Day #2 in Paso Robles

11 Sep

Paso Robles wine has exploded over the last decade or so. Based on discussions at various wineries, Paso had only about 20 wineries fifteen years ago, and now has almost 300 wineries….so although we’re visiting several wineries, more than twenty during our stay here, that only scratches the surface. The range of winery styles is extreme, from Mom and Pop type operations that are barely making it, to absentee owners who bought the winery with cash and never visit it. Some winemakers say the wine is made in the vineyard, whereas others manipulate the grapes. We find there’s no right or wrong…wine can be excellent (or not) from any style…the proof is in the glass.


Today started with a nice long walk and blogging, prior to heading to the East Side of Paso Robles, where it’s hotter and alcohol levels make the wines hot as well, in general terms. That’s relative, of course, as well made wines don’t show the very high alcohol levels, at least while having small samples of wine (or perhaps not, as we found in our tastings). We visited a number of wineries today, including:


Barrel 27

Brochelle Vineyards

Tobin James


Penman Springs





Bodega PasoRobles

Asuncion Ridge


Barrel 27 Wine Company: This winery was recommended by the pourer at Tablas Creek yesterday and was a revelation…good quality at a nice price, and already distributed in Mass (although they’re not happy with the distributor). Nicole poured us….all the wines were very good quality for half the price of most of the wineries we’ve visited. We’d be happy to have several of these wines in the store, including a nice southern Rhone blend, their Grenache, Syrah, or Rhone blend. Their goal is to provide good value Rhone style wines, and they succeed in this.


Brochelle Vineyards: is right next door, and advertises a cheese pairing, so we stopped in. Their estate syrah (with Midnight Moon goat cheese, which we’ll look for the store) was the highlight.  We tasted 4 cheeses, 3 of which we have in the store – Istara, Beemster XO, and Piave as well as a new firm goat cheese, Midnight Moon, which we’ll look into having at the store.


Tobin Jamesis a medium-sized winery according to them, at about 60,000

Busy at Tobin James

cases, but is about as big as we go. They claim to have “the largest wine club in the nation”. The tasting room is big, with more people there than the total of all the tasting rooms we visited today. We have a nice chard and zinfandel in the store with good value. After tasting through their wines, including several of their special wines, the two at Pairings are the best. There is one sparkling wine that may be worth bringing in because of its low price and good quality.


Clautiere Vineyards, as ever, is a fun and unique winery. A couple owns the winery, with Clautier the “director of fanatasy” and her husband the “director of reality”. There’ purple and art all over the place (see pictures). It’s small, at 1500 cases per year, a nice place to be. We have their Grand Rouge, a delicious blend and were reminded why…it’s delicious! The wines have excellent value…we tasted a non-vintage red blend called “Cocky Sisters” with outrageous value (see pic of label to the rigtht). It will be a wine of the month if we can get it.


Clautiere Balls

A beautiful “color wheel” logo of Penman Springs Vineyard caught our attention. Rosi, the pourer, cooks a lot, and we tasted a delicious chimichura sauce. This is another small winery not distributed in Mass. The Petite Sirah (the way they spell it) is nice, and the other wines have low alcohol (a nice change), so it can be done.


Changala Winery is another small winery that works hard to produce excellent wines with reasonable prices. We have their Sublime in the store, and will look to bring in some of the delicious red blends we tasted. They are sharing their tasting room with Kaleidos temporarily until Kaleidos can get their own, so we tasted these wines also. This is a side project of the winemaker from Sextant. The wines are very nice, but more expensive without being better, except for some of their specials. During the 45 min or so we were there, no one else came in…showing, as we have found, that excellent small wineries often go unnoticed…just look and you will find.


Lori’s brother likes Niner Wine, and has played golf with the winemaker,

Niner Tasting Room

Amanda Cramer, who is from New Hampshire originally…so we had to stop here. The tasting room is magnificent and the wines surprisingly nice. Our favorite was the Cabernet Sauvignon, with notes of lavender, among other interesting flavors (and definitely a cab). This wine was behind Amanda and Niner Wine being awarded the “winery of the year” by someone (forgot to note who).


Summerwood is a hobby of some wealthy financial types who let the winery run itself….no distribution, only sales out of the tasting room, and no increases in production. They send others to get the wine they want. The wines are good but prices are kept high since they apparently don’t care how much they sell.


We wanted a white wine to have with dinner in the room, with some of the nice cheeses from the area, a salad, salami, Italian baguette (so-called), etc. Bodegas Paso Robles in town had been recommended to us, so we stopped in at their tasting room, which they shared with Asuncion Ridge. The Bodegas has a really nice line-up…two whites that we loved (choosing the Garnacha Blanc/Malvasia blend for dinner). They specialize in Spanish varietals, and do a nice job. The winemaker, Dorothy stopped in and averred she’d love to distributed in Mass. She said the Passionate Foodie (whom we know) loves her wines but can’t buy them in Mass. Asuncion Ridge has a nice Pinot Noir and Cab Franc blend…definitely worth a stop at this tasting room if you’re in the area.


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