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.”
About the Winery
Owner Niels Udman was destined to be a winemaking success. Greatly influenced by his farmer-turned-business man father, he grew up appreciating and understanding the environmental and financial work ethics necessary to maintain a successful estate. So it seems only natural that he chose to study Agricultural Business Management at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His senior thesis? The possibility and the profitability of a successful winery in the Paso Robles area.
Of course before he could prove that theory in the real winemaking world, Niels studied under some of the most influential winemakers in the, then, up-and-coming wine region — including current Castoro Cellars winemaker Tom Meyers. In 1983, Niels, along with his wife Bimmer launched their own wine label, Castoro Cellars, as a side business. But by 1985 the “side business” had become so successful, the couple decided to focus their efforts on their brand full time.
To help them during their “start-up phase,” Niels used his business smarts and invested in a custom crush service for local, boutique Central Coast wineries to lease. He also developed a mobile bottling line, allowing wineries to bottle their wines at their own property, as opposed to shipping their wines out for such a service.
These efforts not only aided in Castoro Cellars’ profits, but gave them a name in the winemaking community.
Although Niels and Bimmer began their winemaking venture by sourcing their grapes from upwards of 40 different vineyards, today Castoro Cellars has over 750 acres of estate vineyards, producing about 60,000 cases of wine annually.
Despite this success, Castoro Cellars remains a family owned and operated winery. A visit to the winery will often include a member of the family or a close friend of the family behind the bar, eager to share, in even more detail, the Udman’s wine history. For $5 guests can chose up to 7 different wines and, like I said, here is your chance to steer away from the stereotypical Paso-Rhones. While Castoro Cellars does offer some common-for-the-area varietals like Viognier or Zinfandel, the Mediterranean varietals are the truly “Dam Fine Wines.”
And for those looking to do something while tasting or traveling with non-wine drinking friends or family (or even kids), there’s loads of other activities to enjoy on the Castoro Cellars property including disc golf, corn hole, and — of course — bocce ball.
Wines To Try
- 2015 Balena White Blend
- 2014 Carignane
- 2014 Primitivo
- Castoro is the Italian word for “beaver,” a lifelong nickname of Niels Udman. Get it? “Dam Fine Wines.”
- Beaverstock Festival is an outdoor summer festival celebrating local music, artists, and exercise. Proceeds from the event go toward local charities.
Thank you to Luke Udman for hosting me during my last visit to Castoro Cellars. For more information about Castoro Cellars and to schedule your visit, please visit the Castoro Cellars website.
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