Monday, March 19, 2012

By Popular Request, I present "The Zin Fest Recipes "

The first big Paso wine festival for 2012 is now history. In spite of cold, rainy, windy conditions it was a huge success. Per Cazo Cellars had over 200 visitors and at least half asked for a recipe or two. If you haven't visited, we always offer sit-down paired wine tasting but on the Festival weekends we go beyond our usually cheese and chocolate. Here are the Pairings for this past weekend:

With the ZinG Barrel Sample, we paired CORN RELISH and Multi-grain Tostito's Scoops
1 can black beans (rinsed)
2 cups corn (I use frozen white corn)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
5 green onions, chopped

Mix everything together and marinate overnight (or at least 4 hours).
Drain oil and vinegar. Serve with tortilla chips or as a side dish. Can easily be doubled or tripled.

With the barrel sampling of 2010 Zin we paired the SPICY ZIN BALLS

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, minced
8 cloves of fresh Garlic, minced
1 Green Bell pepper
1 Jalapeno
1 Cup B.B.Q. Sauce, your choice I like Sweet Baby Ray's
1 cup Catsup
1 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon New Mexican Chile Powder
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Cup Per Cazo Zinfandel Wine
Cooked meatballs (I used a large bag from Costco)

In a food processor, add the bell pepper, jalapeno, onion and garlic into the food processor, mince until fine. Set aside.
In a large saucepan heat olive oil till smoking, add onion and pepper mixture. Saute until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients except wine and bring to a boil. Cook about 10 minutes, add the Zinfandel Wine and cook 30 minutes until thickened and delicious. Gently fold in the meatballs and bake in oven about 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

And last but not least, the pairing with the LH Zin are the famous ZIN BROWNIES

1 package Ghirardelli Brownie Mix
Red Wine (I used Zinfandel but any good red will work)

Prepare brownies as directed but substitute the wine for the water.

Thanks to all who made the effort to seek us out of the 200+ wineries this weekend. We loved meeting you and hope you will come back and share another glass of wine with us!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recipe for Cranberry Pecan Chevre Spread

So many of our visitors are requesting the recipe for the cheese pairing for the Syrapé that I promised to blog about it.

We had been pairing the wine with the Celebrity Cranberry Goat Cheese but it is a seasonal item at both Costco and Trader Joe's. Once again the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention rings true. Below is the recipe. It's easy, quick and as long as you have a Trader Joe's near by, fairly economical. The best part is that tasters prefer it to the original pairing! I love it when a plan comes together!

Cranberry Pecan Chevre

1 log Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese w/ honey
1 8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 pkg. Trader Joe’s Rosemary Pecans with/cranberries
1 pkg. Trader Joe’s Dried Cranberries (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Blend all above ingredients in food processor.

Pair with Syrapé. If you are out, go to and place an order.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


My daughter Kelley does this cute little thing of tooting an imaginary horn while trilling a series of notes that sounds like, "Toot-toot-a-loo" any time she's proud of her own accomplishment. Well we have some horn-tooting of our own to do.
The wine business is really hopping. Our Creekside Wine Club has grown to over 300 members and we truly appreciate many of you sending your friends our way. The consensus seems to be the latest wine releases are even better than the previous vintages. The new Zinfandel is a big hit, ZinG is more popular than ever and all the wines we entered in Central Coast Wine Competition and the Orange County Wine Society contest medaled. We are especially thrilled our 2010 Tres Blanc won the honors of Best of Class for the second year in a row at the CCWC and the 2009 Confluent received a coveted Gold Medal from the OCWS competition. Yay!

We are equally happy that business at the inn has really picked up recently. There has been a noticeable increase in the mid-week bookings. That may be due to the professional video our very talented friend Whit produced for the inn. Here's another toot on the horn for the talents of William Whitney I think it illustrates the wonderful features of the Creekside Bed and Breakfast as compared to still photos. There is a great segue of the sky from vivid blue to starry night that is amazing!

One interesting statistic I have read is that 79% of travelers are strongly considering opting for a bed and breakfast experience. This is up sharply from past surveys and I think it is because the average American is seeking a more meaningful vacation in these troubled times. The poll implied that there is a real need to replenish the soul of people who are working harder than ever and feeling more disillusion with their future. The opinion was that innkeepers of B and B's work hard to establish a sincere connection with their guests and while disposable income is tighter than ever, the concept of value is more respected than in the past. I know Dave and I strive to deliver an experience that is exceeds the expectations. We have wonderful guests who seem to really appreciate the services we offer but we concerned by the rising costs we face for food, utilities and labor. Yikes! (Don't worry, we aren't raising prices.)

Fortunately, the wonderful guests who visit make it all worthwhile. Rebecca and Steven checked into the Creekside B and B today and I may never want them to leave. They are a fun couple from someplace called Monarch Beach who are big oenophiles celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary. After offering a Per Cazo Cellars' wine tasting and sharing stories, they went up to their room and brought down a great bottle of wine to share with me. If you get a chance to sample the 2008 Tablas Creek Panoplie, a gorgeous GSM from Paso Robles, you should. Our new Epi Telos stacked up well comparably (and it's about $60 less expensive.)

Our other B and B guests are also celebrating an anniversary. They come back every 5 years. They honeymooned here 10 years ago, revisited with the previous owner 5 years ago and returned this week to rekindle their romance. They were a bit of concerned that the place might have changed when they learned of the new ownership. They were pleased to find everything very similar to what they remembered and were happy with some of the new improvements. Andy and Stephanie were especially happy to see the IPOD dock in the room so they could listen to their favorite music. I can't wait for their next visit in 5 years from now.

Dave and I are really excited about the addition of our latest pets. Many of you may have heard we traded a case of wine for two adorable French Alpine goats from one of our frequent wine tour operator. Meet Heidi and Templeton. They are a big hit with our visitors and will gladly perform on their balance beam for a handful of Cherrios. They arrived on Mother's Day and are thriving on the pastureland at Creekside.

On a sad note, many of our guests took a particular interest in Dice, the black and white tuxedo cat who wandered here a couple of years ago. She was a favorite to many (myself included) and she passed away a few weeks ago. RIP Dicey, you will be missed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sunny with a chance of Meatballs

All wineries rely on their wine club for long term success but it is vital for small boutiques wineries like Per Cazo Cellars. It is how we budget, estimate production and we would not be in business without the Creekside Club. We have been very lucky to have grown to over 250 members. Tasters really enjoy the wines but I think the secret to our success has been the option to customize the wine selection. Thanks to Safehaven our fulfillment center and a flexible software program, it works. Because we only have two shipments a year, I do not have the process streamlined yet but I am getting better.

Most of our members receive their wines via UPS or GSO. We have about 40 members who live close enough to pick up their wine and offer a Pick Up Party to celebrate the latest selections. Last weekend we hosted over 60 people. We were hesitant because it was Easter but maybe that worked in our favor. LA second homeowners escaped the city and brought friends and family. Local members also had their weekend guests so I would say it was a good idea afterall.

We are still new at this Pick-Up party stuff and learned a few new lessons. Because there is the chance to taste all the wines, the idea of the standard wine selection really does not work. This means we don't have the wines all packed up ready to go. Next time, we will take up the offer of members to volunteer to help with the pulling of wines. We also learned we need more food. We offer a food pairing that compliments each wine and not surprisingly, everyone arrives at the same time. We are so lucky that fellow wine club member/executive Chef Nanette Smalley expertly pairs her menu to our wine. She certainly outdid herself.


Tres Blanc and Corn Cakes with Smoked Black cCod and Creme Fraiche
ZinG and Angel Hair Souffle
Zinfandel and Zin Meatballs
Barrel samples of '09 Epi Telos &'09 Confluent with Late Harvest Zin Ice Cream & homemade Chocolate Cookie.

Nanette has shared the recipe for the Zin Balls so I promised to include it on this blog. Try them, they are easy to make and perfect for upcoming graduation parties and family reunions.

Nanette’s Classic Meatballs

1 clove of garlic
1 medium Onion
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
4 ounces of Parmesan in chunks
1 pound of lean ground beef
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons of tomato paste1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor process the Parmesan and parsley until finely grated and remove to a large bowl.. In a food processor chop the onion and garlic until finely minced add to the bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. blend well.shape into 2 inch meatballs and dredge lightly with flour.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil and brown the meatballs.

Add to sauce and cook 20 minutes until done.


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, minced
8cloves of Fresh Garlic, minced
I Green Bell pepper
1 Jalapeno
1 Cup B.B.Q. Sauce, (I like Sweet Baby Ray's)
! cup Catsup
1 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon New Mexican Chile Powder
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Cup Per Cazo Zinfandel Wine
Meatballs, see recipe

In a Cuisinart, add the bell pepper, jalapeno and mince until fine. Set aside, Add Onion and garlic into the Cusinart, mince until fine. Set aside.
In a large saucepan heat olive oil till smoking, add onion and pepper mixture. Saute until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook about 10 minutes, add the Zinfandel Wine and cook 30 minutes until thickened and delicious. Gently fold in the meatballs and bake in oven about 30 minutes.
Enjoy with Per Cazo Zinfandel Wine

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Pool Deck is Open

This weekend was the first pourings of Per Cazo Cellars al fresco! We cleaned up the deck, dug out the umbrellas, set the tables in our Target blue linens and popped some corks. It the first weekend that I was glad to be out under the Paso sun with a chilled glass of Tres Blanc.

We had bridal parties, birthday "boys" and wine club members sampling the latest wines. The verdict on the new ZinG is out and proclaimed a definite winner. Same is true for the new Zinfandel. It's impressing some tough Zin critics (including yours truly.)

Wine Club pick up is next Saturday. Give us a call if you want to come enjoy a lovely late afternoon poolside sipping the wines, feasting on Nanette's delicious food and toasting to a beautiful vintage. Cheers!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Under the Mammoth sun

Kelley and I ran away from home this week for a quick ski trip to Mammoth. We haven't skied for almost two years. In my old life, I would get nearly 50 days on the slopes so needless to say, I missed it. We got lucky in finding a condo that was interested in trading 3 nights of lodging for 3 nights here in the B&B. It was well appointed with an open great room/kitchen complete with wood burning stove. It was great - and Maddy got to come as well.

Back in the day when we lived in Minnesota, Maddy would frolic in the snow for hours. We took a walk in the national forest and she loved it. It was like she was a puppy again. She loves to try to catch snowballs. It was challenging since the snow was at least 4 feet deep. We found a trail that had snowmobile tracks so we could wander into the beautiful pine forest without sinking into the snow.

We had never skied in California before and were very impressed with Mammoth. The mountain reminded me of a combination of Park City/Mount Hood/Steamboat. Since we only had two ski days, we divided the mountain into half and attempted to cover as much as possible. We had heard horror stories about how crowded it could be but no one was there. It was spring-like conditions so we would try to get to the slopes early, ski hard all morning and call it quits early afternoon when the snow started to resemble mash potatoes. Neither one of us could afford to risk injury. We got a lot of mileage in but never quite felt like we got our $92/day lift ticket worth.

The town of Mammoth is very quiet mid-week. It is a small community compared to the mountain. While we took our own wine and dined in the condo 2 of the 3 evenings, we did manage to visit a few local landmarks that tasters had recommended. The best was a wine bar called Petra's which had a lot of Paso Robles wines on its list. Mitch is responsible for the wine procurement and is visiting the area in May when most of Mammoth is in mud season. He promises to stop by and taste some of our Per Cazo Cellars wines.

Kelley and I had to come back to get ready for what should be a busy weekend. We bottle our 100% Zinfandel tomorrow. Based on the barrel sampling we have offered, it should fly off the shelf. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and try it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This week's Creekside B&B guests escaped the brutal winter of Chicago for blue skies of California. Fortunately they just missed our freaky snow storm and enjoyed a mild winter's day. Perfect for exploring the wine country.

Ron, a wine buyer for Trader Joe's in Chicago along with lovely wife Pam visited the Santa Ynez and Paso Robles wine regions. As experienced tasters, they were enamored with the Central Coast wines but a bit disappointed in the tasting experiences. They found that most of the wineries they visited had young, poorly trained girls working behind the counters. Like us, they believe the best winery personnel to be middle-aged people who work there because they are passionate about the wine and know how to romance it. They get it! It is exactly the philosophy of Trader Joe's. Be passionate about what you do and if you ever visited a Trader Joe's it is self-evident.

They did compliment us on our passion for both the wine and the Bed and Breakfast. It got to be a joked at all the Trader Joe products he recognized - the tulips on the table, the bacon, the half and half in the refrigerator. This morning's breakfast was nearly 100% Trader Joe's. Here's a recipe that I have modified from It's easy and looks like more work than it is. Give it a try!

Maple Blueberry Parfait

Yield: 6 servings
Active time: 20 minutes

3 1/2 cup blueberries (18 ounces) divided
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. lemon juice
16 ounce Trader Joe's Greek Yogurt
16-20 Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins, coursely crumbled

Cook 2 1/4 cups blueberries with 1/2 cup maple syrup in a 2 quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the blueberries have burst (3-8 minutes). Cool in an ice bath.

Add remaining blueberries and lemon juice to mixture. Stir well. I usually make the night before. Will hold for 3 days.

In a parfait glass, layer a tablespoon of blueberry sauce, a sprinkle of cookie, 2-3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt; repeat ending with a sprinkle a bit more crumble cookie on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint and whole lemon cookie.

Can substitute their Ginger thins for lemon if you prefer.