Have you noticed how many people are putting together jigsaw puzzles together since SIP was issued? I am not the biggest fan of actual jigsaw puzzles but give me a real-life puzzle to solve, and I am sucked in. Last summer, I did a day out in wine country and had only one place on the agenda. The remaining wineries were going to come from recommendations. Starting off the day at Soter, brought me to Alexana, which took me to White Rose. At White Rose, a boatload of suggestions were given. In my notebook, I wrote down Ayob. I went home and tried searching for this winery to no avail.

Earlier this year, I was sitting at the Domaine Serene Wine Lounge in LO, working on the newsletter, and started talking to the couple next to me. Of course, the subject of wineries came up along with places to go. Ayob again came up in conversation. This was the second time this elusive winery came up in conversation, and I didn’t take good enough notes to capture the details needed.

In February, I did a mind-blowing tasting with Jazmina at Alexana, and she brought up Ayob again. At first, I wrote Ayouv in my notebook, but I had to make sure I did not miss a single detail this time. She corrected my spelling to Ayoub. I now had all the pieces needed to form a clearer picture of where I need to go! During the tasting, Jazmina mentioned how she moved here from Chicago and worked at the vineyard with Mo, the winemaker, and followed her passion for wine.

In March, I picked up some wine from Tom, France, and Four at Elevee. We got to talking about Jazmina, Mo, and Ayoub. They proceed to tell me how for ten years, Mo would travel to California for the week and spend the weekends in the vineyard. Jazmina convinced France to get on social media for Elevee. Word of mouth is so beautiful!

A few weeks back, during the Weekly Wine Meetup, now dubbed as #ajsHappyHour, the group decided to have Ayoub as the theme for the week. I was thrilled to get my hands on this elusive morsel of grape yumminess.

I called Mo to pick up some wines for the #ajsHappyHour, and I knew Ayoub was close to Elevee but didn’t realize they are neighbors. I was excited, pulling into the driveway of Ayoub vineyards, aka Mo’s house. Now, I remind you my visit isn’t a visit. It is a mission to pick up wine for the following week. I have to refrain from shaking Mo’s hand to respect social distancing, as he is walking up from the vineyards. I adore the fact he is hot, sweating, and his clothes are covered in dirt. Dedication, hard work, and passion speak volumes from his body language.

I get a small tour of the vineyard/backyard, and he mentions the last row is Cab Franc. He also speaks of other vineyards he sources grapes. I walk into a building where all of his wine is stored with less than 100 cases. Mo has a very dedicated following and enjoys his hard work in producing spectacular wines. I ask if I can get a bottle of Pinot Blanc, his response, “No, those are reserved for members.” I ask if I can get a bottle of Chardonnay, and he says, “No. I have less than ten bottles but willing to part with one. I want you to taste how amazing it is.” I ask for a few other bottles, and there is no push back. On a couple of different vessels of grape juice, I can tell I am pushing my limits. I don’t even ask about the bubbly sitting on top of the boxes. I might lose a limb or something.

He went to get his iPad POS system, and when he comes back in, I have the bottle of sparkling in my hand. His reactive response was, “Don’t even ask. I love champagne, and that isn’t for sale.” I love how Mo’s personality comes out and the pride he takes into producing wine! I pay and tell Mo, “Thank you! I would shake your hand, but social distancing.” He understood, and verbally telling him I want to shake your hand hopefully conveyed how much I appreciate him taking the time to meet with me.

I have to admit I was a little hesitant to share Ayoub in the newsletter. His production is low. His quality is high, and when he is sold out, he is sold out. I hope you can visit Mo this summer to enjoy some of his spectacular Pinots, Chardonnay, and his elusive bubbles. When you go tell Mo A.J. sent you and drop me a line of what you thought.

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