Paso Robles Wine Tasting – Part 1

Each time I go on a wine tasting trip I learn something new.

For instance, on our recent trip to Paso Robles, California, I learned that I have been mispronouncing “Paso Robles”. Rather than using the Spanish pronunciation of “Paw-so Row-blays” locals go with “Paw-so Row-bulls”.

Or you can just stick with “Paso”.

Paso Robles

We have been trying to schedule this Paso Robles wine tasting trip with family and friends from California for quite some time. The California gang made a few reconnaissance trips without us, diligently doing research for this excursion and compiling a list of favorites for us to visit.

Located on California’s Central Coast about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles has been in the wine-making business since the late 1800s. Paso grows over 40 different types of grapes some of which, I have to admit, are completely new to me.

See? Wine tasting is educational!

Paso Robles Wine Festival

Paso Robles Wine Tasting Festival

Serendipitously, the dates chosen for our trip coincided with the Paso Robles Wine Festival. This four-day event takes place in the park in the middle of downtown Paso Robles and features wine and food from local businesses.

We chose to sign up for only the Reserve Tasting Event on Friday afternoon figuring the crowds would be at the festival all weekend and we would have wineries’ tasting rooms to ourselves.

Paso wine festival reserve tasting

The Reserve Tasting featured the best wines from a limited number of wineries along with tasty bites from local restaurants. It was a great Paso Robles introduction.


Epoch Estate’s tasting room is a gorgeous blend of old and new.

Epoch tasting room

Originally the home of York Mountain Winery –  the very first winery in the Central Coast, dating back to 1882 – this structure was destroyed by an earthquake in 2003.  Seven years later, the owners of Epoch Estate, purchased the land and the rubble and set out to reconstruct the historic building using all of the original materials, painstakingly, piece by piece.

Epoch even managed to bring back York Mountain’s 100+ year-old wine press which now holds a place of honor in the open loft of the tasting room.

Epoch wine press

Our tasting flight included a lovely Rosé (made from Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Syrah grapes), a white blend (Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne), three red blends (varying combinations of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Tempranillo) and one 100% Syrah.

Epoch White and Rose

I brought these two bottles home for Girls’ Night In.


In 1996, modern day pioneers Mareeni and Ishka Stanislaus moved west to Paso Robles. Mareeni was recruited to be the area’s first OB/GYN and Ishka set his sights on starting a winery.

While we didn’t get to see Mareeni or Ishka on this visit – he was out of town and she was on call at the hospital – we did enjoy a lovely tasting, complete with a cheese and charcuterie platter, in the dining room of their home.

Guyomar tasting

We enjoyed tastes of Guyomar’s Rosé (made from Grenache grapes) and four different red blends (varying combinations of Zinfandel, Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah).

Guyomar The Editor

Given the fact that the majority of our group was made up of journalists and English majors, Guyomar’s delicious blend (69% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 5% Zinfandel, and 4% Petite Sirah), “The Editor”, was a fan favorite.

Law Estate

Law Estate

The California gang discovered this fabulous place on their first visit to Paso Robles and have been anxious for us to meet Law’s yummy wines.

Law Estate barrel roomOur young winery guide, Maggie, impressed us with her knowledge and delighted us with her stories about discovering her passion for wine at the family dinner table and her dad’s help in furthering her wine education. Maggie’s dad is being rewarded now with the family discount at his daughter’s place of work and access to some incredible wines.

While nestled in the gorgeous room just beyond the barrels, Maggie poured us an array of red blends with descriptive names like “Audacious” and “Sagacious” (combinations of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon) and”Intrepid”, of 100% Syrah.

The names of these blends prompted us to imagine what we might name our own signature wines. As you might guess, the English majors and writers among us were more skilled at this game than we accountants.

The best I could come up with was “In The Red” which doesn’t have the greatest connotation although it does describe the financial situation of many who try to start a vineyard.

Still, I think I will leave the wine naming and winemaking business to talented and experienced professionals like those crafting the delicious wines at Law.

mocadeauxFolks, we are just getting started on our tour of Paso Robles.

Up next, some wine varietals you may have never heard of and our #1 sentimental Paso Robles favorite.

Stay tuned!


No one paid me to say this. Do not drink and drive!

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Everyday Cabernet

Mo Wine Please

Cabernet Sauvignon is my very favorite varietal.  But the big Napa Cabs often come with a big price tag. Not necessarily everyone’s idea of everyday wines.

So I’m always delighted when I come across great values.

First up:

2012 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon

(Paso Robles)

2012 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon

The Paso Robles AVA (American Viticulture Area) is located in San Luis Obispo County, about halfway between Santa Barbara and Monterey, California.

As recently as 1990 there were only 20 wineries in Paso Robles. Now the number is more like 200+.

Obviously there must be something wonderful in the water – well, actually, in the dirt.

Originally known for Zinfandel, Paso Robles started planting Cabernet Sauvignon by the 1960s.

At only about $14 per bottle, the 2012 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles is a bargain.

This wine brings some of the classic California flavors of dark fruit with a hint of chocolate. It has enough body to be respectable and tasted even better on Day 2 after being open for 24 hours.

The 2012 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded a gold medal at the 2014 Central Coast Wine Competition and a silver medal at the 2014 California State Fair. Pretty high praise, eh?


2011 Maryhill Cabernet Sauvignon

(Columbia Valley)

2011 Maryhill Cabernet Sauvignon

The Columbia Valley AVA is located in the Columbia River Plateau in Central Washington, dipping just a tiny bit into Northern Oregon.

The area includes over a hundred thousand acres, representing about 99% of the planted vineyard acreage in Washington.

The variety of micro-climates in this area lends itself to wines ranging from Pinot Gris to Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Columbia Valley is located at approximately the same latitude as some of the prime European wine growing regions. Columbia Valley wines boast wines expressing the best qualities of California wines and European wines.

The 2012 Maryhill Cabernet Sauvignon (under $20 per bottle) features a spicy fruitiness. A little pepper, a little tobacco and a little chocolate balance out this reasonably priced gem. It has a pretty decent finish, as well.

Earning a gold medal and score of 92 points at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition, this wine would be a great choice for your everyday Cabernet,

A Few Oldies, But Goodies…

2009 Maddalena Cabernet Sauvignon

Maddalena is another great, moderately priced Cabernet from Paso Robles. I mentioned the 2009 vintage here. The 2010 is on the shelves now at about $10 per bottle.

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon

Liberty School, another great Paso Robles Cabernet, has an excellent lineage which I talked about here. Between the quality of the growing area and the quality of the winemaker at Liberty School, you will not be disappointed in the $12ish bottle of wine.

2012 Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon

I previously reviewed the 2012 Leese-Fitch Cabernet here. It was a delicious pairing with Guinness Beef Stew. Look for the 2013 vintage on the shelves now. Leese-Fitch has a reputation of, year after year, producing a Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes way above its $10-$12 price.

How about you? Do you have a “House Cabernet”?

Designated driver, Uber or cab

No one paid me to say this.

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