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Derby Wine Estates - Central Coast - Paso Robles


90 Points - Stephan Tanzer International Wine Cellar

Ray Derby thought he would be long retired by now. After following his father into the family business of manufacturing automobile parts, Ray became a successful business man for many years and lived happily in Eastern Los Angeles with his wife Pam. Eventually, in 1991, Ray sold the auto parts company to a competitor and moved to the quaint town of Paso Robles with the full intention of settling down, relaxing, and retiring. Once he discovered wine country, however, his interest was piqued and that retirement plan was indefinitely put on hold.

It was 1998, and Ray and Pam were settled into their new Paso Robles home. They were happy, but Ray was in need of a hobby and longed for some hands-on work to keep him busy. While in Los Angeles, Ray had developed a small avocado farm and enjoyed maintaining it as a weekend activity. Now that he was in grape growing country, Ray was intrigued by the new challenge and decided to learn the art viticulture. Ray embraced the challenge in a big way! Later that year, he purchased a 600 acre property between Cambria and San Simeon that was located just 1.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This cool-climate site was perfectly suited to the 63 acres of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris planted there and Ray began his second career as a premium grape grower. He named the property Derbyshire Vineyard, and the Derbys had officially joined the world of wine. It wasn’t long before Ray wanted a second vineyard with a much warmer climate where he could grow the Bordeaux varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

In 2001, he and Pam purchased the historic Laura’s Vineyard on the east side of Paso Robles. The 278-acre site was originally owned by Gary Eberle (of Eberle Winery), and stands as one of Paso Robles’ first vineyards. Needless to say, Ray and Pam weren’t slowing down any time soon, and retirement was no longer in the cards. The Derbys quickly gained recognition for their premium fruit and were selling their grapes to wineries as far north as Napa Valley and as far south as Temecula. Buyers included such big names as the prestigious Justin Winery in Paso Robles and Gallo Sonoma in
the Dry Creek appellation of Sonoma County. Ray realized the potential of his vineyards and, although hadn’t originally planned for it, in 2005 hired winemaker Tiffinee Vierra to craft the first vintage for Derby Wine Estates.

Ray and Pam were now entering the winery business! Derby Wine Estates started slowly, and the winery is still small today, producing just 1,800 to 2,200 cases of wine each year, with grapes exclusively sourced from the Derbys’ own estate vineyards.

In 2006, Ray purchased the third and final vineyard site to round out the already diverse selection of wine grape varieties
planted on the Derby estates. This third site, named Derby Vineyard, is a smaller, west side Paso Robles property planted to RhÔne and Spanish varieties. Overall, the Derbys now manage 400 planted acres of 23 different grape varieties from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the RhÔne Valley, and Spain. The opportunities, it would seem, are endless! As winemaker Tiffinee Vierra puts it, “The opportunity to work with fruit from three significantly different vineyards presents me with unique challenges every year. For me, what is most important is to craft wines of complexity and character based on the specific site.” Tiffinee certainly has her hands full, selecting fruit from Derby Wine Estates’ diverse range of vineyards and varieties, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. With her assistance, Derby Wine Estates has made a solid presence on the Central Coast with their distinctive blends and vineyarddesignate wines - not to mention, Derby Wine Estates has also garnered quite the collection of prestigious medals and notable ratings from many of the top periodicals.

The latest project on Derby’s horizon is the building of a new winery and tasting room in downtown Paso Robles. Ray and Pam Derby recently purchased the long-vacant Farmers Alliance building, a 1922 landmark, and have been working to revitalize the iconic building into a very impressive facility. The Derbys are hoping to move in the spring of 2013, and are excited by the opportunity to increase their offerings and build an even stronger presence in the San Luis Obispo County region.



Tiffinee Vierra - Winemaker

Tiffinee Vierra joined Derby Wine Estates in 2005, when she made their first vintage from the Derbyshire Vineyard. In addition to her winemaking duties, Tiffinee also serves as Derby’s General Manager, overseeing all aspects of its operation and quality assurance, while making use of her broad range of experience in the wine world. Tiffinee was first introduced to the production side of the business while studying as a food science major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She worked part time in a local wine shop and eventually found a position in the Wild Horse Winery tasting room in 1998. After graduating, Tiffinee’s official wine career took off with a job as a lab technician at Edna Valley Vineyard. She also held a hospitality position at Tablas Creek Vineyard and worked as the Assistant Winemaker for Four Vines Winery before joining Derby Wine Estates in 2005. Today, Tiffinee feels she has ‘won the lottery” and absolutely loves what she does. With her passionate enthusiasm, she leads Derby Wine Estates into a bright and confident future.

About The Region

Each of Derby Wine Estates’ vineyards is located within a very distinct geographical region (San Simeon, West Side Paso Robles, and East Side Paso Robles), representing three viticultural extremes in San Luis Obispo County. The three vineyard sites allow a wide range of wine grape varieties and great flexibility when crafting vineyard designate wines and unusual blends for the Derby Wine Estates portfolio. This month’s offering from Derby Wine Estates comes from the Derbyshire Vineyard on California’s Central Coast, specifically between Cambria and San Simeon. A cool-climate site with close proximity to the Pacific Ocean (just 1.5 miles away!), the 63-acre Derbyshire Vineyard borders the Hearst Ranch and is planted exclusively to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The Derbyshire Vineyard was the original site purchased by Ray and Pam Derby in 1998, and has been the source for all of winery’s award-winning, small production Pinot Noirs since its inception. Derbyshire Pinot Noir is consistently one of the winery’s most successful wines, vintage after vintage.


Roasted Vegetables & Italian Sausage with Polenta


Ingredients

Cooking spray
4 cups water
1 cup polenta
1 small fennel bulb (about 1/2 lb.) stem & fronds removed, sliced thin
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 (4-oz.) Italian turkey sausage links
1 cup water
2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley


Instructions

Coat a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Combine 4 cups water with cornmeal, and pour into prepared baking dish. Set aside. Slice fennel into very thin pieces. Place in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano. Toss to coat. Arrange turkey sausage on top, and add 1 cup water. Bake sausage and vegetables, uncovered, at 425 degrees, for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven; turn sausages and toss vegetables. Place half of vegetable mixture on top of sausages before returning dish to oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Stir cornmeal mixture lightly and place in oven. Bake 45 minutes. Remove cornmeal from oven; stir gently with a fork and return to oven. Bake both dishes 10 additional minutes or until vegetables are completely soft and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a sausage registers 170 degrees. Remove from oven. Stir polenta with a fork; add salt. Polenta will continue to thicken as it stands. Top polenta with chopped parsley. Serve polenta and sausage topped with vegetables and pan sauce.



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