Tag Archives: Booker

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

Terry Hoage Vineyards | Paso Robles, CA

Terry Hoage Vineyards

Terry Hoage Vineyards

Tucked away on an idyllic parcel of land on the Westside of Paso Robles lies the Terry Hoage Vineyards and tasting room. In the rustic winery perched right across the small parking lot from his home, Terry Hoage and his wife Jennifer are hand-crafting some of the finest wines to come out of Paso Robles.

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry and Jennifer learned the art of winemaking from some of the artisan trailblazers in the area, particularly Justin Smith of the famed Saxum Vineyards. Justin made wine for Terry Hoage Vineyards and oversaw the winemaking process from 2002-2003 until Terry and Jennifer released their first vintage in 2005.

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

Terry Hoage Vineyards Tasting Room

The Hoage’s take a very minimalist approach to making wine and do not incorporate any racking, fining or filtering. They personally oversee every step in the process, producing bold, juicy Rhone varietals that are 100% organically farmed and estate grown. You can taste the quality, creativity, and attention to detail in each sip.

Our dog Booker enjoying the beautiful grounds at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Our dog Booker enjoying the beautiful grounds at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Seating area at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Seating area at Terry Hoage Vineyards

During a pre-holiday trip to Paso, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Evan and Kellie in the Terry Hoage Vineyards tasting room. Aside from the Hoage’s, Evan and Kellie are the only other official employees at the winery, which made it feel even more like a true family style operation.

Evan & Kellie of Terry Hoage Vineyards

Evan & Kellie of Terry Hoage Vineyards

We were taken through the current tasting flight which included 4 incredible reds, and also got to try a couple of wines from the upcoming 2010 release.

Before embarking on his career as a wine maker, Terry was a professional football player and spent 13 seasons in the NFL playing for 6 different teams. He subtly pays homage to his football days through the names he give his wines (“The Pick”, “The 46″, “The Hedge”, etc).

Memorabilia from Terry Hoage's career in the NFL

Memorabilia from Terry Hoage’s career in the NFL

IMG_2727

Memorabilia from Terry Hoage’s career in the NFL

I thought all the wines at Terry Hoage Vineyards were outstanding and were on par with my favorites in the area (Booker, L’Aventure, etc). I wanted to take a bottle of each home with me, but I managed to narrow my purchases down to a 2009 “The Hedge” (a deep red Syrah named after the hedges of UGA where Terry played), a 2010 “5 Blocks” (a Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache/Cinsault blend honoring the 5 blocked field goals Terry had in his college days), and a 2011 “Pik Pool” (a white Picpoul Blanc that tasted like summertime).

The Current Tasting Flight: '08 "The Pick" Grenache Cuvee, '07 "The 46" Grenache-Syrah, '09 "The 46" Grenache-Syrah, and '09 "The Hedge" Syrah

The Current Tasting Flight: ’08 “The Pick” Grenache Cuvee, ’07 “The 46″ Grenache-Syrah, ’09 “The 46″ Grenache-Syrah, and ’09 “The Hedge” Syrah

The 2010 Release - Currently available to wine club members

The 2010 Release – Currently available to wine club members

I truly can’t recommend Terry Hoage Vineyards enough and thank Evan & Kellie for sharing their knowledge, passion, and hospitality. To quote Robert Parker, “This is the kind of wine the Central Coast should be producing more.”

The stunning views at Terry Hoage Vineyards

The stunning views at Terry Hoage Vineyards

Click here to visit the Terry Hoage Vineyards website.

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

Booker Vineyard Release Party – Paso Robles

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Booker Vineyard’s annual member release party and I wanted to share some photos of what ended up being an incredible day.

The wine, food, music and setting couldn’t have been more perfect.
Pier 46 Seafood Market and Thomas Hill Organics catered the event and provided a delicious assortment of finger foods, including fresh oysters. I also had the opportunity to introduce our dog Booker to his namesake. I’m proud to be an allocation member and am already looking forward to next year…

Booker Vineyard private release event – May 5th, 2012

Booker Vineyard release event

Winemaker Eric Jensen’s wife, Lisa greeting incoming guests

Guests enjoying a perfect day at Booker Vineyard

Delicious oysters from Pier 46 Seafood Market in Templeton, CA

A yummy assortment of appetizers from Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles, CA

A picture-perfect day at Booker Vineyard

Our dog Booker relaxing in the shade at Booker Vineyard

Click here to visit the Booker Vineyard website.

BOOKER VINEYARD
640 Anderson Rd.
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 237-7367
Fax: (805) 237-7368
email: eric@bookerwines.com OR orion@bookerwines.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday

Dog Friendly Wineries in Santa Barbara Wine Country

The wine country just north of Santa Barbara is hands down one of my favorite destinations for a weekend trip. Considering how often I visit the area, I’ve made it a point to find out which wineries are dog friendly.

Our dog Booker heading out on another wine tasting trip…

Just as I discovered in Paso Robles, Santa Barbara is full of wineries that welcome dogs with open arms. I’ve listed a few of my favorite wineries below and plan to expand this list with each visit…

  • Foxen Vineyard & Winery
    7600 Foxen Canyon Road
    Santa Maria, CA 93454
    Ph: (805) 937-4251
    Fax: (805) 937-0415
    Email: info@foxenvineyard.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 4PM
    Notes: Foxen is an extremely dog-friendly winery where leashed dogs can be brought into the tasting room at both locations (the main winery at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road & “The Shack” at 7200 Foxen Canyon Road). At the main winery, Booker was allowed inside with us on a leash or in one of the several outdoor seating areas where he was able to relax while we sipped wine. At foxen 7200 (“The Shack), Booker was allowed to come inside the small tasting room with us or sit outside with us on the deck and bask in the sun. At both locations, the tasting room staff brought him water and showered him with loads of attention. He absolutely loved it.

    Outdoor area at Foxen Vineyard & Winery

    Dog friendly Foxen 7200 (“The Shack”)

  • Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
    6200 Foxen Canyon Road
    Los Olivos, CA 93441
    Ph: (805) 688-1545
    Email: infowinery@fessparker.com
    Hours: Daily 10AM – 5PM
    Notes: Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is a dog’s dream. The winery is situated on a beautiful piece of land with a huge, perfectly manicured lawn where dogs are able to run around until their hearts are content. I actually didn’t inquire if they were allowed inside the tasting room because the outside area was just too perfect. We did a tasting, bought a bottle and sat outside with wine and snacks while Booker and his cousin Bodo played. Just remember to be courteous… even though dogs are allowed to be off leash, the lawn is also a picnic area so don’t forget to bring a leash with, as well as some potty bags and water.

    Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

    Dogs hanging out at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

    Dogs playing on the lawn at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard

  • Alta Maria Vineyards
    2933 Grand Avenue
    Suite A
    Los Olivos, CA 93441
    Ph: (805) 686-1144
    Email: aminfo@altamaria.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 5PM
    Notes: I was very pleasantly surprised to find out Booker was allowed in the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room. This gorgeous new tasting room is located in downtown Los Olivos and when I inquired about bringing our dog inside, I expected to have to sit outside with him. Instead, we were told he was more than welcome to come in as long as he remained on a leash and we kept an eye on him. The tasting room is beautifully decorated and somewhat small, so this was definitely not a place for an excessively large or high energy dog. They apologized for not having a water bowl for him, which was totally fine. We were just happy he could be inside with us. He got to take a nap on the cool stone floor while we enjoyed some amazing wines.

    Small outdoor seating area at Alta Maria Vineyards Tasting Room

    Our dog Booker napping on the cool stone floor at Alta Maria Vineyards

  • Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
    7250 Santa Rosa Road
    Buellton, CA 93427
    Ph: (805) 688-9090
    Email: info@almarosawinery.com
    Hours: Daily 11AM – 4:30PM
    Notes: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards is a rustic, off the beaten path winery that some may remember from the movie Sideways. Booker was welcome to relax inside the tasting room on a leash, as well as roam around outside on Alma Rosa’s beautiful property. The tasting room staff happily gave him some water and a local dog who helps herd livestock in the area came down from the hills to say hello.

    Beautiful and rustic Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Booker roaming around outside at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Taking a stroll at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Booker hanging out with us inside the Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards tasting room

    Very sweet (and very dirty) local dog stopped by to say hello at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards

    Lots more to come!…

Related Posts:
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles – Part 2

Alta Maria Vineyards

Alta Maria Vineyards

It seems like every time I visit the Santa Maria Valley north of Santa Barbara, I discover an incredible wine that I’ve never tried before. On a recent visit, I not only found some new wines, but I discovered one of my new favorite wineries in the area.

Alta Maria Vineyards Tasting Room

Alta Maria Vineyards Tasting Room

Tucked away in the charming town of Los Olivos sits the new Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room. Although the tasting room is less than one year old, wine makers Paul Wilkins and James Ontiveros have been making wine for years. In fact, the Ontiveros family has a long ranching and farming history in the area. They drove thousands of heads of cattle into the Santa Maria Valley in the early 1800′s, finally settling there on the Rancho Tepusquet Land Grant of 1837.

With a rich farming history, a shared love of the land in the Santa Maria Valley, and a mutual passion for wine running through their blood, college friends Paul and James decided to turn their passions into careers. James’ expertise lies in viticulture while Paul serves as winemaker.

Pinot Noir label from Alta Maria Vineyards

Before stopping in the tasting room, I had heard about Alta Maria Vineyards and had seen their unmistakable bottles at specialty wine stores around CA.

The artwork on Alta Maria’s wines features hand-hewn iron nails used by homesteaders in Santa Maria before the Industrial Revolution. Each nail was essentially a one-of-a-kind based on the conditions in which it was made along with the expertise of the craftsman. This same idea of uniqueness and authentic, artisan craftsmanship carries seamlessly through to the wines of Alta Maria Vineyards.

Inside the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room

Inside the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room

When we walked into the gorgeous tasting room, we had our dog with us and assumed we would be sitting outside with him. On the contrary, he was welcomed inside with open arms and sat by us at the bar while we did our tasting.

Inside the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room

Inside, the tasting room was warm and comfortable with natural stone floors, aged leather chairs, and a great cowhide rug. Our tasting consisted of four Alta Maria Vineyards wines: a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2009 Chardonnay, a 2009 Pinot Noir, and a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our dog Booker napping on the nice, cool floor

We also tried a 2008 and 2009 Native9 Pinot Noir, and a 2008 Autonom Rhone Cuvee. Native9 (strictly Pinot Noir) and Autonom (focused on Rhone varietals) are labels Paul and James produce in limited quantities along with the Alta Maria wines.

The wines of Alta Maria Vineyards

I truly loved all the wines we tried and could taste the attention to detail in each glass. I took home a few bottles of the crisp Alta Maria Sauvignon Blanc, the Alta Maria Pinot Noir, and the lush Autonom Rhone Cuvee – all of which I thought were really exceptional.

Alta Maria Vineyards

I’m so glad to have found Alta Maria Vineyards and recommend it to anyone visiting Los Olivos. It is officially on my list of regular go-to spots in the area.

Click here to visit the Alta Maria Vineyards website.

ALTA MARIA VINEYARDS
2933 Grand Avenue
Suite A
Los Olivos, CA 93441
Phone: (805) 686-1144
Email: aminfo@altamaria.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Daily

Chumeia Vineyards – *CLOSED*

Chumeia Vineyards

* UPDATE 11/13: CLOSED. Chumeia Vineyards appears to be closed and is currently listed for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty.

Last month, we drove up to Paso Robles for a long overdue visit – this time with our brand new wine tasting companion, Booker.

Our new travel companion, Booker, at Chumeia Vineyards

As a newbie to the world of dog ownership, I did some research before we left Los Angeles to see which wineries are dog friendly. As excited as I was to taste some new wines, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the little guy cooped up in a crate.

One winery I found online that seemed very dog friendly was Chumeia Vineyards. My dad and I had first experienced Chumeia wines about 5 years ago when I was living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A little wine bar in town had it on their list and – while I hadn’t had it since then – I remembered it being very good. I was excited to check it out again with our new little pup.

Little did I know, but Chumeia Vineyards ended up being one of the most pleasantly surprising and enjoyable wine experiences I’ve had in a long time. Chumeia is located on the east side of Paso Robles – an area that is dominated by larger, high production wineries. We didn’t know too much about the east side, so we made a list of a few other wineries in the area and decided to leave Chumeia as our last stop.

Chumeia Vineyards

After a day of visiting crowded wineries with limos and tour buses lined up in their parking lots, I was so happy when we pulled into Chumeia Vineyards. Strange as it sounds, I was thrilled to see the driveway to Chumeia was an unpaved gravel road that crossed over into a protected wilderness area. The parking lot was pretty empty with not a bus or limo in sight.

Chumeia Vineyards

Entry to Chumeia Vineyards’ Tasting Room

Chumeia is very dog friendly. Just be sure to bring a leash…

We parked and were immediately greeted by a large golden retriever, who we soon learned was Cristo – one of Chumeia’s winery dogs. Booker followed Cristo into the tasting room where they became fast friends. The dogs played fetch on the big, beautiful lawn the entire time we were there.

Booker and his new friend, Cristo

While the dogs played, I went into the tasting room to check out the wine. The tasting room was great – just a casual counter in the winery with stainless steel tanks in the background and a several award ribbons displayed on the wall. Nothing fancy… just comfortable and welcoming.

Chumeia Vineyards Tasting Room

A section dedicated to furry friends in the Chumeia Vineyards tasting room

Well-deserved awards displayed at Chumeia Vineyards

We started our tasting and were fortunate to have Lee Nesbitt – the winemaker at Chumeia – personally pouring for us. We took our time with the tasting and enjoyed great conversation with Lee indoors, as well as time outside with the dogs on Chumeia’s beautiful grounds.

Winemaker Lee Nesbitt chatting with tasters at Chumeia

Chumeia Vineyards

Chumeia Vineyards

The wines we tasted at Chumeia were delicious, each one having its own unique and complex flavor profile. In fact, there wasn’t one that I didn’t like. I ended up taking home a few bottles of the ’08 Odyssean – a fantastic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Syrah and Malbec. I also bought a couple of bottles of the ’09 Estate Petite Sirah, Iron Man Vineyard which was unique and so tasty. Only 100 cases of Petite Sirah were produced.

I also love that Chumeia Vineyards was so pet friendly. In fact, Chumeia hosts an annual “Cause for the Paws” event and has a wine club called “Whiskers & Paws” that proudly supports Woods Humane Society.

After spending a wonderful evening at Chumeia, we loaded up our car with the wine we purchased and took a few more photos to remember our experience. Unfortunately we locked our keys in the car in the process.

Even though they were trying to close up for the day, Lee and his father were gracious enough to let us hang out and wait for AAA to open the car. In fact, they had to leave before AAA arrived and entrusted us to lock up the vineyard.

Leaving Chumeia Vineyards…

Even with our car lock out, Chumeia Vineyards was an amazing experience and a “must see” for anyone visiting the east side of Paso Robles. A beautiful winery, great wine, and incredibly warm and friendly people. It has a small winery feel and meticulously crafted wines in an area known for large production. We can’t wait to head back…

Click here to visit the Chumeia Vineyards website.

CHUMEIA VINEYARDS
8331 Highway 46 East
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 226-0102
Fax: (805) 226-0104
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 5PM Monday through Thursday.
11AM – 5PM Friday through Sunday (excluding select holidays). Call ahead during the holiday season.

Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles

I just recently took my first wine tasting trip to Paso Robles with my new dog, Booker.

Booker having a great time at Chumeia Vineyards

Before my visit, I did some extensive searching online to see which wineries allow dogs – either in the tasting room or outside – and was surprised by how little information is available.

I contacted several wineries in Paso Robles and was pleasantly surprised by how many welcome dogs with open arms. I wanted to share my findings with other dog lovers and have listed the wineries I spoke to below. I plan to expand this list with each visit…

  • Chumeia Vineyard
    8331 Highway 46 East
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-226-0102
    Hours: Monday through Thursday 12PM – 5PM, Friday through Sunday 11AM – 5PM
    * UPDATE 11/13: CLOSED. Chumeia Vineyards appears to be closed and is currently listed for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty.
    Notes: Chumeia is an extremely dog-friendly winery where leashed dogs can be brought into the tasting room. There were water bowls available and a huge grassy area where dogs can run and play. Booker spent most of our visit playing with Cristo, the winery dog. In 2007, Chumeia formed a partnership with Woods Humane Society of San Luis Obispo to help raise money for the homeless animals in the county.
  • Calcareous Vineyard
    3430 Peachy Canyon Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-239-0289
    Hours: Open daily 11AM – 5PM
    Notes: Calcareous is very dog-friendly and has a few winery dogs of their own. I didn’t ask if dogs are allowed in the tasting room, but they are very welcome to run and play on their big, beautiful grassy area. The incredibly friendly tasting room staff brought Booker his own bowl of water.

    Booker playing with the winery dogs at Calcareous

  • Bianchi Winery
    3380 Branch Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-226-9922
    Hours: Open daily 10AM – 5PM
    Notes: The grounds are absolutely gorgeous at Bianchi and dogs are very welcome as long as the owners have a leash available. We sat by the Koi filled lake and Booker enjoyed water from his very own bowl.

    Fascinated by the Koi fish at Bianchi

  • Treana and Hope Family Wines
    1585 Live Oak Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-238-4112
    Hours: Friday & Saturday 10AM – 4PM, or by appointment
    Notes: This beautiful little winery had a great outdoor patio where dogs are welcome to relax. Booker was given his own water bowl.

    Relaxing on the patio at Treana and Hope Family Wines

  • Villa Creek Cellars
    5995 Peachy Canyon Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-238-7145
    Hours: Friday through Sunday 11AM – 5PM
    Notes: Villa Creek is very dog-friendly and Booker was allowed in the tasting room as long as we kept him leashed (and he didn’t pee on the barrels).
  • Chronic Cellars Winery
    2020 Nacimiento Lake Drive
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-237-7848
    Hours: Open daily 11:30AM – 5:30PM
    Notes: Chronic Cellars is also very dog friendly as long as the dog is kept leashed.
  • Eberle Winery
    3810 Hwy. 46 East
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-238-9607
    Hours: Summer 10AM – 6PM, Winter 10AM – 5PM
    Notes: Dogs are very welcome, but they must be leashed and monitored in the tasting room.
  • B & E Vineyard/Winery
    10,000 Creston Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-238-4815
    Hours: Friday through Sunday 11AM – 5PM; Mon through Thurs by appointment
    Notes: Although we didn’t make during our trip, Patti at B & E Vineyard/Winery was very open to having Booker stop by. The wine at B & E is great and we look very forward to heading there on our next visit.
  • Booker Vineyard & Winery
    2640 Anderson Road
    Paso Robles, CA 93446
    Ph: 805-237-7367
    Hours: Friday through Sunday 11AM – 5PM
    Notes: I was thrilled to hear that Booker Vineyard & Winery – the winery after which my dog was named – is very dog friendly. We didn’t have time to visit during our trip, but I can’t wait to introduce Booker next time we’re in Paso Robles.

Related Posts:
Dog Friendly Wineries in Paso Robles – Part 2
Dog Friendly Wineries in Santa Barbara Wine Country

 

Alta Colina Estate Vineyard

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.

Booker Vineyard

On a recent trip to Paso Robles, I finally got to try the wines of Booker Vineyard. I’ve been reading reviews on Booker for years and couldn’t wait to taste the wines myself.

Booker Vineyard

Booker produces very limited quantities of their wines, which are known to sell out fast. Very fast. In fact, the only way to guarantee enjoyment of their wines is to join the 6-bottle per year wine club. From that point, they will try to move you up to their allocation list, which currently has a 2 year waiting list. I knew the wine had to be good, but I really had no idea what I was in for.

Entry to the Booker Vineyard tasting room

Upon arrival at Booker Vineyard, the first thing I noticed was how stunningly beautiful the winery was. The building was finished in perfectly weathered metal siding with huge solar panels on the roof. Rolling hills lined with green vines that kissed the cloudless blue sky provided the ideal contrasting background. Delicate grasses and colorful flowers covered the grounds around the building, and a huge gravel space behind it was dressed with strings of simple hanging lights – the perfect spot for an evening party.

Booker Vineyard

Booker Vineyard

The attention to details outdoors carried seamlessly into the tasting room. The space itself was bright and modern with small touches that added a wonderful air of sophistication – including a vintage leather armchair and old black & white photographs of the vineyard arranged salon-style.

Tasting room at Booker Vineyard

Tasting room at Booker Vineyard

Black & white photos at Booker

The name Booker comes from the two orphan brothers, Claude and Dick Booker, who had purchased the land in the late 1920’s. By the turn of the century the Booker brothers had acquired over 1,200 acres on Paso’s Westside. The Booker brothers were Paso’s favorite sons, dedicating their lives to being great farmers and humanitarians. Aside from lending their farming knowledge and manual labor to neighbors and those in need, they were the area’s biggest philanthropists, leaving 100% of their estate to charity when they passed.

Booker Vineyard

The current owners Eric and Lisa Jensen purchased 72 acres of the property in 2001 with the intent of growing the best fruit for some of the area’s best wineries. After spending several years making wine with the likes of Justin Smith of Saxum and Stephan Asseo of L’Aventure, the Jensens decided it was time to create their own expression with Booker Vineyard. The 2005 Vintage was Booker Vineyard’s first release with the wines being made by owner Eric Jensen.

One of Booker’s resident doggies…

After admiring the surroundings for a bit, we finally tried the wines which now rank among my favorites in California. Most of the wines we tasted during our visit were from the 2008 vintage (along with one wine from ’07). The ’08 White (60% Roussanne, 40% Viognier) is the only white Booker makes and was one of the most unusual whites I’ve tried. Nearly 50% of the wine was fermented to dryness while still on the skins and most of the juice was fermented in concrete tanks. The mouthfeel was like that of a red with notes of peach and apricot.

The ’08 Vertigo (53% Syrah, 25% Granache and 22% Mourvedre) is a classic Rhone blend and my favorite of the Booker offerings. The ’08 Alchemist (65% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Tempranillo, 5% Granache) was perfectly blended and was my close second favorite. Finally, the ’07 My Favorite Neighbor was a delicious blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot that has earned rave reviews among wine critics.

Beautiful day at Booker…

All the wines we tasted at Booker were truly outstanding. Luckily they have a small stock of wine available for purchase through the tasting room, so we walked away with 2 bottles of ’08 Vertigo ($50) and 2 bottles of ’08 Alchemist ($50). I’m so glad to have discovered Booker and can’t wait to try the next vintage. This winery is not to be missed.

Click here to visit the Booker Vineyard website.

BOOKER VINEYARD
640 Anderson Rd.
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 237-7367
Fax: (805) 237-7368
email: eric@bookerwines.com OR orion@bookerwines.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday