doce Robles Winery and founding member of the 46 West Wineries Association, and Katy Michelle, Doce Robles Winery tasting room manager, pouring at a recent block party.

Block Party How-To (it’s easy)
The 46 West Block Parties are designed to be casual, friendly, and laid back. And they’re purposely kept small to maintain that friendly feeling of a neighborhood party instead of a big wine festival or event.

Because the event has limited tickets, it’s good to get tickets early. The price is all-inclusive so you can concentrate on enjoying yourself.

lawn crowd photo
Block Party-goers relaxing on the lawn area of a recent summer block party.

When you arrive and get your entry wrist band (you may notice it says PartyPartyParty all the way around), your hardest decision of the evening will be what to do first: eat, enjoy a glass of wine, or take a reconnaissance stroll around the grounds.

No matter how you choose to begin, the Block Party is all about a fun, low-key atmosphere. No long lines, no huge crowds, no pushy partiers. Just a positive group of people enjoying the best of what the Central Coast has to offer.

Paso Catering barbecued oysters photo
Barbecued oysters and tri tip were on the menu from Paso Catering at a past block party.

Eat, Dance, Drink. Repeat.
Dinner at the block parties is the real deal. No matter what the caterer chooses, you can be sure it will be more than an appetizer or two.
The live band at each block party is chosen to be dance-inducing, so don’t be shy if you’re inclined to move to the beat.
Wines are provided by the 17 member wineries of the 46 West Wineries Association. This group of wineries on the west side of Paso Robles creates a range of great wines showcasing the grapes that do well in this region. See the full list below.

46 West Wineries wine glasses photo
The 46 West Wineries Association block parties share great wine, food, and music for a relaxing and fun evening.

More Details
Tickets are $55, and include dinner, wine, and music. The event is small and sells out, so get tickets soon so you don’t miss out.
Because it’s a wine event, it’s for ages 21 and over, and dogs have to stay home with the kids and the babysitter.

The Flavor Team thanks the 46 West Wineries Association for creating these great events.

If you liked this fun wine event, here are a few more not to miss along the Central Coast:
Wine Safari 2018 – Wine Tasting Gone Wild (with Animals)
Roll Out the Barrels: 3 days to Celebrate SLO Wine (updated 2018)
Barrels in the Plaza brings wine, education, food, and fun to SLO Wine Country (2017)

Block Party Participants
46 West Wineries
AronHill Vineyards
Castoro Cellars
Croad Vineyards
Dark Star Cellars
Doce Robles Winery & Vineyard
Donati Family Vineyard
Donatoni Winery
Four Lanterns Winery
Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines & Krobar Distillery
Hunt Cellars Winery
J Dusi Wines
Midnight Cellars Winery
Peachy Canyon Winery
Sextant Wines
Shale Oak Winery
Tooth & Nail Winery
Treana Tasting Cellar and Hope Family Wines

BedaFest – Your Best Fest for Fun in San Luis Obispo

Looking for an event that everyone can enjoy, from kids to grandparents, and everyone in between? Or want to celebrate the last days of summer before school starts?

Then make plans to attend BedaFest!

The fun happens on Sunday, August 19, from 1:oo – 7:00 pm at La Cuesta Ranch in San Luis Obispo.

Family Fun. Food. Biers. It’s all Here.
The second annual BedaFest is hosted by Beda’s Biergarten—San Luis Obispo’s German restaurant known for authentic recipes, a wide variety of German and European biers, and the friendly and welcoming spirit (known as gemütlichkeit) of owners Beda and Helga and the entire team.

“I want BedaFest to be a day when everyone can get together and have a good time,” said Beda Schmidthues, co-owner of Beda’s Biergarten. While the inaugural event in 2017 was called Beda’s Beer Journey, its focus was still on fun and a family friendly atmosphere.

Those pretzels! They’ll be a star attraction at BedaFest, along with many other menu favorites from Beda’s Biergarten.

“We decided to rename it BedaFest to reflect that it’s an event for all, no matter what age, and that it’s about fun… not just bier,” he said.

BedaFest gathers together the best of Beda’s Biergarten—food, fun, and biers—at the scenic and historic venue just north of downtown San Luis Obispo.

Here’s a sampler of what’s in store.

Many of Beda’s Biergarten’s fan-favorite dishes will be available for purchase.

You can start with the amazing chewy pretzels and Beda’s sauerkraut, made with apples, bacon, and onion.

Salads include cole slaw and kartoffelsalat (potato salad with pickles, onion and creamy mayo dressing).

Three varieties of fries, with and without goulasch or sausage, a bratwurst platte, and three sliders round out the options. And cookies for dessert.

Beda’s currywurst fries, goulasch fries, and silders. Oh my.

San Luis Obispo’s fun-loving Brass Mash provides the musical backdrop for BedaFest. This brass band (with trombone, tuba, drums, saxophone, and trumpet) plays rock, pop, and funk tunes with a sound that will get you up and dancing.

Fun & Games
When we said fun for everyone, we meant it.

New this year is Beda Ball: a special ticketed game to raise money for a local charity. For every $5 ticket you buy, you’ll get two chances to try to hit the target of Beda’s face. Each score supports a local charity. This year, the recipient is Surfing For Hope, a local nonprofit that helps families going through cancer treatment.

Games, games, and more games make for a fun afternoon at BedaFest. The stakes were high at the 2017 corn hole playoffs.

The free games included in your general admission ticket are for kids, the family, and adults.

There will be kids games, and grab your family and friends of all ages to play corn hole, giant Jenga, and try your skills at several foosball tables.

If you’re an adult, frisball adds lighthearted competition to enjoying a bier.

Surfing For Hope logo
Local nonprofit Surfing For Hope will receive proceeds from your purchase of special tickets for the Beda Ball charity fundraising game. Established in 2012, Surfing for Hope Foundation helps ease the difficulty of cancer patients and their families through the healing powers of surfing and the ocean life. Its annual Longboard Surf Contest fundraiser is October 6 in Pismo Beach.

In between matches of Jenga and BedaBall, you can enjoy the grounds of the scenic La Cuesta Ranch. The historic barn shows its past as a working cattle ranch, and it’s also a popular wedding venue.

Biers & Beverages
Speaking of biers, nine biers from Germany, Belgium, and Czech Republic will flow from colorful taps. Hard cider, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.

Here are just a few of the selections at BedaFest:

  • Schöfferhofer Weisssbier: has a pale, hazy profile indicative of an unfiltered beer (5% ABV). It begins with a distinctive, slightly sweet floral aroma that unfolds into a rich yeast flavor. Hints of cloves and spice last throughout, complemented by lemon zest and slight hop dryness.
  • Hofbräu Oktoberfest Märzen: rich, full-bodied deliciously bitter taste (6.3% ABV). It’s as special as the Beer Festival itself.
  • Gulden Draak: Belgian strong dark ale is a high fermentation beer, using wine yeast for the secondary fermentation (10.5% ABV). It can be enjoyed as an aperitif or dessert.
  • Frankfurter Apfelwein: a traditional German hard apple cider from Frankfurt

New Biers!
Two new biers will be unveiled for the first time ever at BedaFest. Stay tuned for more about this exciting announcement.

Beda and Andrew pour biers at the 2017 BedaFest.

Raffle and Prizes

Your General Admission ticket includes one raffle ticket (and you can purchase another ticket at the event). Raffle prizes include German bier-branded merchandise and glassware, soccer balls, and larger prizes.

The Wurst Merchandise Ever

Who doesn’t love the “Beda’s Is the Wurst” slogan? Lucky for all of us, BedaFest will have lots of “wurst” items for sale: hats, t-shirts, tank tops, glassware, and more.

BedaFest Details
General Admission tickets are on sale now–check out the green button at the bottom of this article. Kids 12 and under are free.  Your General Admission ticket includes parking, games, and music. Available for purchase are Beda’s Biergarten food, biers, and beverages. (Please, no dogs or outside food or drinks.)

Don’t Miss the Fun
Missing BedaFest could be your “wurst” day ever. So avoid that sad fate and get your tickets today.

Space is limited to ensure your fun. Click the green button below to get your tickets to the event!

BedaFest 2018
Event and Ticket Info


Why attend BedaFest?
Because Beda doesn’t do anything that’s not fun!


Paso Robles 46 West Wineries Summer Block Party – Event Recap (2018)

What happens when 17 winemakers, a caterer with tri tip and barbecued oysters, and a dance-inspiring band get together with about 200 of their friends? The 46 West Wineries Summer Block Party, one of the best Paso Robles parties of the summer.

Three Magic Words
We looked at the wristbands being applied to attendees at the 46 West Wineries Summer Block Party at Four Lanterns Winery in Paso Robles. Did they foretell the future?  If so, it was going to be a fun night.

In red letters on the white bands were three words.  PARTY PARTY PARTY.

Andrew wristband photo
Flavor Team member Andrew sports the wristband with prophetic powers from the Summer Block Party.

A Perfect Location  

While it had been a hot day in Paso Robles, by the 6:30 start, the sun was heading west behind the trees and a soft breeze kept revelers comfortable all evening.

Four Lanterns Winery photo
Four Lanterns Winery, which was an apple farm a century ago, was the setting for the 2018 Summer Block Party of the 46 West Wineries Association in Paso Robles.

Held this year at Jackie and Steve Gleason’s Four Lanterns Winery, the event gathered a fun-loving crowd of about 200 under the shade trees and on the lawn of the historic property that got its start as an apple farm in the early 1900s. It transitioned to an herb farm and vineyard in the late 1970s. Since the Gleasons bought it in 2013, they’ve done many improvements to bring it fully into its place as a winery.

The Inspiration

Going strong for about 10 years now, this event is a celebration for attendees as well as member wineries of the nonprofit 46 West Wine Association.

Maribeth Jacobsen and Katy Michelle Doce Robles Winery photo
Maribeth Jacobsen, co-owner of Doce Robles Winery and founding member of the 46 West Wineries Association, and Katy Michelle, Doce Robles Winery tasting room manager, pouring inside the barn.

“The Block Party, which used to be called West Fest, is a chance for the wineries to share their wines with people who enjoy them,” said Maribeth Jacobsen, co-owner of Doce Robles Winery, and one of the founders the Association.

“It also gives winery staff the opportunity to talk, catch up, enjoy dinner and music, and really celebrate what we all do,” she said.

Block Party How-To (it’s easy)

With prophetic wristbands attached and souvenir wine glasses and dinner tickets in hand, we joined the happy crowd.

Many were sitting at tables, and several had brought blankets or lawn chairs to get a good seat for the band. Some were already eating dinner; others were starting the evening with a glass of wine.

lawn crowd photo
Block Party-goers relaxing on the lawn area of Four Lanterns Winery.

Of the 17 member wineries pouring during the Block Party, most were set up in two rows flanking the lawn. A few more were pouring inside the lovely barn-turned-tasting-room.

Mitch Donati Family Wines photo
Many of the 17 wineries were pouring outside, including Mitch with Donati Family Wines.

After making a reconnaissance circle around the winery tables outside, we got our first tasting from Midnight Cellars inside the tasting room. Then it was time to meet the team at Paso Catering and try their tri tip, barbecued oysters, salad, potatoes, and roasted corn.

Paso Catering barbecued oysters photo
Barbecued oysters and tri tip were on the menu from Paso Catering.

Balancing plates on the railing near the bandstand, we waited for James Scoolis’ group Burning James and the Funky Flames to kick off the evening with music that drew a steady crowd of dancers.

Burning James and the Funky Flames dancing photo
Burning James and the Funky Flames got the dancing crowd going all evening long.

From there, everyone had the same, simple agenda for the evening: tasting wines and enjoying the laid-back and completely relaxing environment of the Summer Block Party. We found one of the nicest things about this event was the ease: no long lines, no huge crowds, no pushy partiers. Just a positive group of people who enjoy the best of what the Central Coast has to offer. Wine, food, music. Fun.

46 West Wineries wine glasses photo
The Summer Block party shares great wine, food, and music for a relaxing and fun evening.

More to Come

If you made it to this year’s event, what were your favorite memories?

If you didn’t make it, don’t despair. The 2018 Harvest Block Party, to be held at Dark Star Cellars on September 1, promises to be another enchanting evening.

Thank You!

The Flavor Team thanks the 46 West Wineries Association for creating the event, the member wineries for sharing your great wines (see full list below), Four Lanterns Winery for hosting at your lovely property, Paso Catering for the great food, and Burning James and Funky Flames for music that makes you smile (and dance).


If you liked this fun wine event, here are a few more not to miss along the Central Coast:
Wine Safari 2018 – Wine Tasting Gone Wild (with Animals)
Roll Out the Barrels: 3 days to Celebrate SLO Wine (updated 2018)
Barrels in the Plaza brings wine, education, food, and fun to SLO Wine Country (2017)

Block Party Participants
Paso Catering
Burning James and the Funky Flames
Castoro Cellars
Croad Vineyards
Dark Star Cellars
Doce Robles Winery & Vineyard
Donati Family Vineyard
Donatoni Winery
Four Lanterns Winery
Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines & Krobar Distillery
Hunt Cellars Winery
J Dusi Wines
Midnight Cellars Winery
Peachy Canyon Winery
Sextant Wines
Shale Oak Winery
Tooth & Nail Winery
Treana Tasting Cellar and Hope Family Wines

Central Coast Cider Festival – Event Recap (2018)

The craft hard cider producers on the Central Coast, with nearly a dozen in San Luis Obispo County, are out to change the perception that hard cider tastes like apple cider for adults.

They did that and more at the 3rd annual Central Coast Cider Festival in Atascadero, where cider producers and cider fans gathered for fun experiences designed to increase education and appreciation on both sides of the bottle.

The way we see it, the Central Coast is poised to take its place as an epicenter of hard cider creativity, craftsmanship, and innovation. And we couldn’t be more excited.

Neil Collins Bristols Cider photo
Neil Collins, founder of Bristols Cider, and Flavor Team member Kara at the tap takeover event at Libertine Brewing Company in San Luis Obispo.

Celebrating Cider Through Education

Neil Collins, whose Bristols Cider House in Atascadero was one of the original cider producers instrumental in starting the Central Coast cider culture, believes the Cider Festival is about education and sharing ideas.

“The event is more than just a big cider tasting,” he said. “Many people who attend really appreciate the art that goes into making hard cider and they enjoy the opportunity to talk with producers and learn more about their approach. Plus, the cider producers love getting together and sharing notes, ideas, and inspiration with each other.”

Neil Collins, Weston Hartley, Connor Meznarich photo
Neil Collins and Weston Hartley from Bristols Cider and Connor Meznarich from Jean Marie Cidery at the tap takeover.

Pre-Event Events

The Cider Festival’s grand tasting on Saturday May 12 was preceded by tap takeovers and pouring events.

Gopher Glen Cider, Jake and Raven Lukehart-Smith, Jesse and Collette Smith photo
The Gopher Glen Cider team Jake and Raven Lukehart-Smith (left) and Jesse and Collette Smith (right) with Flavor Team members Kara and Andrew.

At the Guest House Grill in Atascadero and Libertine Brewing Company in San Luis Obispo, cider makers shared several of their ciders with fans who wanted to get a sneak taste. It was great to taste a range of ciders and talk with the makers about their process and inspiration behind the ciders.

A cider pouring event at Grape Encounters Empourium in Atascadero was another opportunity to try new ciders.

The Cork Dorks (Liquid Lunch) radio show at The Krush 92.5 brought in several cider producers, including Gopher Glen Cider, Two Broads Ciderworks and Tin City, to discuss the current state of the craft cider industry and share ideas of where it’s going.

Gopher Glen Cider, Two Broads Ciderworks, Tin City Cider, Cork Dorks Liquid Lunch radio show photo
On-air guests of the Cork Dorks Liquid Lunch radio show (left to right): Gopher Glen Cider, Two Broads Ciderworks and Tin City Cider were

Cider Seminar: Hopping on the Hops Bandwagon

Brunch Seminar, hops, cidermosas, Bristols OG cider photo
Attendees enjoyed cidermosas (made with Bristols OG cider), a buffet breakfast, conversation, and panel discussion about using hops in hard cider.

Several producers in the collegial group of Central Coast cider makers presented the inaugural Cider Brunch Seminar held Saturday morning. The topic was hopped cider and exploring the ways this herb used in many beers is now crossing into the cider world.

Before the discussion started, attendees enjoyed cidermosas, a buffet breakfast, and conversation.

Neil Collins, Trees of Antiquity, panel discussion at brunch seminar
Neil Collins, owner of Trees of Antiquity, kicks off the panel discussion at the inaugural brunch seminar discussing the use of hops in hard cider.

Neil Collins, owner of Paso Robles-based orchard company Trees of Antiquity, kicked off the panel discussion. He has grown cider apple trees and other varieties since he started his business in 2000, and he’s seen firsthand how the cider industry continues to grow.

“In the early years, I’d grow 12 cider apple trees and didn’t sell one of them,” he said. “Now, I sell hundreds of cider apple trees and other varieties every year.”

Connor Meznarich, Jean Marie Cidery, canned cider photo
Connor Meznarich from Jean Marie Cidery produces hopped and other ciders in cans.

Next, the panel of cider producers—Bristols Cider, Gopher Glen Cider, Jean Marie Cidery, and Tin City—took turns discussing their evolving ideas of hops –the why, when, how of including hops during the cider-making process, and  the results of their efforts so far. We followed along through the tasting of six ciders as each producer shared more about the hops they chose, their flavor characteristics, how hops affects the fermentation process, and other aspects of using hops in hard ciders.

Several audience members asked questions of panel members.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • Bristols Cider: Rackham, Barti Ddu
  • Gopher Glen Cider: Jack Rabbit
  • Jean Marie Cidery: Bee Hoppy
  • Tin City Cider: Poly Dolly, Original Dry Hopped

After the seminar, Bristols Cider founder Neil Collins made this comment. “The industry is still very much in its infancy. You can tell we are all interested in hearing what the other producers are doing and sharing what we’ve been working on.”

“We’re all finding what works for the region, the country, and for our own individual companies,” he added.

The Main Event

Held again at the scenic Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero, the Central Coast Cider Festival included tastings from more than a dozen cider producers, a traditional roast pig dinner from Chef Jeffery Scott with Vineyard Events and great music from the Turkey Buzzards.

Dane Jacobs, Reef Points Hard Cider photo
Dane Jacobs with Reef Points Hard Cider shares one of their new ciders at the Central Coast Cider Festival.

Dane Jacobs, with Reef Points Hard Cider, believes the event attendees are unique. “I find that the people who attend are generally here to appreciate the ciders,” he said. “They care about the product, they want to meet the cider makers and learn more about them as individuals. They ask questions, they’re inquisitive. It’s very refreshing.”

Diversity and Expression

But the event isn’t just for attendees to sample hard cider—it’s also a gathering place for cider producers to share their results and explore what’s possible.

“Here in the US, we can play with cider more,” said Collins, who came to the Central Coast from Bristol, England.

“In England, you don’t really see hopped ciders or infused ciders,” he said. “You see a whole lot of really good straight ciders—which I like a lot. But here in the US we can cast around and try all different things. Maybe we don’t get the greatest of cider apples, so we can add hops or do something to add intrigue. There are no preconceived ideas. It’s wide open.”

All evening, the energy in the room was upbeat, as attendees made their way from booth to booth, sampling the wide variety of ciders, eating dinner, and talking on the patio overlooking the lake.

While taking a short break during the event, Collins shared his thoughts about the Cider Festival’s intention.

Noah Selman, Krazy Farm Cider photo
Noah Selman with Krazy Farm Cider serving fans at the Central Coast Cider Festival.

“Events like this help us share more about what cider is—and that it’s way more than the commercially available sweet ciders,” said Collins. “To have the chance in one room to get 400 or 500 people to come together and be able to talk to the producers, to taste several ciders from each producer, to get an understanding of the diversity out there and understand that cider isn’t just one thing with one taste—it’s an amazing opportunity.”

Cider Festival 2018 and Beyond

As the evening wrapped up, Raven Lukehart-Smith with Gopher Glen Cider summed up her experience of the event.

“Every producer here is doing amazing things,” she said. “We’re doing things that are new to the cider industry—not just new to the Central Coast. I really encourage people to get out and try local ciders. With so many styles and favors, you’re going to find a cider that you really love.”

Dominic and Anna O'Reilly, Anna's Cider photo
Anna and Dominic O’Reilly of Anna’s Cider pouring for the first time at the 2018 Central Coast Cider Festival.

Over the past two years, we’ve enjoyed seeing cider producers continue to explore the range of what’s possible and explore new ideas. As cider fans, we couldn’t ask for more and we all benefit from their passion, excitement, and enthusiasm in this industry that is anything but status quo.

Nate Adamski, See Canyon Hard Cider, Flavor Team member Andrew photo
Nate Adamski with See Canyon Hard Cider and Flavor Team member Andrew.

The Flavor Team thanks the organizers and sponsors of the Central Coast Cider Festival, all the producers for sharing the fruits of your labors, Chef Jeffery Scott, the Turkey Buzzards, and fellow cider lovers for a great experience.

We’ll see you all next year!

2018 Participating Cider Producers
101 Cider House
Anna’s Cider
Bristols Cider House
Gopher Glen Cider
Jean Marie Cidery
Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards
Krazy Farm Cider
Mission Trail Cider Company
Reef Points Hard Cider
Santa Cruz Cider Company
See Canyon Cider Company
Tin City Cider
Totally Stoked
Two Broads Ciderworks

Thirsty for more hard cider? Here are a few more articles to explore:
2nd Annual Central Coast Cider Festival 2017 [16 Local Cider Crafters]
From Apples to Artistry: The Bristols Cider House Way
Bristols Cider House: The Art of Hard Cider
Branch to Bottle: Gopher Glen’s Hard Cider Journey
Some Ciders and Cheeses Meet in a Pub, and Here’s What Happened [Bristols Cider House and Fromagerie Sophie Pairing Event]
Hard Core Cider Tour 2016 Comes to SLO County
Hard Core Cider Tour: Experience the Sparkle (2017)


Roll Out the Barrels: 3 days to Celebrate SLO Wine (updated 2018)

SLO Wine Country’s annual Roll Out the Barrels event highlights the wineries of California’s Central Coast. The three-day event (2018 dates are June 21-23) kicks off with Barrels in the Plaza at the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in downtown San Luis Obispo, featuring small bites from local chefs and restaurants, music, and wine tasting from coastal wineries. The two-day Passport to SLO Wine Country features special events at member wineries throughout Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Cambria, and Paso Robles.

Like a good vintage wine, the SLO Wine Country Association’s annual “Roll Out the Barrels” festival continues to improve with time.

Enjoying wine, food, and the friendly atmosphere at Barrels in the Plaza at the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

In the Beginning

While we think of the vibrant Central Coast wine region and its ever-increasing reach and recognition as always being so, there was a time before AVAs and before the quality of our cool coastal climate grapes were known beyond the valleys where they grew.

In 1990, closely following the designation of the Edna Valley AVA and Arroyo Grande Valley AVA, SLO Wine Country was founded and began its mission: to spread the word about our coastal region wines and wineries.

“SLO Wine Country highlights the coastal wineries, most of which are less than 10 miles from the ocean, and many are within five miles of the Pacific. In addition to the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley AVAs, association members are from Avila Valley, Santa Maria, Paso Robles, and Cambria,” said Heather Muran, SLO Wine Country Executive Director. “We have the best of both worlds: 10 minutes from the ocean and great wine country.”

About eight area wineries joined the new SLO Wine Country association, which now has more than 30 members.

“When we formed in 1990, we wanted to reach out to consumers and share information about the area and the quality wines being produced here,” shared Heather Muran, Executive Director with SLO Wine Country.

Brainstorming and planning resulted in the first Roll Out the Barrels event, with the goal to build awareness of the AVAs and to begin building awareness of the local Central Coast wines.

How far it has come since then, and yet how wonderfully close it has stayed to its roots of sharing great wines and education in a fun, friendly, hometown atmosphere.

That Was Then…

The first Roll Out the Barrels, 1990. (photo courtesy SLO Wine Country Association)

The 1990 inaugural Roll Out the Barrels was held at the former Corbett Canyon Winery (now Center of Effort).

“They set up tables in the driveway and maybe 100 or so attendees came to sample wines from Corbett Canyon and a handful of other area wineries,” said Muran.

Corbett Canyon Winery was site for first Roll Out the Barrels event 27 years ago. (photo courtesy SLO Wine Country Association)

This is Now…

While the event now draws more than 500 attendees, it keeps that small town feel. Friends come to meet friends, and people make new friends. “This welcoming atmosphere brings our community together to share in what we are so fortunate to have.”

But it’s not just locals who enjoy the early summer evening on the patio of the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The word is getting out that this is a must-attend wine event. “We’re seeing more participants from all over California, as well as Washington State, and from as far as Canada, Mexico, and the UK.”

Just one of the small bites to accompany coastal wines at Barrels in the Plaza.

The event brings together a flavorful experience. “You can taste barrel samples, talk to the winemakers, learn more about winemaking, enjoy food from top local chefs and caterers, listen to music by a local band, and just enjoy an evening out in downtown San Luis Obispo,” added Muran.

“It’s a great way to start the weekend, try some great local wines, and learn more about the winemaking process.”

In fact, education is an exciting part of Barrels in the Plaza.
Seminars cover a range of winemaking topics, from climate and viniculture to grapes and cooperage.

2018 Seminars at Barrels in the Plaza
Barrel Toasting and Cooperage Demonstration: Using 3-year seasoned oak harvested from the region of Allier in Central France, expert cooper Salvador Canchola from Tonnellerie Ô will demonstrate the art behind building, shaping, and toasting a wine barrel. He’ll answer questions, and attendees will enjoy a tasting of SLO Coast wines as winemakers share how barrel toasting plays a part in the winemaking process.

Cool Climate and the Emergence of Albariño: Croma Vera winemaker Jeremy Leffert takes us on a comparative tasting tour of regional Albariños, as he shares how micro-climates change the flavor profile of the wines. Wineries include:
Croma Vera wines: 2017 Albariño, Spanish Springs Vineyard
Niner Wine Estate: 2017 Albariño, Jespersen Ranch Vineyard
Sinor LaVallee: 2015 Albariño, Bassi Vineyard
Tangent: 2016 Albariño, Paragon Vineyard

Biodynamics 101, Or As Much As We Can Discuss About a Complex Topic in 15 Minutes: Bob Lindquist, winemaker from Qupé & Verdad Wine Cellars, discusses the process behind Biodynamics, a holistic manner of farming and viticulture that started in the 1920s. He’ll share a flight with wines made within this approach to showcase the results.
Verdad: 2016 Albariño, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard- Edna Valley
Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard: 2015 Pinot Noir- Edna Valley
Qupé: 2014 Syrah, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard- Edna Valley

Top chefs and caterers share their talents (photo courtesy SLO Wine Country Association)

And the Fun Rolls on with the Passport

While Barrels in the Plaza comes to an end Thursday evening, the weekend of wine tasting and education is just beginning.
The Passport to SLO Wine Country allows holders to visit four wineries on both Friday and Saturday, for a total of eight.

“The Passport experience usually offers more than the usual tasting flights at each winery,” said Muran.


The 4×2 Passport offers special events at area wineries. One year, several wineries hosted animals from Paso Robles-based Conservation Ambassadors.

“There may be barrel samples of their various wines, some offer reserve and library wines or vertical and horizontal tastings. Some will take passport holders on vineyard tours, provide educational opportunities (wine aroma bar, anyone?), or offer wine-themed games,” she said.

Many wineries have live music and food trucks or caterers.

Muran added, “We want the Passport experience to help people try different wines, meet the winemakers, and explore more of the great wineries in our area, from the southern end of the Arroyo Grande Valley AVA to Cambria and Paso Robles. It’s sure to be a great two days of exploration.”

Whether you choose Barrels in the Plaza, the Passport to SLO Wine Country, or the whole wine-focused weekend flight, it’s sure to be an event to remember.

For More Information

SLO Wine Country

If you’re Roll Out the Barrels bound, you may like these related articles:
Barrels in the Plaza brings wine, education, food, and fun to SLO Wine Country (2017)
4×2 Passport to SLO Wine Country: wine tasting and more on the Central Coast (2017)
Winery Spotlight: Talley Vineyards
Winemaker Focus: Stephen Ross Dooley | Stephen Ross Wine Cellars

A Race to Remember: 25th Anniversary Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run

Brian Talley photo
Brian Talley welcomes everyone to the 25th Anniversary of the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run.

Blue skies and a cool coastal breeze greet hundreds of people on Sunday morning, June 3, as they gather at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande.

From many communities along the Central Coast, more than 300 runners and walkers of all ages are taking part in this special day: the 25th Anniversary of the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run.

As entrants in the 5K, 10K, and 1-mile walk gather at the start line, Brian Talley welcomes everyone.

“This is my favorite day of the year,” says the president of Talley Vineyards. “It’s a day to celebrate the memory of my sister Marianne, and to appreciate our community and how much people come together to support students at Arroyo Grande High School.”

And They’re Off
At the shotgun start, runners and walkers begin their races through the vineyards and farmland visible just outside the tasting room at Talley Vineyards.

Each intersection is marked with enthusiastic volunteers cheering on the participants. One incentive for 5K runners: cross the finish line before Brian Talley to earn the “I Beat the Vintner” t-shirt.

runners at starting line photo
The shotgun start for the 25th Anniversary Fun Fun.

To the Finish
The fastest 5K runners cross the finish in less than 20 minutes to applause and shouts from the crowd of family, friends, and community members.

More 5K runners, plus walkers in the 1-Mile course and the first 10K runners, pass under the bright red FINISH sign.

Kids on the Run
Now it’s time for the best part of the morning: the Youth 1-Mile Run. With earnest faces, the 35 young athletes from 3 to 13 years old toe the start line, waiting for the shotgun to set them loose.

We cheer, and in just a few minutes, they, too, begin crossing cross the finish of the 25th Anniversary Marianne Talley Fun Run. The 8-year-old winner from Arroyo Grande clocked a 6.41 mile.

starting line Youth 1-Mile Run
The Youth 1-Mile race brings kids 3 to 13 to the starting line.

A Running Start for College
And while one focus of the day is about finish times, it’s really about kicking off Arroyo Grande High School students’ college careers through the three scholarships awarded every year by the Marianne Talley Foundation.

Brayden Pinkerton, recipient of the 2016 Don Talley Leadership scholarship, explains what is so special about receiving a Marianne Talley Foundation scholarship.

“The scholarship is a huge benefit to my education,” he says. “It’s helping me pursue my degree in Criminal Justice at Boise State University, and it helps my family every year by relieving some of the stress of college tuition.”

Pinkerton, who played baseball and football at AGHS, placed second in his age group’s 5K today.

young finisher photo
Three-year-old Harrison runs a strong race in the Youth 1-Mile Run.

He has worked at the vineyard and knows the Talley family. “They are so supportive of students at Arroyo Grande High School, and this event is special in bringing together the community,” he says. “I love coming back every year and being part of it.”

Emily Sonny, who participated in AGHS volleyball, water polo and swimming, received the Marianne Talley scholarship in 2016.

A current Agribusiness major at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Sonny shares how much the scholarship inspires her.

“Just look at all these people here to support education and the future of so many Arroyo Grande High School students,” she says as she looks at the crowd. “It drives me to do the best I can in school as a way to give back and show my appreciation of the support I’m getting from the Talley family and the community for my education.”

The Fun Run’s Foundation

The Talley family created the Marianne Talley Foundation in memory of Marianne Talley, who earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from University of Southern California and her Master’s Degree in Wellness Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She also competed as a runner, swimmer, cyclist, and triathlete. Because the Talley family shares a love of fitness, athletics, and education, they wanted to create a way to remember Marianne in a way that would benefit others and the community through a scholarship program.

Emily Sonny and Brayden Pinkerton photo
Emily Sonny and Brayden Pinkerton, recipients of 2016 Marianne Talley Foundation scholarships.

The Fun Run is the primary fundraiser for the Marianne Talley Scholarship Foundation, which awards three separate scholarships: The Marianne Talley and Oliver Talley Memorial Scholarships, which are awarded to student athletes, and the Don Talley Leadership Memorial scholarship, which is given to an academic student. All scholarship winners are nominated by the school’s coaching, athletics, and administrative staff.

To date, the Marianne Talley Foundation has awarded $322,000 to 58 Arroyo Grande High School students.


Anne Sinsheimer photo
Anne Sinsheimer looks forward to walking the course every year.

Community Support
Jorge Aguilar, principal with Wallace Group, is joined by more than a dozen coworkers and family members in burgundy team shirts. Wallace Group has sponsored the event for five years.

Wallace Group team photo
Wallace Group has been sponsoring the Fun Run for five years.

“We love being part of this great community event,” he says. “It brings everyone together to celebrate life and to support students as they go out and begin their college careers. It’s so uplifting.”

Aguilar placed 1st in his age group. His son, Joshua, who attends Central Coast New Tech High School in Nipomo, earned an “I Beat the Vintner” t-shirt for the first time this year.

Joshua Aguilar photo
Joshua Aguilar earns his first “I Beat the Vintner” shirt at the 2018 race.


Awards and Milestones
The crowd settles in on the grassy slope outside the historic Rincon Adobe for the awards ceremony.
Before the race results are announced, Brian Talley shares special recognition for Marian Fiorentino, race director, who is retiring after today’s race.

“Marian has done such a great job with this event,” he says, by attracting more elite racers while keeping the fun family focus. “We’ll miss you on this side of the event, but we look forward to seeing you back out on the race course next year.”

Marian Fiorentino photo
Brian Talley thanks Marian Fiorentino for her years of serving as race director.

Talley came in 2nd in his age group this year, and he welcomes the 28 runners who earned their “I Beat the Vintner” t-shirts to come up for a group photo.

I Beat the VIntner winners photo
This year, 28 5Krunners earned their “I Beat the VIntner” commemorative t-shirts.

Then he shares the great news and a milestone for the 25th year of the Marian Talley Foundation.

“We will be up to $322,000 that we’ve been able to contribute to scholars from Arroyo Grande High School—and that’s 58 students,” he says. “Thank you so, so much for your support.”

As the 25th anniversary Fun Run comes to a close, 323 runners and walkers from ages 3 to 88 will have made this a day to remember. Camaraderie, support, community, and enhancing future generations of leaders from Arroyo Grande High School.

That’s a race to remember.

More Information:
Talley Vineyards

Related stories you may enjoy:
Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run: Good Times, Great Cause (Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande)
Winery Spotlight: Talley Vineyards
Photo Essay: Talley Vineyards Spring Fling — March 26, 2017
Talley Farms Fresh Harvest CSA: Local, Fresh Produce Made Easy

Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run: Good Times, Great Cause (Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande)

This Sunday, June 3, enjoy the sun and cool coastal air while you help support high school scholarships. All this is part of the 25th anniversary of the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run at Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande.

Talley Vineyards aerial photo
Runners and walkers of all ages gather every spring at Talley Vineyards for the Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run. The event raises funds for the Marianne Talley Foundation and the three scholarships it awards to Arroyo Grande High School students. Photo credit: Elizabeth Talley

From the first event in 1993, race manager Marian Fiorentino has developed the race into an event that attracts plenty of serious runners in the 5K and 10K races. It’s also an event for families and people of all ages and abilities to come out to enjoy running (or walking) through the vineyard’s property or participating in the 1-mile Adult Walk.

One of the highlights of the morning is the 1-mile Youth Run for ages 13 years and under.

“It’s my favorite part of the event,” said Brian Talley, president of Talley Vineyards. “We have the Youth Run last, so there are lots of people cheering and supporting the kids as they cross the same finish gate as the adults. It’s so fun to see their smiles and pride as they finish.”

The Fun Run’s Foundation

The Talley family created the Marianne Talley Foundation in memory of Marianne Talley, who earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from University of Southern California and her Master’s Degree in Wellness Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She also competed as a runner, swimmer, cyclist, and triathlete. Because the Talley family shares a love of fitness, athletics, and education, they wanted to create a way to remember Marianne in a way that would benefit others and the community through a scholarship program.

The 1-Mile Youth Run draws a big crowd and is one of the best parts of the event. Photo credit: Elizabeth Talley

“The 25th anniversary of the Fun Run is significant to me for a couple of reasons,” he said. “First, it reminds me that it’s now been more than 25 years since my sister passed away and I still miss her.”

He added, “It also reminds me of the profound impact the Marianne Talley Foundation has had in our local community: a contribution of more than $300,000 to support 55 graduates from Arroyo Grande High School in their pursuit of higher education.”

Brian Talley shared the history of the Marianne Talley Foundation, named in honor of his sister, and the 55 Arroyo Grande High School students so far who have received scholarships totaling $300,000 since 1993.

The Fun Run is the primary fundraiser for the Marianne Talley Scholarship Foundation, which awards three separate scholarships: The Marianne Talley and Oliver Talley Memorial Scholarships, which are awarded to student athletes, and the Don Talley Leadership Memorial scholarship, which is given to an academic student. All scholarship winners are nominated by the school’s coaching, athletics, and administrative staff.

Sign Up and Event Details

On Sunday, head to the Talley Vineyards winery at 3031 Lopez Drive.

Registration is at 7:00 am. The 5K, 10K, and 1-Mile Adult Walk are at 8:00 am, and the 1-Mile Youth Run is at 9:15 am.

If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so online by midnight May 30 at www.raceroster.com. After that, register at the pre-race packet pickup on Saturday from noon to 3:00 or sign up the morning of the race.

Talley Vineyards property photo
The Fun Run courses wend their way around the Talley Vineyards property in Arroyo Grande. Photo credit: Elizabeth Talley

Here’s a fun incentive. If you beat Brian Talley, who has been a competitive runner and recently finished the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco, across the finish for the 5K, you’ll receive an “I Beat the Vintner” t-shirt. If you come in close behind him, you may get an “I Almost Beat the Vintner” t-shirt. Others racers and walkers receive a commemorative t-shirt (while supplies last for late registrants).

“The Fun Run event is always special for me,” said Talley. “It’s a beautiful day, sharing time with friends and family and the community in the vineyard and cherishing memories.”

We’ll see you at the start!

More Information:
Talley Vineyards

Read more about Talley Vineyards and Talley Farms:
Winery Spotlight: Talley Vineyards
Photo Essay: Talley Vineyards Spring Fling — March 26, 2017
Talley Farms Fresh Harvest CSA: Local, Fresh Produce Made Easy

Wine Safari 2018 – Wine Tasting Gone Wild (with Animals)

Feature Video: Wine Safari 2018

What happens when you mix beautiful animals from Conservation Ambassadors’ Zoo to You program with the scenic and friendly Paso Robles 46 West Wineries, add some wine tasting, and bunch of fun, like-minded people from the Central Coast?

The Wine Safari, that’s what!

Over the weekend of March 3-4, 16 participating wineries host an animal ambassador from Conservation Ambassadors and pour three wines for those who have purchased a Wine Safari Passport. Many enjoy the event just to meet the animals.

This unique event brings together animals, humans, and winemakers in a family friendly, community-focused event that benefits Conservation Ambassadors’ Zoo to You and its mission to care for wild and exotic animals.

Giving a worldwide voice to wildlife by providing a permanent, loving home for displaced, abused, abandoned or permanently injured wild and exotic animals. Sharing these animal ambassadors through our Zoo to You outreach program helps educate school children and learners of all ages about conservation, connecting them to the wild world and inspiring them to protect the planet.
— Conservation Ambassadors


Come along on this adventure and see what happens as Wine Safari participants have fun supporting this great organization.

The Safari Begins

On an African safari, you don’t know what animals you might see, or where they might be. This year, the Wine Safari organizers kept that fun and unexpected element of surprise.

“This year, we chose not to share ahead of time which animals would be at which winery,” said Lanie Angeles, COO of Conservation Ambassadors. “Our animal ambassadors’ health and well-being is our main priority, and we want to be sure every ambassador is feeling well and up to the task of meeting so many people over the weekend.”

With our Great Flavors interactive map (read about that in the pre-event article in the related links box below) in our  loaded on our phones, Andrew, Mina (our official Great Flavors animal whisperer), and I head to Paso Robles on Saturday morning.

Our goals: 1) to visit as many animals as possible during the two-day event, and 2) to meet the people who make this event such a heart-warming success.

We decide to start on the east edge of the 46 West Winery Association participating members, and work our way toward the sea.

Will we accomplish our mission?


Doce Robles Winery / African Porcupine

Morocco the African Porcupine image
Morocco the African Porcupine loves attention from Mina and another fan… and acorns.

The rain that threatened to dampen the 2018 Wine Safari moved on, leaving bright skies, puffy clouds, and a refreshing breeze to greet attendees, animal ambassadors, and their human handlers from Conservation Ambassadors.

Things are hopping at Doce Robles Winery. The bright, sunny tasting room is filled with people enjoying the wines made by Jimmy Jacobsen. Katie welcomes us with a big smile and stamps our Wine Safari passports to mark our first visit.

Katie Doce Robles image
Katie at Doce Robles Winery welcomes everyone with a big smile.

Outside on the grass, Morocco the African Porcupine is fielding pets and questions from his fans.

“You’ll notice that the African Porcupine has quills that are much larger and not barbed, which is different than the quills on the smaller North American Porcupine,” explains David with Conservation Ambassadors.

Morocco is hunting and munching on acorns, and he patiently allows us to stroke his surprisingly soft, long Mohawk of fescue-type hair/quills.

David also shares a surprise: the porcupine is a member of the rodent family, as is the beaver. Who knew?

Back inside the tasting room, Katie pours our choice of three wines from their list. Another surprise: their 2012 Estate Malbec is from very young vines (just two years old) and has tastes of black fruits combined with nice smoke and leather aromas. The JimmyMon Red has a bright, tart cherry aroma and taste, and is a fun blend of five varieties. The label, the name, and the wine all mirror the fun and smiling winemaker Jimmy. You can tell he loves his life.

Peachy Canyon Winery / Lemur and Serval

Peeves image
Peeves the Lemur is endlessly curious.

Little do we know that the huge chair that sits near the entrance to Peachy Canyon Winery will soon be the resting place for an exotic cat.

As we enter the tasting room, Samantha and Gina are deftly handling the three-deep crowd. They’re pouring three wines, but first, it’s out to the back lawn where Lisa Jackson, co-founder of Conservation Ambassadors, is adroitly overseeing the ever-curious and ever-in-motion Peeves the Lemur.

While his relatives are native to the Madagascar Rain Forest, Peeves is an animal ambassador through and through, and his professionalism shows.

“He been on TV shows across the country and gets his own airline seat,” shares Lisa. Peeves works the crowd, rummaging through purses and pockets, holding sweetly onto children’s fingers with his own human-like hands, inspecting a wine cork to see if it might be a snack. Now and then, Lisa picks him up and we can see his beautiful black and white face, expressive tail, and large eyes that take in his adoring fans.

Peeves Lisa image
Peeves and Lisa fly around the country representing Conservation Ambassadors.

Lisa mentions that they get a lot of Lemurs that are confiscated illegal pets. In many cases, the Lemurs are handled badly. “The owners become so afraid of them because they don’t know how to work them, that the animals are confined to their cages 24/7.” Conservation Ambassadors is working to rehabilitate Lemurs like these.

Maleeka image
Lisa Gardner brings out Maleeka, who will soon be making her national TV debut.



As we head in for a quick tasting, we hear Lisa say she’ll be bringing out a Serval in a while. Hmm. What’s a Serval?

Our tasting includes a 2016 Rose, 2014 Snow Zinfandel (tart strawberry and rhubarb aromas), and a 2014 DeVine Cabernet Sauvignon. All present a good range of Peachy Canyon’s wines and approach.

We see Lisa head toward her truck with Peeves and know it must be time to meet a Serval. We can’t imagine what he or she will be. She drops the tailgate and down jumps Maleeka.

Andrew and Maleeka image
Andrew and Maleeka enjoying Wine Safari at Peachy Canyon.

A spotted cat native to Africa, Maleeka the Serval resembles a small cheetah with tawny coat with black spots and stripes. Her long legs, we soon witness, are used for jumping to catch prey.

And jump she can. Lisa and a helper put a mouse on a high pole with a string. Maleeka looks, focuses, and jumps about 10 feet in the air. Amazing.

“She’s going to be on James Cordon’s show soon, so we’re helping train her for her appearance,” says Lisa.

Maleeka and Peeves aren’t the only animals at Peachy Canyon the day of Wine Safari. Simone, the tasting-room Siamese, adopted the winery in October and has been there ever since.

Castoro Cellars / Skunk

FLower the skunk image
Flower the Skunk chills out while Dolores from Conservation Ambassadors shares ways skunks are the gardener’s friend.

Castoro Cellars is just up the road from Peachy Canyon, so we make it our next stop.

Because Castoro Cellars has a beaver on its label (more about that in a minute), we think there might be a chance we’ll meet a beaver as the animal ambassador.

We are mistaken.

There, lying peacefully on a blanket is Flower, the most beautiful skunk we’ve ever seen. He calmly regards his fans with soft brown eyes.

Dolores from Conservation Ambassadors shares fun skunk trivia. “They can spray 10-15 feet,” she says, “but they’ll stomp the ground first with their feet to warn you.” They’re also great managing the population of snails and other garden pests.

We long to stroke Flower’s soft black and white coat, but unfortunately, there’s a law that prohibits the public from touching skunks (and raccoons and opossums, too).

As we walk into the tasting room, Angela greets us and shares both the wines for the tasting and some fun facts about Castoro Cellars.

sticker image
Now we know why Castoro Cellars has a dam fine beaver on its logo (and I’m dam excited at the cool beaver sticker!).

The beaver on the label? It’s not because the winery was built next to a beaver pond or from some affinity for the Oregon State Beaver mascot.

It turns out that Beaver was the nickname given to the winery’s owner from his older brothers when they were kids. And Castoro means beaver in Italian, so it seemed like a dam fine name for a winery. Makes sense. And it would make a lot of sense if the owner was Italian. But he’s Danish. All this makes Castoro Cellars even more charming and fun.

We start with Albarino, then the iconic ZinFusion, before finishing with the Merlot and Pinot Noir.

Dark Star Cellars / African Pygmy Hedgehog

Sonic image
Sonic the African Pygmy Hedgehog burrows and flips through the shavings.

Our next stop is Dark Star Cellars, where there’s a good crowd. Everyone on both sides of the tasting room bar seems to be having a good time.

Being a nocturnal animal, Sonic the African Pygmy Hedgehog is the perfect animal ambassador for Dark Star.

She’s busy burrowing through the shavings inside the little ceramic bridge in her enclosure, but she’s pretty patient with all of us wanting to touch her beautiful quills. And although she has quills, Vanessa with Conservation Ambassadors tells us that Sonic is related to shrews and moles, not porcupines.

Dark Star image
Adrienn and Hannah doing an amazing job at Dark Star Cellars during Wine Safari.

When Sonic’s ready to call it a day, she lets us know by puffing up her quills. Vanessa says this means “talk to the hand” and come back later.

So we head to the tasting bar and say hello to Adrienn and Hannah, who are doing a great keeping track of a full house and what everyone needs.

Mal and Mary Caraballo image
Mal and Mary Caraballo from the Bay Area haven’t missed one Wine Safari.

While tasting a few wines, we meet Mal and Mary Caraballo from the Bay Area. They come down to the Central Coast often to enjoy their house in Cambria. “We haven’t missed a Wine Safari since they started seven years ago,” says Mary. “It’s all about the animals, and we love it.”

The 2014 Anderson Road and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon are standouts among a long list of good wines, and two we’ll have to come back and try another time.

Midnight Cellars / Moluccan Cockatoo

Sydney the Moluccan Cockatoo image
Being an animal ambassador does not stress Sydney the Moluccan Cockatoo. She’s as chill as they get.

Staying with the night-time theme, we head to neighboring winery Midnight Cellars and say hi to Natalie in the tasting room.

Natalie says a big crowd just left, so we enjoy the moments of calm and meet Sydney the Moluccan Cockatoo. Her beautiful white feathers almost have an inner light.

Lynn with Conservation Ambassadors says that large birds like Sydney can live to be 60 years old, so they are very much a lifetime commitment.

Sydney is so mellow she’s almost falling asleep, but now and then walks to the end of the table and back.

Natalie Midnight Cellars image
Natalie with Midnight Cellars overseeing the tasting room during the busy Wine Safari weekend.

Natalie pours the first wine: 2016 Aurora, which is a Grenache Blanc and Viognier blend. Crisp, light, flavorful. We also try 2013 Sangiovese Starlight, 2014 Malbec Solstice, and 2013 Full Moon Red Syrah/Zinfandel blend.

Not only do the wines have cool astronomy-related names, but Midnight Cellars plans special events around full moons, solstices, and other happenings in the cosmos.

Grey Wolf Cellars / Bald Eagle

Seneca the Bald Eagle image
Seneca the Bald Eagle came to Conservation Ambassadors when she was just a year old. She exudes the confidence of a professional.

Our next stop is Grey Wolf Cellars/Barton Family Wines, where of course we assume we might meet a wolf.

Instead, majestic Seneca the Bald Eagle is holding court in the corner of the tasting room. According to her Conservation Ambassadors human, Seneca is 15 years old. She was injured and brought to Conservation Ambassadors when she was just a year old, so she’s been around trusted people most of her life.

That’s why she serenely surveys her audience with a gaze that says nothing fazes her.

Sierra and Jeff Grey Wolf Cellars image
Sierra and Jeff keeping everyone happy at Grey Wolf Cellars / Barton Family Wines.

At the tasting room counter, Sierra and Jeff are pouring the 2015 Soulmate Rose, 2015 Tundra (Petite Syrah), and 2015 Predator (Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Monastrell, which we learn is a Spanish variety of Mourvedre).

Out back, a path leads past Barton’s Kitchen Window, which serves great-sounding food by Jeffry’s Catering (how about pulled pork with Zinfandel BBQ sauce? Yes, please!) and ends up at Krowbar Distillery. We’ll definitely be back to try both of these.

Giving us a great image to remember her by, Seneca flaps her wings as her day at Grey Wolf Cellars comes to an end.

Tooth & Nail Winery / Python 

Tooth & Nail winery image
The imposing Tooth & Nail Winery looking very palatial for Wine Safari visitors.

From the back porch of Grey Wolf we can see our next, and last, stop for the day: Tooth & Nail Winery.

This castle-cum-winery embraces the gothic feel of castles and ramps up the fun of it. From the artwork to the décor and dark archways, the space is intriguing to explore and definitely unlike most wineries.

Alas, we’re a few minutes late and the animal ambassadors (Python and snakes) have left for the day.

Alas, too late to meet the Python, who was Tooth & Nail’s animal ambassador. We consoled ourselves with a tasting with Hayden’s help.

We console ourselves with a tasting anyway, and Hayden in the tasting room pours Albarino, Merlot, Syrah, and Petite Syrah from the winery’s Rabble, Statis, and Amor Fati labels. Hayden and the entire tasting room team do an incredible job of taking care of the lively crowd, which ranges from a couple and her parents planning a wedding to large groups of jovial friends.

For more about Tooth & Nail, check out our recent visit to a fun wine-and-paint event.

Seven Down, Nine to Go

Whew, we’ve hit seven wineries in one day. Time to head home and rest up for tomorrow’s Wine Safari.


After a good breakfast, we head back to Paso Robles. Our goal today: to enjoy the experience and meet as many animals as we can, knowing we likely won’t meet them all.

So many animals and wineries, so little time….

Sextant Wines / South African Pixie Frogs

South African Pixie Frogs image
Dewey Hopper and his friend Jeremiah are South African Pixie Frogs, but don’t think they’re tiny.

Our first stop on today’s Wine Safari is full of surprises. Behind the big wooden doors at Sextant Wines lies a tasting room with a European feel. Sleek yet inviting. Spare yet warm.

As we walk in, we meet our animal ambassadors: Dewey Hopper and Jeremiah. From a list we saw at a winery yesterday, we know these are South African Pixie Frogs.

Pixie frogs? These boys are not pixie (i.e., small, petite, or diminutive) frogs. No, they are big, beefy, robust frogs. Can’t help but wonder if they wished they could get a PR firm for a rebranding of their name.

Robert Sextant Wines image
Robert at Sextant Wines runs the tasting room like he’s a veteran.

Dewey Hopper and Jeremiah are sitting quietly, so we head to the tasting room bar and meet Robert. With his ease and understanding of the wines, we assume he’s been in the wine industry for years. Another surprise: this is his second day.

We start with the 2015 SLH Reserve Chardonnay, then try the 2015 SLH Pinot Noir and 2014 Wheelhouse Zinfandel. They’re all good, and they remind us to try the Sextant Winery in Edna Valley sometime soon.

Hunt Cellars / Camel

Tulie the camel image
Tulie the Camel and Annie, who is lucky enough to have Tulie as her own camel.

Our next stop is Hunt Cellars, where we meet Tulie the Camel and Annie from Conservation Ambassadors.

“Tulie is 1-1/2 years old, and she was an ‘overflow’ from a camel breeder in California,” says Annie.

Annie is the camel trainer and has been with the organization for 10 years. Tulie is her own camel, and she oversees the care of the other camels as well.

Tulie seems to love the attention, and her furry long neck is so soft and her big brown eyes so sweet. She’s also very gentle about taking carrots from people’s hands… or lips.

Tulie camel Andrew image
Young Tulie is a kind, friendly animal ambassador, and Andrew will give her a carrot next time.

Asked about whether Tulie will trained to ride, Annie says of course. “And camels are super smart and easy to train. You show them something and they understand very quickly,” says Annie.

Unfortunately, we did not have time to do a wine tasting at Hunt Cellars. Next year…!

Donati Family Vineyard / Raccoon

Fred the raccoon image
Fred the Raccoon in a moment of respite as Mina gives him some chin rubs.

Melissa greets us when we walk into the Donati Family Vineyard tasting room. It’s a bright, cheery room (and they sell some of the best wine accessories we’ve ever seen).

One of the animal ambassadors is hanging out with the crowd and like Peeves, he’s continually in motion.

“This is Rocket,” says Michaela with Conservation Ambassadors, as the young Raccoon explores every nook, cranny, table, couch, bowl, and chair in the place. “Rocket and his brother Fred are about 8 months old, and they came to us when their parents died in the wild.”

After several trips around the winery, with Michaela patiently but actively following at the end of the leash, it’s time for Rocket to take a break and Fred to come out to play.

Donati Family Vineyard image
Donati Family Vineyard’s tasting room is light and light-hearted.

Fred is much more laid back than Rocket, who expresses his displeasure at being in the crate and out of the limelight by making lots of raccoon noises. He’s quite the actor.

As Fred strolls around the space, we start our tasting. Melissa pours 2016 Pinot Grigio, 2013 Petite Verdot, and 2013 Ezio. “Our grapes are estate-grown at our Paicines Vineyard near Hollister,” says Melissa.

And what is the story behind the Ezio label? “This is named after the Donati family’s father,” she says. “The grapes used for the wine may change year to year, but the winemaking approach stays constant. It’s made from the best grapes from the best blocks in tribute to Ezio.” The current vintage of Ezio is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

We bid farewell to Fred and Rocket (who’s still talking in the crate) and head to our next destination.

Donatoni Wines / North American Porcupine

Priscilla north american porcupine image
Priscilla the North American Porcupine knows how to work the crowd.

When we pull up to Donatoni Wines, we notice the sign with an airplane-shaped corkscrew.

Knowing there’s a story behind that, we ask winemaker Hank. “That’s not a corkscrew,” he says, with a slight wink, and shares a bit about the decades-long careers he and his wife Sandi had with a major airline. “And then the company decided not to honor its retirement program.”

Ah, now we understand what the sign means.

Outside the barrel room, we meet Priscilla the North American Porcupine and Megan with Conservation Ambassadors. Pricilla is adorable, and she knows how to work the crowd with awesome dance moves.

At one point, she tries to climb out of her enclosure, the better to mingle with her fans.

Unlike her relative Morocco the African Porcupine, who we met at Doce Robles yesterday, Priscilla’s quills are barbed. “I can say that from experience,” shares Megan, who’s been with the organization two years. “You do get poked with a quill sometimes, but it’s a myth that porcupines can shoot their quills.”

Hank Donatoni image
Hank Donatoni recently celebrated his 50th crush.

We head inside for the tasting, and where Hank—who celebrated his 50th crush last year— plus Sandi and Kristie pour 2015 Sangiovese, which has old-word characteristics, Plane Red blend, and Hank’s Vertical Zinfandel, which blends four vintages from Richard Sauret Vineyards. Sauret was a renowned Paso Robles winegrower and dear friend of Hank and Sandi, who passed away in 2017.

The tasting room, with lots of airline and flying memorabilia, takes you back in time.

Shale Oak Winery / African Crowned Crane

Talulah African Crowned Crane image
Talulah the African Crowned Crane is the performer.

As we pull up to Shale Oak Winery, we’re struck by the almost cathedral-like appearance of the tall lines of the structure and colored-glass panes. The beauty of the space inside the tasting room continues the first impression.

Opened in 2011, the Gold LEED Certified was designed to have sustainability built in to nearly every aspect, from sustainably farmed vineyards (one at the winery and another in Pleasant Valley) to photovoltaic panels and a design that incorporates daylighting.

Before we taste the wines, we head outside to the courtyard, where we meet Talulah the African Crowned Crane.

Shale Oak was built to incorporate sustainable features from water conservation to daylighting.

Under five years old, Talulah has been an animal ambassador for two years. She is a natural performer, and loves dancing to the music and with her Conservation Ambassadors humans.

Back inside the tasting room, we try the 2015 Albarino, 2014 Sui (Viognier and Grenache Blanc), 2012 Zinfandel, 2014 Grenache, 2012 Cabernet Broken Oak.

Four Lanterns Winery / Barn Owl and Screech Owls

Screech owl image
Screech owls Atlas and Axis at Four Lanterns Winery.

Our next stop is Four Lantern Winery, set in a beautifully restored barn on what used to be an apple farm.

Right inside are three animal ambassadors: two Screech Owls (Atlas and Axis) and a Barn Owl. Unfortunately, we did not get Mr. or Mrs. Barn Owl’s name.

Like Seneca at Grey Wolf, they are regal and exude an energy of quiet confidence. And, they’re all beautiful.

As we move to the adjacent tasting area, we learn from Erin that the name is a reference to the owners Jackie and Steve Gleason’s four daughters—the lights of their life.

Barn Owl image
Our Barn Owl animal ambassador inside the restored barn at Four Lanterns Winery.

Erin and Cassidy, a mechanical engineering student at Cal Poly, take turns pouring wines, which are centered on Rhone and Bordeaux varietals. Cassidy mentions that the daughters also designed all the wine labels, most of which are lovely watercolor paintings or drawings.

Jackie mentions that they bought the property in 2013 and the majority of the grapes are estate grown. They do all their winemaking here, including bottling.

Four Lanterns Winery owners Jackie and Steve Gleason image
Four Lanterns Winery owners Jackie and Steve Gleason with tasting room hosts Erin and Cassidy. Thanks for taking time for the photo!

We start with the 2016 Syrah-based Sunset Rose, then try the 2016 Lamplight Viognier, and finish up with the 2014 Right Bank, a Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Verdot.

Treana Tasting Cellar / Alligator

Spike the Alligator image
Spike the Alligator, a true ambassador.

Our last stop of the day, and of the 2018 Wine Safari, is Treana Tasting Cellar.

The wood siding of the winery and tasting room is striking. Rich, deep color and texture, yet refined.

As we walk into the cool barrel room, we meet Paul, who’s pouring today’s wines. And then we meet Spike and Scott from Conservation Ambassadors.

Spike the Alligator is greeting visitors from atop a long table so we humans can more easily say hello. “Spike is 18 years old,” says Scott, “and he’s a true ambassador.”

Spike Scott Andrew image
Andrew sharing some guy time with Spike and Scott, both great fellows.

He really is. He lets us feel the coolness and texture of his skin, and he seems so patient. Scott encourages Andrew to take a picture with Spike. It’s hard to tell who’s smiling more.

And lest you think there’s no affection inside that hard skin, we witness the charming connection Scott and Spike have. When it is time to get ready to go, Scott gently lifts Spike off the table and puts him on the cool floor. Then, Scott gives him a pat and starts loading up the table. Spike turns around and starts walking toward his friend. Beautiful.

It is a little hard to concentrate on the wine after meeting Spike.

Paul first pours the 2015 Treana Chardonnay, then the Treana Blanc. We tried next the 2014 Austin Hope (Syrah). Paul shares that estate-grown grapes are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Roussanne. We also learned that Treana makes the Troublemaker and Liberty School wines, which include Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Wild, Wonderful Weekend

The sun is getting low as we finish our last winery visit of 2018 Wine Safari. All told, we made it to 14 of the 16 participating wineries, and I think we’re all a bit surprised. The only two we unfortunately ran out of time to visit are Croad Vineyards and their Opossum animal ambassador, and AronHill Vineyards and their Armadillo animal ambassador.

The whole event was well done. All the wineries, even with big crowds, did a good job keeping things flowing and were friendly.

And the animals! What an amazing opportunity to meet these beautiful ambassadors and learn more about them.

We have a goal for 2019: meeting 16 animals in two days. Who’s up for next year’s adventure?

Thank You!

We want to thank all our new animal friends for your patience and goodwill being surrounded by silly humans for two days, Conservation Ambassadors for sharing parts of the world we likely will never see, Paso Robles 46 West Wineries who made for a great event, Mina for volunteering to be designated driver, and all the great animal-loving people we met over the weekend.

Truly this was celebrating the Great Flavors of the Central Coast.


For More Information

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You: www.zootoyou.org

Paso Robles 46 West Wineries Association: https://46west.wine


Participating Wineries (listed alphabetically)

AronHill Vineyards: https://www.aronhillvineyards.com

Castoro Cellars: https://www.castorocellars.com

Croad Vineyards: www.croadvineyards.com

Dark Star Cellars: https://www.darkstarcellars.com

Doce Robles Winery: www.docerobleswinery.com

Donati Family Vineyard: https://www.donatifamilyvineyard.com

Donatoni Winery: www.donatoniwineryandvineyards.net

Four Lanterns Winery: www.fourlanternswinery.com

Grey Wolf Cellars/Barton Family Wines: www.bartonfamilywines.com

Hunt Cellars: https://huntcellars.com

Midnight Cellars: www.midnightcellars.com

Peachy Canyon Winery: https://www.peachycanyon.com

Sextant Wines: https://sextantwines.com

Shale Oak Winery: www.shaleoakwinery.com

Tooth and Nail Winery: rabblewine.com

Treana Wines / Hope Family Wines: https://www.hopefamilywines.com/treana

If you liked this story, we think you’ll like these related stories about Wine Safari, winery animals, and fun winery activities:
Wine Safari 2018: Blending Families, Animals, Fun in Paso Robles
Wine and Animals – 46 West Wine Safari, February 12, 2017
Quiz Time: Animal Magnetism (wonderful winery animals of the Central Coast)
Tooth & Nail Winery: Paint Bar Activity (46 West Wineries, Paso Robles)

Wine Safari 2018: Blending Families, Animals, Fun in Paso Robles

Wine Safari poster image
Wine Safari brings families, animals, and fun together at the Paso Robles 46 West family of wineries

Pet an opossum? Kick back with a kangaroo? Get wisdom from an owl? Lounge around with a lemur? Learn to soar with a hawk or eagle?

And great wine tasting, too?

Yes! You can do all this and more as part of the 7th annual Wine Safari, a two-day opportunity to meet and learn more about the animals of the world and how we’re all connected, while the adults sample some great Paso Robles wines.

So if you’re hankering for a weekend adventure without packing a suitcase, and a single event that will please everyone in the family, then head to scenic western Paso Robles along Highway 46 West.

Family Fun
“The Wine Safari is a fun, family outing that everyone can enjoy,” said Lanie Angeles, COO of Conservation Ambassadors.

In its 7th year, Wine Safari is the largest charity event hosted by the Paso Robles 46 West Wineries association. Proceeds benefit local nonprofit Conservation Ambassadors, which provides lifetime homes for displaced, abused, abandoned, or permanently injured wild and exotic animals.

Conservation Ambassadors, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Paso Robles, has been providing lifetime homes for displaced, abused, abandoned, or permanently injured wild and exotic animals for nearly 30 years.

“Through our popular Zoo to You and You to Zoo programs, we provide educational programs for all ages focused on conservation,” Angeles added.

Meet the Animals
It’s easy to get involved.

First, take a look at the list of participating wineries, below. Then, purchase tickets online at https://46westwinesafari2018.brownpapertickets.com . A few tickets will be available at the wineries, but they typically sell out quickly.

Next, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, March 3rd and 4th, simply stop by any (or all!) of the 16 participating wineries in the Paso Robles 46 West Wineries association.

“Each winery will have an animal and human handler from Conservation Ambassadors,” said Angeles. Say hello to the animals, and learn from the Zoo to You staff more about their habitat, conservation, and what you can do to become involved.

“This year, part of the fun of the event is not knowing which animals will be at which winery,” said Angeles. “We encourage everyone to visit as many wineries as they can and enjoy the discovery.”

The wine tasting includes three wines at all 16 participating wineries, all part of the $30 ticket which is good for both days. We want everyone to stay safe, so please have a designated driver if you choose to enjoy wine with the animals.

“This event really helps benefit the animals in our care,” said Angeles, “and the support we get from 46 West Wineries is huge.”

Participating Wineries Get in on the Fun

The wineries are equally excited about the event and several are offering even more fun.

Dark Star armadillo image
The fun-loving and playful armadillo Roswell visited Dark Star Cellars at the 2017 Wine Safari.

Adrienn Crowe, Wine Club Manager at Dark Star Cellars, said it’s their second year participating in the event. “We love it because we love the animals, and it’s a great event for everyone in the family, even those who don’t drink wine,” she said. “I’ll be bringing my 19-month-old daughter, who’s excited to see the animals.”

Dark Star will have coloring pages for the kids, and families are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy the afternoon at the winery.

“On Saturday, we’ll also have live music from 2:00 to 5:00, with singer and songwriter Natalie Gelman, so it’ll be a full day of fun,” said Crowe.

Dark Star has about 20 wines on their tasting list, including Italian, Spanish, Bordeaux, and Rhone varietals. “Wine Safari ticket holders can choose any three of the wines for the tasting, so it’s a great opportunity to try different wines.”

Natalie Montgomery, Assistant Wine Club Manager at Midnight Cellars, shared the fun of not knowing which special animal will visit the winery until the morning of the event.

hedgehog image
Hedgehogs Salt and Pepper came to visit Midnight Cellars at the 2017 Wine Safari.

“One year, we had a beautiful owl, which was perfect for the night theme of our winery,” said Montgomery. “Last year, we had the crowd-pleasing hedgehogs.”

“We love this event because most of the proceeds go to Zoo to You, and they do such great work,” she said. “For many years, I’ve known the family that created Conservation Ambassadors, and they are the nicest people.”

Montgomery looks forward to Wine Safari as a kickoff to the busy season at the area’s wineries, and she and others in the industry say the event attracts new people to the area and to the 46 West family of wineries.

“It gets bigger every year, and it’s a great opportunity to drink wine and do good in the community for the wonderful animals that Conservation Ambassadors cares for,” she said.

“The spirit of the event is all about community and supporting Zoo to You, which has been doing great work for many, many years,” said Ryan Lopez, General Manager at Peachy Canyon Winery. Last year, cockatoos visited Peachy Canyon during Wine Safari.

“One of the frequent questions when people go wine tasting is what to do with the kids,” he explained. “While most wineries welcome kids and have areas to sit outside or play lawn games, the Wine Safari is truly designed to be a family friendly event.”

porcupine image
Who wouldn’t want to pet a porcupine? Now’s your chance at the 7th annual Wine Safari, hosted by the Paso Robles 46 West Wineries. Morocco, the bundle of quilled personality, visited Tooth and Nail Winery last year.

Most of the wineries in the 46 West are family owned and family run. “This is a great way to share the feeling of that. Bring your kids, play lawn games, enjoy some wine, pack a picnic, and enjoy the afternoon,” he said.

“We’re eager to see which animal will be visiting us so we can create the tasting list that blends well,” he said. “We’ll also be doing library tastings over the weekend, so visitors can taste a wide range of Peachy Canyon wines.”

Plan to Attend
“Conservation Ambassadors is a great organization, and all the Paso Robles 46 West Wineries are thrilled that the Wine Safari helps support the important work they do,” said Lopez from Peachy Canyon Winery. “Plus, having a younger crowd visit the wineries and seeing them loving the animals and having fun makes this great weekend event even better.”

For more information on Conservation Ambassadors, visit https://www.conservationambassadors.org

Participating Wineries:

  • AronHill Vineyards
  • Castoro Cellars
  • Croad Vineyards
  • Dark Star Cellars
  • Doce Robles Winery & Vineyard
  • Donati Family Vineyard
  • Donatoni Winery
  • Four Lanterns Winery
  • Grey Wolf & Barton Family Wines
  • Hunt Cellars
  • Midnight Cellars
  • Peachy Canyon Winery
  • Sextant Winery
  • Shale Oak Winery
  • Tooth & Nail Winery
  • Treana Tasting Cellar

Great Flavors Safari Map to Wine & Animals (Event) – 2018

More animal stories related to Central Coast wineries right this way:
Wine and Animals – 46 West Wine Safari, February 12, 2017)2017 Wine Safari Event Video
Quiz Time: Animal Magnetism (wonderful winery animals of the Central Coast))

The Pismo Clam Is this Artist’s Canvas

Pismo Beach might be known for its namesake Tivela stultorum clams, but it’s the town’s three giant concrete clams that attract visitors and locals with their seasonally changing artwork.

While the huge bivalve mollusks are regularly repainted to reflect holidays and seasons (former incarnations have been Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and the Easter bunny), we never really thought about who did it. For all we knew, a clan of clam painting fairies took care of the job in the middle of the night.

Rebecca Johnson-Savage photo
Painting the giant concrete Pismo clams is a dream come true for local artist Rebecca Johnson-Savage. Click the photo above for a fun video showing the artist in action.

But, no, it’s a real person, and this Pismo clam artist is overjoyed to be sharing her talent with a project that is so close to her heart.

Ever since she was kid, Rebecca Johnson-Savage has marveled at the concrete clams. “It’s so fun to see what scene will be painted next,” she said.

A part-time artist, one of her early dreams as a child was to be a storefront window painter, creating scenes to please the senses of passersby.

When she was about 13 years old, she learned that a lucky artist was responsible for decorating the Pismo clams.

“Ever since then, it’s been my lifelong dream to be the Pismo clam artist.”

When she heard the city was putting out a call for new artists to submit ideas, she should barely contain herself.

She submitted several ideas to Pismo Beach and was ecstatic when they picked her “Clam Island” artwork for the holiday season.

finished Clam island painting photo
The finished Clam Island postcard artwork from Rebecca Johnson-Savage.

“There were a lot of submissions,” she said. “They asked me to start with this one, and then we’ll go from there. I hope they choose me to be the official Pismo clam painter for a long time to come.”

Check out her Clam Island postcard theme on the giant clams: on the south side of town next to Pismo Beach Surf Shop, in front of the Visitor Information Center at 581 Dolliver, and marking the entrance of the Pismo Coast Village RV Resort at 165 S. Dolliver, near the Monarch Butterfly Grove.

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