Destination: Paso Robles
Paso Is California’s New Cabernet Country
LVFNB Pro recently had the opportunity to travel to California’s premier wine country - no, not Napa Valley - Paso Robles. Paso Robles has risen to the top of travel destination charts for its premium wine production, high-end restaurant scene and proximity to California’s pristine beaches. Of course we had to check it out for ourselves.
The wine industry is certainly at the heart of the popularity of the region. The American Viticulture Area AVA consists of 36,000 miles of planted wine grapes, more than half of which are planted to red Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Hence the Paso Robles CAB Cabernet And Bordeaux Collective PRCC was born. Formed in 2012, the PRCC strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles AVA in producing superior-quality, classic and age-worthy Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals to consumers, trade and media worldwide. We met with several members of the PRCC there are 26 member wineries to-date on our trip and experienced what makes Paso Robles such a wine destination for consumers and trade, alike.
For our first experience, we didn’t even have to leave the hotel. The La Quinta Inn & Suites hosts a wine tasting reception every weekday evening in their wine room, which we happily participated in. This wasn’t like any La Quinta we had visited before, there was a definitive high-quality wine country feel throughout our experience here - a great locale for those looking to discover the wine region and rest-up in comfort. For dinner, we headed into downtown Paso Robles where we were faced with a number of gourmet food options to choose from. Thomas Hill Organics has maintained its prestige as one of the top restaurants in Paso Robles - and it did not disappoint our palates or expectations. Executive Chef Christopher Manning prepared a menu using all fresh, locally grown and raised products.
Our next day in Paso primarily consisted of vineyard and winery tours of PRCC members throughout the AVA. We started at Sextant Wines where we were greeted by Key Accounts Specialist, Ashlie Leslie. Ashlie poured a selection of Cabernets including their 2012 Kamal - its dense flavors of crushed blackberries and lively black currants made an immediate impression on the palate. From there we drove just a mile up the road to boutique producer, Red Soles Winery, where owners/winemakers Cheryl and Randy Phillips treated our taste-buds to delicious pours of their Cabernets.
Next was DAOU Vineyards & Winery. Proprietor and Winemaker, Daniel Daou is the chairman of the Paso Robles CAB Collective and produces superior Cabernets from grapes grown on DAOU Mountain. In limited supply is their Soul of a Lion Cabernet Sauvignon - one to watch for and buy in stock. Just a few miles down the road from DAOU, you can find Le Cuvier Winery, where notable winemaker John Munch produces wines of unique style and depth. Our next stop was for a tasting of fine Cabernets from Chateau Margene, Parrish Family Vineyard and Cass Vineyard & Winery. We had the pleasure of tasting through these wines with Chateau Margene’s Owner/Winemaker, Michael Mooney; Owner/Winemaker of Parrish, David Parrish; and Partner of Cass, Ted Plemons. All three shared the firm belief that Paso Robles produces superior Cabernet Sauvignon and the glasses before us, certainly proved it. Each of the wines we tasted from these PRCC members spoke to the terroir of Paso Robles and the passion of the winemaker.
If great wine and fun adventure is something you like to pair with your Cab, Ancient Peaks Winery is your answer. In addition to producing elegant and refined Bordeaux varietals, Ancient Peaks is the zip lining destination of the Central Coast. Imagine soaring over Merlot vineyards in the fresh central coast air - whether this occurs before or after you taste is up to you! Then purchase a bottle of their Oyster Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon for a quiet evening in.
To end this second day of tasting, we headed to the newly opened Second Press Wine Bar & Eatery located on the City Park in downtown Paso. Chef William Ouderkirk prepared items pared with local wines. On our way out of Paso Robles to L.A., our last winery visit took us to Arroyo Grande and Laetitia Vineyard & Winery where we were met by Carmen Hickey, Hospitality & Tasting Room Manager who is also a member of the family who owns and operates Laetitia. Carmen walked us through a great tasting, even at 10 a.m., and we couldn’t resist taking a few bottles with us.
It’s safe to say that Paso Robles has everything in store for the wine lover and foodie in all of us. One way to experience all of the above and more is by attending the Paso Robles CAB Collective CABs of Distinction events in May: Media/Trade events, May 5-7; and Consumer Grand Tasting, May 2. The Media/Trade events will be filled with wine tastings of the current vintage, En Primeur tasting of the 2014 vintage, vintner panel discussion on Paso phenolics, interactive panel tastings and vineyard and winery tours of PRCC members. For more information and to reserve your complimentary Media/Trade ticket, visit pasoroblescab.com.