California Drinking

Celebrating California Wine Month on the road and on your home terrior

Fall brings us the bountiful grape harvest, but first we celebrate September as California Wine Month. Two words: road trip! If California’s myriad appellations seem a bit daunting, allow me to suggest the roughly 250 miles of coastline that comprise the Central Coast as a sort of California Wines 101. To the south you have Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos … Sound familiar? It should if you’ve seen or read Sideways. My personal favorite from the area, Kalyra Winery (Australian Aboriginal meaning “a wild and pleasant place”;, was featured in the film as the place where Jack (actor Thomas Haden Church) meets Stephanie (Sandra Oh), who declares she needs a spanking (“Grrrrowl!”). Kalyra’s native Aussie winemaker, Mike Brown, has quite a way with shiraz/syrah. Farther to the north lies Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Paso Robles, where packages are available now through Oct. 31 at Lake Nacimiento Resort ( and Lake San Antonio Resort ( Whether nestled on a houseboat or re-creating Sideways in your own way, the white to drink is chardonnay. However, I especially enjoyed the area’s syrahs, such as Kalyra’s 2005 Tucker’s Run and the 2009 Angelique dessert wine ($22). If road-tripping is not your thing, Aureole at Mandalay Bay offers an award-winning wine list, including some of the area’s finest labels.

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The Eastern Front

Neighborhood Epicurean

The Eastern Front

By Max Jacobson

The stretch of Eastern Avenue that runs from Interstate 215 to Anthem may be the most diverse “restaurant row” in the Valley. As soon as you exit the freeway you see an In-N-Out Burger and a Coco’s, and continuing south, you get to Richmar Plaza, which features Grimaldi’s, where you can enjoy coal-fired pizzas and good beer on the patio, and one of the city’s best coffeehouses, Espresso Culture & Cuisine. People often make the trip across the Valley just for those two hot spots.