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spacer.gif^ Livermore, CA | Paso Robles, CA | San Luis Obispo, CA | Santa Barbara, CA       >> Tasting Dispatches
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OCTOBER 2007 – Paso Robles, CA – Peachy Canyon Road

We go to Paso Robles about 4 times a year. I've been coming to this area regularly for at least 8 years and the changes are amazing.paso102007a.jpg There are now a plethora of lodging and dining choices in town, where in the beginning, one had to stay in San Luis Obispo (45 minutes south) to find anything decent. The good news about this seemingly unending growth is that there are always new wineries for me to try. I have my favorites, but you just never know when the next, best thing will be poured into your glass. This time I had my designated driver with me (husband Dave) and we decided, on this very rainy day, to keep it simple. The wineries on Peachy Canyon Road have recently started being open on Fridays, so we'd be able to hit 3-4 or four without too much trouble. The roads on the Westside are particularly winding and narrow, so it's good to have someone driving who's not drinking everything. We stopped halfway up the coast at the Los Olivos Market, in Santa Barbara wine country, for a bathroom break and to indulge in their gourmet foods. After getting our yummy sandwiches, we were back on our way.

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STACKED STONE CELLARS: (6-8 Pours)
Our first stop. The tasting room is actually their barrel room, which makes you feel like you're part of the process, especially since they were in the middle of harvest. Angela was behind the bar and made us feel right at home. She's both friendly and knowledgable. They make two very nice blends – one Bordeaux (The Quarry), one Rhone (The Gem) – the obligatory Zinfandel, a rosé and a nice port. All the wines were good, but the standouts were the Gem and the Port, which we now own. Even in the rain, it was nice to picnic under their huge oak trees.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


CALCAREOUS WINERY: (8 Pours)
This is a winery I've been trying to get to for awhile. They do a little bit of everything and I'm happy to say, do it well. Their tasting room has a beautiful view and places to sit and enjoy it. Our guide behind the bar was also a local musician, who happened to have his singing dog with him. The dog was better than you'd think though not as good as the wines. Loved their Bordeaux (Twisted Sisters) and Rhone (Tres Violet) blends, as well as the 2005 Syrah. I will definitely be returning. I've sent other friends and they liked them, too. Which is nice. One I considered joining, but their discount isn't good enough.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


MINASSIAN-YOUNG VINEYARD: Tasting Fee: $5 (4 Pours)
A pleasant, yet small tasting room for this relative newbie. They opened their doors in 2005. Their current lineup is 4 wines: a Cab, Rhone blend, Zin and a Port. For the price, $20 each, I couldn't resist either the Cab or Zin. Can't go to Paso without picking up a few Zins and their's is the best I tried. Will go back late next year to see how they've grown and taste the expanded lineup, which is supposed to include a Viognier and Mourvedre. Two of my favorites.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


DENNER VINEYARDS:
denner.jpgSeveral of the locals recommended Denner to me, and since I trust their opinion, we went. It's actually on Vineyard Road, not on Peachy Canyon, but it is sort of on the way back to town. This was the fanciest facility of the day with an enormous, modern tasting room. Their focus is on Rhone wines and the entire facility is built to utilize gravity flow in the winemaking process. I guess we asked the right questions because we got a tour from the owner, Ron Denner. You can certainly taste the care they put into their wines. Their Viognier and the Ditch Digger (Rhone Blend) are wonderful. The bad news is their wines were just positively reviewed by Robert Parker so get them while you can before the prices become out of reach or they sell out (which the Viognier already has as of 12/07).
– For more information CLICK HERE.

Of course, the highlight of the weekend was stopping by to visit our winemaking friends. Once you join a few clubs, you'll have them, too. Membership really has it's privileges in the wine world and both Rio Seco and Cass make the wine tasting experience informative and fun.


RIO SECO WINERY:
We've been members here for about 4-5 years...time flies when you're drinking. Tom and Carol Hinkle are down-to-earth people who make good wine for good prices and clearly enjoy their job. Tom made his living until this fall scouting for various major league baseball teams and he has a few World Series rings to prove it. Thus the baseball theme for a few of their blends: MVP Reserve and the Grand Slam. They also make some lovely Zins, but my favs are their Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon and Syrah. They have more events than most wineries from Member parties, to poker nights, to summer BBQs. They make us wish we lived closer to take advantage.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


CASS WINERY:
cassTed.jpgWe became friends with the owners (Ted and Steve) of this winery last December (2006) when I busted them for not being open the year before...even though they said they would be. I got talking wine with Ted – there's no stopping either of us once we get going – and that led to drinking, golfing, wine dinners and a whole lot of things I can't go into here (in order to protect my compadres). What's great about our friendship is I don't have to lie about the quality of their wines. I think they are one of the best in the area for Rhones and I always look forward to opening a bottle of Cass, red or white. They are also one of the only wineries that offers real food on the premises, which is truly needed when you're out tasting. As their vines age their wines are getting better, which has been proven with their current 05 releases. The wines aren't cheap, but they are worth the money. (The blurriness of the picture, Ted's holding the bottle, reflects how we were feeling at the time. Happily a little fuzzy around the edges.)
– For more information CLICK HERE.


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