A Garden Oasis at Carhartt

The bewitching grace of the colorful  fish called koi has long attracted mortals.  In the folklore of many eastern countries, koi is considered to be a symbol of strength, endurance, courage and abundance.  It was also believed that the larger the koi one owned, the more prosperous one would become.  As I was entering the Carhartt Tasting Room, I was immediately taken with the colossal fish sculpture acting as guardian to the establishment.  The intricate metalwork of the delicate fins and scales is a truly beautiful thing to behold.  I am honestly not certain what kind of fish it is, but it reminded me of the stately koi.  Also known as “swimming flowers,” koi are available in a wide variety of colors, usually white, yellow, orange, red, black, or any combination thereof.  If we can judge by the grandiose size of this fish, then Carhartt must be thriving in its prosperity.

Located in the wine hamlet of Los Olivos, Carhartt is perhaps one of the smallest tasting rooms I’ve ever visited.  Photographs, mostly of the winemakers and nearby landscapes, adorn the walls of the matchbook-sized room.  But what really captured my attention was the heavenly garden in back.  Guests are invited to have their tastings out here when the weather is fine, as well as to just come and enjoy a glass or bottle at their leisure.  From a feng shui perspective, this tranquil oasis has all of the five elements represented, blending together in perfect unity:

  • Wood – The trees and lush plants in the garden.
  • Fire-The colors of the flowers and flower pots, as well as the wine in our glasses.
  • Metal -Parts of the fountain and patio furniture, and the metal signage
  • Earth – The stone of the fountain, the terra cotta flower pots, and brick tile on the ground.
  • Water – The elegant fountain, part of which is made from a wine barrel (pictured below)

Notice the little stone frog perched in the fountain.  Frogs, in feng shui folklore, attract luck and wealth, especially when paired with other items such as water and flowers.  Also, this specific frog is placed diagonally from the main entrance to the garden, which can help to attract wealth to the environment.  I think the frog is cute, and adds a healthy energy to the fountain and surroundings.  And I think I spot some real living fish in the pond, too.

And now on to the wine.  All six of the intricate wines we tried were intoxicating and lovely.  The two that really impressed me were the 2010 Sangiovese and the 2009 Syrah.  The Sangiovese had a deep, silky sheen in color and tasted divine, with hints of strawberry and oak.

The Syrah won my heart, however.  A deep, blood red wine with suggestions of chocolate, pepper, and blackberry.  It was love at first taste.  A bottle of this fine liquid gem accompanied me back home.  I will most assuredly be purchasing this again.

Another aspect I love about Carhartt wines are the labels on the bottle.  Each varietal has a different animal on it.  The Syrah has a pig, the Merlot a pheasant, the Sangiovese a rooster.  All of these animals have different meanings and symbolism, both in feng shui and other historical avenues.

The rustic class and simplicity of Carhartt made for a wonderful wine savoring experience.  They also played amazing music during the tasting, including some selections from the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, most of it being a fusion of mellow bluegrass and jazz.   For a truly excellent outdoor wine tasting experience, visit the fine people at Carhartt.  And, don’t forget to pay homage to the giant metal fish in front.

Carhartt Tasting Room and Winery

2990A Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, CA 93441

805 693-5100

Hours:  Tasting room open daily 11:00 to 5:00.


The Road to Melville

Herman Melville was one of the greatest novelists of the nineteenth century.  His most popular book, Moby Dick, illustrates the adventures of a sailor called Ishmael and his experiences aboard the ship Pequod.  Bent on revenge, the captain of the ship, Ahab, relentlessly pursues  a large whale who destroyed his last boat and bit off his leg.  While I have never read Moby Dick, I can understand Ahab being somewhat angry at the whale.  I also appreciate his tenacity at the continual hunt for this grand creature, Moby.  It reminds me of my never-ending exploration for good wine (without the revenge or blood-loss).   On my recent travels, my friends and I stopped at Melville Winery in Lompoc  to sample their vineyard creations.  The main tasting room is in the rotunda-esque portion of the building (above), with beautiful grounds perfect for picnics and relaxation.

This winery is rich with color!  On the day we visited, elegant wisteria was in full bloom, adding a beautiful wood element to the front of the building.  This flowery plant also adds  a little fire energy with its calming violet color.  The mustard hue of the stuccoed walls and the reddish tile add a lively earth element to the environment.  Most shades of yellow are symbolic of earth or mountains, and tend to put one immediately at-ease.  This, I found, continued as we journeyed inside.

An expansive tasting bar lined the back wall of the room that I now call “the tasting rotunda.”  I fell in love with the beautiful marble that covered the bar.  Marble, real or faux,  is a stylish and tactile way of adding an earth element to any environment.  This specific marble takes it one step further.  Notice how the patterns on the stone almost looks like a map of some sort; maps and globes are another way of how earth can be introduced symbolically into ones surroundings.

Another auspicious aspect of the environment are the potted trees inside.  An example of this is pictured below.  Living trees and plants indoors can add a beneficial wood element to the area, as well as improving air quality.  Faux plants are also good, but they will not aid in improving the indoor air as real plants.   Notice also at the top of the picture there are beams on the ceiling.  Beams, from a feng shui perspective, can greatly affect the health and emotional relationships of an area in a negative fashion.  They can  symbolically apply pressure to those in the room, and can cause quarrels or discord among people as well.  Being that this is a business, it’s not as bad as if it were a residence, but I’m not fond of it.  This was the only negative I noticed in the surroundings.  I love how all the windows let in natural sunlight, bringing more nature in from the outside.

And now on to the delicious wines:  Here’s what I tasted:

  • 2009 Estate Chardonnay – Now, while I am a red lover by heart, there is nothing like a white wine on a warm California day.  Referred to as their core chardonnay, this was my favorite of all the wines we tried.  Pineapple, lemon, and sage are very evident in the aroma.   Truly excellent and crowd pleasing.
  • 2010 Estate Viognier – A crisp white wine with hints of pear and ginger.  Not as sweet as other viogniers, but I quite enjoyed it.  Would be great with Chinese food.
  • 2010 Estate Syrah – A sultry red with suggestions of plum and elderberry.  Very tasty.
  • 2010 Estate Pinot Noir – A deep, rich pinot full of spices.  One can taste black pepper, cumin, and ginger among others.  I loved the ruby color of this wine.  Sophisticated and complex.

The grounds of Melville are well-manicured and pleasing to the eye.  My friends and I took advantage of this and brought a picnic lunch to savor the gorgeous day.  We also purchased a bottle of the 2009 Chardonnay to accompany the meal.  Definitely one of the best picnics I’ve had in a long time.   I will definitely be visiting Melville again when I’m in the Lompoc area.

Justina Cross, Shaun-Mathieu Smith, Wendy Cross and Andres Acevedo. Photo courtesy of J. Cross.

Melville Vineyards and Winery

5185 East Hwy 246, Lompoc, CA 93436

805 735-7030

Hours:  Tasting room open daily 11:00 to 4:00.


Tercero Wines Tasting Room

Tasting Room – Photo courtesy of Tercero Wines.

When I was in high school, science and math were not my strong suits – so much so that I put off taking biology class until senior year.  Which, in retrospect, was a good thing.  (I got to be the cool senior in a room full of sophomores).  On my recent wine tasting excursion in Los Olivos, I was instantly transported back to Mr. O’geene’s bio class when I entered the Tercero Wines Tasting Room., which has a distinctive scientific vibe.

My friends and I actually stumbled upon Tercero by accident – we were looking for a place to access wi-fi in Los Olivos, and the coffeehouse we’d been directed to was closed.  The friendly proprietor of Tercero, Larry Schaffer, invited us over to use his wi-fi and take in another tasting.  After a day of hopping from one vineyard to another, Tercero was the last stop, and the wines offered were delicious.  Larry and his wife, Christie, founded Tercero about 5 years ago, and their labs have been creating some amazing libations.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • 2010 Grenache Blanc – A crisp white wine with hints of pear.  Although I am more of a red fan, this was pretty tasty.
  • 2007 Watch Hill Grenache – A rich and bold red with deep berry flavors.  Unlike most grenaches, which are a blend of grenache and other grape varieties, this is %100 grenache grape.   For the discerning connoisseur of wine.
  • 2007 Thompson Vyd Syrah – A savory Rhone red.  The only word I can come up with is Superb.
  • 2007  Cuvee Christie – An enticing blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre grapes.  Very flavorful.  I wonder if he named this after his wife?
  • 2007 The Climb – Without a doubt my favorite of all the wines here.  A sophisticated blend of syrah and petite syrah.  I could drink this ambrosial wine all day!   I restrained myself and only brought one bottle home.

Tercero is tucked away in a gray vintage-inspired building shared with a few other businesses.  Although the address is Alamo Pintado, the entrance is actually around the corner on San Marcos (there’s a sign, and it’s easy to spot)  Chrome metal stools, chalkboard walls (pictured above) ,chrome shelving and beakers filled with colorful concoctions help to achieve the laboratory feeling.  The swanky metal shelving is the Grundtal Towel Shelf from Ikea.

Numbers also play a major part in Feng Shui.  The word Tercero in Spanish means Third.  This number is highly significant to Larry and Christie.  Growing up, they were each the third child in their families.  They were married on the third, and they have three children together.  The address of the tasting room is also connected to the number 3.  815 times 3 is 2445.   Also 2 + 4 + 4 + 5 = 15,  divided by 5 makes 3.   The number three in Feng Shui signifies family, health and community cultivation – all of which can be connected easily to the production of wine, and the creation of this establishment itself by a husband and wife team.  The continued use of this number can add up to nothing but further success for Tercero.

Landscapes are an excellent feng shui choice for artwork, especially when there is an amount of depth to the picture.  Try to choose a landscape that is serene and peaceful,  such as sunset, forest path, or winery setting.  Avoid landscapes that are dark and destructive.  The photography of Tom Ives is an excellent choice for almost any environment.  His calming art captures all of the elements with his color choices and subject selection.  Three of this paintings for sale hang in the tasting room, and you can see more of his incredible work at http://ivesphotography.zenfolio.com.

I liked Tercero so much that I joined their wine club, and plan on visiting them in Los Olivos a few times a year. I think I may have to open my bottle of The Climb tonight…

Tercero Wines

2445 Alamo Pintado Avenue, Suite 104 (the entrance is off of San Marcos)

Los Olivos, CA 93441

805  245-9584

Hours:  Friday – Monday Afternoons, 12:00 to 5:00.  Other days and times are available by appointment.