Paso Rocks: Paso Robles Wine Review Roundup

Last week I participated in a webinar, discussion, and virtual tasting highlighting the Paso Robles AVA through the eyes of three prominent winery representatives: Jason Haas, partner and general manager of Tablas Creek Vineyard; Jordan Fiorentini, vice president of winemaking and vineyards for Epoch Wine Estates; and Amanda Wittstrom Higgins, newly appointed executive vice president of Ancient Peaks Winery.

The main takeaway (at least to my eyes and ears): Paso rocks. I mean, yes, it rocks in the figurative sense as well. But I was really digging (pun sort of intended) all the geeky geological stuff these guys got into. The show-and-tell of vineyard rocks was one for the record books. Have you seen fossilized whale bone in your backyard? Thought not. And of course, how these soil types and topography of each vineyard’s location affects the wine style is a connection I love making.

So, I thought I’d take some time to talk a bit about each winery, why they “rock,” and of course include mini wine reviews for each. Please, enjoy.

Courtesy Epoch Estate Wines
Courtesy Epoch Estate Wines


Farmworker Foundation and Napa Valley Grapegrowers Fund Mobile Health Unit Through St. Helena Hospital

The mobile health unit can travel to vineyard sites and can test up to 100 vineyard workers per day.
The mobile health unit can travel to vineyard sites and can test up to 100 vineyard workers per day.

Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) and Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) announce a partnership with St. Helena Hospital Foundation (SHHF) to increase access to COVID-19 screening for farmworkers. NVG and FWF have jointly funded supplying and staffing a mobile health unit, capable of traveling to vineyard sites and testing up to 100 vineyard workers per day.  These funds have secured an initial order of 3,000 tests to be made available throughout harvest to vineyard workers.

“The St. Helena Hospital Foundation established the Mobile Health Unit to provide accessible medical resources to the community.  We’ve worked on the project for over a year and to see it used in this way, to provide COVID-19 testing support for our agricultural workforce through the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and Farmworker Foundation, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Karen Cakebread, Director for the NVG and SHHF, who helped launch the mobile testing effort, “It is exciting that the synergy between the organizations came together at a time when our community needs creative solutions and quick action to support our work force.”

Since the pandemic was declared in March, the FWF and NVG have dedicated over $200,000 to provide comprehensive safety resources in Spanish and English, social distancing vineyard signs, cloth face masks to over 10,000 farmworkers, and recently launched a statewide bilingual community education campaign via the FWF COVID-19 Task Force.  Providing critical access to testing is an important piece to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of Napa’s farmworkers. With the Mobile Health Unit launched, NVG and FWF continue to develop plans for increasing testing capabilities and opportunities in the community, to prevent COVID-19 and keep workers safe.

For information on the FWF COVID-19 Task Force, please refer to

About the Napa Valley Grapegrowers

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers is a non-profit trade organization that has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class viticultural region for 45 years.  Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents 726 Napa County grape growers and associated businesses.  Visit Napa Valley Grapegrowers and follow on Facebook and Instagram

About the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation

Founded by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers in 2011, the mission of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is to support and promote Napa Valley’s vineyard workers through education and professional development. The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is the only one of its kind in the United States, providing educational opportunities, advanced training programs, leadership and management classes, English literacy programs, and much more. To date, the Farmworker Foundation has offered education and professional development opportunities to more than 21,000 vineyard workers and their families.  Visit  Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and follow on Facebook and Instagram

Notre Vue Estate New Releases

If you’ve been sticking with me through my WSET studies, you’ll know that the last two posts were all about soil types and soil health. In keeping with that theme, I want to highlight a new-for-me winery, Notre Vue Estate from Windsor, California whose latest releases dive into the soil types and structures throughout their vineyard.

soils samples from Notre Vue Estate.
Not cigars, like I first thought when I opened the box. These are soils samples from Notre Vue Estate.

As I talked about in my Vineyard Soil post, it’s not just soil composition but vine row orientation—i.e. slope and aspect—that dictate what vines will thrive best where in the vineyard. So, let’s take a look at what viticulturist Daniel Charles has to say about the Notre Vue soils and then have a little taste of what those soils have produced…


Managing Vineyard Soil Health

[Information based on DipWSET D1 material]

Six ways growers can manage the health of vineyard soil.

In our last exciting episode of WSET studying, we discovered the world of soil and left off acknowledging that there are loads of tests that growers can conduct before a vineyard is established to understand the composition and overall health of his/her/their potential vineyard. Just as important are regularly scheduled tests—think of it as your vineyard’s annual checkup. Soil health tests can indicate what, if anything, needs to be improved—be it the structure, nutrient level, water availability, or pest management.


Vineyard Soils

Physical properties of soil and how it effects vine health.

First, let’s define what soil actually is. Soil is the upper layer of the earth and is made up of geological sediment. Sediment is another word for weathered bedrock—aka solid rock. Soil also includes organic remains in the form of humus as well the water and air found in the pores/space between the sediment. That’s…a lot of stuff. But wait. There’s more…

[Information based on DipWSET D1 material]


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