Last week, I wrote about our trip to the Family Winemakers Event in Del Mar, but left you with a cliffhanger as to the wineries that made the biggest impressions on me. As I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seat to know, here they are…
ANCIENT PEAKS WINERY
Based in Santa Margarita, winemaker Mike Sinor continues to craft well made wines at both the value and higher ends from the southern part of Paso Robles. The “Renegade” red blend was delicious.
BACIO DIVINO CELLARS
This Rutherford winery has a stellar reputation for fine wines. Not surprisingly, as their winemaker is Kirk Venge. My favorite was their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon (with a touch of Sangiovese).
One of several Paso Robles wineries at the event, this is a fairly new one on the East side of Paso. The Syrah stood out for me.
C.G. DI ARIE VINEYARDS & WINERY
The Sierra Foothills are known for Zins, Syrahs, and the like. Also, my favorite California region for Barbera, and this winery delivered nicely on all of them.
CA’ MOMI WINES
Well-priced and tasty wines from Napa. The ghost story was fun too.
Mike and Chris Brown are leading the way in showing why a trip to Ventura can be as much fun as a trip to any other wine region, and a lot closer.
Mike Officer’s amazing wines sell out every year, mostly to those of us on his mailing list. Yet he continues to support those who supported him early on, and that includes Family Winemakers.
Another excellent producer from Paso Robles, Neil Roberts is great at showing what can be done to emphasize the local fruit without going over the top. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Neil manages a couple dozen or so of the vineyards in the area, so he has a pretty good idea of which fruit to use.
Collier Falls has always made great Zinfandel. And their Primitivo, which even though related to Zin has a completely different flavor profile, is terrific as well.
Often overlooked with all of the new players in Paso Robles, Eberle continues to produce excellent wines under current winemaker Ben Mayo. And those of us who love Syrah should give a big thank-you to Gary Eberle, because without him the story of California Syrah would likely have been a lot different, but that’s a tale for another day.
Phil Staehle makes his wines in Sonoma in a style I prefer – it’s all about the fruit. Really loved the Petite Sirah, Syrah, and the red Rhone blend called Humbaba. If you don’t know who Enkidu is, check out the website or read the Gilgamesh epic.
Another new to me Paso Robles winery, winemaker Andrew Jones works in his day job at a vine nursery, and has access to small lots of quality fruit. It shows!
We visited Galante in the Carmel Valley several years ago, and they really made a positive impression. That feeling hasn’t changed – the Petite Sirah was especially tasty.
Jeff Cohn has been making his great wines in Oakland [!] since 1996. Wonderful Rhones and Zins.
LINE SHACK WINERY, LIDO BAY WINERY, THE 411 WINE COMPANY
With three labels enabling them to cover a lot of price points, the Ballentine family does a great job producing wines sourced primarily from the San Antonio Valley AVA, which is in Monterey County [but really Northern Paso].
PAT PAULSEN VINEYARDS
Pat Paulsen Vineyards [yes, that Pat Paulsen] is back! After being closed for 20 years, Pat’s son Monty took his UC Davis education and brought the winery back. It is in very good hands.
ROCK WALL WINE COMPANY
Winemaker Shauna Rosenblum continues the family tradition started by her father Kent. Excellent well made wines, I’m a big fan of their Zinfandel.
THE FARM WINERY
Another Paso Robles winery, this one was recently featured in Wine Spectator as one to watch. Founded by two couples, these long-time friends are making some great wines. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of the friends is renowned Argentinean winemaker Santiago Achaval.
All Zin, all the time. Making great Zins and Zinfandel-based blends is all Bruce Patch does, and he does it very well.
The above are just a fraction of the wines available to taste, making this event well worth the trip. Not all great wine experiences happen in Wine Country. But please remember that tasting and then dumping the rest of your glass (and even spitting), as well as noshing and drinking lots of water, is recommended whenever you go wine tasting to be able to get the most enjoyment and taste as many wines as possible.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who puts up with him. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting tasting rooms and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, Michael had the amazing good fortune to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. At the same time, in his day job he provides outsourced controller services to companies that do not need a full-time controller. One day, he hopes to be able to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting. Info is here: http://evewine101.com/press-releases/)