On Friday evening June 14th we hope you’ll join us for a quick tasting tour through the red wines of Paso Robles.
With each passing vintage, Paso Robles wines seem to improve and cast off the image of overly intense big-fruited wines with no varietal character or particular sense of place.
More than 30 years have passed since Paso Robles was established as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1983. Since that time Paso Robles has seen big growth with more than 200 wineries currently featuring wines made from more than 40 grape varieties.
The region got its start with early vineyard plantings of Zinfandel in the 1920’s and 30’s by the Dusi and Pesenti families which was one of the most popular varieties in America during that time. Later on during the 1970’s and 80’s, Syrah began to make its mark on the region with winemaker Gary Eberle planting the first commercial acreage of the grape and later the Rhone Rangers group promoting the use of French Rhone varietals in the region. Their hard work and investment would pay off as Rhone varieties would increase from 100 acres in 1994 to more than 2,200 acres planted in 2006. Many of these hard-to-find varieties are used in blends, but some are bottled as varietals and can be tasted at Tablas Creek Vineyard such as Terret Noir, Counoise and Picardan.
Wines from Paso Robles may look different lately. In 2013 the area was subdivided into 11 smaller regions to highlight special characteristics found in each one. Winery labels can now use the sub-region's name, such as Santa Margarita Ranch, next to the larger Paso Robles region name to help educate consumers who might not be that familiar with the region.
After tasting through many wines for our upcoming tasting, Halter Ranch Winery in the westside Adelaida District has stood out in particular for their overall quality. Since the current owner purchased the estate in 2000, the winery has gone through some major renovations in their vineyards, cellar and overall quality. The original estate vineyard planted in 1996 has been expanded to 281 acres planted to 17 grape varieties.
Only 18% of their estate is planted to grape vines or under buildings, leaving plenty of space for the natural landscape of oak woodlands for wildlife to live in. The world's largest Coast Live Oak, named the Ancestor tree and estimated to be over 600 years old, actually calls Halter Ranch its home.
The new production facility at Halter Ranch is equally impressive with its updated multilevel gravity flow system that is gentle on processing grapes, helping to create a smooth and velvety texture to their wines. Vineyards are SIP (sustainability in practice) certified which focuses on vineyard water quality, soil and energy conservation and only organic approved reduced risk pesticides among many other criteria.
I hope this gave a good overview on the Paso Robles wine region, and more importantly got you thirsty for the great wines we’ll be pouring at our June 14th Friday evening tasting event at 7:30. Cost is $50.
This is Daou winery’s top expression of Cabernet Sauvignon and it does not disappoint with elegant violet aromas and black currant fruit sourced from 2,200 ft elevation. 22 months in 100% new French oak imparts a smooth silkiness with beautiful integration of vanilla and cedar box shavings. Small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot add herbal complexity. The Daou estate is part of the original Hoffman Mountain Ranch winery. One of the first quality producers of the west side Adelaida region, with limestone soils and a slightly cooler maritime climate. With their esteemed jewel of a vineyard comes higher expectations but vintage after vintage Daou always rises to meet its potential.
$126.99 per bottle
The Hope family arrived in Paso Robles in 1978, lured to the region’s oak filled hills to farm and plant apple orchards. Today winemaker Austin Hope carries on the families 30-year farming history with his robust and smooth wines. His style of winemaking has proven to be tremendously popular with customers with rich blackberry fruit, vanilla and clove spice. Blueberry fruit provides a fresh tartness to complement the ripe soft and powerful black cherry flavors. 16 months aging in 75% new French oak barrels. A perfect choice for anyone who enjoys wines with big flavor like The Prisoner or by Orin Swift.
$44.99 per bottle
Winemaker Austin Hope continues to raise the quality of Paso Robles wine with his latest red blend offering of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23%Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, and 5% Petite Sirah. This wine does not hide its rich fruit forward lavish quality nor its plush soft velvet tannins. 65% new American oak is used to match fruit intensity with oak power that Austin Hope blends together masterfully. A perfect wine for those of us who love big flavors with toasty vanilla, tied together with aromatic elegant black currant.
$24.99 per bottle
Halter Ranch and their beautiful renovated Victorian farmhouse is fast becoming one of the best west side Paso Robles wineries to visit. Their new gravity flow production facility and SIP certified organic farming methods have been producing impressive results. Only 18% of their estate is dedicated to vineyards and buildings, leaving a low impact on the natural landscape of oak woodlands, walnut and olive trees. The CDP stands for Cotes de Paso, a French Rhone style blend that combines flavor intensity, approachable tannins and long-lived natural acidity. Dried strawberry, cinnamon spice and black tea weightiness are some wonderful flavors found here. 17 months aging in French oak and concrete tanks.
$35.99 per bottle
Hearst Ranch is new on the Paso Robles wine scene as their tasting room recently opened in 2018. The views here are stunning, with rolling hills dotting the landscape along with old growth oak trees. Hearst’s vast ranchlands are a holdover from when William Randolph Hearst controlled thousands of acres around San Simeon. The wines are often named after people or places of the nearby Hearst Castle. This blend combines blackberry fruit and a rich black tea like extract with smooth elegant tannins. This wine is made in limited quantiles not often seen outside of the winery. 52% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 18% Syrah. 50% new French oak.
$44.99 per bottle
This smooth Rhone style blend is aged for 20 months in neutral French oak barrels. This time in oak allows drying tannins to soften and makes ripe fruit the focus of the wine. Grenache (50%) here provides a touch of red cherry and cranberry that freshens the wine up. Mourvedre (40%) adds a depth of caramel and forest floor earthiness. Syrah (10%) brings a bit of black pepper and raspberry black tea flavor. This bottle is fun with a very approachable finish, able to please a group of friends with its high quality and great price.
$18.99 per bottle
Halter Ranch has more plantings of Cabernet than any other variety. The dedication to this grape is producing amazing results with their balanced, smooth and refined wine. Vineyards are farmed here on steep south facing slopes at 1,950 ft elevation with SIP certified organic grapes. The addition of Malbec (16%) and Petit Verdot (6%) add aromatic, color and flavor intensity of violet, blackcurrant, blackberry and cedar box aromas to this easy drinking wine. 18 months aging in French oak barrels, 30% new.
$34.99 per bottle