Edna Valley: Tasting Wines with Pattea and Her Friends
We drove four hours south from San Mateo yesterday through the agricultural heart of America, Salinas Valley, through towns like Soledad and and Atascatero, where few of the signs were in English.
It was Mexican farm laborer country, and all around us were the vast fields where our nation’s vegetables come from. Our destination was down the former El Camino Real, now California 101, dropping 2800 feet in elevation, just beyond San Luis Obispo–the Edna Valley.
Pattea Torrence is well known in this lush wine growing town of about 1600, both for her personality and her warmth. She embraces her guests with her personal charm and her overflowing love for this beautiful part of the world where she’s settled, Old Edna,. At one time she had two consignment stores but today she spends her time taking cafe of the guests who stay at the small compound of buildings built in the early 1800s.
She owns a pet turkey named Louis and three goats lounge around in a pen out back. In the morning, roosters crowed us awake. One of the features of staying here are the
chances to help out around the farm with Pattea, or her husband Jeff and her son Keinun. “People love being a part of the farm, and taking part in these activities makes their experience richer,” Pattea said.
We joined two other couples who live nearby for a wine dinner in the beautiful Victorian blacksmith shop at the Farmstay. Each course was paired with either one of their crisp Edna Valley Chardonnays or the mellow Pinot Noir which were donated by Vicki Carroll, a wine expert and neighbor. The delicious dinner was even served to us by a gracious young woman who just gave up a career as a model in New York City!
Since 1982, the Edna Valley AVA, or American Viticulture Area, has been the classification for 30 local wineries who produce wine in this unique micro-climate. Temperatures are cool at night and early morning with the fog that rolls in the cools the vines.
Jeff, Pattea’s husband, has the distinct and familiar Pittsburgh PA accent that belies his eastern roots. He works at a local power plant while Pattea takes care of the guest houses and the various buildings on the old town site, helped by her tractor loving 16-year-old son Keinun.
Guests who stay at Old Edna have the run of a big house with full kitchen, two bedrooms, and two baths, all with a Victorian charm with fun surprises like clawfoot tubs, rustic farm tables and in the yard, many old tractors, bicycles and old trucks. You feel like a houseguest, and that’s just how Pattea likes it.