Tag Archives: L’Aventure

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


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.

870 Arbor Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 238-2083
Email: info@terryhoagevineyards.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Thursday through Monday

Per Cazo Cellars | Paso Robles, CA

Per Cazo Cellars

During my last visit to Paso Robles, I had one of my most unique wine tasting experiences to date. While researching wineries in the area to check out, I came across a review on Per Cazo Cellars. This person had great things to say about it and I really knew nothing about the place so I added it to the list.

Per Cazo means “by chance” in Italian, which perfectly describes our visit. We decided to make Per Cazo Cellars our first stop of the day. I hadn’t called ahead to make sure anyone was there to do a tasting, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Sign at the entrance to Per Cazo and Creekside Bed & Breakfast

On the Per Cazo Cellars website it says “the gate is always open when we are home”, which was luckily the case when we arrived. We turned down the driveway and parked our car in the empty parking lot. While we sat inside debating whether to call or just go knock on the door, I heard a light tap on my window.

It was Lynne Teckman – one of the proprietors – inviting us to come inside. She literally welcomed us into her home, which serves at the tasting room at the moment, and led us to a table on the back patio.

The Teckman’s home & current tasting room for Per Cazo Cellars

The surroundings and the day were absolutely gorgeous. Lynne and her husband Dave also run a B&B called Creekside Bed & Breakfast which is located across the parking lot from their house and offers visitors a place to relax and enjoy the peaceful setting. The creek cuts through the back of their property and a large, welcoming pool takes up a good portion of the backyard.

Creekside Bed & Breakfast at Per Cazo Cellars

A view of the creek that cuts through the back of Per Cazo

We made ourselves comfortable while Lynne began our tasting, pairing each wine with a hand-selected cheese or another accompaniment. She is a true lover of wine and food, and believes in enjoying both in unison. As food and wine lovers who are accustomed to tasting wine with a bowl of crackers or pretzels, we absolutely loved the added touch.

The backyard pool at Per Cazo Cellars

Once we had full glasses, Lynne sat down with us at our table and chatted with us about what we do, about our families, and about our shared passions for wine, food and travel. I felt as if we were enjoying an afternoon with a good friend.

The back patio at Per Cazo Cellars where we enjoyed a long, leisurely visit…

Lynne’s husband Dave joined us a bit later and brought a barrel sample of ’09 Zinfandel which was absolutely delicious – unlike most Zinfandels I’ve tasted. We chatted more with Dave about the wine making process and how they got into the world of wine. It was such a relaxing and enjoyable experience, I didn’t feel like we were at a typical wine tasting at all.

The wines at Per Cazo Cellars are made in very small production and you can taste the attention to detail in each one. While I enjoyed all the wines we tried, I thought the ’08 Epi Telos – a Rhone blend – was outstanding and walked away with 2 bottles.

Enjoying a wonderful wine tasting experience with Lynne and Dave Teckman of Per Cazo Cellars

From the warm hospitality we received from Lynne and Dave to the unique and tasty wine & food pairing, my entire experience at Per Cazo Cellars was both unexpected and truly memorable. We ran into Lynne at L’Aventure Winery later in the day and it was like bumping into an old friend. Hopefully the gate at Per Cazo Cellars will be open the next time you’re in Paso Robles…

Click here to visit the Per Cazo Cellars website.
Click here to visit the Creekside Bed & Breakfast website.

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.

Booker Vineyard | Paso Robles, CA

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.

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

L’Aventure Winery | Paso Robles, CA

L’Aventure Winery

During the last weekend in February, I had the honor of attending L’Aventure Winery’s unveiling of the 2008 vintage. I joined Club L’Aventure last year on my birthday and have developed such a passion for these wines, I was waiting to taste the new vintage like a little kid waiting for Santa to arrive. I wasn’t going to let torrential downpours and hurricane-like winds stop me from getting up to Paso Robles. More on that later.

L’Aventure is very near and dear to my heart. The Optimus blend is the single wine that turned me from a casual wine drinker to someone who truly appreciates and understands incredible wine. Flash back to very early 2005. I was at a Learn About Wine tasting in Los Angeles called “The Best Wines for $20 or Less”. As I meandered my way from table to table, tasting a lot of better than average, relatively inexpensive wines, I came across a man who poured me the wine that changed my life.

L’Aventure Winery

He actually wasn’t even representing L’Aventure. In fact, I don’t really recall which winery he was representing, but I tasted his wines and they were pretty good. Nothing special, but not bad. We started chatting about my favorite wines of the night, etc, etc and then…he reached into a bag behind him and said “you really need to try this. Just keep it quiet… it’s from my personal collection.” My new friend pulled out a bottle of 2002 L’Aventure Optimus and poured a little into my tasting glass. I smelled it (wow…incredible. So much more complex than any wine I’d experienced). I tasted it (unreal). I literally stood there and savored every little bit of berry, spice, cassis and minerality I was tasting. This wine was unlike anything I’d ever tried.

I pulled out my tasting note brochure I got for the evening and scratched in pen “L’Aventure Optimus. DELICIOUS!!”. I thanked my friend for opening my eyes to a whole new wine world, tasted a few more wines – none of which could stand up to what I just experienced – and I left the tasting event with a whole new perspective.

Winemaker Stephan Asseo at the L’Aventure Winery

I’ve been following L’Aventure ever since and have been equally impressed by each and every vintage. Winemaker and owner Stephan Asseo has been making wine since 1982. Since then, he has “developed into an artisan winemaker of fastidious craftsmanship, and gained a reputation as a maverick vigneron”. Stephan’s passion for winemaking and his desire to raise the bar for other wine makers in his league is evident in each and every bottle he produces.

The estate vineyards at L’Aventure

I’m particularly drawn to the fact that Stephan is truly a trailblazer in his craft. He grew tired of the strict AOC laws in his native France and decided to venture out on a quest – a great adventure – to find the perfect terroir to craft his remarkable wines. After traveling the world from South Africa to Argentina to Napa Valley, Stephan fell in love with Paso Robles and has been there ever since.

Artwork on the wall at L’Aventure

So, back to that weekend in February. I first visited the L’Aventure tasting room 4 years ago and have made a yearly pilgrimage to Paso every year since, just to taste the latest vintage. But this weekend was my first visit as a wine club member. The winery was closed to the public so this was our exclusive opportunity to see what 2008 was tasting like. Unfortunately Mother Nature wasn’t sure if she wanted us to make the trip.

We left Los Angeles on Friday evening, fully aware of the fact that it might rain. When we got in the car, things were dry as could be and we though we may have dodged the storm. Unfortunately half way up to Pismo Beach (where we were spending the night), it started raining. Really, REALLY hard. There were a few moments where I wasn’t sure if we should press on or pull over.

L’Aventure Winery

Fortunately we made it to Pismo Beach and checked into our lovely hotel room at the SeaCrest Resort. This hotel was recently renovated and is highly recommended. The attention to detail throughout the hotel and the gorgeous seaside location are unsurpassed for a relatively inexpensive hotel. After a night of more rain and wind that nearly convinced us there was a hurricane blowing outside, we woke up to clearing skies and were excited for our day of wine tasting.

SeaCrest Resort after the storm…

We left Pismo Beach and were in Paso Robles in less than 30 minutes. We drove down the beautiful gravel road toward L’Aventure, parked, and quickly made our way towards the tasting area. Before we could enter the winery, we were stopped by a voice declaring “wait a minute… you have to see me first”. At a small table near the door to the winery was the artist himself. Stephan was pouring his ’09 Estate Rose and personally greeting his visitors.

The entry gate to L’Aventure Winery and Estate Vineyard

The vineyards at L’Aventure…

My moment with master winemaker Stephan Asseo

After chatting with Stephan about his newest releases, this past growing season, and about what he has up his sleeve for the next year at L’Aventure, we headed inside to taste the rest of the wines. I honestly can’t say which were my favorites. They were all poured directly from the barrels so they were all perfectly “open” and so delicious.

View from inside the tasting at L’Aventure Winery

The ’09 Estate Rose was an incredible start. We decided to purchase 3 bottles right off the bat. The ’08 Optimus was perhaps one of the best to date. The ’08 Le Grand Verdot – a new release for members only and inky purple in color with just the right amount of tartness on the palate – was another stand out. The Estate Cuvee and Cote a Cote are always favorites and this vintage certainly didn’t disappoint.

Freshly bottled ’08 Le Grand Verdot…delicious!

’08 Estate Cuvee…

We got home and placed our order for a mixed case without hesitation. L’Aventure wines are a bit on the pricey side, but well worth it if you appreciate quality wine. We’ve already received our shipment and finished off 2 bottles of Rose which were just as delicious as when Stephan handed me my first taste. If you’re in the Paso Robles area, L’Aventure is an absolute must see. I can’t wait for our next visit…

Click here to visit the L’Aventure Winery website.

2815 Live Oak Rd.
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 227-1588
Fax: (805) 227-6988
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Thursday through Sunday. Monday through Wednesday by appointment.