There are times that you drive around the Paso wineries and many times you drive right past one that is a real gem that is tucked away and hidden from view. Our good friends Larry and Gloria Stahly know that my wife Tracy and I are passionate about good Pinot Noir wines. On this trip they guided us to one of these hidden gems called Windward Winery which is owned and operated by a husband and wife team, Marc Goldberg and Maggie D’Ambrosia. And guess what? This winery produces ONLY Pinot Noirs. Entering the tasting room we were greeted by Haydec McMickle and Mary Fellini. Both of these charming ladies were cheerful with vibrant smiles that made you feel welcome to their winery.
Windward wines are all estate grown grapes with a goal of producing fantastic Burgundian style Pinot Noirs. The tasting, as explained by our lovely wine stewardess, consisted of a vertical of four of their Monopole Pinot Noirs. Yes, I said “vertical” consisting of their 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. WOW! Here is a special opportunity to evaluate not only vintage but also how they develop with age. The Monopole is definitely Burgundian in style. A quote taken directly from their website definitely reinforces their goal. It says, “Since the 1993 debut in 1995, each of Windward’s SOLD OUT vintages have achieved inspiring acclaim, particularly within the community of wine aficionados who appreciate the layered complexity of Burgundian styled Pinot Noir.”
Marc explains, “We knew we could count on the vineyard to produce formidable fruit. It is living up to our expectations as it matures and continues to develop layered complexity.” The hardest thing in wine making is to maintain a delicate balance of fruits and acids yet offer layers of flavor on the palate. France has this down to a science. Windward has mastered this in their wines.
During our tasting, I was informed that the 2010 could be cellared for 20 years by our wine stewardess. When was the last time that you found a California Pinot that could be aged for that length of time? The pride and goal of developing the ultimate Burgundian style Pinot is definitely displayed. I loved these wines as did my wife. If you close your eyes while tasting them you can almost picture yourself in France at a fine cafe enjoying a terrific Burgundy.
Finishing our tasting our group decided to have lunch at Windward. Not only do they produce fantastic Pinot Noirs, they also have great selection of cheeses, salamis and tapenades along with crackers and other tasty delights that can be paired during your tasting or as lunch. There is a vine covered patio area with tables where you can sit down and enjoy the serenity of the winery while wining and dining. Being that the weather outside was blistering hot the day we visited, Haydec and Mary invited us to eat in their barrel room where it was cool and comfortable. We were extremely blessed to be offered the opportunity of eating and enjoying their wines in the ambiance of their barrel room. It is this kind of consideration that shows the warmth and kindness that radiates in Paso wineries. Everyone is treated like a friend.
If you are in Paso Robles either as a first timer or regular, this is definitely a winery that you must visit. The wines are fantastic along with snack/lunch items and the extremely friendly staff. I know that I will be returning. I would like to give Robert Schwemmer special thanks for his photographic skills that captured the beauty of this winery.
Photo l-r: Rusty and Tracy Sly, Larry and Gloria Stahly, Desiree Thatch and Robert Schwemmer.