Paso’s Peachy Canyon closes in on 30 years

Since 1988, Peachy Canyon has been producing distinct wines from Paso Robles. As with many wineries that have been in Paso that long, Zinfandel stands at the core of what they do. Over the years, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rhone varieties, and in a couple of cases, fine Pinot Noir have popped up and made a stand in Paso. However, Zinfandel remains the grape that many people think of and drink when they pop the cork on a bottle of Paso wine for the very first time.

That’s a good thing, too, because Paso Robles has a ton of producers growing and bottling distinct examples of Zinfandel. Some are single vineyard efforts, others Paso wide cuvees, and still more focus on a sub appellation. Peachy Canyon has their fair share of Zinfandels in a wide portfolio. Here’s a look at some current Zinfandel releases, as well as a couple of other fine wines from Peachy Canyon.

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Peachy Canyon 2014 Incredible Red ($14)

This is mostly Zinfandel (98%) with a splash of Petite Sirah (2%) blended in. If you’re looking for that everyday house red that provides lots of hedonistic drinking pleasure for a reasonable price, here’s a more than solid option. Black fruit aromas and Mexican vanilla bean are evident on the nose. The palate is full flavored, juicy and loaded with red and black fruit flavors. Boysenberry, bits of brown sugar and more are evident on the above average and somewhat lusty finish.

Peachy Canyon 2012 Cirque du Vin ($19)

This blend is comprised of Syrah (60%), Petite Sirah (28%), Zinfandel (5%), Merlot (3%), Malbec (2%) and Tannat (2%). Violet and plum aromas lead the nose. The palate is filled with bits of savory herb, dried cherry, raspberry and more. A touch of bacon fat leads the finish along with bits of toast and continued fruit flavors. This seamless blend will satisfy a crowd with varied tastes. The under-$20 price point makes it a no-brainer purchase.

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Drink of the Week: The Smokey Martini

The Smokey Martini.It’s the day after Thanksgiving or Black Friday, if you must. That means you’ve likely overindulged in fowl, carbohydrates and possibly heated political arguments with family members. You also might have had a drink or two, but if you’re reading this, you’re definitely on your way to contemplating another one. It’s possible you’d rather have something that wasn’t too caloric, a bit dry and potent but also kind of interesting.

Well, maybe it’s a good day to consider one of the simplest of drinks I’ve ever presented here. It’s definitely more of a classic martini than, say, a Chocolate Martini or, lord help us, an Appletini. Basically, we’re talking about two great hard liquors that go surprisingly great together. This one’s only for grown-up boozers.

The Smokey Martini

2 1/2 ounces dry gin (vodka might also work)
1/2 ounce Scotch
1/2 ounce dry vermouth (very optional!)
Lemon twist, olive, or cocktail onion (desirable garnish)

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and stir — or shake if you must go full Ian Fleming, but I can’t say I suggest it. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and contemplate how a cocktail can be both simple and challenging at exactly the same time.

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DJI Mavic Pro: Great drone for travelers and hobbyists

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Drones are one of the hottest gadget gifts this holiday season, and new models are also driving sales for consumers and hobbyists who love exploring all the fun and interesting uses for these devices. New features, particularly built-in camera technology, make these gadgets interesting for so many more potential consumers, particularly adventure travelers, hikers, etc. who want to capture video of their adventures. It’s safe to assume drones will be one of the most popular self-gifting options this holiday season.

The DJI Mavic Pro is one of the best drones on the market and is available at many retailers, including online at Amazon.com. This drone is packed with an amazing bundle of features that make it easy to take amazing video; it’s also portable, so you can easily take it with you on your travels.

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to December

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With December comes the push for award season, but there’s a lot of other entertainment being released this month as well. Of course, the big movie for many will be the new “Star Wars,” which looks to extend the brand outside of the episodic entries. And while there’s not a lot of Christmas fare being put out this year, there is the potential new holiday favorite “Office Christmas Party.” There’s also the possible sci-fi heights of “Assassin’s Creed” and “Passengers,” which both appear to be something special and come with many bonafides behind and in front of the camera. The rest of the month’s offerings are awards bait material, but there’s something unique and exciting about most of them, whether it’s the powerful acting of “Jackie,” the stylish thrills of “Live By Night,” or even just the return of Martin Scorsese with “Silence.”

“Jackie”

Who: Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup and Greta Gerwig
What: Following the assassination of JFK, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith and define her husband’s historic legacy.
When: December 2nd
Why: The film circuit has been abuzz about Natalie Portman’s performance in this film, directed by Pablo Larraín, with many festivalgoers already predicting an Oscar for her turn as the former First Lady. The film appears to be an actor’s dream, with a meaty script for the actress that allows her to showcase a lot of different emotions at a volatile time in Kennedy’s (and the country’s) life. Add to that a real sense of style that exudes from every frame of the trailer, and it appears like “Jackie” may be a real Oscar contender on multiple fronts while also telling a compelling story that is oft-overlooked in history lessons.

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Product Review: POWERHANDZ Pop Up Defender

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If you’re an athlete or the coach of a youth team, it can be difficult to simulate game conditions or defenders. Who wants to stand in one spot and play the role of living obstruction? None of your friends and none of the kids on your team.

POWERHANDZ has come up with a solution and recently launched the Pop Up Defender. The Pop Up Defender is a compressed, collapsible barrier designed to simulate live defenders during play on the basketball court, football field or soccer pitch. It also contains storage space inside of it to store training gear and is only $34.99.

Here are a few specs:

– 3-foot-5 standing barrier created to mimic a real defender
– Can easily be collapsed to take on the road
– Durable solution to previously used training methods like garbage cans or chairs
– Designed for basketball, football and soccer

On top of all the functionality, the Pop Up Defender is a lot of fun. As the coach of my daughter’s youth league soccer team, we’ve named ours Hope Solo, famed goalie of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. One day, I told my daughter we were going to have a special visitor join us in the backyard for a training session. When she came outside, the Pop Up Defender had donned a Landon Donovan jersey.

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