Michael Perlis visits: Denner and Epoch Estate Wines

On a recent quick visit to Paso Robles we stopped in at one of our favorite wineries – Denner. We are club members at Denner, and not only are the wines very special, they also treat their club members very special, with a private tasting room, table service, a fireplace, etc.

But, I wasn’t there just to taste the Denner wines, although they were tasting pretty darn terrific. I had an ulterior motive as well…

Epoch Estate Wines is a new winery in Paso Robles, specializing in Rhone varietals, with a little Tempranillo and  Zinfandel thrown in for good measure. I had heard great things about this winery and had, in fact, joined their mailing list and made a purchase based entirely on the buzz, something that I rarely [but occasionally, eg. McPrice Myers] do.

I had heard that Epoch recently bought the old York Mountain Winery on the far Westside of Paso Robles and  they were planning to open a tasting room later this year, but I was visiting too soon for that visit to take place. But I also knew that Epoch makes their wines at Denner, renting space but using their own equipment.

So, I figured it was worth a shot to ask our pourer at Denner if there was any way to taste the Epoch wines. Well, she made a phone call, and soon we were being led down into the recesses of Denner, where we met Kristen Carrillo, who is the tasting room manager for Epoch. She graciously allowed us into the lab and poured for us a few of the latest releases which she had opened the previous day for a private tasting.

The wines we tasted that day were:

2008 Ingenuity (a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre)

2007 Tempranillo

2008 Zinfandel

All the wines were from the Paderewski Vineyard, one of their two estate vineyards. [The other one is the Catapult Vineyard.]

All the wines were incredibly tasty and excellent examples of the varietals. But, I was also struck by the depth and intensity of flavors, and the long finishes. Truly wines worth seeking out.

We also got a history lesson.

Famed Polish musician and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski purchased property near Paso Robles and planted zinfandel there in the early 1900s. He had his wine made at York Mountain Winery.

A few years ago, Denver geologists Bill and Liz Armstrong, purchased the property, along with the Catapult Vineyard [which is on Anderson Road near the Booker Vineyard] and replanted the historic vineyard. As I mentioned above, they have also acquired the York Mountain Winery and will be opening a tasting room there soon [it might be open by the time you are reading this]. Winemaking will continue at the Denner facility [Kristen gave us a tour of this as well] until the winery is completed at the York Mountain property.

Justin Smith is the consulting winemaker. Recently, Jordan Fiorentini became full-time winemaker, and we had the pleasure of meeting her as well.

All in all, we felt that we had experienced something really unique. Kristen didn’t have to spend so much time with us, but she did. I know everyone at Epoch is swamped with dealing with harvest as well as working towards getting that tasting room opened. I am really glad I asked the question at the Denner club tasting room and am looking forward to future releases as well as visiting the new tasting room. Thanks, Kristen!


Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at mcpfinancial@aol.com or michaelthezinfan@aol.com.