Cab Collective Part One: Stopping for Rhones at Terry Hoage, Checking in to Sundance B & B, Barrel Tasting, Dining with Steve Heimoff and New Friends

Making the most of my two-day Paso Robles media pass to cover the inaugural Cab Collective, I planned to attend four media events. However, arriving a wee bit early for the first, I stopped in to visit with Terry Hoage and taste some Rhones before the all-Cab/Bordeaux blends.

NFL winemaker Terry Hoague, and Eve!

During our interview, first with Terry and then with his assistant tasting room manager Evan Vossler, we learned that Jennifer Hoage “has complete control” as the winemaker for the whites and roses, and Terry does the reds. With that said, Evan added that Jennifer’s influence in blending with Terry, allows for two palates to influence the wine. Evan called it, “a balance of power and elegance.”

The wine club, currently still open, allows its 1300 members to select 6 or more bottles per year. In the future, it may be club purchases only, limited tasting room purchases and some availability in local restaurants.  Terry has the same 26 acres, and has no desire to be bigger, as “more money equals more problems.”  With the 2000 cases he produces he still will sell some fruit to others.

Right now, according to Terry, they must monitor their wine inventory or would have nothing in the tasting room.  They bottle in June, and send the wine to club members before it’s even in the tasting room.

If you visit the tasting room, say hello to Evan Vossler, or tasting room managers Kelly Balentine or Kathryn Welsh.

Terry Hoage Vineyards 2010 Release Tasting Flight (Released last fall, new oak influences increase by the end of the line-up. And yes, I wanted to buy everything I tasted.)

2010 “The Pick” Grenache Cuvee: Juicy, raspberry, plum and smoke.

2010 “The 46” Grenache-Syrah: Dark jam and vegetal influences.

2010 “5 Blocks” Syrah Cuvee: Balanced fruit (cherry to plum), pepper and tannins.

2010 “The Hedge” Syrah: Inky dark, flavored like a jalapeno-fruit jam.

2006 “Skins” Grenache Reserve: Milk chocolate, dark fruit compote on toast, concentrated, port flavors, and finish that lingers.

2010 “Three-Four” Syrah: Pepper, black cherry, great balance.

Sundance B and B has Vines in View!

Sundance owners- Alma Ayon and Neil Tootill

Only ten minutes from Windfall Farms (the latest venue for large wine events, weddings and more) the new Sundance Bed & Breakfast has quite a bit to offer: Small things like having a coaster and a water bottle on the night table was framed by beautiful furnishings in large airy rooms, expansive views from the second story guest rooms, huge closets paired with large comfy robes, large bathrooms with sweet-smelling aromatherapy soaps and lotions, rooms with adjoining suites if needed, a large patio, a lush green lawn and rose bushes, and deck chairs with umbrellas to view the vines and running gophers.

Owners Alma Ayon and Neil Tootill were friendly and accommodating.  In showing us around the house they took pride in highlighting the work of local artists. Double barn doors had been placed on rolls to quietly slide open and the same craftsman is building their dining tables – to be ready for a planned July 1 opening!

When we came down for breakfast, Barkley, their terrier mutt, promptly rolled over onto his back, expectantly waiting to have his tummy rubbed if guests descend on his home.

For breakfast we began with nice strong Starbucks coffee, muffins, and fresh fruit. Alma asked us about dietary restrictions before making our finale: warm, flavorful breakfast sandwiches.

From the dining room we could see older grape vines in the background of newer vines that Neil has planted. He said that in three years they will have their first vintage, but they’re only planning on selling their grapes, not winemaking…yet.

“They should build restaurants out here next,” Alma pondered. “That’s what we need. And we are the closest to Windfall Farms for those travelers coming in for an event.”

Sounded sweet to me.

En Primeur 2012 Barrel Tasting in the Park Ballroom

The Park Ballroom, right in downtown Paso on Park Street, was set up with empty wine barrels to use as pouring stations on the perimeter with plenty of pour out buckets – and as most of the wines had only been in oak for 4-6 months (and had 18 or more months to go) the buckets were a necessity.

It was hard to discern what the Cabs and Bordeaux blends would later taste like as they were astringent and/or very fruity at this stage, so needles to say I was looking forward to tomorrow’s tasting event with same producers and their bottled vintages.

Eve and Scott Shirley, winemaker Justin

What was helpful at this event, and what I would find most of the weekend, was that many of the winemakers came to pour and explain their wines.

It seemed that by the end of the tasting, the barrel samples seemed more appreciated. My husband Eddie commented that you had to “use your imagination to figure out how they will taste when they’re done.”

The barrel samples were from ADELAIDA Cellars, B & E Vineyard, Chateau Margene, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Eberle Winery, Hammersky Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jada Vineyard, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, L’Aventure, Parrish Family Vineyards, Record Family Wines, Robert Hall Winery, Sextant Wines, Venteux and Vina Robles.

BBQ at Robert Hall Winery, Eve Interviews Steve Heimoff and More

Yes, your nervy wine 101er walked straight up to Steve Heimoff, the writer with the plum job as West Coast Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and said hello while sipping library wines at the BBQ hosted by Robert Hall Winery. Then, of course, I joined his table for dinner paired with library and reserve wines from Eberle, Daou and Justin. These are the people that sat with us and agreed to my request to go around the table to tell us about themselves:

Steve Peck, the red winemaker for J. Lohr Vineyards and Wine, confessed to being the “wallflower” that appreciated my…err…style. Steve has a degree in chemical engineering and studied fermentation sciences, both at UC Davis. He met his wife in Belgium and the two are happy parents of a four-year-old boy. One thing I learned from Steve is that he felt that I should educate my palate further by doing more barrel tastings. The Bordeaux futures we buy, according to Peck, are based on ratings from barrel tastings.

Eve at BBQ with J. Lohr winemaker Steve Peck

Richard Jennings, in from northern California, is a wine writer with a weekly column in the Huffington Post, a “favorited” contributor to, Snooth and his own website, I had first noticed Richard earlier in the evening, writing lots of tasting notes on a heavy pad.

Marketing Consultant Tim McDonald, started in the wine industry in Honolulu 25 years ago: working with E & J Gallo, Trinchero, Seagrams and others. Check him out here:

Eva Swan introduced her husband Fred, of, as someone with a wealth of wine education and experience. Though both have Wine & Spirits Education Trust certifications, Fred has further obtained the “Echansonnerie des Papes, the honorary organization of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine region.” He is also a free lance wine writer and educator at the San Francisco Wine School.

Besides being the West Coast Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Steve Heimoff, of, is a wine enthusiast, blogger and book author. Heimoff came to California in 1978 for grad school. His moment with wine came when he was in the wine grocery aisle with his cousin selecting a wine for the evening’s BBQ. It was his first night in California, and he prompted his cousin to just “pick a bottle.” His cousin corrected him to not just grab a bottle.

top row l-r: Tim McDonald, Richard Jennings, Eve, Steve Peck. bottom l-r: Eva and Fred Swan, Steve Heimoff, Gina DeGirolamo

By 1979 Heimoff “got bit by the wine bug” back when “wine was not big at all.” Reagan was in the White House, Heimoff was in grad school, carrying a briefcase and wearing a suit and tie.

Three years later things “ended badly” and Heimoff went home. “I thought I cannot do this again” so he took his love of writing and his love of wine, and as a subscriber to Wine Spectator, he sent then-editor Jim Gordon his résumé.

Heimoff got nothing but a thank you from Gordon.  “The first rule for a teacher, is don’t stop,” Heimoff began. “I had my foot in door, and so I kept pestering Jim via phone, and he came to me one day and offered me an assignment:  Harvey Steinman needed me at Meadowood to cover him.  I wrote a great article and got the job.”

As a freelancer the entire time at Wine Spectator, Heimoff got a reputation and people began asking for him. However, as Heimoff was a free lancer and writing for other publications, “Marvin, bless his soul, said you can’t write for someone else.  Marvin listened, but, Marvin said (via someone else) Heimoff will have a great career, but not at Wine Spectator.” Heimoff immediately called Adam Strum, the editor of Wine Enthusiast – and that was 21 years ago.

“Very much like all of you all” began Gina DeGirolamo, “I started out 25 years ago.” DeGirolamo worked in a New York commercial production com

pany, then in the Los Angeles film industry working with major television networks covering dramas, comedies, etc. Growing sick of the Hollywood lifestyle, DeGirolamo moved to Paso, took a break, and then went back to her love of the camera and began her company, Cinema e Vino Productions.

Stay tuned next Friday to read, “Cab Collective Part 2: Seminar and Tasting.”

Paso Robles CAB Collective

Formed in 2012, the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective (PRCC), strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles AVA in producing superior quality, age-worthy, classic and age-worthy Cabernet and Bordeaux varietal to consumers and media worldwide.

The Paso Robles CAB Collective has set out to confirm that the appellation’s unique attributes provide the perfect condition to produce luscious, well-rounded red Bordeaux wines that can compete with like varietals on a global stage.

Founding members of the PRCC include:  Daou Vineyards and Winery, ADELAIDA Cellars, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, Vina Robles, Chateau Margene and Eberle Winery.

2 thoughts on “Cab Collective Part One: Stopping for Rhones at Terry Hoage, Checking in to Sundance B & B, Barrel Tasting, Dining with Steve Heimoff and New Friends

  1. Jerry dove headfirst into his new endeavor with an extensive investigation of California grape growing regions in the late 1960s. Aware of the importance of climate, soil quality, and location, Jerry finally selected the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County for his first vineyard in 1971. Jerry was also among the first to realize the tremendous untapped promise of Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County, and in 1986 he began planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other red varietals on what is now 2,000 acres of vineyards. Since then, many noted winemakers have come to realize what Jerry saw early on, and have followed in his footsteps.

Comments are closed.