My first experience with Chronic Cellars happened many miles from the sprawling vineyards of Paso Robles. We were up in Mammoth Mountain enjoying a tasty apres snowboarding dinner at a restaurant called Petras Wine Bar & Bistro. I noticed a white wine on the menu called La Muneca (meaning “the doll”) from Chronic Cellars that was described as having clean acidity with just the right amount of sweetness and notes of tropical fruit, pineapple and peach. I decided to try a sample and ended up ordering a couple of glasses with my meal.
I knew Chronic Cellars was in Paso Robles. In fact, we had driven past it many times making silly remarks about the name, never thinking the wine could actually be good. But after trying La Muneca in Mammoth, I put Chronic on the top of my list for our next wine trip and I’m very glad I did.
Chronic Cellars rebels against every wine tasting stereotype in the book. At the tasting room, you’ll find no pretension, no overpriced wines, no corporate-looking decor, and no stuffy tasting room staff. Brothers and co-owners Jake and Josh Beckett focus on making great wine that is fun, causal and accessible.
Jake and Josh were raised in the heart of Paso Robles wine country and have always had a deep connection to the art of wine making. After graduating from college, they joined the team at Peachy Canyon Winery and spent a decade each immersing themselves in all aspects of the wine industry.
The Beckett brothers came up with the concept of Chronic Cellars in the midst of harvest in 2004. They had used the term “The Chronic” to describe likable objects before, but had never considered it a suitable descriptor for wine. They sat alongside the crush pad one evening in wine stained clothes and wet boots laughing about the idea of a wine that targeted a casual lifestyle.
After their time at Peachy Canyon, they decided it was time to try something new and use all the knowledge and tools they gathered over the years to work on their own dream. They had an undeniable vision and desire to make a statement in the wine industry and took their first step toward Chronic Cellars. Their dream became reality when their first wines went public in 2008 and they’ve been going strong ever since.
I’ve actually visited Chronic Cellars a few times now and am currently a member of the Connoisseurs wine club. My most recent visit was a club event to celebrate the release of their summer shipment. The Chronic Cellars Connoisseurs Club is one of the best wine clubs I’ve seen – 2 shipments of 6 bottles per year with a 30% discount on each shipment plus 30% off all other purchases of wine and merchandise. It ends up being around $100 for 6 great bottles of wine which really can’t be beat.
I decided to pick up my summer shipment at the tasting room and enjoy the little party. Immediately upon entering, my senses were overwhelmed by the colorful hand-painted Dia De Los Muertos inspired artwork that covered the walls. Bluegrass music played in the background and I noticed an ever so subtle hint of incense in the air. Both Beckett brothers were in attendance – 1 pouring wine and 1 manning the grill outside. It felt a bit more like walking into a comfy living room than your average tasting room.
Next we decided to taste the 6 wines they were pouring, each paired with a locally made cheese. One thing you notice immediately about Chronic Cellars wines are the fantastic wine labels and clever wine names. The bright-colored labels are drawn by Joe Kalionzes, an amazing artist and good friend of the owners.
While La Muneca was no longer on the tasting list, I was excited to try 2 new whites that took her place. The first was ’09 Stone Fox (55% Grenache Blanc/28% Roussanne/17% Viognier, $20) which was light, mildly acidic, and full of peach, pear, pineapple, and citrus fruit on the nose and the palate – perfect for a hot day. While La Muneca holds a special place in my heart, Stone Fox was a fantastic follow-up and I purchased 2 bottles right off the bat.
Stone Fox was followed by ’09 Sofa King Suite (54% Viognier/46% Albarino, $13.99) which was well-balanced and a bit sweeter with flavors of gummy fruits, candied orange rind and freshly cut peaches.
Next was a series of reds. ’07 Purple Paradise (95% Zinfandel/5% Petit Sirah, $13.99) was full of raspberries, strawberries, white pepper and vanilla. It was smooth on the palate and great for everyday drinking. ’06 Dead Nuts Zinfandel (100% Zinfandel, $20) had concentrated flavors of dark fruits and peppery spices. ’08 Sofa King Bueno (65% Syrah/12% Petit Sirah/11% Grenache/11% Mourvedre, $20) was my favorite with lots of juicy fruits, bing cherries and toasted vanilla. Finally, ’08 Suite Petit (100% Petit Sirah, $30) was full of concentrated blueberry, blackberry and sweet oak flavors.
We left the winery with 6 great bottles of wine and, as usual, smiles on our faces. Chronic Cellars is truly one of a kind with a unique personality, a casual and welcoming vibe, and a great portfolio of tasty wines that can be enjoyed without feeling like you’ve broken the bank. I’m already looking forward to picking up my winter shipment…
2020 Nacimiento Lake Drive
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 237-7848
Fax: (805) 237-7532
Tasting room hours: 11:3oAM – 5:30PM Thursday through Monday