Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Pass Up Paso Robles Wineries!

I have been shamefully neglectful about getting a post to my blog but I have had good excuses. Its the lazy hazy days of summer but as well I have given a few wine and food seminars, did a number of tastings with my panel for my email newsletter, attended trade tastings, wine- makers' dinners, entertained out of town guests and most importantly spend some time with friends in California and visited the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards and the great little wineries in Paso Robles.
(Click on the map for an enlarged version)
For my food and wine seminar one of the food items I used is a nifty little recipe from my British friend, Nick Stephens over at Bordeaux-Undiscovered from his recipe section. Its called Angels on Horseback. Just slightly chilling that Pinot Noir did the trick, Nick. While talking recipes, I used to marinate my fresh BC salmon with two or three different home made marinades but not anymore. Picked up this marvelous way to BBQ salmon from David Crowley over at Cooking Chat. Here is his recipe and it is really good!
Sorry I missed you this trip, Russ. Catch you next time I am down your way. Russ Beebe is the fellow from Winehiker Viticulture fame. Russ is a smart operator and he knows his business inside out. Be sure to read his good sense.... no, great sensible approach on mountain lions. While you are at, read my comment. I just happen to agree with Russ 100%.
So now I want to touch on the Paso Robles scene. I will do two posts on my trip. I have enough info and pictures to do half a dozen or so. My good friends Jan and Sanjoy in Scotts Valley treated me royally and one night we went to another friend, Herman and that was a feast I will long remember. Butterflied leg of lamb and here is what he chose to bring out of his cellar to match with it. No wonder I cannot do a proper post after my trip to California.
That's a 1975 Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1978 Ridge California Zinfandel. Needless to say they went down well. My friend Sanjoy (He is my Investor Friend that I have a link to and he has a free interesting and informative newsletter that you can sign up for.) is a great chef and not to be outdone also brought out some of his finest a couple of nights later for another feast.
Herman just happened to bring along the remainder of that 1971 Chateau d'Yquem to give the dessert a little competition.
Click on both these pictures to get a closer look.
Before I get to the Paso Robles scene, I must mention a couple of the Santa Cruz Mountain wineries.
The first one we drove up to is quite a spectacular place on top of the mountain. Great views, amazing facility and wonderful wines. Worthy of a visit. The Byington Vineyard & Winery was established in 1987 by Bill Byington and
the building was originally conceived as a family residence.
Some residence! The grapes for some of their Cabernet Sauvignon wines actually come from the Paso Robles region. I found their 2004 Tarman Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek to be outstanding and their 2004 Messina Vineyard Merlot to be exceptional. The other winery of note is the Hallcrest Vineyards
located in Felton, California. So you don't even have to get up into the mountains for this one. Just drive into Felton. Everybody will know where it is. Outstanding wines and a bonus for me is that they are available here in BC through Blue Nose Wine & Spirits. Their Pinot Noirs are superior.
No wonder they can claim to be the most awarded winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Now onto Paso Robles. As you can see from the map, there are plenty of wineries to visit. We visited some of the best. I think one of the more noticeable features in the vineyards is that a lot of them use dry farming and head trained vines. Dry farming may be unusual in California but not in the Paso Robles region.
Can it get any hotter and drier looking than this?
You'd swear you were in Spain. No that is a head trained, dry farmed vineyard in Paso Robles. So now that I have hopefully got your interest piqued, I am going to leave you but I will be back soon with my next update on some of the fine wines and wineries in Paso Robles.
That picture (click to enlarge) was taken while the temperature was a mere 107 degrees F.


winehiker said...

Thank you for the shout-out, Wilf, my brother! Looks like you enjoyed a fine visit to California.

One of the good things about Hallcrest - besides their organic wines, grounds, and laid-back atmosphere - is that it is scarcely a half-mile from one of my all-time favorite hiking loops, one that includes big shady redwoods and a sublimely enticing forest stream that sings so cheerfully every time I walk beside it. I lead a tour there every Autumn, and I invite your readers to join me this year on September 20th:

I hope we'll get a chance to clink glasses on your next visit, Wilf!


David said...

I'll look forward to the next posts on Paso. I've become a fan--Four Vines & Tablas Creek are two that I like a lot. I wrote about PR at the link below but alas just based on a tasting, not a visit.

gabriella said...

I Love Paso Wineries! The next time you taste in Paso check out The Wine Line. It is a shuttle that allows you to hop on and off at wineries.

check it out at

Wilf G.K said...

Gabriella, I did check out the hop on the wine line site. Sounds like a great way to travel. Next time I am down there I will give them a go.