Summer days at Occasio Winery

As winter turns to spring and spring turns to summer, a metamorphosis takes place on the earth.  Vineyards begin to grow and bud, birds mysteriously start to duplicate themselves and are seen gathering materials for their nests, the weather begins to transition from a soggy damp cloud to a warm melt-in-your-mouth oasis.  We ourselves go through this change too.  Shedding our turtle neck sweaters, gasping at how our summer attire has strangely and mysteriously shrunk, collecting multiple bottles of sunscreen and aloe and mentally beginning to slow our pace down to a more relaxed, sit out on the porch, roast marshmallows on the fire pit mentality. Summer is almost here.  You know when you sniff that old familiar waft of BBQ in the air that somehow someway it will actually arrive.

It was one of those late springs/pre-summer afternoons that I found myself in a summer state of mind.  The kids were occupied at their friends houses and I had several to-do lists to accomplish.  The first item on the list should have read “relax, it’s been a LONG school year”.  Even though the list didn’t say that, I decided to put it on the top of my list and make a quick visit to one of our neighboring wineries.  A quick call to my friends Nicole and Geno, and ten minutes later we met up at a winery that I have not frequented lately.  Occasio Winery.

Occasio winery is located on South Vasco Road, one of the first stops you can make if you begin your wine-tasting journey on Vasco Road.  Occasio has two beautiful neighbors that compliment each other very nicely, Longevity Wines and Nottingham Cellars.  This is a location to visit when you want to get a taste of some of Livermore’s best boutique wineries.  Occasio’s tasting room is beautiful.  Modern yet with a taste of old world Tuscany, Occasio’s tasting room intrigues your senses and makes you want to see what their offerings are.

The first stop on our wine flight was the 2011 Rose of Pinot Noir.  Light and beautiful, sweet but not overly, hints of watermelon, cherry and green apple awaited our taste buds.  A perfect wine on a hot summer day.

Next on our flight was the 2009 Merlot.  170 cases made, grapes from Thatcher Bay Vineyard, and  according to Occasio’s tatsting notes was “harvested, stemmed without crushing, and cold soaked for three days prior to fermenting in stainless steel using pumping over.  The fermented juice  was racked to a variable capacity stainless steel tank and inoculated with ML bacteria.  After seven days of settling, the juice was racked to 100% new American Oak barrels, where it was aged for 18 months prior to bottling unfined and coarse filtered.”  Full bodied and robust, this is a Merlot for the non-merlot drinker.

Next on our flight was the 2009 Petite Sirah.  Now, I am always a fan of Petite Sirah.  It has to be one of my all time favorites.  The Petite Sirah that Occasio has to offer did not disappoint.  The first thing that came out of our mouths was “look at those legs!”.  This Petite Sirah had serious legs my friend.  Beautiful and dark ruby red, just what you would wish for in a Petite Sirah.  This wine had you at aroma. Divine.  The taste was fruit forward, smokey, and had a gorgeous finish.

Third on the wine list was the 2009 Zinfandel.  This Zin is from Livermore’s own Del Arroyo Vineyard.  This Zin reminded us of dark chocolate, licorice, summer fruits exploding in your mouth, and a bouquet that is intoxicating.  Other notes I thought of while sipping were cloves, prunes, and spice.  Delicious!

Last and certainly not least, was Occasio’s blend, the 2010 Livermore Valley Sotto Voce.  This blend won 90 points in Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  The blend is made up of half Cabernet Sauvignon, it has 2% Petite Verdot and the rest is split between merlot and petite sirah.  Tasting reminded me of pine, oak and finished softly on the back of my palette.

Occasio is a winery to visit time and time again.  With such talented winemakers as John Kinney and Chris Sorensen, I can imagine that Occasio will be offering fantastic wines for years to come.  This is a winery that encapsulates the Livermore Valley Wine Country.  You will be thrilled that you visited and proud to bring guests that have never been to Livermore for a visit.

Enjoy your summer, indulge in all that it has to offer and take a moment to breathe in the heady scent of BBQ and jasmine.  While you are at it, take a moment to write “RELAX” on your to-do list.  Once you do, let your summer senses take over for a little while and let yourself indulge in the fruit of Livermore’s harvest.  Happy Summer!





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