By Donna Polizzi
There is an adorable tasting room, named Alapay Cellars, that is well worth the stop. It’s located at 415 1st Street, Avila Beach, Ca., and they offer up excellent wine, late harvests and an atmosphere that is totally appropriate for the beach.
After entering the uniquely rounded building, located literally on the corner of 1st Street and San Miguel Street, you will ascend a crescent-shaped, decorative, brightly tiled stairway, which leads you into a marine-themed, downstairs tasting room. You will also pass by a fish tank on your way to the main bar, located inside an open seating area, surrounded by gift shopping displays.
The vibe is friendly, inviting and swimming with energy. Anticipate bellying up to the bar, facing a huge saltwater tank, teaming with colorful fish and vibrant coral, to entertain and delight you during the tasting. Alapay Cellars gets its name from the Chumash Indian word, meaning “heavenly” or “above the world”, and features a relaxing and laid back environment, located just one block from the beachfront.
Let’s talk wine… and not just any wine, but numerous award-winning wines. Our first pour, was the 2015 Barbera, a French Camp Vineyards, Italian varietal and winner of the Silver Medal in the 2017 Central Coast Wine Competition. Next up, was the 2015 Alatre, from the Central Coast, winner of the Gold Medal at the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This blend of 40% Malbec, 30%Petit Sirah and 30% Lagrein, delights the palate, especially when it is paired with barbecue or a hearty meat dish.
Then the 2014 Reserve Petit Sirah Tres Ninos Vineyard, another Gold medal winner, winning the “Best Petit Sirah” at the 2017 Central Coast Wine Competition. According to Owner and Winemaker, Scott Remmenga, “The fruit was harvested behind Lake Lopez, in nearby Arroyo Grande, and then aged for three years in new French Oak barrels. Our results were characteristics of plum notes and soft vanilla. My family and friends enjoy it with beef dishes and barbeques”
A couple more wines of note, include the 2013 Zinfandel Port, winner of the Silver Medal in the Central Coast Wine Competition. Jammy and slightly sweet, this is an excellent dessert wine, with aromas of raspberry. This wine added a second medal to the owners’ collection, as the label won “The Best Whimsical Label” in the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Dessert wines are a hit at my house and the 2016 Late Harvest Moscato won the Gold Medal at the 2017 San Francisco Wine Chronicle Wine Competiton and also the 2017 Central Coast Wine Competition. If you enjoy a sweeter dessert wine, this is crisp and full-bodied, with a burst of citrus.
When you taste these winners, we are sure that you will agree that Remmenga should also be called the “golden boy.” His wines won five separate Gold Medals in the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, including a Pinot Noir, Cinsault, Viognier, Syrah Port and a Double Gold Syrah.
Located just one, a short block from Front Street, the beachfront to Avila Beach, here you will find one of the best-kept secrets on the California Central Coast. You can then enjoy the rest of what Avila Beach has to offer, with the breathtaking view, including the pier and numerous dining and shopping choices, along this beautiful, coastal city street. There are several hotels in this small area, including a couple that overlooks the beach from Front Street. Some of the local favorite places to enjoy here include Custom House and Ocean Grill for fine dining and views of the Pacific Ocean and Mr. Ricks Bar features live entertainment and pool tables.
If you are looking for a beach getaway, with a more remote feel, that does not have the crowds of a larger city, consider these Avila Beach destinations. As always, temperatures are mild, the views are breathtaking and the beach and surrounding landscapes are gorgeous.