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Tara Jones Haaf: Summer Bucket List, Part One — Fess Parker Barrel Room Tours

Glass of wine. Click to view larger
Fesstivity Blanc de Blancs is served upon arrival for the barrel room tour at Fess Parker Winery in Los Olivos. (Tara Jones Haaf / Noozhawk photo)

I always have a long list of things I want to do each summer. And each summer ends with me saying, “Someday I will do that” or “Next year for sure!”

However, this year will be different as I have made a short, but doable bucket list that I will be writing about in a three-part series this summer.

As someone who leads wine tours downtown, I get asked all the time which wine tour is the best to do in the Santa Ynez Valley.

I always recommend a couple of different companies, but regardless of what I have to say, it usually comes down to which one is the best bargain for the traveler or which can offer the most unique experience.

After a recent visit to the Fess Parker Winery, I now have one more winery tour experience to add to my list of recommendations.

While I’m not likely to recommend the larger wineries over the smaller operations, any winery that offers a barrel room tour is definitely a welcome twist to the typical van-driven booze cruise wine tour.

Parker’s sprawling winery nestled in the hills of Los Olivos has a heartwarming history that is interwoven with a love of farming grapes and keeping it all in the family.

Part of the charm of its $50 barrel room tour is hearing about the family’s history, trials and triumphs, while you walk through the vineyards with a glass of 2015 Fesstivity Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine in hand.

Each tour includes a private tasting of chardonnay and four pinot noirs in the barrel room while you learn about the history of the winemaking as well as tasting from the barrels and tips on how to taste from a sommelier.

Wine barrel Click to view larger
A tour through the barrel room at Fess Parker is complete with facts about brand marks on barrels as well as a taste of the wine inside.  (Tara Jones Haaf / Noozhawk photo)

I’ve always had my favorite go-to pinots and never had the need to add one more to my list. However, Fess Parker’s 2015 Pinot Noir, Clone 115, since has made its way into my wine fridge and there may be room for more vintages in the years to come.

This earthy red has mocha notes on the nose and a rich toasty palate that will pair well with any barbecue or night around the campfire.

This red is drinkable now but still young, and my hunch is that it will age well and peak in about eight years.

I also fell for its flagship red, 2015 Ashley’s Pinot Noir, with old world raisin and mushroom truffle notes on the nose that paired perfectly with the savory spread prepared by the team at The Bear and Star restaurant.

With a price of $58 per bottle ($46.40 for wine club members), this is a steal for rich-tasting, light-bodied reds that will knock your socks off in a few short years and a great way to invest in your future summer plans!

— Tara Jones Haaf leads Eat This, Shoot That! and welcomes reader tips and ideas for future columns. She can be reached at [email protected]. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Food and wine. Click to view larger
A full flight of wines is included in the barrel room tour experience at Fess Parker Winery. (Tara Jones Haaf / Noozhawk photo)

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