Tag Archives: Windfall Farms

Cabernet Sauvignon Weekend in Paso Robles – Part 2

Cabernet Sauvignon Month in Paso Robles Highlighted by CABS of Distinction events.

Day 2 of my cabernet weekend began with a gorgeous drive through the back roads of Paso Robles wine country out to Windfall Farms, the venue for the CABS of Distinction Winemaker Seminar and Grand Tasting, hosted by the Paso Robles CAB Collective. Nothing but rolling hills covered with vineyards and sprawling oak trees. Ahhhh….. so relaxing….

Stallion Barn at Windfall Farms

The day’s events began with a winemaker panel moderated by Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff under a tent adjacent to the main building.  The all-star panel included Paso Robles pioneer, Gary Eberle of Eberle Winery, Daniel Daou, owner of Daou Vineyards & Winery, Steve Peck, winemaker at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, David Galzignato, winemaker at Jada Vineyard & Winery, Scott Shirley, winemaker at Justin and Kevin Willenborg, winemaker at Vina Robles.

Steve Heimoff

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wines-for-panel-tasting

This was a trade and media seminar, so everyone, including the Goddess of Wine, was busy posting, checking-in, taking pics and making notes.

Busy media people

Mr. Heimoff, who in an earlier article stated, “It takes powerful, consistent evidence to smash old stereotypes, but I have now experienced it, and am ready to declare for Paso Robles Cabernet”, asked the panel to share their thoughts on the history of Paso Robles winemaking, why they thought Cabernet from this area was different/similar from/to other wine regions and where they thought Bordeaux varietals would go in this region, moving forward. Gary Eberle gave a wonderful history as he has been involved with the area since his first visit in 1972. He thought the area was perfect for Cabernet and in 1973 started his plantings. His favorite vintage so far is 1991, but for this seminar we tasted his 2009 Estate Cabernet, 100% Clone 6. I’ve loved his wines in the past and this one was no exception.

Steve went on to say that “Paso has fulfilled early expectations”, and that was exemplified by the fact that 4 of the winemakers on the panel were transplants from Napa who were excited to move to Paso to make Cabernet. David Galzignato, of Jada, sent the point home when he said, “Paso Robles has the potential to be the best region in California”.

Needless to say, this seminar was amazing – each speaker was informative while offering up amusing wine anecdotes, and their wines were all delicious hints of what’s to come from this Central Coast wine region.

After the seminar we went into the tasting where many more examples of Cabs and Cab/Merlot blends were presented. All received high scores from me, but my personal favorites included:

HammerSky Vineyards – 2007 Party of Four (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc)

Jada – 2010 Jack of Hearts (64% Petit Verdot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon)

Daou Vineyards & Winery – 2010 Estate Soul of a Lion (74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 % Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot)

Eberle Winery – 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

An event in Paso Robles also always means making new friends and catching up with old ones!

Daniel Daou of Daou Vineyards & Winery

Daniel Daou of Daou Vineyards & Winery

Patty Bello of B & E Vineyard

Patty Bello of B & E Vineyard

Gary Eberle sure has the attention of "Hoot 'n Annie" and other attendees

Gary Eberle sure has the attention of "Hoot 'n Annie" and other attendees

Annie and Matt Browne, Gina DeGirolamo, Dina Mande and Brigit Binns

Annie and Matt Browne, Gina DeGirolamo, Dina Mande and Brigit Binns

I was so happy to be introduced to Brigit Binns, renown cookbook author, and learn of her latest book, The New Wine Country Cookbook“. She also teaches classes at her spectacular outdoor kitchen, Refugio, in Paso Robles. Going to have to attend one of those myself!

After the tasting, our group of trade and media was joined by the winemakers back out under the tent for a delicious lunch of duck and pork cassoulet, salads and yum brownies. The winemakers proudly roamed the area offering tastes of their wines for us to enjoy with lunch. As the temperature started to climb into the 90’s, (you know I love it), I retreated to the air conditioned comfort of my car for the drive to my next  engagement….a wedding in Camarillo!

Yes, the trip was a whirlwind, but worth every minute. Nothing beats time spent in Paso Robles, where time slows down, the quiet back roads beckon, the wine flows, the food is fresh and local, and everyone is smiling.  For wine geeks, Paso fans, Cab fans and wine fans – I encourage you all to make a note to look for the 2nd Annual Cabs of Distinction next Spring and treat yourself to the CABS of Paso Robles! Cheers!

I’LL DRINK TO THAT!


The Back Roads Wineries of Paso Robles to Host Grand Tasting During Harvest Weekend

Back Roads of Paso Robles Wine Country

Back Roads of Paso Robles Wine Country

In the 12 years or so that I’ve been visiting Paso Robles, the number of wineries has grown from 50 to almost 200! As I see it, so much more to love about this beautiful and welcoming California wine producing region.

Without question, some wonderful wines are being produced in Paso Robles, many by the small family owned and operated wineries that, I believe, are the heart and soul of the area. The rolling, oak studded hills, corduroyed with endless rows of vineyards on both sides of Highway 101, are home to small charming tasting rooms where visitors can enjoy an intimate wine tasting experience, often while visiting with the winemaker or owner. Sharing the landscape with the vineyards, olive orchards offer the sculptural beauty of the trees while providing the fruit for some of the state’s finest quality olive oil.

Olivas de Oro olive tree orchard

Olivas de Oro olive tree orchard

The Back Roads Wineries of Paso Robles, is a collective of over 20 such wineries along with olive oil producers and charming B & B’s located in the beautiful countryside east of Highway 101. Together these wineries produce an impressive and large variety of wines. Expect to find carefully handcrafted wines made from Rhone varietals such as Viognier, Rousanne, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.   Classic Bordeaux varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. You’ll even find wines made from Italian varietals like Pinot Grigio, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Primitivo and Barbera. Of course, there’s plenty of Zinfandel and creative and innovative blends abound! A tour of the Back Roads wineries could take days, especially when it’s so easy to get lost in a long, relaxed conversation over a glass of wine while hanging out on a patio with a stunning vineyard view.

A Back Roads vineyard view.

A Back Roads vineyard view.

For the first time, visitors to the 2012 Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend, October 19-21, will have the opportunity to taste wines and olive oils from many of the “Back Roads” producers all under one roof at the “Taste of the Back Roads” Wine Seminar and Grand Tasting to be held Friday, October 19.  Join the winemakers, as they take a break from the busy harvest, in tasting and learning about their fine hand-crafted wines and olive oils. The “Foaling Barn” at the picturesque Windfall Farms will be the setting for what I’m sure will become a Back Roads harvest annual event. Also available will be delicious food offerings from local favorites, Ted’s Taco Bar, Dean Brothers Smoke House and LaGuardia’s Homemade Since 1912. Guests will also be treated to the cool sounds of Acoustify to take them into the evening.  A special tasting seminar led by a panel of five “Back Roads” winemakers is being offered prior to the main tasting event.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation.

Windfall Farms

Windfall Farms

The area has many family run B&B’s, many located in vineyards or on orchard property, and all with tons of local charm. Click here for more lodging info. The event and Harvest Wine Weekend are just a couple of weeks off, so don’t delay in booking your room reservations.

More info about the wineries and olive oil producers of the Back Roads is available at www.backroadswineries.com. Tickets for “Taste of the Back Roads” are available at participating wineries and at Brown Paper Tickets.

I’ll Drink to That!

Paso Garagiste Festival – new for 2011

GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.”

This movement has taken hold all over the world and thankfully more and more of these small family owned wineries are being recognized for the true artisanal qualities that make these wines and their winemakers so special.  Now there is a new festival in town, Paso Robles that is, that focuses solely on the “artisan winemaker”. The Paso Garagiste Festival is quickly coming together and will be held Saturday November 12, 2011 in Creston, just a bit south of Paso Robles.

pasogaragiste-poster

The festival is the brainchild of three friends who love wine and share an appreciation for the small lot winemaker. While attending a Rhone Ranger event in LA a couple of years back Stewart McClennan, Doug Minnick and Dan Erland Anderson started brainstorming for a way they could help promote these boutique wineries, primarily those of Paso Robles. They admired the fact that most of these winemakers, fueled by their passion for making exceptional wine, were working other day jobs, some commuting hundreds of miles weekly to do both, or were working for larger wineries while making their wine in their “spare time”. Many do not have tasting rooms and their case production is so small they can’t get the representation that the “big boys” get. They felt these “garagistes” needed some help in getting the word out and the plan for the festival began to take form. Well the word got out fast and soon wineries from further south along the Central Coast were asking to participate and now over 40 small production wineries who are producing under 1200 cases annually  are scheduled to participate.

Not just the wineries in this festival are special. The venue is fantastic! The magnificent Windfall Farms, a 750 acre horse farm in Creston, has been chosen, and the beautiful stallion barn will serve as the unique location for this special tasting event. Check out this video for a complete tour of the venue.

Entrance to "after party" room

Entrance to "after party" room

"After Party" room where Australian country singer Stephen Rowe will perform

"After Party" room where Australian country singer Stephen Rowe will perform

Needless to say I am thrilled with the idea of this festival! I have met with Doug and Stewart and we are completely of the same mindset – we love these wines and the people behind them, and we want to do whatever we can to help them get the word out about them. And…proceeds from the festival will go to support young winemakers at the Wine and Viticulture Program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. So I urge you to visit their website, watch the videos on their homepage and order your tickets. It’s going to be great!

I’LL DRINK TO THAT!