Tag Archives: Alta Colina

3rd Annual Garagiste Festival – Paso Robles

3rd_Annual_Paso_Robles_Garagiste_Fest

Last weekend, some of the finest winemaking talent around gathered in Paso Robles to celebrate the 3rd annual Garagiste Festival.

Gorgeous day in Paso Robles

Gorgeous day in Paso Robles

Dedicated solely to showcasing small production wines handcrafted by talented and uber-creative artisan wine makers, the annual Paso Robles Garagiste Festival has become my favorite wine event hands-down.  Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store this year.

Gorgeous Windfall Farms, Paso Robles

Gorgeous Windfall Farms, Paso Robles

We arrived at gorgeous Windfall Farms on Saturday morning and headed inside for our tasting.  I was particularly excited for the festival this year because I really hadn’t heard of most of the wine makers who were pouring.  In fact, half of the approximately 48 garagiste wine makers were pouring for the very first time.

This is exactly why I love the Paso Garagiste Festival so much – it’s an opportunity for undiscovered wine makers to share the fruits of their labor with those who truly appreciate unique, extraordinary wines.  The festival gives wine lovers a chance to try wines they may never hear about otherwise and offers them a rare opportunity to speak with wine makers one-on-one.

Baker & Brain Wines

Baker & Brain Wines

Our first stop was {baker & brain}.  {baker & brain} wines was founded in 2009 when two friends – Josh Baker & Matt Brain – realized they shared a common goal of creating a wine label that would highlight some of the best, consciously farmed vineyards from throughout California.  When they won a wine barrel in an industry raffle, they realized winemaking was their destiny.

Tasting at Baker & Brain Wines

Tasting at Baker & Brain Wines

We tasted three wines at {baker & brain} – a 2012 Grenache Blanc, a 2011 Central Coast Pinot Noir, and a 2011 Pendulum (60% Syrah/40% Grenache).  I personally loved the crisp, refreshing Grenache Blanc and the juicy, delicious Pinot Noir.

Our next stop was ONX Wines.  Last month, Wine Enthusiast magazine published an article titled “6 New Faces of Paso Robles” and ONX’s winemaker Brian Brown was featured.  I knew he was recognized for blending some interesting varietals and I was really excited to try his wines.

Jennifer Freck of ONX Wines

Jennifer Freck of ONX Wines

Honestly, I loved the wines of ONX.  There was not a single wine in the portfolio that I didn’t think was unique, well-balanced, and just plain tasty.  Brian uses Tempranillo and Zinfandel in a few of his GMS blends, which adds a whole new dimension to the wine.

The ONX Wines Portfolio

The ONX Wines Portfolio

We tried six different blends at ONX, all of which were outstanding.  If I really had to choose favorites, I’d probably pick the 2010 Reckoning (64% Syrah, 20% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel, 4% Tempranillo, 4% Grenache) and 2010 Praetorian (64% Tempranillo, 12% Malbec, 12% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre), but they were all great.  The wines of ONX are not to be missed.

After ONX, we headed over to Dilecta Wines.  Dilecta was founded in 2011 by winemaker Orion Stang, a certified Sommelier who previously served as assistant winemaker to Eric Jensen at Booker Wines (one of my personal favorites in Paso Robles).

Dilecta Wines

Dilecta Wines

Winemaker Orion Stang of Dilecta Wines

Winemaker Orion Stang of Dilecta Wines

Very cool Dilecta Wines business cards (artwork courtesy of Orion's daughter)

Very cool Dilecta Wines business cards (artwork courtesy of Orion’s daughter)

Orion was pouring his Dilecta wines for the first time at the festival, and had two inaugural wines to try – a 2011 The Tiller (64% Grenache/36% Syrah) and a 2011 Unorthodox Syrah from Caliza & Alta Colina Vineyards.  Both wines were great, but I thought the Unorthodox Syrah was incredible.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Dilecta in the future.

Ghost Cellars

Ghost Cellars

Next we stopped at Ghost Cellars where owner James Cooper was pouring his very first vintage from a single varietal – a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Even though there was only one wine to try at Ghost Cellars, it was a pretty damn good one.  You could taste the focus and attention to detail in the glass, and James’ passion for wine was infectious.

Ghost Cellars

Ghost Cellars

After some great wine and good conversation at Ghost Cellars, we finished our tasting at Aaron Wines.  Winemaker Aaron Jackson was also featured in the recent Wine Enthusiast article and definitely has winemaking in his blood (he made his first Petite Sirah at the young age of 22).

Aaron Wines

Aaron Wines

We unfortunately ran out of time for the media tasting while we were at Aaron Wines, but we managed to squeeze in a taste of all four of his wines – a 2012 Aequorea Pinot Gris, a 2012 Aequorea Pinot Noir, a 2011 Aaron Trespasser, and a 2010 Aaron Petite Sirah.

Aaron Wines

Aaron Wines

Aaron WInes

Aaron WInes

I thought the Aequorea Pinot Noir was one of the best I’ve tried, rivaling some of my favorites from Santa Barbara, and the Aaron Petite Sirah was truly extraordinary.  You could truly taste the passion in these wines.  Aaron’s wines can be tasted at Paso Underground – a collective tasting room that features a couple other small production wine makers.

Overall the talent at this year’s Paso Robles Garagiste Festival was unparalleled. Just this week, Wine Enthusiast named Paso Robles 2013 “Wine Region of the Year” – an award the area couldn’t deserve more.  Congrats to all the Paso garagistes and thank you for sharing your outstanding wines.  I already can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year…

Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles – Part 2

In my ongoing quest to have our dog with us on most – if not all – of our wine tasting adventures, I’ve uncovered more incredible, dog-friendly wineries in Paso Robles. As a rule of thumb when tasting with dogs, always bring a leash, make sure the dogs remain well-behaved, and remember to be respectful of other tasters.

Below is a list of some of my recent favorite dog-friendly spots…

Alta Colina

Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery

  • Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery
    2725 Adelaida Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Phone: (805) 227-4191
    Fax: (805) 541-8025
    email: info@altacolinawine.com
    Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5:00PM Thursday through Sunday
    Notes: At Alta Colina, dogs are very welcome inside the tasting room while their owners try some of the winery’s award-winning wines. If the tasting room is crowded or there are tasters who have allergies, you may be asked to taste outside as a courtesy.
Our happy dog Booker relaxing on the cool tasting room floor at Edward Sellers

Our happy dog Booker relaxing on the cool tasting room floor at Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines

  • Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines
    1401 West Highway 46
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Phone: (805) 239-8915
    Email: info@edwardsellers.com
    Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Daily
    * UPDATE 8/13: CLOSED. The tasting room is now owned by J Dusi Wines
    Notes: Edward Sellers is a very dog-friendly winery where our dog Booker was invited inside the tasting room with us. He was given a bowl of water and quickly made friends with one of the resident tasting room dogs. The two of them played inside as well as outside on the beautiful grounds.
Booker & Per Cazo's resident winery dog,

Booker & Per Cazo Cellar’s resident winery dog Rosie playing tug of war

  • Per Cazo Cellars
    5325 Vineyard Drive
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Phone: (805) 227-4949
    Fax: (866) 252-5962
    email: dteckman@percazocellars.com OR lteckman@percazocellars.com
    Tasting room hours: BY APPOINTMENT. Wine tasting is complimentary.
    Notes: Our dog absolutely loves Per Cazo Cellars. Not only is their gorgeous Creekside Bed & Breakfast dog-friendly, but Booker had a blast playing with the winery’s resident dog Rosie while we tasted some delicious wine outside.
Our dog Booker enjoying the beautiful grounds at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Our dog Booker enjoying the beautiful grounds at Terry Hoage Vineyards

  • Terry Hoage Vineyards
    870 Arbor Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Phone: (805) 238-2083
    Email: info@terryhoagevineyards.com
    Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Thursday through Monday
    Notes: At Terry Hoage Vineyards, dogs are welcome inside the tasting room as long as they remain leashed and are well-behaved. There is also a beautiful outdoor area where owners sip wine while their dogs watch water birds swimming in the pond.

More to come!…

Related Posts:
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles
Dog Friendly Wineries in Santa Barbara Wine Country

Alta Colina Estate Vineyard | Paso Robles, CA

My recent visit to Alta Colina Estate Vineyard reminded me once again of why I love Paso Robles so much.

Alta Colina Estate Vineyard

The area has been the center of attention recently in the wine world. This is largely due to the fact that Saxum Vineyards’ 2007 James Berry Vineyard just earned the #1 spot on the Wine Spectator top 100 most exciting wines of 2010 list, a perfect 100 score from Wine Enthusiast, and a score of 98 from Wine Spectator along with a photo of winemaker Justin Smith on the cover of the latest issue.

All the attention around Saxum has trickled down to other wineries in the area. Brian Benson, Booker, and several other local wineries were also featured with glossy photos and rave reviews in the March issue of Wine Spectator.

Outside the tasting room at Alta Colina Estate Vineyard

The great thing is that even with all the buzz, high scores, and continuous accolades the wines of Paso Robles are receiving, the area still feels unaffected. It is unpretentious, intimate, and clearly rooted in a true passion for winemaking.

Paso Robles is a place where on any given day, you may find the winemaker pouring for tasters while discussing the fruits of their labor and the process it took to get there. It’s a place where wine makers are proud of the incredible reviews and attention they’re getting, yet it’s evident reviews and scores are not the reason they make wine. Like true artists, they seem more focused on hand-crafting outstanding, expressive, world-class wines – review or no review.

Alta Colina Estate Vineyard

This was definitely the feeling I got when I visited Alta Colina Estate Vineyard. When we walked into the small understated tasting room, the entire family was present. Winemaker Bob Tillman and his daughter Maggie were behind the tasting counter while his wife Lynn was chatting with guests.

Outdoor tasting area at Alta Colina Estate Vineyard

We were immediately welcomed to the counter, which was only occupied by 2 other tasters. Both Bob and Maggie walked us through the incredible portfolio of Rhone varietals, describing each one in detail including the quality of the harvest, how the elevation of the vineyard and the type of soil impact the grapes, and how they created the blends they were pouring.

I truly can’t say there was a wine on the list that I didn’t like. Every wine at Alta Colina is 100% estate grown and produced. Furthermore, production is kept very low, which results in carefully nurtured, handcrafted wines of exceptional quality.

I very much enjoyed the 2009 12 O’Clock High ($28) which is a blend of 69% Viognier, 18% Roussanne, 7% Marsanne, and 6% Grenache Blanc – a crisp wine perfect for a summer day. Production on this wine was the second highest on the list at a mere 22o cases.

Inside the tasting room at Alta Colina Estate Winery

My favorite at Alta Colina was the 2008 Ann’s Block Petite Sirah ($48), of which only 125 cases were produced. This wine earned a well-deserved score of 92 points from Robert Parker and 91 points in Wine Spectator along with a photo of Lynn and Bob Tillman in the March 2011 issue. The ’08 Ann’s Block Petite Sirah is 100% estate grown Petite Sirah and has wonderful ripe dark fruit flavors balanced perfectly with a touch of smoke and spice.

Enjoying a wonderful afternoon with Alta Colina Wine Maker Bob Tillman and his daughter/Director of Marketing Maggie Tillman

One of the most memorable things about Alta Colina Estate Vineyard – aside from the wine – was the fact that it truly embodied the spirit of Paso Robles. The entire family was so welcoming and friendly. I loved having the winemaker himself pouring wine for us. It was all about passionate people sharing incredible wine in a beautiful and down to earth setting. Be sure to stop by next time you’re in Paso…

Click here to visit the Alta Colina Estate Vineyard website.

Alta Colina Estate Vineyard & Winery
2725 Adelaida Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 227-4191
Fax: (805) 541-8025
email: info@altacolinawine.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5:00PM Thursday through Sunday
* NOTE: Alta Colina is located upstairs at the Villicana Winery.