It was a Twitter message that did it. 140 little characters about a crazy big sale on delicious 2005 Viognier and Roussanne that worked out to less than $100 a case. Huh?
We read that post at 3:45 and still managed to get to the Clautiere Vineyard tasting room (a 30 minute drive away) before it closed at 5. When we walked in we told the woman behind the bar that we were there because we’d just read a Tweet about the blow-out sale on cases of white. Her reaction “No way!”
Tweeting about an impromptu sale like this is a prime example of one of the many ways Twitter should be used by wineries for immediate results (ie, sales), though alarmingly few Paso Robles wineries are doing it. Yet.
But Clautiere has always been a leader, not a follower right down to its motto which is “a winery like no other.” Clautiere’s tasting room lives up to that motto with an electric palette, a penchant for harlequin prints and epic portraits. The owners themselves describe it as “Edward Scissor Hands meeting the Mad Hatter at the Moulin Rouge” and who are we to argue? Actually, the cartoony rendering of the tasting room on the winery’s web site is not that far off from the reality…
Oh, did we mention the basket of hats and piles of wigs for customers to try on and the shed out the back that’s full of even more costumes and fun house mirrors?
This wonderful wackiness is the brainchild of Clautiere owners Claudine and Terry (Clautiere, get it?) who between them have previous careers as a fashion designer, a welder, a landscape designer and a restauranteur. Now they make wine that’s fragrant and friendly and surprisingly serious given the eclectic surroundings.
We also love their latest brainstorm: a spin-off label called Two Cocky Sisters that’s meant to be an “economy buster” with a price tag of $11 per bottle. Essentially, they blend all of the leftovers together into deliciousness.
Speaking of blending, Clautiere does a full complement of single varietal wines, but they’re not afraid to throw in the kitchen sink. Their 2002 Grand Cru ($35), for example, is a happy mix of Syrah, Cuonoise, Grenache, Mouvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. Just drink it. It’s a pleasant surprise to find many of Clautiere’s wines under 15% alcohol as well.
You’ll want to linger at the tasting room bar, but pull yourself away long enough to check out the Clautiere version on a winery gift shop. No dopey wine glass charms or bottle stoppers in the shape of dolphins. Nope. The Clautiere shop sells killer t-shirts that say things like A Day Without Wine is a Drag printed over a Warhol-esque photo of a male fan of the vineyard in a florescent wig.
Tasting room hours: Daily 12-5
Free or fee?: $5 (free for club members)
Bar snacks: None, but it was closing time when we arrived
Soundtrack: None, but it was closing time when we arrived
Bottle prices: $20-$69 (mostly in the $30s)
Wine club: Yes and accepting new members who can opt to receive two shipments of six or 12 bottles each every year and enjoy wine club member savings of 20%
What we walked out with: A mixed case of 2005 Viognier and 2005 Rousanne for 96 bucks people
More information: Nothing quite conveys the essence of this unique and tasty winery like an actual trip to the tasting room. Make your visit a doozy by signing up for Clautiere’s Cops Criminials Kimonos event on August 18 (free for cub memeber, $30 for the rest of us) and be treated to the full Clautiere effect with costumes (come dressed as your favorite cop, criminal or kimono wearer) plus food and great wine and probably wigs. Lots and lots of wigs.