Hofsas House Carmel-by-the-Sea: A central, tasty stay

422450_10150590205892639_1292516201_nEarlier this year, the Lady and I had a chance to stay at a continually refurbished gem in one of our fav places on earth: Carmel-by-the-Sea (FB, Tw, IG, YT).  We hadn’t had a chance to stay at the Hofsas House Hotel (FB, Tw, Blog) in a number of years, so we were excited to be granted a media weekend stay at the centrally located property, courtesy of the hotel and Chatterbox Wine Marketing. Family owned and operated for over 60 years, the Hofsas is a longtime landmark for the entire Monterey Peninsula, with its Bavarian charm and singular ocean views atop the hill in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

IMG_5171Longtime Vinopanions know that Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley are two very special places for the Lady and I.  Not only is it our preferred weekend getaway spot, but Carmel Valley is also our favorite #wine appellation (ssh, don’t tell my hometown, Napa)!  When we first started visiting Carmel back in 2000, one of the first places we stayed was right there at the Hofsas. We were taken in by the Bavarian styling and beautiful murals by featured artist Maxine Albro, famous for her murals in San Francisco, alongside Diego Rivera’s own. The Theis family has been serving guests with compassion and infectious happiness for much longer than that, but the service has always remained the same. Donna Hofsas founded the hotel in the early 1940’s with her husband Fred.  Fast forward through many beautiful years of management by various family offspring and now Donna’s granddaughter, Carrie Theis has been General Manager since our first year there, in 2000.  Carrie is not just a small business owner in town, she also sits on the city council and has been instrumental in bringing many wine and food-friendly changes to her artistic village by the sea.

IMG_5163The Hofsas sits a couple blocks north of Ocean Ave, on San Carlos Street.  It is easy and very short walking distance to anything in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Beach, and less than 15 minutes away from everything else on the Monterey Peninsula, including Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Cannery Row, Monterey. For this visit, we chose to stay in town and walk all weekend (something very easy to do in Carmel!).  The Hofsas offers many great, very affordable stay packages and we chose the Tail Wagging Package, as we were traveling with our little pug Jasper Tinto.  Carmel is extremely dog-friendly (off leash at the beach!) and with this package we received a number of doggie treats, a dog frisbee, collapsable dog bowl, and a number of dog-friendly tips and recommendations.

IMG_5807The Theis’ were also kind enough to comp us a Wine and Cheese Package as well, which is a phenomenal steal for #winelover’s and #foodie’s. This package includes a bottle of local wine and paired cheeses from another longtime fav, The Cheese Shop, upon arrival.  Another fantastic wine activity is the Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea Tasting Passport (FB, Tw, IG). Normally only $65, this gives you 9 wine flight tastings at any of the 14 participating winery tasting rooms, all just blocks away from each other and the Hofsas, which is a crazy deal. The Wine and Cheese Package plus the Walk by-the-Sea Passport together are only $95. Many of our longtime wine loves are part of the Tasting Passport: Galante Vineyards (WL, FB, Tw) and Wrath Wines (WL, FB, Tw), along with new discoveries Silvestri Vineyards (WL, FB) and the fantastic De Tierra Vineyards (WL, FB, Tw). Paired with the Carmel Food Tours (FB, Tw, IG, YT) which are also available, this here is a wine and food heaven!

We at Vinopanion can’t recommend the Hofsas House any higher, for food lovers, golfers, beachcombers, dog lovers and of course, wine lovers.  Book your summer stay now, before they completely fill up! Cheers!

mural

Palate Press Article: 2009 NorCal Harvest Report

Palate Press - The Online Wine MagazineThis past week saw another article of mine published at Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine.  I first mentioned Palate Press when it had its very successful launch earlier this year, as well as when my first article debuted, a comparison of crystal stemware.  My second article is now posted, a wide-ranging review of the 2009 harvest across many of the appellations in Northern California.

Many of the talented writers and editors at Palate Press have been hard at work building a comprehensive portfolio of this year’s harvest reports covering many of the appellations in the northern hemisphere.  These articles include Missouri, England and Canada’s  Okanagan Valley.  I highly recommend browsing through all of these informative articles for a great picture of how the 2009 grape harvest unfolded across the top half of our collective hunk in space.  Enjoy!

Palate Press - 2009 Northern California Harvest Report

Georis Winery 5th Annual Wine Club Event, Carmel Valley

Georis WineryEver since 2003, the middle of September brings a certain feeling of excitement to my mind.  It brings to mind dusty, hot vineyards, absolutely full of virtually mature grapes. It brings thoughts of BBQ, zydeco music and twisting mountain roads.  Walter and Syliva Georis welcome the middle of this month each year with their annual Georis Winery Club Event, celebrating the harvest.

This vintage’s party was last weekend 09/13/08, high in the Cachagua Valley at the Estate vineyards and winery within the Carmel Valley appellation. Under the vineyardsThat morning Daniel, Christine, Beth and I all piled into Steve’s car and headed off South towards wine and various predicted shenanigans. Beth and I have made all but one of the previous years’ parties, indeed, I wrote about last year at my old personal blog on my MySpace. This year’s party proved to be just as much fun as the last one!

We accidentally arrived a little early, mistaking the start time by an hour, but things were already starting up and we got our first glass of wine, the crisp 2007 Cowgirl White made from Monterey County Chardonnay.  Georis WineryThis is a zesty and refreshing style of this variety and was a perfect start to the event, with it’s mild sea breeze and high 70 degree weather.  I got a chance to chat a little with Damien Georis, the Georis winemaker during this early downtime (no relation, incredibly). Damien also makes his own wine, the alluring Madeleine, a chameleon wine whose composition changes with each vintage.  The latest vintage is still unreleased and is the ’06, a blend of Cab and Syrah.

Georis WineryAs the day wore on the happy, imbibing crowd of wine club members grew and enjoyed the chicken BBQ and various side dishes under the oak trees.  The Cachagua Playboys kept a lively musical set flowing throughout our time there, with various folk, rock and blues covers and zydeco tracks from their own release, Surf Zydeco.  At this point most of us had moved onto the latest vintage of the wine that first got Beth and I into dry rosé, the ’07 Georis Carmel Valley Carmelo Rosato.  Georis WineryThe varietal composition changes each year and this year’s wine was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has that lovely mix of juicy strawberry, light citrus and floral notes that originally made me fall in love with this wine. My favorite rosé of all remains the Georis Carmel Valley Les Abeilles, which has proven to be a tremendous effort towards a Provençal-style rosé during its first two vintages.

Georis WineryAs we settled into lunch, I made my way into the third wine that was offered, this time the wine that first led me to understand Merlot back at our first visit to Georis in 2000, the Estate Merlot.  Damien and friends were pouring the ’03 Carmel Valley Estate Merlot that day and it paired nicely with our lunch. After lunch we decided to skip the winery and vineyard tours, led by Walter, as usual (but both are highly recommended in the future if you have yet to attend this event!).  We did our own exploring and basically just relaxed amongst good friends both that included ourselves as well as others that we see there every year (hi Nate & Kelly!).

One item remained on my list for the day however, which was to taste the new wine that was being released that day solely to the wine club members, the ’05 Georis Carmel Valley Deux Frères Estate Merlot.  The vines for this wine were planted in 1996 by the two sons, Max and Klaus.  Georis WineryTheir first wine was produced in 2000 and this year is the first year that the family has decided to release any to the public, a mere 10 cases worth of wine, or less than half a barrel.  The wine was intensely aromatic already, with big structure and plenty of dark anise at this early stage.  I loved it and bought two bottles in my cache that we picked up after we made it back down the mountain to the tasting room in Carmel Valley (after Steve’s Wild Ride).

Myself and Walter GeorisTragically, the day was winding down, but I was reluctant to leave without my yearly photo with Walter.  We said our goodbyes to Walter, Damien, Padi, Jessica, Nate and Kelly and headied back to the tasting room. We finished the daylight with some ’06 Georis Petites Vignes at Carmel Beach and a down-home dinner at the Hog’s Breath.  Yum.

Please see below for my full reviews of the wines we enjoyed that day and evening in Carmel.  All of these wines are tagged with “5thGeorisWCE2008” if you would like to list these wines in your own WineLog.  Enjoy!

Poured by the glass at the winery & vineyards:

Georis Monterey County Cowgirl White 2007

Georis Carmel Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Carmelo Rosato 2007

Georis Winery Carmel Valley Estate Merlot 2003

Tasted at the winery & vineyards:

Georis Carmel Valley Deux Frères Estate Merlot 2005

Drank at Carmel Beach for the (cloudy) sunset:

Georis Carmel Valley Petites Vignes Merlot 2006