Packed full of punch, yet nonexistent in calories, spices are proof that God truly loves us and wants us to be happy. You probably already know that I love my tamales, syrah, and eggs spiced to the nines. For this reason, I was shocked to realize I had never tried Sidecar's Spice Trader, which is brimming with everything I’ve ever loved. Spiced rum (giver of life), grenadine, house sour, velvet falernum (which imparts a Caribbean kick), apple/cinnamon bitters, and a dash of bubbly soda culminate in a frenzied celebration of zing. Pair that sucker with pork belly tacos and you’ve got yourself one hell of a breakfast. Ha. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
• Sidecar's Spice Trader—About $12; Sidecar; 1127 Broad St., SLO.
Wine tasting is never dull when you’re sipping alongside local winemaker Mike Sinor. Once known as “the junkyard dog” (he grew up in Fresno, where his family owned a junkyard), he is now known as the go-to guy for all things pinot noir. Some may know him as past head winemaker at Ancient Peaks Winery (he is still heavily involved in the wine process there), while others may know him from his work at Edna Valley’s now shuttered Domaine Alfred. He is—as anyone who has heard him speak at wine events knows—the guy you want to give the microphone to. That being said, I was thrilled to hear of Sinor’s newest adventures while hanging at his brand new tasting room in Avila Beach, which officially opened to the public earlier this month. His longtime passion project, Sinor-LaVallee, has moved into a bright, gorgeous tasting room just steps from Avila’s sunny seaside. There, I had the pleasure of tasting Sinor-LaVallee’s 2013 Estate Pinot Noir sourced from the winemaker’s own 30-acre Bassi Vineyard, located in cool Avila Valley. To call this an “estate wine” is a big deal for the winemaker. Sinor and his wife, Cheri, bought the vineyard and ranchland (which features ocean views as well as previously-planted pinot noir, syrah, chardonnay, pinot gris, and albarino) in 2013—a big step, indeed. Aged in new French oak, the wine is fragrant with a luscious mouthfeel that makes day drinking seem like a really good idea. You can also bet that there’s real substance behind that pretty label. Each Sinor-LaVallee wine is crafted with heart, and each bottle showcases why Sinor works so damn hard. Thumbprints belonging to his wife and two children are right there on the label, and the name itself is a nod to his love’s maiden name. Stop by and see why you can always count on Sinor for delicious wines and—if you’re lucky—a solid story.
• Sinor-LaVallee's 2013 Estate Pinot Noir—About $30 a bottle; 550 First St., Unit A, Avila Beach; Off-season hours are Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
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