As you get out of your car and walk toward the Vina Robles tasting room in Paso Robles you enter under a beautiful vine laden trellis and just beyond a large fountain. This patio area has many shaded tables where one can purchase a bottle of wine and relax in the serenity of the courtyard with the sound of water cascading down from the fountain. The exterior reflects a European flair in design while maintaining the California mission appearance. The doors are arched with inlaid glass and many of the exterior walls are rock.
The inside continues to provide the appearance of a mission from the turn of the century. We were pleasantly greeted by a hostess who directed us to a large room which is reserved for tasting. At the tasting bar we were cheerfully met by Bob Collins who provided us with details of the winery and wines. It is very evident that no corners are cut in the construction nor on the details that went into this beautiful winery. It is easy to understand the European design when you find out that the winery’s proprietor, Hans Nef, and managing partner Hans-Rudolf Michel, are both from Switzerland. The flavor for the winery is best summed up by Hans Nef who said, “I want Vina Robles to express a unique balance of European heritage and American opportunity. As individuals, we are rooted in the Old World. As winemakers, we are empowered by the New World. But both worlds bring value to what we do, and we endeavor to capture this distinction in our wines.”
The wines at Vina Robles do present the new world fruit forward style that is so dominant in the Paso Robles Appellation. I was very impressed with the wines on their list that were poured at our tasting. They ranged in price from $16 to $43 which were the non club member price and better yet, they drank like more expensive wines. One that I really like was Red4 that consisted of 35% Syrah, 25% Petite Sirah, 25% Mourvedre and 15% Grenache. This wine was just $17 and could not be beat. I tend to be a Syrah addict and fell in love with their 2010 Ryan Road Syrah. It was fantastic. This wine is aged in French Oak for 20 months and on the palate resembles a Syrah from Hermitage France with a subtle dryness on the palate. This was one of my favorites but not my only one. This wine stood out and said “I am special.” The whites fell right in line with a beautiful Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc and a blend called White4 which contained 46% Viognier, 19% Verdelho, 19% Vermentino and 16% Sauvignon Blanc. All of the whites were clean, crisp and vibrant.
Club members also have access to special wines that are not on the list. The day that I was there, we were given the opportunity to taste the single varietal Petite Sirah and Cuvee Blend (83% Petite Sirah and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. The club only Petite Sirah was beautiful with its dark inky purple color and its big fruit forward profile on the palate. Both of the club only select wines were fantastic and definitely a good reason to join their club. The club allows another 20% off of their fantastic wines.
As we listened to Bob Collins telling us about the wines he went on to tell us that the winery was only a part of their quest. They also built the Paso Robles Amphitheater next to the winery where such artists as John Fogerty; Chicago; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Yes; Sammy Hagar; etc. have entertained the quaint little town of Paso. What a great contribution. One benefit of being a wine club member is that you are notified and allowed to purchase tickets before release to the general public. Though the amphitheater is smaller than the famous Hollywood Bowl, it definitely has top performers both from the present and the past.
The experience at Vina Robles is very special. The grounds, atmosphere, personnel and most importantly the wines are top notch. If you visit Paso for a wine tasting adventure, don’t forget the East side wineries like Vina Robles. You will not be sorry.