Day 4 - Paso Robles Westside Wine Tastings
There are two appellations in Paso Robles are found in the east and western corners of the region. Naturally, this begs the question; whose grapes are better? We started on the eastern end where the terrain is more level and the temperatures are warmer. Then we followed the sun toward the west side to enjoy their cooler and hillier countryside.
The largest difference between the two in terms of crop production is higher acidity in the wines from the west side due to the cooler climate. We trekked through there in late October so be sure to dress warmly since the temperatures in Paso Robles can drop as much as 40 degrees in the evenings.
The western end of Paso Robles has the smaller wineries, due to the hills and valleys that dominate the landscape making production easier for their eastern contemporaries. However, the west does maintain a more intimate touch as you are more likely to run into the vineyard owner and enjoy hearing of their winery's history. Some of these include:
- Eagle Castle Winery
- Treana Winery
- L'Aventure Winery
- Grey Wolf Cellars
- Linne Calodo
- Four Vines Winery
Get ready to hear about big, powerful wines from the westside.
Paso Robles West Side Winery Reviews
Eagle Castle Winery
Open Daily 10:30 - 5:30
This Medieval inspired castle sits on a hill, complete with a moat! An outdoor patio overlooks the moat and through the castle doors one can see knight-inspired decor complete with a middle aged dining table. Sean and I shared a wine flight which we're both glad we did. While their wines aren't comparable to others in the region, their appetizer menu came highly recommended. Though we arrived without an appetite, we'll be sure to devour something from their Crown Room menu the next time we get out that way. But we did decide Eagle Castle would be the ideal place to wind up a day of tasting, their patio provided the ideal scenery to recount any adventure would be a great finish to the day. Their tasting room and gift shop had a great collection of wine t-shirts.
Visit Eagle Castle Winery on Fridays for their Happy Hour food and wine pairing specials. Enjoy their enticing appetizers from 5-7:00.
As we were leaving Eagle Castle Winery we bumped into a lively crowd getting off The Wine Line. This is a shuttle service where you can create your own itinerary from a list of recommended wineries. They currently run 2 shuttles which pick up and drop off every 40 minutes.
There we were greeted by Whitney, our wonderful tasting guide.
Some of the complimentary offerings she poured were:
- Treana White 2007
- Austin Hope Grenache 2006
- Candor Zinfandel Lot 1
- Candor Merlot Lot 1
- Austin Hope Syrah 2005
- Treana Red 2006
The Treana White 2007 boasted a unique oil mouth feel with vibrant floral aromas while their Austin Hope Syrah 2005 is a big, bold wine that is incredibly smooth. They described it as having some earth, asphalt and toast. Definitely one of my favorites. But, they're most know for their Treana Red 2006, which I found to be on par with the Hope Syrah. Its up-front aromas of exotic spice followed by rich notes of mulberry made for a delicious blend.
They have 5 different brands of wines. Whitney spilled the beans on their newest label, Westside; emphasizing their location within Paso Robles. This new brand is in the works to be launched I have to thank Whitney for the sneak peek as well as a great tasting room experience. Congrats on your upcoming wedding -- love your ring!
Open Thurs-Sun 11-4:00
The drive from Treana Winery to L'Aventure is serene beauty. We bathed in the west side's rolling path with views of surrounding vineyards and livestock on the drive along Live Oak Road. Once you get to L'Aventure Winery you're surrounded by mini mountains of vines. I highly recommend an outdoor wine picnic in their open field or a pick-up game of football like Sean found. Their unique outdoor setting engulfed us in some wonderful views of hills with vines and skies.
We visited the L'Aventure Winery on Halloween and found their festive wine tenders were creatively dressed in costumes as well as some of the patrons. Our wine hostesses, Riley, was cleverly dressed as a fruit fly. Needless to say she was a lot of fun. Riley explained the winemaker's background; a vineyard grower, winemaker, as well as owner. The french term for wine maker is vigneron. She went on to relate why he left France to make wine in California, due to their wine laws he was restricted from blending wines. Lucky for us! L'Aventure's innovative, deep, dark, intense Paso reds are delicious. Riley set us up with 2 stemless Riedel glasses and started us on our divine L'Aventure tastings.
Where Bordeaux Meets the Rhone Tasting List Includes
- L'Aventure Estate Roussanne 2008 85% Estate Roussane & 15% Estate Viognier
- L'Aventure Optimus 2006 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Syrah & 5% Petit Verdot
- L'Aventure Estate Cote a Cote 2007 40% Estate Mourvedre, 40% Estate Grenache & 20% Estate Syrah
- L'Aventure Estate Cabernet 2007 95% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Estate Petite Verdot
- L'Aventure Estate Cuvee 2007 49% Estate Syrah, 37% Estate Cabernet & 14% Estate Petit Verdot
Our favorite was the Estate Cuvee 2007. It is the "Best of the Best". There is a lot going on in this complex wine with black fruit notes. We were impressed how they dated the bottles for tastings. Their
emphasis on quality and care is to be commended. For our oenophiles who collect wine, check out L'Aventure's aging chart. It informs you on how long you can store a bottle in your cellar and optimal drinking periods.
Riley also informed us that every one of their superb wines received high 90's ratings by Robert Parker. She explained how they produce lower yields in their cabernet sauvignon vineyards to increase the quality of future harvests. By leaving some grapes on the vines this makes better grapes which results in better wine. We also learned about the loss of wine from evaporation. An investment in the construction of wine caves would save them approximatley $200,000 per year; keeping the wines moist so they don't evaporate.
Along our trip from Santa Ynez to Paso Robles the Artisan Restaurant was highly recommended by so many people. As we were leaving, Riley invited us to dine at the Artisan where she waited tables. We took her up on it, and she immediately called for our reservation. Thanks again!
Grey Wolf Cellars
Open Daily 11-5:30
Sandy, who we met in Santa Ynez, recommended Grey Wolf Cellars to us. We are so glad she did! Sean and I both ranked Grey Wolf Cellars in our top tasting room experiences for our entire wine vacation. We've visited tasting rooms that were excellent in having a great time, or those with stimulating conversations, or photographic settings, or those great at educating us on their wines and the industry, or wineries with savorful wines you couldn't get enough of. Grey Wolf Cellars encompassed all these marvelous wine country encounters in one place!
Grey Wolf is a family owned and operated boutique winery. Grey Wolf was chosen as their name since wolfs pick mates for life. They are a tight nit family. When owner Joe Barton's father died, Joe stepped in to run the family business. Grey Wolf emits such a warm, family like atmosphere even their tasting room used to be their house.
Their hand crafted wines are so good that during our tastings we witnessed three locals come in to pick up cases of wine. We bought some as well, one of which I'm saving for Christmas dinner - can't wait! Their tasting list included the following wines with most darling names.
- 2008 Southpaw White Rhone Blend
- 2008 Rose' "Little Red"
- 2007 Grenache "Instinctual"
- 2007 Tempranillo "The Trapper"
- 2007 DUSI Zinfandel
- 2007 Zinfandel "Big Bad Wolf"
- 2007 Soulmate
- 2007 Syrah "Predator"
Sean and I agreed that they were all good wines. The Southpaw was a smooth, light and refreshing white Rhone blend. The 2007 DUSI Zin was my favorite from there. It's a "BIG JAMMY MONSTER" with spice and raspberry perfect for sipping on Halloween. It is 100% Zinfandel from the famed Dusi Family Vineyards. Worth mentioning is their 2007 Soulmate with its great aroma. However, they were sold out of their Lone Wolf Meritage on our visit since it's a limited production released 2-3 times a year. We hope to taste it on our next wine trip.
Behind the Scenes Wine Tour at Grey Wolf Cellars
Assistant winemaker Alley invited us for a private wine tour of their facility. During which we got to know the passionate winemakers Alley, owner Joe as well as their winery dog . We witnessed the hard work that goes into crafting their exceptional wines. Alley walked us through their set up which included:
Voila.... you have wine!
Open Daily 11-5:00
On our way to Four Vines when we saw a modern styled, new building from the roadside. Curious, we stopped to see the inside of this architecturally unique building as well as taste their wines . So we detoured to Linne Calodo's most impressive tasting room. Nestled in the woods is a tall modern yet rustic styled building. As you enter the tasting room, the ceilings are high with abstract shaped windows and interesting modern art hanging on their walls. We were greeted by a cheerful wine hostess, Shauna, who started our tasting flight which included:
- 2006 Outsider
- 2007 Outsider
- 2007 Problem Child
- 2007 Slacker
We were surprised to learn that the 2006 Outsider's grapes are specifically harvested from the perimeter of the vineyard. This area is lower and the soils are deeper with cooler temperatures. Winemaker's notes state, "this produces less acid in the grape; these wines gain an edge of spice and earth." Our favorite Linne Calodo wine is their 2007 Outsider which has bold aromas of dried plums, vanilla be n and cherry pie.
Open Daily 11-6:00
As you know, I love wine and all the wonderful varietals it comes in. I also love visiting vineyards, trying out their wine creations and observing the vibes that result from the winery's atmosphere. I especially enjoy walking into a tasting room and with exciting ambience. Four Vines' ambience was bouncing off the walls! It could have been because it was the end of the day, tasting rooms were about to close and wine tasters are a bit tipsy. I don't know, but once we joined in, we realized their out of the box style is a direct result of the exciting vibe that struck us at the door.
A happy fun young man by the name of Chad Frank started us on our tasting tour. He first asked us if we preferred a ZinBitch, 4Vines, Naked, Anarchy or Biker stemless Riedel glass. You get to choose a tasting glass which to take with you. I picked ZinBitch while Sean went for Anarchy. The next part of their madness was tattooing. So, I picked out an Anarchy tattoo while Sean went with a ZinBitch (just kidding, Sean didn't get a tattoo). Anyways, we had an absolute blast with their unusual tasting experience.
After a long, exhausting day of wine tastings we were looking forward to a locally recommended dinner. We walked through downtown Paso Robles toward the restaurant when we were walking to the restaurant as we were surrounded by the most adorable Halloween costumes. Goblins and princesses came out of nowhere on their trek for treats and giggled right past us on to much more important things. Then we found the Artisan Restaurant . Thank goodness Riley booked us a reservation. We found Riley had transformed from a fruit fly into a cat.
It was time to pick out wine. Yep, more wine... Sean allowed me to select our bottle, the gentleman that he is. I was eager to try another bold, powerful jammy zin from the area. Our waitress surprised us with Brochelle Vineyards 2007 Zinfandel from Paso Robles. It was the best recommendation, and one of my top 3 favorite wines of the trip. I finished off the trip with the most jammy red wine of them all. The aroma of the wine was addicting.