Trelio Restaurant reopens in Clovis

Ponderosa pine interior, menu highlights Old Town opening

treliokitchen800

After closing just after New Years and a full-scale remodel nearing completion, chef and Clovis restauranteur Chris Shackelford is ready to reinvent Trelio Restaurant, January 27, 2017.

With a brand new interior of custom designed and manufactured local Ponderosa pine food grade tables, paneling, wine cabinets and bar, Trelio is ready to open their doors and serve a new menu

Opening in 2006 as an upscale, fine dining establishment on Clovis Avenue in Old Town Clovis,  Trelio has evolved from regional american cuisine that not only represents the locally grown and produced bounty  of the San Joaquin Valley, but also the changing food interests of the Fresno area and its owner.

thomasandchris
Trelio sous chef Thomas Stempien, left, and chef Chris Shackelford chat in the kitchen during dinner prep on re-opening night, Jan. 27, 2017.

And, while the central Valley’s dining options continue to expand and contract, often between the whims, perception and the harsh realities of economics, Trelio has been a stabilizing force in the Clovis dining scene even as owner and chef Chris Shackelford adjusted to both his and patrons’ expectations and desires.

“(In the beginning), we slowly migrated from being the ‘French Laundry’ of the central Valley to being more of a farm-to-table restaurant and comprehensive dining option in a European style,” Shackelford said. “That being said, we also enjoy the ties to regional cuisine of America.”

Trelio’s is food and wine centric. Every entrée and small dish they create is from scratch, including baking their own bread. As the restaurant has evolved and grown, owner  and patrons alike place an emphasis on cooking, food and wine pairings.

“There are a lot of correlations between our menu and the wine offerings as well as correlations between the wine list and the food we serve,” Shackelford said. Styles and ingredients may change but our core is European.

“The food is a mix being that I have a French core technique, but we create homemade pasta dishes, seafood, steaks, wild game to tapas dishes that might be found in Barcelona,” Shackelford continued. “Heck, nothing is off-limits. We might even offer a Mexican dish or even offer Armenian or Persian.

And as the San Joaquin Valley has such a diversity of people and culture that have made the area one of the greatest agricultural industries in the world, Trelio has made it a point to be relevant and reflect that diverse cuisine with a distinctly European flair.

treliotable1
The new Trelio dining room is completely refurbished with Ponderosa pine tables, banquettes, paneling and a new bar milled from Sierra foothills trees above North Fork.

However, Shackelford and the new Trelio is adjusting its focus even as the chef and owner battles complacency in and out of the kitchen. He said he needed to change things up and began to change the menu about a year ago.

“We decided to shift the restaurant in what I believe to be the trending style to smaller plates, less expensive dinners,” he said. “We’ve basically been doing much the same for the last 11 years and decided to shift our focus.”

treliotablesoutside
Trelio used many of the 70 dead Ponderosa pine trees from Jim Shackelford’s (Chris’ father) property to form the furnishings in the restaurant, including the tables.

When the Shackelford brothers opened the restaurant in 2006, Chris quit his job and jumped in. This time he wanted to be more methodical in his vision for Trelio.

“I’ve been planning (changes) now for about six months with construction going on for about three months (furniture being built, etc.),” he said. “We are losing a few tables as part of a quality issue. We want to be full every night, keep our costs under control (food, staff) and be core, quality oriented.”

While the old Trelio had 12 tables, the 2017 version will only have eight including two sets of banquettes (up to 10 on each side for larger groups). The new menu is designed to be less expensive (up to 50 percent cheaper) and the portions are downsized by 20 percent to allow people to try other courses.

“The goal is to serve customers so they will not be overly full and be able to enjoy multiple dishes over an evening,” Shackelford said. “The menu is expanded, larger than it used to be. These options will be able to be put out (created) at a quicker pace. Simpler styles and more quality oriented dishes.”

chrismakinggratinpotatoes
Chef, Sommelier and owner Chris Shackelford has changed the Trelio menu to reflect new techniques, expanded and less expensive offerings.

Besides special events, wine tastings, holiday and winemaker dinners, Trelio is also offering a new take on dinner in the dining room.

“I wanted a way to develop dishes or introduce new techniques to the staff, so three to four times a month, we we do ‘bar dinners,'” Shackelford said. “We only have four-five seats at the bar for longer and specialized wine paired dinners hosted by me, the sommelier and chef.”

He went on to explain that this would be an extended prefix menu, a rare opportunity to experience an artistic version of a dinner that will most often be theme oriented. Examples might be a Cajun dinner during Mardi Gras to a French dinner on Bastille Day.

Those who are interested in a bar dinner will sit with guests at a beautiful 16X4-foot custom made solid natural distressed Ponderosa pine top complete with rustic wood edges cut from father Jim Shackelford’s property in the Sierra foothills above North Fork. He had over 70 dead and/or dying trees and hired The WoodShed of Clovis to mill and manufacture the bar, tables, open wine cabinets and paneling that now graces Trelio’s interior.

The whole interior is custom and brilliant in its natural state of light reddish-brown, grey/blue hues as well as the knotty highlights and nail or insect holes associated with each tree. The Woodshed contractors completed all the fine woodwork in a refurbished Trelio to complement the new grey color scheme.

treliofoodtable
Trelio’s menu is expanding and besides offering more dishes, the entreés will cost less and be 20 percent smaller.

While Trelio is already booked through Feb. 4, reservations are already filling up beginning  Feb. 7. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday and guests looking for a relaxed, upscale dining experience that is centered around handcrafted food, an Wine Spectator award-winning wine list and personal service should consider Trelio for dinner.

Upcoming events on Trelio’s calendar include a Winter Wine Tasting, Feb. 4; a special Valentine’s dinner, Feb. 11 & 14; winemaker dinner with David Scheidt of Mastro Scheidt Family Cellars, Feb. 23. The dinner at the bar special series begins Feb. 28 for “Fat Tuesday at the Bar.” Please call ahead for availability and reservations.

oldtowngatewaysign800
Look for Trelio Restaurant near the Clovis Gateway to the Sierras sign on Clovis Avenue.

Reservations are recommended as Trelio will only seat 32-36 patrons per evening. Call (559) 297-0783, visit Trelio Restaurant on the web or use ‘Seat Me’ via Yelp. Trelio has seating times Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Trelio is located at 438 Clovis Ave, Clovis, CA 93612.

Today, Chris Shackelford continues the Trelio Restaurant tradition and acts both as Trelio’s sommelier, chef and owner. He has been in the restaurant industry since he was 13 years old under a variety of central coast restaurants and chefs and at Erna’s Elderberry House for nine years before opening Trelio in 2006.

Be sure to read TalesoftheCork’s previous blog post, “Dinner pairings with Buena Vista Wines.” And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

treliosignfront800

Branding Le P’tit Paysan as a fresh, friendly Rosé

TalesoftheCork Wine Reviews

Ian Brand continues to produce top shelf wines in Monterey, San Benito Counties

While a personal family crisis has shuttered much of my creativity this summer, it did not prevent me from seeking out and purchasing great Rosé bottles to drink poolside or enjoy with summer, backyard cuisine.

Today’s weekend wine choice for a hot August day was suggested by Fresno’s Stan Kato of The Grape Tray. In fact, Tim Fish of Wine Spectator mentioned the bottle in his July 22, 2013, 17 Pinks from California, article.

Ian Brand moved and is raising his young family in Monterey County to work its challenging vineyards, including the Spur Ranch Vineyard in San Benito County.
Ian Brand moved and is raising his young family in Monterey County to work the challenging vineyards, including the Spur Ranch Vineyard in San Benito County.

I’ll often shop at The Grape Tray because Stan takes the time to learn the taste preferences of both his Internet and local regulars and will alert me to bottles that may be of interest. So this week, instead of just picking up an old standby French Rosé to enjoy while I soaked in the pool, I purchased a bottle of Le P’Tit Paysan. Stan said why purchase another French when a California pink would “knock my socks off.”

And he was right. But I would add, “Ian Brand knocked my socks off.”

Normally, the epicenter of a good Rosé is found in the South of France; however, increasingly quality pink wines are found coming from growers and vintners of central California. Personally, I love the smell and taste of watermelon and strawberry and historically wines with a higher percentage of Grenache, Syrah or Mourvedre produce some of the best dry Rosés.

According to Jeanne Howard of MC Weekly, Ian Brand is the winemaker and driving force behind seven boutique wineries in Monterey County and consults with four other labels. Yet it is his Le P’Tit Paysan Mourvèdre San Benito County Rosé Pierre’s Pirouette 2012 that got me pouring today.

California’s 2012 vintage continues to create a buzz and Brand’s dry French-style Rosé is one of the best I have tasted this season in a state that has produced a plethora of outstanding examples. And winemakers are creating some outstanding pinks with Cinsault, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir.

In fact, I find myself scouring wine shelves looking for that perfect balance between fresh fruit aromas and a dry, crisp, light, refreshing taste. I also want to keep most of my Rosé purchases around $20 or less.

The 2012 Le P’Tit Paysan Mourvèdre had hints of rhubarb, blood orange but the dry Rosé shone its salmon hue and minerality much like its French counterparts.
The 2012 Le P’Tit Paysan Mourvèdre had hints of rhubarb, blood orange but the dry Rosé shone its salmon hue and minerality much like its French counterparts.

Tim Fish agreed with Stan when he wrote of Brand’s San Benito County gem: “Who needs French Rosé when California can make them this good?” I agree with Fish when he wrote Brand’s Le P’tit Paysan Pierre’s Pirouette is a “winning blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache that tastes like a pink from the Southern Rhône.”

Wine Enthusiast named Brand a rising star among winemakers in the April 2013 issue. To me his Rosé is a star which tops a great year of pink wine in 2012.

In my glass, the 2012 Le P’Tit Paysan Mourvèdre Rosé showed a beautiful salmon hue that complimented the subdued strawberry and apricot aromas. I grew up in the Northwest and enjoyed a hint of rhubarb before the dry taste of watermelon took over. Finally, the finish lingered with blood orange. I appreciated how Brand kept the flavors in check, including a noticeable but lovely minerality. The wine is balanced, full and ends with a soft spice. I drank a full pour (maybe two) while sitting in the steps of the pool. Later, I finished the bottle with a plate of charcuterie. While his Rosés may improve with another year in the bottle, Brand’s Le P’Tit Paysan wine can be enjoyed immediately.

Brand believes his Rosé’s success comes because his vines have difficulty growing in the Spur Ranch Vineyard over the limestone seabed, white rocks and fossil shells. The struggle creates thicker skins and stronger flavors. The scraggly vineyard is not only tough grow in but to work with as well.

Ian Brand moved to Monterey County and works in San Benito County on purpose, seeking out untapped potential in the rocky, limestone, old seabeds and shale soils.
Ian Brand moved to Monterey County and works in San Benito County. He is seeking out untapped potential in the rocky, limestone, old seabeds and shale soils.

“I moved to Montery County and work in San Benito County on purpose,” Brand said. “I love working there, seeking out untapped potential in the rocky, limestone, old seabeds and shale soils. I believe the climate and soil is perfect for the vine’s growth on the south-facing Chalone Peak to ultimately produce my style of Rosé.”

The San Francisco Chronicle wine writer Jon Bonné says 2013 may finally have brought a perfect storm of rosé and it is the hottest thing in wine now. He calls rose a “serious enough wine to be crafted with care, made from grapes dedicated to that purpose.” I am excited to say that Brand’s 2012 Le P’Tit Paysan Mourvèdre Rosé made Bonné’s list of wines that won’t disappoint. Check out
Think pink – a bumper crop of rosé this year for more information.

For those who act quickly, you still might be able to purchase a few bottles of this Rosé gem. Only 85 cases were produced and are selling for around $19.

The 2012 Le P’Tit Paysan Mourvèdre Rosé can be purchased in select small wine shops. Two local spots are The Grape Tray and Nick’s Wine Corner. Both can take orders over the phone and/or through their websites.

Be sure to check out Brand’s posts on the Le P’tit Paysan Facebook for more information.

If this wine does not seem to fit your fancy, Wine Folly’s Madeline Puckette will help you get in the know why and what kind of Rosé is right for you.

For more information on Le P’Tit Paysan visit the website or call Ian Brand at the winery: 831.212.3660 or through email: info@LPPwines.com. He is also on Twitter: @ptit_paysan.

For those who missed my latest posts, check out Calistoga: Brannan’s Grill for lunch or Tuscan tasting: Castello di Amorosa 2012 Rosato.

Be sure to return check out my Twitter @TalesoftheCork and on my Instagram (talesofthecork) daily postings. I also would covet those who would suggest a wine, restaurant, chef or hotel to visit. Feel free to contact me through social media or via email at talesofthecork@gmail.com.

Get to know 2012 Coast winemaker of the year: Mike Sinor

Sinor LaValle owner a central coast mentor

Earning Wine Spectator’s praise for a 96-point Pinot Noir wasn’t enough to keep Mike Sinor fulfilled. In fact, neither was flying from Santa Maria to Napa for wine and dine lunches on a private Gulfstream jet. The trips to Burgundy and Bordeaux, France, to study winemaking and wine dinners with the Rothschilds were wonderful, but the ‘perks’ and awards always came while working for someone else.

After returning from France in 1996, Mike Sinor started his own wine label, Sinor-LaVallee, with his wife, Cheri, in 1997.

When the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and San Luis Obispo Vintners Association each named Mike Sinor California’s ‘2012 Central Coast Winemaker of the Year’ in mid July, the  Visalia, California, transplant soon traveled back to the Central Valley for a promotional event at The Market. Later that evening, Mike and I chatted at Trelio Restaurant during a wine dinner event. We agreed to meet a week later at the fabled Santa Margarita Ranch and  Ancient Peaks Winery, just south of  Templeton, Calif., in order for me to better understand the man behind the honor.

While Mike was raised in the center of agriculture in the State, his father, Bernie, an avid pilot, sold heavy construction equipment as owner and operator of Sinor and Sons Equipment company. Bernie gave young Mike plenty of opportunities to work on the job sites or at the family-owned Fresno junk yard. Mike spoke fondly of his father’s staunch commitment to his business, working hard but taking time to play hard with the family.

Bernie and Mike often went hunting together, and while it did not often include big game, father and son hunted doves in the foothills of Madera. And like many Central Valley residents, the family made numerous trips to Cayucos which is where Mike’s love of the beach began.

But working for Dad was not a part of Mike’s plan. College and the Central Coast beaches lured the high school graduate. The teenager ended up in San Luis Obispo; Mike enrolled at California Polytechnic State University [Cal Poly], ready to become the first college graduate in his family (Mike’s sister, Teri LaFleur, is now a 3rd grade teacher in Woodlake).

sinorstobbe2
I spent a morning with Mike Sinor, right, at Center of Effort in the Edna Valley where he works with a number of other winemakers and also creates his  Sinor-LaVallee brand.

“I was ready to go out on my own,” Sinor said. “My dad taught me my work ethic: to work hard and throw myself into it. So when I wanted to go to college, I had his blessing but I had to pay for it, work for it.”

Sinor’s upbringing, like many from the Central Valley, brought a love for the coast; Cal Poly was a natural choice. The Sinor family encouraged Mike to take responsibility for his education at an early age but expected him to pay for college. He entered Cal Poly hoping to become a high school shop teacher; however, upon meeting his future wife, Cheri, in a Chemistry 101 class, that dream changed: a love for each other and the wine-making journey was born near the beach in 1991.

Many Central California teenagers dream of leaving the San Joaquin Valley for a college beach experience. Mike Sinor left Visalia for San Luis Obispo and a degree from Cal Poly.

“My first job on the Central Coast was on old Corbett Canyon Road when I was 21,” Sinor said, “where I worked at many wineries, including Corbett Canyon Winery; that is where my winemaking training started. Claiborne and Churchill, Chamisal Vineyards, Saucelito Canyon, and Windemere Winery over the next three years (’91-’94). Initally, I had no idea what I was doing,” Sinor continued, “but these area wineries and winemakers became my community.”

Mike did more than just put in time at local wineries. He became a part of their families, including Bill and Nancy Greenough’s at Saucelito Canyon.

“We had previously lost a daughter when Mike showed up to work at our vineyard,” Nancy said. “While I had college kids around to be a positive influence to our youngest (Margaret and Tom), Mike Sinor lived out his time with us like their older cousin. Besides working that first harvest with us, there was not a job he wouldn’t do. Mike is an extremely positive person, has clear values, hardworking, and enthusiastic. He always did a job well.”

sinorskullcoe

Whether Mike picked the kids up from school or punch downs three times per night, Nancy said Mike found joy in whatever task he undertook. She never felt awkward about asking him to do the “crappy job” or the worst job at the winery. Mike had a Valley Boy reputation: always hard working. No job was beneath him.

“Mike was like a Junk Yard Dog,” Bill Greenough said. “There wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix: from tractors to wine equipment. Actually, I don’t know why he initially wanted to become involved with wine but he was so curious.

He always wanted a better way to do things, even if it involved the worst of jobs. He always volunteered: ‘I’ll do that…no problem.’ He willed himself to learn the wine process. He was so attuned to sensory changes to wine, juice, the smells, fermentation, pressing, barreling. His nose was always busy. He keeps an eye on stuff; his senses became like a hound dog sniffing, sniffing it out.”

Mike and Cheri’s personal wine label is Sinor-LaValle. Mike’s Spanish family heritage is the Sinor and Cheri’s background is French; thus the LaVallee.

Sinor not only had time for the wine business and babysitting the kids, but the Greenoughs said Mike took so much pride in completing even unusual tasks.

“We had this VW wagon sitting on our property; it had been parked for 10 years,” Nancy said. “Mice had moved into the camper: a 1966 Volkswagen Westfalia. Mike took it completely apart, got rid of the mice and put back together. He always brought out the best in people. The kids loved him.”

Today, Mike no longer wears a pony-tail under his baseball cap, something that Bill jokingly chided him for while Sinor lived in a house in the vineyards. Sinor, while living out a ‘Rush Limbaugh work ethic in the morning and country music in the afternoon,’ has given back to the Greenoughs. He has helped mentor Tom Greenough as he took over as Saucelito Canyon’s winemaker.

“I discovered myself because of them,” Sinor said. “They introduced me to my livelihood and I became so close to them; I not only worked by day, but I occasionally took care of their kids in the evening. Not only do I love my career but I also love the land and the people I am indebted to for my success. I love this community; it raised me.”

After graduating with a degree in Industrial Technology, Sinor began working for the Robert Mondavi family at Byron Vineyard in Santa Maria during the harvest of 1994. He rapidly gained respect as moved up from his cellar position to Assistant winemaker to Ken ‘Byron’ Brown.

Sinor’s background and passion for the land and vineyards also increased as he made two trips to France to study French winemaking processes with a focus on the vineyards and domains of Burgundy. These trips became even more personal as he married Cheri while on a trip to  Beaune, Burgundy, in 1996. A year later, Cheri and Mike started their own label: Sinor- LaVallee Wine Company. Their name is a ‘marriage’ of their two heritages: Sinor-Spanish and LaVallee-French. Their focus? Like that of their shared love: 300-400 cases of Pinot Noir.

Sinor worked with Byron Vineyards and Winery until November of 2000; he had seen production quadruple, a new winery built, and hundreds of new acreage planted. He left Byron after four years for his first winemaker position at Domaine Alfred [Chamisal Vineyard] in the Edna Valley and never looked back, despite what he gave up.

Sinor began his winemaking journey at Byron Vineyards and Domaine Alfred, where his 2004 Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir Edna Valley Chamisal Vineyards Califa earned 96-points from Wine Spectator. He currently works at Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita.

“It was very emotional for me to leave Byron after working with incredible people and the Mondavi family,” Sinor said. “No one could believe I was willing to give up the private jet excursions from Santa Maria to Napa for lunch or trips to Burgundy to learn more about winemaking. Why would this little guy from Visalia give up drinking with the Rothschild family?”

Domaine Alfred had been a small winery renewed by owner Alfred “Terry” Speizer. He planted the dormant vineyard with the latest French clones, including six Pinot Noir and five Chardonnay clones, in the mid 1990s. Speizer made Sinor his winemaker in November 2000.

“I felt a need to change,” Sinor said. “There is never a perfect time for change. I knew personal growth comes from uncomfortableness. So I risked and Terry gave me control over 80 acres of vines and the winemaking. We made a good team.”

The two worked the vineyards to near perfection for five and a half years, expanding and tinkering with the vineyards.

Sinor’s mantra is passionate: Wine done well will transmit its environment.

After 5 1/2 years as Domaine Alfred’s winemaker, Sinor felt like a change was imminent. He had offers for a lot of jobs but the opportunities were not a right fit.

“The message is the place, the messenger is the wine,” Sinor said.

Wine Spectator agreed with Sinor and put Domaine Alfred on the map on June 15, 2006. They rated the 2004 Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir Edna Valley Chamisal Vineyards Califa. This was the highest score their critics had ever rated any Central Coast Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay, Syrah, and Grenache also earned acclaim.

As a winemaker from a world class winery, Sinor led the Central Coast into notoriety. Sinor joined Brian Talley and a group of vintners who pioneered a new organization in 2001: The World of Pinot. He served on the board of directors for 10 years. Countless others in the industry kept him busy for interviews and consulting. Mike and Cheri’s Sinor-LeVallee wine label continued its own success in the Edna Valley and all seemed right. All seemed right to everyone except Mike and Cheri.

“Even before Wine Spectator came out and gave our pinot the high score, I was already thinking my time at Domaine Alfred was coming to an end,” Sinor said. “I knew a major grow of the brand was coming; we built a new winery and would need to hire more people to support the increased production. Both Cheri and I knew we didn’t want to stay much longer. I had lots of offers to leave but nothing seemed right. It was time to explore another level and personal growth but I didn’t want to do a job I have done before.

Family and community relationships continue to shape Mike and Cheri Sinor. In this 2003 family photo, Cheri holds a reluctant Tomas and Mike cradles Esmee.

“Some people said I left [Domaine Alfred] because of the accident. But I had been thinking about leaving since the fall of 2005, months before the high score and our time of grieving.

The Sinor family’s direction changed forever, Jan. 13, 2006. On a routine flight back to Visalia’s Municipal Airport, Mike lost his dad, Bernard “Bernie” Sinor, his stepmother, Betty Ann, and his stepsister’s two children. The plane crash claimed all their lives and reshaped Mike’s next steps.

Please check out A time for change: Mike Sinor winemaker of the year, Part II. Read as Mike overcame his great loss and accepted a new challenge at Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita, Calif. His wife, Cheri, and Mike still produce Sinor-LeVallee wines and continue to be leaders in the Edna Valley winemaking community.