Lucky for me winemaker Dusty Nabor, of Dusty Nabor Wines, is pals with Sculpterra winemaker Paul Frankel – in fact Nabor buys his Bentley Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Frankel – and Nabor graciously offered to see about getting me an interview and a behind the scenes tour with Frankel.
When we drove up to the winery, its reputation as a sculpture garden preceding it, I made a point to tour the grounds a bit and photograph anything I hadn’t already seen before. It’s quite an impressive sight, and I believe unlike any other winery in Paso or anywhere else.
We met up with Frankel who filled us in on some of what we were seeing. There are metal sculptures, railings, a new several-feet-tall “photo album” mural just getting ready to be filled in, racks and poles for bicycles and horses – predominantly created by Bob Bentley. More about the art and artists can be read here: http://sculpterra.com/our-art/
Frankel grew up at Sculpterra, and lucky for his father, he was bitten by the wine bug when he attended Cal Poly. Frankel said you have to love farming and winemaking. His father, Dr. Warren Frankel, is currently in India working as a medical missionary with the “His Healing Hands” organization.
The vineyard was planted in 1993, beginning with 90 acres, then they purchased 160 more. There are now twelve varieties of wine grapes under vine, and pistachio acreage as well. There is also a vegetable garden and fruit trees.
Viognier does well here, according to Frankel, and is their best selling white wine. Primitivo is the most popular in their blends, and their Port is well liked too. Harvest began on September 11 this year and ended on November 1st.
Their biggest issue: squirrels. Frankel believes there are thousands of them on the property. The have tried bombs, traps and even shooting. Now they have hired a person for the sole purpose of managing the squirrel population.
Interesting aspects on the winemaking: Frankel uses bed sheets instead of lids during fermentation. He believes the technique prevents volatility and too much alcohol in the resulting wine. They can do 10-20 tons a day for de-stemming. A lot the wines have a percentage of new oak influence. Frankel’s been at this since he was 21 and is now 26, “I enjoy the labor and (a winemaker) needs to be young. If you’re passionate (it all) works well.”
Frankel left us at the door of the tasting room and we were aptly cared for by Iddy (Isabel) Shirley. Tasting notes were once again provided, some of which I added to. These are the wines I especially liked in the tasting:
NV Sparkling Wine
Chenin Blanc and Colombard
Notes of apple, peach and pear – quite refreshing!
I agreed: apple, peach, nectarine, white pepper. I could see why this was a favorite.
2015 Pinot Noir
Eddie liked this one a lot. Notes of tea, cherry, clove and mint.
2014 Mourvedre with 12% Petite Sirah
Smoke, jam, cedar and my top pick…so far.
43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Primitivo, 24% Merlot
Brambles, blackberry, smoke, clove and chocolate. I loved the lush fruit and long finish. This was a top pick for both of us.
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Bentley Ironworks”
The grapes are grown below Bentley’s workshop, near where the winery is located some distance from the tasting room. Liked the brambly quality. Another favorite of Ed’s.
2013 Petite Sirah
Besides blackberry I found it gamey and earthy, and it turned out to be my favorite wine in the tasting.
Dark fruit, rich, lush and layered.
38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Syrah and 24% Petite Sirah.
Loved this for its rich dark fruit.
Jagger Primitivo Port
Ed is not a port fan but he enjoyed all of the wonderful chocolate flavors in this one.
To see the photo grids from all of our Paso winery visits from this trip click this.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com