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LA Wine Writers welcomes Paso Robles winery 

Elena Martinez, proprietor of Top Winery.

–On Thursday, Oct. 19, Elena Martinez, proprietor of Top winery from Paso Robles, poured a selection of wines for the LA Wine Writers monthly lunch. These regular events are held at Café Del Rey in Marina Del Rey, California, featuring wineries from different areas and countries.

It was a balmy fall day in the marina as the wine writers enjoyed a tasty four course, wine paired luncheon. The menu, highlighting the featured wines, was created by Executive Chef David Vilchez along with Brian Cousins, General Manager, Elena Martinez and TOP wineries’ winemaker, Stanley Barrios.

After being welcomed by the group, Elena was first asked the meaning of the name “Top.” She explained that her and her husband’s lives have moved in so many directions over the years, between school (Elena currently working on a masters’ degree), Stanley’s “day job” for so many years (which he recently quit to devote his full time to winemaking), deciding to take the plunge to begin making wine, that it has been a challenge to keep their lives in balance, or from keeping it from spinning out of balance, such as a spinning top, therefore, the name. As the meal began, Elena discussed each wine for the hungry (both for food and knowledge) and thirsty group.

The initial course was salt spring mussels, in a smoked potato fennel broth, “yummily” paired with Top’s 2015 Poise, a 100-percent roussanne from the Paso Robles Adelaide District.

The 2nd course was a perfectly prepared tri-peppered pork loin, with winter squash, raisins, nuts and cous cous. This was complemented with Top’s 2014 Precession, an elegant and smooth grenache from the Willow Creek District. Finally, the 3rd course, grilled venison loin, with sundried tomato risotto, with a cognac mushroom sauce featured TOP’s 2014 Exert (92-percent syrah, 5-percent grenache and 3-percent mourvedre), perfectly highlighting the flavors of the wine, a perfect complement alongside Chef Vilchez’s dish.

Salt Spring Mussels with smoked potato fennel broth.

Prior to the luncheon concluding with a palate cleansing sorbet ice cream, we were surprised and treated to a splash of Top’s 2014 mourvedre.

These regular LA Wine Writers luncheons at Café Del Rey offer wine makers a perfect opportunity to showcase their wines to a group of professional wine writers in an intimate atmosphere where they are able to discuss the wines while interacting with the winemaker, in a relaxed atmosphere. The luncheons lend themselves well to smaller, boutique wineries. Several Paso Robles wineries have been highlighted during the past year.

Following the luncheon Elena said, “It was an exquisite afternoon showcasing the wines Stanley Barrios has meticulously crafted for Top, and pairing them with elegant dishes showcasing an array of colors, texture, and flavors. I was honored to have shared this moment with the LA Wine Writers, and to be able to showcase not only our wines, but the wonderful wines, especially Rhones, being produced in the Paso Robles Wine Country.”

A special “thank you” to Café Del Rey and the LA Wine Writers for hosting another Paso Robles wine paired lunch event, and giving TOP winery the opportunity of presenting their wines in such a delightful, delicious setting.

To arrange a tasting appointment with TOP winery in Paso Robles, please contact them at:

For information on Café Del Rey, visit their website at:

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at