Hayley Stroh is a wine blogger who didn’t always enjoy wine. But a trip to a Tuscan vineyard and a glass of strawberry wine sealed her fate. Opinion changed forever, she became hooked on the astonishing variety of vintages and thirsty to learn as much as she could about wine production and types.
Over time and through various blog name changes, she decided that all she really wanted to write about was the different wine tastings and trips she was taking to California hotspots like Napa and Temecula. From there, she decided to rebrand her blog and start up an Instagram to document her vinophilic weekends. And it worked! The wine-loving writer now has nearly 15,000 followers on Instagram.
When we quizzed Stroh about her favorites in California, she responds “my two favorite wine regions in California are by far Los Olivos/Santa Ynez and Paso Robles. Both are very unique in that they are both affected by the Pacific Ocean. In Santa Ynez, the fog that coats the vineyards in the morning helps cool the vines and slow down ripening, which allows them to grow cool climate grapes in an otherwise very hot region. I also love the small-town feeling of visiting Los Olivos, which makes for a really fun experience.”
In addition, it’s important to note that Paso Robles has two distinct zones — Stroh talks about the west side, which “also has a cooling influence from the marine air and is renowned for its Rhone-style wines,” while the area’s east side is “much hotter and more fertile, which makes for great Cabernet.” Regardless of your wine taste, she promises that the region itself has oodles of small-town charm with incredible restaurants, making it ideal for a weekend getaway.
But if you’re looking to stay closer to home (and if that isn’t California wine country), she’s also got some tips for celebrating wine in the comfort of your own house. Serving wine informally is Stroh’s MO, and she says that “it’s always fun to grab a few friends and open a bottle or two and then talk about what makes a wine special.” In terms of products, she gravitates to big bowl wine glasses for hearty reds that allow for proper aeration and a deep pour. She also loves a decanter called Wake Up Wine that doubles as a speaker — a very handy party item!
When in doubt, Stroh recommends adding a little mystique to your wine gathering and recalls a recent night with friends where she purchased six Pinot Noirs, covered their labels, and had guests guess what kind of red they were drinking. “It was crazy what people were guessing, and in the end, they were shocked to discover it was all from the same grape!” She remembers it as a testament to the myriad production factors that influence the taste of a resulting bottle.
And yes, while swirling a world-renowned Cab at a wine producers home in front of a staggering breakfast spread (one of Stroh’s fondest wine-related experiences) is an incredible way to enjoy the legacy of the product, Stroh is quick to note that she’s learned so much from her venture into wine blogging and is especially grateful for the people and experiences its drawn her to.
She reflects, “wine is really about community. Whether it be with family, close friends or just fellow wine lovers, there’s something magical about this drink that transcends languages and even time to an extent. I don’t think I realized how special it really was before blogging about wine, but I’m so thankful that I know now.”
We’ll drink to that.
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