For the last 3 years, my wife and I have attended wine festivals in Santa Barbara each summer. Each year, on our way back to the Bay Area, we’ve stopped in Paso Robles to do some wine tasting. Last year we stopped both on the way to Santa Barbara, and on the way back. This year, because we’ve enjoyed the wineries we’ve visited in Paso Robles so much, we decided to skip Santa Barbara altogether and just do Paso Robles instead.
On our itinerary was wine tasting in Paso Robles on Friday (Day 1), then head south to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto on Saturday (Day 2), before wrapping up with more tasting in Paso on Sunday (Day 3). I’ll cover each day in a separate post. I’ll share with you the wineries we visited, the wines we tasted, my favorite wine at each winery, and offer my recommendation for each winery.
After the roughly 3 hour drive to Paso Robles from the Bay Area, we arrived in Paso around noon. Just in time for lunch! Our first stop was Farmstand 46 – which just happens to be co-located with Cypher Winery – Winery #1. This wasn’t our first time at Farmstand 46. Last year we stopped there on the way to Santa Barbara, and on the way back. Enough said? It’s THE place to stop for lunch if you’re tasting anywhere in the Paso Robles area other than downtown. They dish healthy gourmet foods, including fantastic sandwiches, and wood fire oven pizza, made from locally grown organic ingredients including “estate” produce. The co-location with Cypher is no accident, Christian Tietje, the winemaker for Cypher, was a chef in Boston before he was a winemaker, and has a stake in Farmstand 46.
Our friend Emmaline, who accompanied us on our trip, got us off to a great start because she bought along a bottle of the 2010 Unti Cuvée Blanc, a very good Rhone blend composed of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, and Picpoul Blanc. It had a wonderful peach, white nectarine, apple flavors and fantastic acidity. It was a great wine for our lunch!
My lunch was a great veggie pizza from the wood-fired oven!
While I was waiting for lunch these beauties pulled up…
Next stop Cypher Winery:
Address: 3750 Highway 46 West, Templeton CA 93465
Phone: (805) 237-0055
Open Hours: 10am – 6pm daily
Tasting Fee: $10 (Keep the custom etched “O” Riedel glass)
Food Available: Co-located with Farmstand 46 restaurant
Picnic Area: Yes
Cypher is winery with a hip vibe that does some crazy blends, that fittingly have cool names like Anarchy, Heretic, and Loco. For example, their Louis Cypher wine is a blend composed of 12 varieties of grapes – Teroldego (15%), Petite Verdot (14%), Souzao (13%), Petite Sirah (13%), Carignan (9%), Alicante Bouschet (9%), Syrah (6%), Tinta Cao (5%), Tinta Roriz (5%), Tannat (5%), Touriga Nacional (4%), and Zinfandel (2%). Definitely not your everyday red wine blend. And that’s just one of their “extreme” wines. But don’t get it twisted, the winery has some great vineyard sources, and takes winemaking seriously. I think of their wines as seriously fun. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, be sure to pick up a “Zin-Bitch” rub-on tattoo while you’re there!
Here’s the wine menu:
My favorite was the 2009 Anarchy ZMS – an unconventional blend of Zinfandel, Mourvedre, and Syrah
Next stop – Tablas Creek:
Address: 9339 Adelaida Road Paso Robles, CA
Phone: (805) 237-1231
Open Hours: 10am – 5pm daily
Tasting Fee: $10 (Keep the glass; One complimentary tasting with wine purchase)
Picnic Area: Yes
Tablas Creek (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines. It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in France. What I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape. They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape. The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyards. Check the full story here
Here’s their relatively newly remodeled tasting room, which is upscale, and spacious with a very knowledgeable tasting room staff.
Ah yes…the mothership is only 9009 km away!
We tasted these wines:
- 2010 Grenache Blanc
- 2010 Côtes de Tablas Blanc
- 2010 Roussanne
- 2011 Patelin de Tablas Blanc
- 2010 Chardonnay Antithesis
- 2011 Rose
- 2010 Côtes de Tablas
- 2009 Grenache
- 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel
My favorite was the 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel, a superb blend Mourvèdre (40%), Syrah(28%),Grenache (27%), and Counoise (5%)
My two cents – Highly recommended. All the wines tasted got an “A” from me. My favorite thing about TCV (besides the wines;-) is that all the wines are served at the proper temperature! That’s a seemingly small, but all too important thing that most wineries seem to forget!
Next stop – Justin
Phone: (805) 238-6932
Open Hours: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Food Available: Yes
Picnic Area: Yes
Justin was established in 1981 by Justin and Deborah Baldwin back when Paso was relatively unknown. It was probably the first true “destination” winery in Paso. Besides the winery there is the JUST Inn B&B, and Restaurant on site. Justin is best known for their Bordeaux-style blends and single varietals. Here a shot of the one of the tasting rooms…
which is located on a beautiful property…
We tasted these wines…
- 2010 Viognier
- 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2009 Reserve Tempranillo
- 2009 Justification (67% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot)
- 2009 Isosceles (94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot)
My favorite was the 2009 Justification
Phone: (805) 237-0055
Open Hours: 11am – 5pm daily
Tasting Fee: $5 (waived with purchase)
Food Available: No
Picnic Area: Well…sorta..
- 2009 Kiamie White Kuvee
- 2006 R’Own Style Blend
- 2007 R’Own Style Blend
- 2007 Meritage
- 2006 Kiamie Kuvee
- 2007 Kiamie Kuvee
- Wine Of The Week – 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (enofylzwineblog.com)
- 2012 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting Recap (enofylzwineblog.com)
- Wine of the Week: 2008 Cypher Winery “Cypher” Paso Robles Eclectic Red (enofylzwineblog.com)