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The soul of Indian Soil Carefully Crafted into our Boutique wines
After a nearly two-hour drive up the snaking, seemingly never-ending Highway 33 from Ventura, you hit Ventucopa and the Cuyama Valley, nestled in the far northeastern corner of Santa Barbara County. With an elevation approaching 2,900 feet, this is the high desert in all its glory.

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It’s also where you’ll find the aptly named Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, owned by the Arroyo Grande–based Laetitia Winery (which formerly called it the Barnwood Vineyard). The vines are tended by Lino Bozzano, a Central Valley transplant who doesn’t mind the challenge of growing grapes in arguably Santa Barbara’s most extreme region. There are 13 different varieties nestled within the 747 acres of vines, most of which are planted in an ancient riverbed extending from the usually dry Cuyama River.

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The best sites are on the plateaus at about 3,200 feet, on the west side of the river. Unofficially dubbed Alta Mesa, the high elevation, huge diurnal temperature shifts, heavy and dense alluvial clay soils, and steady winds make for a merciless place to grow grapes — but that’s also what makes it incredibly distinct.

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The first underground wine tasting bar and winery in Texas is slated to open mid-May just outside Liberty Hill.

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The inspiration came after owner and wine-maker Dan Marek Jr. experienced the concept in California. Thirsty Mule Winery & Vineyard has been in the works for eight years and is coming to fruition this spring.

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“We visited several underground tasting bars in California and thought the concept should come to Texas as we are the only underground tasting bar in the state,” he said.

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You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

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Globe Correspondent Natural wine expert Isabelle Legeron will be the first to tell you she is a champion of winemakers who see themselves as farmers first.

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Natural wine expert Isabelle Legeron admits she is a champion of winemakers who see themselves as farmers first. “These are winegrowers with a keen interest in nature who are translating that into their wine,” says the Master of Wine (one of only 318 people in the world — and the first French woman — to have earned the distinction).

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A few weeks ago I visited the Paso Robles wine country and was amazed by the abundance of wineries throughout the region. Just a few years ago, there were maybe 25 wineries — now there are over 250 full-fledged wine producing vineyards.

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I am told the reason for this is because Paso Robles, located about four hours north of Los Angeles, has the perfect climate for producing award-winning premium wines. Paso Robles wine country is made up mostly of small, boutique, family-owned vineyards and wineries, but a handful that I have written about produce enough to make their way to our local supermarket shelves.

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Over 10,000 jobs are attributed to the wine industry in Paso, a fact impressive enough to lure Tobin James from his brother’s wine shop in Cincinnati to Paso Robles where he started his winery at an old hitching post. My conquest this week was a 2011 blend named Chateau Le Cacheflo. The name itself (spoiler alert) is a play on words for “Cash Flow” as Tobin was buying left-over grapes as a way to assist his much needed cash flow. Don’t fear, loyal readers, this is a common practice for many wine makers, especially when it comes to blends. When blends are good like this Mediterranean varietal, no matter the price they are worth it. Although this might not be in the same class as it’s neighbor’s blend, the Ancestor, you can’t go wrong with the price point of around $10.

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wine Planning to serve wine at your Easter meal? Here are some local wine pairings to try.

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If you prefer sitting down to enjoy your Easter meal with a glass of local wine, you're in luck.

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Amore Vineyards and Winery, East Allen Township: Pink Passion wine goes nicely with ham or pork. Rose Amore also pairs well with baked ham, according to a news release.

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