Presidio: 40th Birthday Road Trip

If you’ve only heard of Solvang but never visited, it would be easy to assume its Danish heritage and theme would produce a corny, cheesetastic experience. The reality is quite different. Yes, nearly every building in town is half-timbered and there are plenty of windmills to be seen, but it is a very real place populated by genuine people. There’s a lot to do and see in Solvang and the surrounding environs, and one could easily spend a long weekend in town and still have much left to discover.

Our first stop was Presidio, where a young man named Kyle, who was quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic about wine, poured for us. We enjoyed talking with several of the other folks at the bar there. That’s one of the great things about wine tasting as a social activity – there’s really not much ice to break, and you already have something in common with everyone else who’s tasting.


Nikki adds: Kyle was actually so knowledgeable that I was a little intimidated. He talked a lot about the “brix” of the wine. When I heard it, I immediately thought BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China, the four emerging large economies). This is probably because I spend more time reading The Economist than Wine Spectator (probably not a good thing if I want any wine nerd cred). Brix, as I know now from looking it up, is a measurement of the amount of sugar in a liquid.

Presidio is commited to organic and biodynamic methods and many of their wines are certified as such. Nikki adds: Biodynamic and organic methods are similar but not the same. Biodynamic agriculture involves seeing the entire vineyard as a holistic system, while organic viticulture more specifically refers to the use of natural methods to encourage growth and control pests.

The Wines

2009 Viognier “Artistic License”: Soft, mellow fruit, not very acidic. Even though this wine isn’t oaked, I kept expecting the flavor to eventually go that direction. Of course, it didn’t. A little alcohol on the finish. Nikki noted aromas of Meyer lemons and flowers, and said it has a flavor component that she associates with red wines.

2009 Syrah Rosé: The smell implied a sweeter rosé, but that impression didn’t carry through to the flavor. It had a mellow fruit flavor that was moderated by a richness. Nikki said she might have guessed it was a red if she had tasted it with her eyes closed. To me it had some characteristics of a brighter white wine at the beginning and end, with the middle having more dominant red characteristics.

2009 Gewurtztraminer: I detected peach, apricot, flowers and a hint of bubble gum. Nikki described it as a soda-pop aroma and found apricot and lychee flavors.

2004 Diego Red Cabernet Sauvignon: Sometimes you smell a wine that has notes of blackberry. This one smelled like someone muddled a big ripe blackberry in a glass. On a more attentive second whiff, the aroma promises tannins that would draw back to reveal blackberries, and that flavor delivers that and more. Cherries, licorice and sandalwood all emerge in turn. Nikki detected (in addition to blackberry) notes of beef and charcuterie. This wine had a lot going on, and while cabs often leave me indifferent, this one was quite engaging.

2007 Sangiovese: Everything about this is big – tannins, fruit and a hit of smoke. Nikki noted light fruit and tannins on the nose, with prominent tannins in the flavor.

2006 Syrah “Artistic License”: Big, fruity blackberry aroma. The flavor opens big with fruit, then tannins emerge along with spice. There’s a hint of anise, and a red licorice aftertaste. Nikki was reminded of pepper-encrusted steak in the aroma and detected raspberry, plum and pepper in the flavor.