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Head to the Shed 

I love wines on tap!

After recently hearing the news about an innovative, new wine and beer tasting room named the Wine Shed I jumped into my convertible blue Z3 and raced over to check it out. It was surprising to learn it had been two months since it opened, and even more unexpected that people didn’t tell me about it much sooner. I loved the concept of the Wine Shed immediately. All of the wines—red, pink, or white—and beers served by-the-glass are on tap. You can order a glass of wine without worrying that the bottle had been open two days, or worse yet a week, which means it was oxidized and not nearly as good as it was when it was originally opened. Now that’s a concept I can totally get behind.

All of the wines served by the glass are tapped from stainless steel kegs, exactly like their draft beers. They offer a dozen wines by-the-glass, all from excellent producers including: Aaron, Henson, Il Campo, Qupe, Tangent, Tin House, Valor, and several more. You’ll find artisan ales and brews not commonly found everywhere, like the new Figueroa Mtn. Brewing, along with Arrogant Bastard, Green Flash, and Goose Island. Here, you’re guaranteed a perfect, fresh glass of wine, or beer, no matter which one of them you order. This new place was immediately nicknamed by locals who say: “Meet me at the shed.” And with their policy of changing the wine and beer poured constantly, there is always something new to discover.

Upon walking in I immediately received a friendly greeting from the co-owner/manager Steve Sutton. He had no idea I was there to investigate his contemporary new tasting room for New Times. On one hand, its location seemed odd since it’s located in a business complex that’s beside the Jeep dealership on Broad Street. But on the other hand, this is one cool wine “pub” that any connoisseur would appreciate. The minimalist décor is modern and cool, and the furniture is all mobile so the place can easily be rearranged to accommodate a band and dancing, or a private party on the backside of the room. It was with a degree of pride that Sutton explained what the shed is all about.

“We think of the Wine Shed as a place that’s more of a neighborhood pub, not a wine bar,” he explained. “We think you should be able to drink wine without it being intimidating or stuffy. And we’re encouraged that we already have so many regulars.” Sutton, who lived in San Francisco seven years until 1998, moved to New Orleans to study law at Tulane University. No wonder he appreciates good food and adult beverages. He admitted the shed is a bit of a blend (like a wine cuvée) of all of the pubs and wine shops he has frequented.

They stated on Facebook: “Wine is an ever-changing adventure and Wine Shed wants people to enjoy every minute of it. And we never forget that it takes a lot [of] good beer to make a great wine too.” The pub is quite convenient for neighbors: They open daily at 3 p.m., and stay open until 10 p.m. or midnight on Friday and Saturday; most major credit cards are accepted; the business center, where people frequent Black Horse on Broad, has plenty of parking; and they offer reasonably priced munchies, like mixed nuts or pizzas provided by Rooster Creek Tavern in Arroyo Grande. The pizzas, made fresh daily according to Sutton, offer different toppings like prosciutto, duck, or barbecued tri-tip. They also offer wines by the bottle, discounted $8 less when you buy them to go.

Wine on tap is environmentally friendly, and it’s temperature controlled. “It took one-and-a-half years of research and building to open the Wine Shed, and we had to find winemakers willing to put wine in kegs,” Sutton concluded. “But this is the future of the wine industry; you’re gonna see Olive Garden using the keg system.”

The 9th Annual Pinot & Paella Festival

Sunday, June 3, 2-5 p.m.

Talk about fun, you’ll have the opportunity to taste and judge 20 different paellas made by 20 Central Coast chefs while tasting them with 20 Pinot Noirs! Notably, all of them are from Paso Robles wineries. Popular chefs who have competed since the beginning, like Catering by Chef Charlie, Giuseppe’s, and Tenth St. Basque, will compete with new restaurants like Estrella, Luna Red, and Thomas Hill Organics to win your vote for the best paella. And you’ll enjoy each of those unique dishes with amazing Pinot Noirs by Adelaida, Jack Creek, RN Estate, Stephen’s Cellars, and Windward, among many others.

This terrific concept was started by Marc Goldberg and Maggie D’Ambrosia of Windward who wanted to offer something different from the usual winemaker’s dinner. They were the first Paso Robles winery (that I know of but feel confident that’s correct) to devote their production to Pinot Noir and still do. Although the Pinot & Paella Festival started with Windward Pinots alone nine years ago at the tasting room, the event was quite successful. They wanted the event to showcase the diversity of Pinot Noirs grown within their region so the second year they invited neighboring wineries. That was in 2005 when there were only a handful of wineries producing Pinot Noir, now it’s astounding that there are 20 of them!

This popular event grew so quickly they moved it to Templeton Community Park, the perfect venue to accommodate their big crowd of fans. This year you’ll dance to live Latin music by Incendio Band who can inspire everyone to get up and dance. Tickets are $65 each; you’d pay more than that for dinner out and wouldn’t get all of this. All proceeds go to Local Youth Performing Arts. The event is limited to 500 guests so it’s best to buy your tickets ahead, and pick them up at will call. Check it out at pinotandpaella.com, where you can purchase tickets, learn all about Pinot Noir and paella, and discover which of your favorite restaurants will be there counting on your votes.

Contact New Times’ Cuisine columnist at khardesty@newtimesslo.com.

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