I came across Barton Family Wines during my most recent Paso Robles visit. It’s absolutely one of my top recommended wine stops when visiting the area. Winemaker and proprietor, Joe Barton, took me through a full line up of his current releases (including those in his Grey and Grey Wolf line). I loved that his Chenin Blanc had actual body and substance; appreciated that his rosé still had a bit of tannic red wine quality; and was impressed by his confidence to bottle a single-varietal (face-puckering) Tannat. But what truly turned me on, the wine I walked away with, was the Barton Family Wines Hot Blooded — a single-varietal bottling of 100% Counoise.
When visiting Paso Robles, you’re pretty much in Rhone Ranger town. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre are as common here as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are along the Sonoma Coast. But if you’re looking to break away from the Paso-norm, maybe try a few obscure varietals, and have some outdoors-y fun while you taste, then your next stop is the family owned and operated Castoro Cellars: You’re in for some “Dam Fine Wine.”
On my last trip through Paso, I stopped by Zenaida Cellars, a winery I had come across when they kindly sent me a few bottles to sample. While their Syrah was outstanding, I truly fell in love with their Fire Sign red blend. But for some reason I held on to their GSM waiting for the opportune moment to pop the cork (or, this this case, twist the cap). And, honestly, I think it’s because of the name. I’m an itchy-twitchy girl who can’t hold still for more than a moment and wanderlust is something that’s truly in my heart. Well, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m traveling — like, a lot. Admittedly, my recent travels are primarily taking me to various California wine regions, but in so doing I feel like I’m traveling to world as I learn and taste through each grape’s heritage, each winemaker’s journey. And so, now is the time to twist off the cap of Zenaida Cellars 2014 Wanderlust.
Only slightly off the beaten path of Highway 46 in the Adelaida district of Paso Robles is a quaint little family operation, Alta Colina. Here, upon a hilltop, the Tillman family has set up shop on their 130 acre ranch, 31 of which are planted to 15 blocks of vineyard. They have a unique plot of land, with sturdier soils (containing a high percentage of fractured shale amongst the loam) than even some of their closest neighboring vineyards. And being just out of reach of the cool, foggy air of the Templeton Gap, the vines are blessed with a moderately warm climate that can, in the summer, get down right hot.
It’s no secret that I like my wine, but when drinking hard liquor or making a cocktail, vodka is my spirit of choice. I was introduced to Re:Find Distillery when co-owner Monica Villicana kindly sent me a sample of her Re:Find Barrel Finished Vodka. (Click the link to read the full review. SPOILER ALERT: It’s awesome). So, when I made my pass through Paso Robles, home to Re:Find Distillery, I had to pop in and see this operation from the inside.