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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
640 Anderson Rd.
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 237-7367
Fax: (805) 237-7368
email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 5PM Thursday through Sunday