Orchid Hill closes its tasting room

Owner says sales didn’t justify leaving it open; he may put one at the winery

rrailey@thetribunenews.comJuly 5, 2012 

Orchid Hill Vineyard has closed its tasting room on Pine Street in downtown Paso Robles after more than five years.

“Sales were not enough to substantiate the cost,” winery owner Marinus Schenkhuizen said. “I don’t think there is ever going to be enough sales in the downtown tasting rooms versus vineyards. People come to wine country to enjoy the ambiance of the vineyards.”

With 25 planted acres at his Templeton Gap vineyard west of the city, Schenkhuizen hopes to open another tasting room at the vineyard property on Township Road, but he said he’s encountered a number of hurdles to obtain permits.

“I’m still researching the cost,” he said. “For the smaller vineyards, they are very prohibitive.”

After producing as many as 2,500 cases a year, Orchid Hill halted production last year in anticipation of its tasting-room closure.

The winery’s prime sales avenues now are California distributors and its website. Schenkhuizen said out-of-state distribution proved too expensive, as well.

“If everything falls in place,” Orchid Hill will resume production with harvest in 2013, the owner added.

Central Coast Wine Classic

One of San Luis Obispo County’s longest-running wine events will begin Thursday with an Avila Beach barrel tasting and its Hearst Castle dinner.

“The Central Coast Wine Classic promotes tourism for the Central Coast, but in order to accomplish that, we bring the best from around and about to show side-by-side with San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties,” said founder and chairman Archie McLaren.

Now in its 28th year, the four-day blend of tastings, symposia, dinners and auctions has generated more than $2 million in the past nine years, McLaren said. That has funded grants to about 100 nonprofits since 2004.

The largest of the annual Wine Classic offerings is the reserve tasting, which attracted 500 last year.

The $50 tasting benefits from drop-in attendance of tourists who just happen to be in town, McLaren said. Local restaurants and 50 wineries will offer samples from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.

For more details, visit www.centralcoastwineclassic.org.

New staff at Pomar Junction

Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery east of Templeton has named Mark Stern its director of sales and hospitality.

Stern previously owned a wine bar and winery in Phoenix. His background includes project and event management at the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission, managing a tasting room, serving as cellar master and working in sales.

Have an idea for Wine Notes? Email rrailey@thetribunenews.com or call 441-4556.

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