Laetitia Vineyards and Winery

Laetitia Vineyards and Winery
California “champagne” is a niche specialty – many vineyards simply don’t offer wines created in the traditional methode champenoise, meaning that the wines are fermented twice and both times in the bottle (a mark of quality.) Visitors to San Luis Obispo County, however, are in luck: Laetitia Vineyard and Winery has made its mark with this focus. Located in the Arroyo Grande American Viticultural Area, the tasting room is right off Highway 101 and definitely worth a stop.

Laetitia’s wines prove that environmental awareness is good business. The owner, Selim Zilkha, has a background in wind energy, and the company has embraced the idea of taking care of the land. While the wines are not certified organic, the estate recently received the Sustainability in Practice award from the Central Coast Vineyard Team, which encompasses the same indices as the USDA National Organic Program but also includes foci in a number of other, equally important, capacities. Receiving this award means that a business makes sure that its practices provide support for water and energy conservation, that the good of the local community is considered in business decisions, and that vineyard workers are treated fairly. This is good news for visitors who want their economic choices to reflect their passion for protecting the environment and supporting businesses that take care of employees.

Winemakers Dave and Eric Hickey are a father-and-son team with decades of experience in viniculture. Here at Laetitia, the pair keep it simple, making six or seven different kinds of sparkling wine in any given year. Two of these, the XD and the Brut Cuvee, are non-vintage, meaning that wine from different years is combined, but don’t be put off by this; the latter has won awards ranging from the Wine Spectator to the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition. The vintage sparklers have also won awards in different years, with the 2014 Brut Rose the current darling. This doesn’t mean that the other vintages aren’t worth tasting; the Brut Coquard, Brut de Noir, and Cuvee M will appeal to those who like white, red, and blended sparkling wines. These wines offer a range of sweetness levels, so it's good to taste before buying -- some people like sparklers that taste more like wine, and others prefer the emphasis on the bubbly sweetness. Depending on the wine, Laetitia offers both.

Tastings cost ten dollars per person, but the fee is waived for those who then purchase bottles of wine, which are in the twenty to thirty dollar range. The tasting room offers two tasting areas and is large enough to remain comfortable even with more than a dozen visitors at a time. In addition, the patio garden located just outside offers seating for a dozen or so more as well as panoramic views of the green valley below and the fog creeping in from the nearby Pacific Ocean. Laetitia is rarely crowded on weekdays, and it’s possible to spend an afternoon enjoying the wine, the cool air, and the not-quite European ambience.

Disclaimer: I am not associated with Laetitia. I paid for my tasting and wine purchases with my own funds.

Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, 453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive, Arroyo Grande,

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