wine bottles and roses laid on marble counter

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching tomorrow, lots of people are thinking about love. If you’re subscribed to our newsletter (you can sign up here), you’ve already seen our suggestions for wine pairings for Valentine’s Day dinner and notes on why most wines don’t pair well with chocolate. (Don’t worry! If you missed the newsletter, we’ve got the info for you at the bottom of this blog.)

At Oceano Wines, we love Valentine’s Day, but we celebrate love all year round because we were founded on a story of love.

Have you noticed the seahorses on our label? They’re more than just cute animals on a label.

I first met my husband, Kurt, at the Middleburg Film Festival near the family vineyard I was running in Virginia. We were seated across from each other at a dinner and this chance meeting led to a romantic relationship.

It is actually a friend of Kurt’s father who owns Spanish Springs, the vineyard that inspired me to start Oceano Wines and that remains where we source all our grapes.

Early in our relationship, less than a month after we started dating, I invited Kurt to spend a week in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, with my family to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. There were 17 of us and just one of Kurt; in a true testament to Kurt’s ability to connect with new people, he was a perfect fit.

On a family scuba excursion, we spotted a seahorse, a true rarity. Seahorses mate for life, and the male carries the babies and gives birth to them. This seemed like a perfect analogy for our relationship and the seahorse became a meaningful symbol of our deep connection.

When we decided to start our winery together, we chose Oceano, one of the original five cities in Greater Greater San Luis Obispo, as our name. And choosing the seahorse as a symbol soon followed. I hope you’ll think of love whenever you see our label!

In case you missed the newsletter, here are some thoughts on wine for Valentine’s Day:

Your first instinct for a romantic Valentine’s Day may be wine and chocolate. But, contrary to popular belief, most wines don’t actually pair well with chocolate! 

Like most wines made today, Oceano’s wines are dry – meaning the sugars have been completely fermented by the yeasts. If the chocolate you are eating is sweeter than the wine, the wine will end up tasting sour. Tannins are also a foe to chocolate, with the sweetness of the chocolate making the tannins unbearably astringent.

Instead, we recommend pairing wine with a delicious meal for Valentine’s Day. Below, you’ll find two recipes from Les Dames d’Escoffier International members: one to pair with Chardonnay and one to pair with Pinot Noir.

I’m incredibly proud to be a member of this philanthropic organization of women leaders in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. Our membership reflects the fields of contemporary gastronomy and hospitality and we are able to support our communities through grants, scholarships and mentorship. Learn more about LDEI here.

From Chef Dame Ellie KriegerCod with Kale and Chorizo in Broth

Wine Pairing: Oceano 2018 Chardonnay

Here, the old adage “what grows together goes together” rings true with this delicious pairing. Our grapes are bathed in coastal fog every evening thanks to the seaside location of Spanish Springs vineyard. Once the fog lifts and the winds kick up to dry off the vines, the grapes have had time to absorb the aromatic sea spray bound in fog particles. Oceano Chardonnay’s bright citrus and briny flavors complement white fish, and the acidity of the wine balances the richness of the cod while riffing off the spice of the chorizo.

From Chef Dame Amy Brandwein, Chef/Owner Centrolina: Veal Sirloin with Chanterelles

Wine Pairing: Oceano 2019 Pinot Noir 

The silky texture of Pinot Noir complements the succulent texture of the sous vide preparation of the veal. The earthy aromas and savory flavors of Pinot Noir are always a perfect pairing with mushrooms. The acidity of the mustard and the acidity of our seaside grapes go hand in hand.