I'm not much of a California wine drinker. I know that's controversial since I live here in California, but I can't really help it. I cut my wine tasting teeth on the East Coast where the wine scene is much more Euro-centric. We didn't see a lot of California wines back there, and when your palate becomes accustomed to the earthy, nuanced wines of the old world, the super fruity, thick, high-alcohol wines from around here can feel like a smack in the face. It takes some getting used to and I'm coming around slowly.

My boyfriend and drinking partner would like nothing more than to see me get excited about drinking a Zinfandel from Paso Robles. I don't know if that day will ever come, but I am trying. I love the idea of drinking locally and realize I am greatly increasing my carbon footprint by insisting that all of my wines come from 7000 miles away, rather than a couple hundred miles up the road. In the meantime, I am finding that California Pinots are a good jumping off point. Fruitier than their Oregonian counterparts, the good ones can be quite pleasant and rewardingly substantial. A Pinot that can stand up for itself.

Pinot Noir is a temperamental grape and difficult to grow, which translates into a more expensive ticket price. There are a few exceptions in Cali, some rather cheap versions that can be palatable enough for a party, and some in the $20 range which can be quite pleasing.

This one, "Folk Machine," from Hobo Wines does the trick. Beginning with lush cranberry, cherry cola and rose petals, the palate is strong and vibrant with rich fruit and a hint of dark cocoa and white pepper. This is a really luscious wine. Like, REALLY luscious, almost TOO luscious at first. But it grows on you.

At first it seemed a bit too sweet, too saccharine. I was tempted to write it off as another overly fruity Californian wine. But then with a bit of time and a bit of air, the wine evolved. It got better. It gained both in depth and complexity. I ended up really enjoying the wine. This album had the same effect on me. At first I wanted to write it off as just another folksy, 60's album. Sweet, saccharine, boring. It grew on me. In the end it actually moved me, and I came to really enjoy Johnny Rivers. Maybe a Paso Zin is in my future, after all...