Tag Archives: Grenache

Cholame Vineyard | San Miguel – Monterey County, CA

With the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure just around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to write about one of my favorite new Garagiste winemakers, Cholame Vineyard.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame (pronounced “Sho-Lamb”) doesn’t have a tasting room, so you have to catch them at festivals such as the Garagiste Festival, at local wine events, or at a select few restaurants and tasting rooms in Solvang & Orange County.

Cholame Vineyard Wine Tasting Event in Orange, CA

Cholame Vineyard Wine Tasting Event in Orange, CA

I had the incredibly good fortune of attending one of their wine events this spring and discovered what quickly became one of my favorite wineries.  Founded in 2006, Cholame was the happy result of a motorcycle ride vintner David DuBois took with a friend through the back roads outside of Paso Robles.

Inspired by the beauty in the area and by a great lunch at the Parkfield Cafe in the Cholame Valley, David decided to come back and explore the area further.  Cholame is a Yokut Indian word meaning “The Beautiful One”, which summed up David’s feelings about the Valley perfectly.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

He purchased 75 acres along Vineyard Canyon Road and planted 10 acres of vines, taking special care to choose varietals that would work well with the soil and climate.  Since then, David and his award-winning winemaker Andres Ibarra have handcrafted a beautiful portfolio of wines, fitting of the name “Cholame”.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

At the April event, I had the opportunity to taste through Cholame’s current releases, which included a ’14 Grenache Rose, ’13 Summer Shade Grenache Blanc, a ’12 Chardonnay, ’12 Cross Country Rhone Blend, a ’11 Zinfandel and a ’11 Bull Pen Tempranillo.  The wines were accompanied by a selection of cheeses and hors d’oeuvres.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

I also had a chance to speak with both Andres Ibarra and David DuBois who I could easily have talked to for hours.  I loved hearing the passionate stories about how Cholame came to be and about the journey they’ve taken to make the winery what it is today.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard Bull Pen Tempranillo

Winemaker Andres Ibarra & Vintner David DuBois

Winemaker Andres Ibarra & Vintner David DuBois

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

There really wasn’t a wine in the portfolio I didn’t like.  t took home several bottles, including the ’13 Summer Shade Grenache Blanc which was full of tropical fruit, the juicy and slightly spicy ’12 Cross Country Rhone Blend, and the ’14 Rose which was full of strawberry and perfect for summertime.

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

Cholame Vineyard Tasting Event

It was such a wonderful day.  A huge thank you to David, Andres, Katelyn, Cate and the entire Cholame team for your hospitality and for introducing me to your outstanding wines.

Cholame Vineyard

Cholame Vineyard

If you’re heading to the Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure this July 11th, make sure Cholame Vineyard is on your list…

CHOLAME VINEYARD
Phone:  (805) 610-1122
Email: info@cholamevineyard.com

Larner Vineyard & Winery | Los Olivos, CA

Oftentimes when I visit a winery, I find that I enjoy meeting the people involved in making the wine just as much as I enjoy the wine itself.  Such was the case when I visited Larner Vineyard & Winery in Los Olivos, CA.

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

I’m fascinated by the winemaking process and am always excited when I get to chat with a winemaker I admire first hand.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when I walked into the Larner tasting room on a recent Saturday, only to find that it was empty and that winemaker & vineyard manager Michael Larner was behind the bar pouring.

Michael Larner at Larner Wines in Los Olivos, CA

Michael Larner at Larner Wines in Los Olivos, CA

Michael’s passion for wine is tireless.  After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, he went on to earn his Master’s in Viticulture & Enology from UC Davis.  He then apprenticed in Tuscany and the Rhone Valley, co-founded the Ballard Canyon AVA, was named vice president of  the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, and began teaching winemaking & wine appreciation classes in Santa Maria.  Somehow he and his wife Christina found time to make the first vintage of Larner Wines in 2009 and it’s been a family run operation ever since.

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Larner Wines tasting room

Located in a section of the Los Olivos General Store, the Larner tasting room is tiny and intimate. We walked up to the counter which is just big enough for about two people and Michael poured our first taste – a 2013 Malvasia Bianca.

Larner WInes

Larner Wines

From that point, we spent over an hour chatting with Michael about everything from vineyard management to the challenges that come with harvest & production to how to market & distribute the final product – particularly if you’re a small artisan winery.  Michael is literally hands-on every step of the way in his craft, which made the visit not only enjoyable, but educational as well.

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

Larner Wines

After the Malvasia Bianca, we tasted a 2012 Rose, a 2010 proprietary GSM blend called Elemental, a 2010 Syrah, a 2009 Reserve Syrah, and a 2010 Grenache.  Larner specializes in Rhone varietals, all of which were nicely balanced and very food friendly.  I particularly liked the ’09 Reserve Syrah and the ’10 Grenache.

Larner Wines available by the glass

Larner Wines available by the glass

Larner Wines

Michael Larner and the Ballard Canyon AVA

If you’re a Rhone lover and you appreciate small production, hand crafted wines, you don’t want to miss Larner Vineyard & Winery.

LARNER VINEYARD & WINERY
2900 Grand Ave
Los Olivos, CA  93441
Phone:  (805) 688-8148
Email: info@larnerwine.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Monday

Law Estate Wines | Paso Robles, CA — A Post-Opening Update…

Last time I visited Law Estate Wines, it was more of a construction site than a finished project.  This past weekend, I visited the winery again in its completed form and was utterly blown away.  From the friendly and personal attention of the staff to the breathtaking architecture to the incredible wines, Law Estate is beyond compare.

I feel like the photos speak volumes without me saying a word.  Enjoy a look around this amazing place…

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Exterior

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Main Entry

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Entry Interior

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Indoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Hilltop Vineyards

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area w/ Fireplace

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Stunning Architecture by BAR Architects

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Outdoor Tasting Area

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Custom Fermentation Tanks

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Aging Room

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Aging the 2012 AUDACIOUS (one of my personal favorites)

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Wine Library

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – 2011 “THE NINES”

Law Estate Wines

Law Estate Wines – Wine Library

Due to overwhelming interest in their 2010 vintage, Law Estate’s current releases are sold out (and from what I understand, the tasting room is closed) until they unveil the 2011’s in early September.  Be sure to plan for a visit this Fall because, based on what I got a chance to sample this weekend, the 2011’s are tasting even more delicious than the 2010’s.

Thanks again to Melissa, Oliver, and everyone at Law Estate Wines.  I’m sure I’ll see you again soon…

LAW ESTATE WINES
3885 Peachy Canyon Road
Paso Robles, CA  93446
Phone:  (805) 226-9200
Email:  info@lawestatewines.com
* Tasting room will re-open for visitors in September 2014 by appointment only.  Check the Law Estate Wines website for updates.

Wind Gap Wines | The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I’ve noticed a trend recently of winemakers using a very minimalist approach to their craft.  By selecting the best grapes from specific vineyard sites, using wild yeasts, and remaining as non-interventionist as possible, they’re allowing the fruit to express itself in an honest, unique way.

An excellent example of this sort of wine making is what Pax Mahle is doing at Wind Gap Wines.  I had a chance to visit his beautiful, newly opened tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol, CA last week and tasted through his current portfolio.

The Barlow - Sebastopol, CA

The Barlow – Sebastopol, CA

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

The grapes used to make Wind Gap Wines are sourced from vineyards throughout California that are directly influenced by, or planted along, different “wind gaps”.  These are essentially valleys cut through the coastal hillsides where winds flow inland, impacting the wine growing regions along their path.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I was really impressed by the uniqueness of the wines in the Wind Gap portfolio.  As part of his minimalist wine making approach, Pax uses mostly neutral fermentation vessels (stainless steel, concrete & neutral oak), and keeps his alcohol levels moderate, which allows the fruit to truly shine.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Tasters have the option of trying 4 wines for $12 or 6 wines for $24.  Wines are also sold “a la carte” by the glass and carafe to enjoy on site.  I opted to try 6, which included a slightly effervescent ’13 Arinto Pierce Ranch, a ’13 Trousseau Gris, a ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir , a bright ’12 Grenache from the Sceales Vineyard (some of whose vines are 80 years old), and 2 very different yet equally delicious Syrahs.  I also got to sample the ’13 North Coast Rose.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

I particularly liked the ’13 Arinto and the ’13 North Coast Rose – both of which are sold in $40 refillable growlers ($28 for the refill) and perfect for summertime.  I also loved the slightly spicy ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and the ’08 Russian River Syrah.

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines – 2008 Russian River Valley Syrah

Wind Gap Wines

Wind Gap Wines

Whether you stop by for an hour or to spend a relaxing afternoon, Wind Gap Wines is a “must try” for your next visit to Sebastopol…

WIND GAP WINES
@ The Barlow
6780 McKinley Street
Suite 170
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 331-1393
Email:  mail@windgapwines.com
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 6:30PM Thursday through Sunday

THE BARLOW
6770 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone:  (707) 824-5600

Exploring Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone – Part 1

The Santa Barbara "Funk Zone"

The Santa Barbara “Funk Zone”

In what was once an old, rundown industrial area just west of Santa Barbara’s bustling shopping district, the Funk Zone has emerged as a hub of unique art, culture, food & artisan wine.  In my opinion, it’s one of the best things to happen to Santa Barbara in a long time.

The Santa Barbara "Funk Zone"

The Santa Barbara “Funk Zone”

With a number of shops, galleries, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants all within walking distance, it’s easy to spend a day roaming around and exploring.

Several of the tasting rooms that comprise Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail are located right in the Funk Zone – some of which are open late.  Buellton’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company also opened a second location with a great outdoor patio for microbrew-lovers (or those just needing a break from wine).

My first stop at the Funk Zone was AVA Santa Barbara – a winery dedicated to making first class wines that highlight the very best of the five distinct AVAs (or American Viticultural Areas) of Santa Barbara.

AVA Santa Barbara

AVA Santa Barbara

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room was truly one of the coolest I’ve seen.  With the use of soil samples, incredibly detailed wall murals, and an excellent portfolio of wines, visitors get a serious education on what makes each distinct Viticultural Area unique.

Inside the tasting room at AVA Santa Barbara

Inside the tasting room at AVA Santa Barbara

Incredible wall mural in AVA Santa Barbara by artist Elkpen

Incredible wall mural in AVA Santa Barbara by artist Elkpen

AVA Santa Barbara

AVA Santa Barbara

We tasted an incredible line up of wines from cool climate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays to a Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec that thrive in the region’s warmer areas.  All the wines in this diverse portfolio were crafted from Santa Barbara grapes.

AVA Santa Barbara Wines

AVA Santa Barbara Wines

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room is very dog friendly

The AVA Santa Barbara tasting room is very dog friendly

Outdoor patio at AVA Santa Barbara

Outdoor patio at AVA Santa Barbara

After AVA Santa Barbara, we walked up the street to check out Municipal Winemakers.

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

I absolutely loved the Municipal Winemakers tasting room.  It was creative and eclectic with just the right amount of industrial grit that makes the Funk Zone so special.

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Just like at AVA Santa Barbara, our dog Booker was invited to join us inside the tasting room while we tasted a delicious line up of wines.  My personal favorites were the mouth-watering Bright White dry Riesling and the juicy Grenache.

Booker relaxing on the cool floor at Municipal Winemakers

Booker relaxing on the cool floor at Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

Municipal Winemakers

I had such a fun day at the Funk Zone and can’t wait to head back.  Stay tuned for Part 2…

Click here to visit the Santa Barbara Funk Zone website.
Click here to visit the AVA Santa Barbara website.
Click here to visit the Municipal Winemakers website.

AVA SANTA BARBARA
116 East Yanonali Street
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
Phone:  (805) 453-6768
Email:  taste@avasantabarbara.com
Tasting room hours: 12PM – 7PM Daily

MUNICIPAL WINEMAKERS
22 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
Phone:  (805) 931-6864
Email:  dave@municipalwinemakers.com
Tasting room hours:
11AM – 6PM Monday through Wednesday & Sunday
11AM – 11PM Thursday through Saturday

Highlights from the 2nd Annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure”

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Last weekend, some of the finest local, small production wine making talent around gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building in Solvang, CA for the 2nd annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure“.

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

This year, a Grand Tasting was held on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, with a different lineup each day.  With 60 wineries pouring over the course of two days, and only a limited amount of time, I feel like I only scratched the surface. While I had a hard time choosing favorites among all the incredible wines I did get to taste, I managed to narrow my list down to a few stand-outs.   If you can get your hands on any of the wines below, I highly recommend you do… Archium Cellars Garagistes Zach Jarosz and Ian Sergy of Archium Cellars poured their 1st vintage at the festival, which included a delicious portfolio of Rhone varietals.  I particularly liked the Provencal-style ’13 Grenache Rosé and the juicy ’12 “Haven” Grenache.

Zach Jarosz & Ian Sergy of Archium Cellars

Zach Jarosz & Ian Sergy of Archium Cellars

Delicious '13 Grenache Rose from Archium Cellars

Delicious ’13 Grenache Rose from Archium Cellars

Archium Cellars

Archium Cellars

Press Gang Cellars Press Gang Cellars is winemaker Kyle Knapp and his wife, Savanna’s labor of love and true passion.  The Press Gang Cellars portfolio included some outstanding Rhone varietals, including a ’10 Grenache and a crisp ’13 Grenache Rosé “Savanna Rhea”.

Press Gang Cellars

Press Gang Cellars

Press Gang Cellars

Press Gang Cellars

Kyle & Savanna Knapp of Press Gang Cellars

Kyle & Savanna Knapp of Press Gang Cellars

Roark Wine Company Ryan Roark of Roark Wine Company takes a minimal approach to wine making and truly lets the grapes speak for themselves.  I liked his multilayered, unfiltered ’13 Sauvignon Blanc and his modestly priced ($15/bottle), non-vintage red wine blend he calls “Craigslist Cuvee #2”. As Ryan puts it, “where do you go when you are looking for a deal?  Craigslist!  What do they have on Craigslist?  Everything!  This wine is a blend of loose ends, things that didn’t have a home but that together tasted awesome.”

Roark Wine Company

Roark Wine Company

Ryan Roark of Roark Wine Company

Ryan Roark of Roark Wine Company

Roark Wine Company's "Craigslist Cuvee" Red Wine Blend

Roark Wine Company’s “Craigslist Cuvee #2” Red Wine Blend

Liquid Farm I’m a long-time fan of Liquid Farm’s Chardonnay and Rosé, so I couldn’t resist stopping to try the latest vintage (which of course, was as good as ever).  The ’13 Mourvedre Rosé was dry, crisp, and just heavenly.

Liquid Farm

Liquid Farm

Liquid Farm's Winemaker, James Sparks

Liquid Farm’s Winemaker, James Sparks

C. Nagy Wines It was difficult to pick favorites from Clarissa Nagy of C. Nagy Wines’ current portfolio.  I particularly liked her ’11 Pinot Blanc Bien Nacido Vineyard and ’12 Viognier White Hawk Vineyard – both a little taste of summer in a glass.  I also liked her ’10 Garey Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir, which had an elegant balance of vibrant fruit and spice.

C Nagy Wines

C. Nagy Wines

C Nagy Wines

C. Nagy Wines

a-non-ah-mus Ron Hill of a-non-ah-mus released the label’s first vintage in 2007 and he’s been producing impeccably crafted Rhone varietals ever since.  I really enjoyed the ’12 Viognier which had a beautiful, crisp acidity and the tart, juicy ’10 Alisos Vineyard Grenache.

a-non-ah-mus

a-non-ah-mus

a-non-ah-mus

a-non-ah-mus

Ron Hill of a-non-ah-mus

Ron Hill of a-non-ah-mus

Weatherborne Wine Corp. Winemaker Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp. was pouring his first vintage (2012) of the one & only varietal he produces (a Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir).  That being said, it was probably one of the best Pinot’s I’ve tasted – the perfect balance of juicy fruit and a hint of spice.  I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Weatherborne…

Chris Carter of Weatherborne

Cris Carter of Weatherborne Wine Corp.

ONX Wines I had the opportunity to try ONX Wines at the last Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles.  Since then, I’ve fallen in love with the unique blends ONX produces – particularly their Tempranillo based “Praetorian”.  When I found out they were debuting a ’13 Rosé of Tempranillo called “Indie”, I had to try it. Just like all the other wines ONX produces, I can’t recommend the ’13 Indie Rosé enough.  Delicious.

Jeff Strekas of ONX Wines

Jeff Strekas of ONX Wines

The '13 "Indie" Rosé of Tempranillo by ONX Wines

The ’13 “Indie” Rosé of Tempranillo by ONX Wines

Once again, “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” provided an invaluable opportunity to taste some outstanding, yet-to-be-discovered wines and to talk to the friendly, passionate artisans who make them.  I hope to see everyone at the next one… Cheers! Related Posts: 2nd Annual “Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure” Returns to Solvang…

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…