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Ted Plemons, co-owner of Cass Winery in Paso Robles, has finally made his ultimate wine. He’s named it TED, after himself. Photo by Frank Mangio
Community Commentary Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Family Winemakers a family tradition

Family Winemakers is an association set up in 1990 to give the smaller winemaker a chance for success in the marketplace, to loosen up the post-prohibition regulations and to keep the markets fair for all.

There were nearly 90 wineries that poured at the recent Family Winery event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds where it was elbow to elbow to taste more than 30 different varietals of wine, led by Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It also included little known varietals like Carignan, Primitivo and Muscat Canelli.

When you go to a Family Winemakers event, you can be sure you will be entertained and poured some stunning Rhone Valley style wines from Cass Winery and its co-owner, the always sweet-smiling Ted Plemons.

Delectus wines from Napa Valley are the buzz of the Family Winemakers event in Del Mar recently. General Manager Steve Miller displays his best cabs. Photo by Frank Mangio
Delectus wines from Napa Valley are the buzz of the Family Winemakers event in Del Mar recently. General Manager Steve Miller displays his best cabs. Photo by Frank Mangio

Cass Vineyard and Winery is in the rolling hills between Paso Robles and Creston on the Central Coast.

Situated due east of the “Templeton Gap,” it gets the cool breezes coming from the west.  It’s also far enough from the coast to generate some hefty heat needed to ripen the Rhone French varietals grown on the 145-acre estate. Plemons is one of the biggest cheerleaders for Rhone Valley grapes.

TASTE OF WINE has of late, brought these grapes to light in recent columns.  They include:  Syrah, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsaut and Carignan among others.  Plemons plays a big role in the Paso Robles winemaker Rhone Valley fan club.

The “Rhone Rangers” meet and analyze Rhone Valley wines, those wines that follow the Rhone River in France from just south of Lyon, to the French Riviera just below Avignon.  Plemons pointed to one of his latest achievements: “I’m very proud of my 2014 Mourvedre which was aged 14 months in French Oak. The wine was left unblended to let the varietal speak as a pure 100 percent Mourvedre.”

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Steve Miller wanted to make sure that I took note of his wines out of St Helena in Napa Valley so, some days before the Family Winemakers event, he emailed me an “invitation” to come by his Delectus wine booth.

I’m glad he did.  Delectus is the brainchild of winemaker Gerhard Reisacher, who, along with his wife Linda, grew up in Austria where he tasted several Napa Valley Cabernets and fell in love.

In 1995 they founded Delectus and have been on a mission to produce premium-quality red wines.  Some 4,500 cases are produced including Cabernet, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petite Sirah and Syrah.  Cuvee Julia is a blend of the best barrels of the vintage, the latest being 2011.

It’s Cabernet-driven with 75 percent, plus Petite Sirah 20 percent and Cab Franc 5 percent, with dramatic bottle design.  It’s dedicated to their daughter Julia, who creates the labels on the bottles ($140 at the winery).

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Wine Bytes

The Flight Path Wine Bar & Bistro in San Diego is having an Italian Wine & Cheese Pairing event April 9 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $35.  Five Italian wines and five paired cheeses from the same regions will be served led by Genevieve Edwards. RSVP at (619) 709-1202.

The Taste of Napa Valley is the theme at the Forgotten Barrel Tasting Room in San Diego’s Sorrento Valley, April 9 from noon to 6 p.m.  Six wines for $10, from Chardonnay to Cabernet. All are 2013 vintage.  Details at (888) 620-8466.

La Costa Wine Company is presenting the Prisoner Wine Portfolio with brand manager Josh Lavis, April 15 from 6 to 9 p.m.  Cost is $29.  More info at (760) 431-8455.

The Spark Gala to Support Cancer Research and Care returns to the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, April 16 from 6 to 10 p.m. The gala will feature a cocktail reception, dinner, auction and a special musical performance.  Cost is $600 per person.  Benefits to patient care and research at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center. Full details at (858) 534-4289.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View his columns at and reach him at [email protected].  Follow him on Facebook.