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!


Clos LaChance, the PGA and the Frys.com Open

Clos LaChance at the PGA Tour Frys.com OpenSometimes wine can take to you places that are just plain cool. Well, cooler than the usual cool things that come with wine…or something.  In any case, last month I had one of those experiences where my interest in wine took me to something new: my first PGA Tour tournament, complete with a winery on site.  A golfer for the last few years, this understandably had me a bit fired up. Golf and wine!?  Heck yeah!  After graciously accepting a PGA Tour Media pass, the Lady, Steve and I headed into the Frys.com Open at CordeValle and Clos LaChance for a day of sunshine, wine, incredible golf and new vinopanion‘s, all along the cart path.

Frys.com OpenBeing at the Frys and simultaneously sipping fine vino from Clos LaChance was a bit of a head-slapper.  I mean think about it, how many people love wine that golf and vice versa??  A lot.  Therefore it was truly a shock to discover that this is the only known professional golf tournament in the *world* that actually has a working (and long-time) winery on site, in this case sitting right next to the 15th green of CordeValle.  Playing the tournie that weekend were quite a few heavyweights including one of my favorites, Rocco Mediate. As luck would have it, Rocco was actually in contention that day, leading to a nice win the next day on Sunday courtesy of FOUR EAGLES including one hole in one! It was his first wine on the Tour since 2002.  One of those eagles came on the 15th as we were, you guessed it, enjoying some wine at Clos LaChance.

Clos LaChanceClos LaChance is an entirely family owned and operated winery by the Murphy family, sitting on 1 Hummingbird Lane in San Martin, CA.  It’s named for the French word for a closed in space (such as a vineyard, ‘Clos’) and Brenda Murphy’s maiden name (LaChance).  It grew out of a lifelong passion for wine by both Brenda and Bill Murphy, he a longtime executive for HP.  In 1992 they decided to take their skills public and that harvest became their first commercially released vintage.  They moved to their rather awesome current digs on the course in 2001, just in time for crush.  Clos LaChance produces three tiers of wines from the Central Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains appellations.  Our very cool and accommodating host for the day was Cheryl Murphy Durzy, the Murphys’ daughter and the Vice President for the winery.

The Murphys watching the Murphys on Golf ChannelOur wine portion of the day started off in one of the upper rooms of the tasting room and winery, watching the Frys.com open on the Golf Channel, as it was taking place just a few hundred feet away outside. Indeed, the channel did a segment on the winery and we were happy to be in the room as the entire family (and friends) all watched the segment air for the first time!  Bill, himself, had spent much of the previous night helping to edit the piece with the Golf Channel wonks.  While watching the day’s golf events unfold, we started with the very interesting 09 Clos LaChance Central Coast Estate Viognier.  It was nicely varietally correct, with nice floral and white fruit aromatics and a full, juicy bright palate.  The interest comes from the salty minerality that comes out the rather long finish.

Cheryl Murphy - Clos LaChanceAs we moved through the day, Cheryl had (amazingly) some free time to give us a tour of the gravity-flow winery, still in the full swing of harvest.  We tasted through a number of fermenting wines (spitting of course!), including the intriguing sparkling wine that they were fermenting for the very first time.  It had just come in and so it still had plenty of sugar on board (high brix), but the banana that was coming out of that chardonnay was almost shocking!  As per the norm, some splashing did occur, but Cheryl was kind enough to handle all of the pours out of each tank.

Clos LaChanceFollowing the tour, we continued to taste through the wines and watching the golf heroics. There were a few that were open that day, including the very tasty 2006 Clos LaChance Central Coast Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, coming from the vineyard just outside lining the 15th fairway (usually the 3rd hole).  Bill has a passion for the Old World wines of France, particularly Bordeaux.  Here in the ’06 Cab I found plenty of similarities from my time in Bordeaux previously during the summer, particularly those wines in the Right Bank, despite its main varietal.  This wine garnered an OldWorldWK badge from the WKBadges with its good dusty red fruit and anise in the nose and the medium-bodied palate and charred, dusty red and black fruit on the palate.  As darkness fell, the party broke out for real at the Clos, rockin’ with a Journey cover band, food, wine and the Giants playoffs on a huge plasma big screen out on the lawn.  Good times!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/drxeno/5176808535/in/set-72157625268119831/A big thank you goes out to Cheryl, Bill and Brenda for their hospitality during our time at Clos LaChance and also to Benson Marketing and the PGA Tour for my media access to the tournament, along with the Lady and Steve’s general admission to the tournament.

You can find all of the photos from our fine time at the PGA Tour Frys.com Open and Clos LaChance in the set on my Flickr and tagged with “CLC2010PGAFrysOpen“.  You can also find all of the wines below for your own WineLog, tagged with the same, “CLC2010PGAFrysOpen“. Cheers!

Clos LaChance Central Coast Estate Viognier 2009

Clos LaChance Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 2007

#WKBadges - OldWorldWKClos LaChance Central Coast Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Color: Medium garnet

Nose: Good dusty red fruit here, mixed with some darker black anise and blackberry.

Palate: Medium-bodied, with more of an old world style Right Bank wine, with fine, medium tannins, great acidity and good mix of dusty black and red fruit from the nose, followed by an anise and char finish. OldWorldWK

Clos LaChance Central Coast Lila’s Cuvee Estate Red Wine 2006

Us at Clos LaChance

Clos LaChance, the PGA & Original Wine

Frys.com Open - PGA TourYes, yes, yes…I *know*!  It’s been some time since my last post.  Well, that’s just what going on vacay for 2+ weeks to Carmel Valley, Spain and Portugal will do to you.  Actually, I take that back.  It’s what going back to work AFTER that vacay, that will get ya!  Anyhow, I’m back and ready to reengage my fellow vinopanions and boy do I have two cool pieces of vino news to disseminate!

Clos LaChanceFirst up, one of the coolest pieces of wine news that I’ve come across in some time, Clos LaChance (Twitter) is the very first winery to be sitting directly on the course of a PGA Tour (Twitter) event.  They are also one of the Frys.com Open‘s main sponsors and have the lucky vantage point overlooking the 15th hole at CordeValle.  This should prove to be a very exciting event and I’m quite interested in seeing how Clos LaChance and the PGA Tour integrate their activities during the week. The golfing should be spectacular, featuring a field that includes David Duval, Justin Leonard, John Daly and Rickie Fowler.  The Murphy family has been making wine in San Martin, CA since 1992, utilizing many members of their family to produce their unique wines.  I’m also fired up to finally get a chance to try some wine from this buzz winery!  Tickets are still available online, so purchase yours today and come and hang with us!

Center for Wine OriginsOne a completely different note, I’m very humbled to have been picked for the “Spotlight on Bloggers” section of the very cool Center of Wine Origins (Twitter) website.  The hard-working folks at the CFWO have reprinted an article I wrote here awhile back about how much I enjoy sharing wine with my friends (Vinopanion = wine + companion).

The CFWO has taken on the very important job of clarifying and protecting the names of wine regions around the world, through collaboration with similar organizations in the wine countries of the rest of the globe.  This means that they work to ensure that wine labeled “Champagne” is only sparkling wine that comes from Champagne, France.  Or perhaps they lay the smackdown on anyone that uses the name “Napa” on wine that doesn’t come from Napa County, CA.  It seems like a simple enough concept, but it can be quite difficult to define these names and regions globally, and it can be even harder to enforce the exclusivity of these wine naming conventions.  Fortunately, the CFWO has some very competent people to regulate and collaborate!

So come out to CordeValle and Clos LaChance this weekend if you’re in the area and sift through the great content on the CFWO website.  Cheers!