Food & Drink

Wine alliance honors Windward Vineyard owners

A couple that courted over pinot noir is being celebrated for their contribution to the Paso Robles wine industry.

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance honored Marc Goldberg and Maggie D’Ambrosia, the owners of Windward Vineyard, as 2011 Wine Industry Persons of the Year at the group’s annual dinner last weekend.

“We were, of course, pleasantly surprised and felt thoroughly rewarded for 21 years of effort to create a great Burgundian-style pinot noir,” Goldberg said. “I felt totally humbled being recognized for these things that I take for granted.”

Goldberg and D’Ambrosia, former hospital administrators, bought and began planting their Westside vineyard on Live Oak Road in 1989. They decided to move to Paso Robles after a taste of a 1976 Hoffman Mountain Ranch Pinot Noir.

Goldberg said he envisioned a more traditional American pinot to contrast with the fruity New World styles, then popular.

The couple also produces the Paso Pinot & Paella Festival fundraiser each June to benefit local organizations, such as the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation.

Winery noted for being green

The Central Coast chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council recognized an Edna Valley winery and two programs from the Central Coast Vineyard Team in its 2011 Green Awards.

Both received Eco-Agriculture Awards.

Claiborne & Churchill Winery on Highway 227 was recognized as a local leader in energy-saving construction. Its straw-bale walls and passive solar design eliminate a need for mechanical heating or cooling. The council also acknowledged the winery’s vineyard practices and its recycling program.

The Central Coast Vineyard Team won its Eco-Agriculture Award for the Sustainability in Practice Wine Certification program.

Since 2008, SIP allows wineries to include a certification logo on labels if they meet certain criteria in their vineyard and business practices.

Based in Paso Robles, the Vineyard Team promotes programs to make vineyards and wineries more environmentally and economically sustainable.

It also received an Eco-Tourism/Hospitality Award for the Earth Day Food and Wine Festival. The sixth annual event will run April 20-22. For details, visit

The council awarded 16 Green Awards in various categories. For a complete list of winners, visit

Zin fest coming up

Tuesday is the deadline for discounts on tickets to the 20th annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival, to be held March 16-18.

Admission is $60 to $85, with $10 off for early purchase. Visit for details.

New winemaker a Cal Poly grad

Cal Poly alumnus Clarissa Nagy is now winemaker at Riverbench Vineyard and Winery in Santa Maria.

She follows Chuck Ortman, a local pioneer who founded Meridian Vineyards in Paso Robles in the early 1980s. Ortman oversaw the past six vintages at Riverbench before retiring at the end of 2011.

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