Paso Robles, Calif.

rottapair

Rotta’s Mark Caporale and Mike Giubbini

Do You Have Any Zinterest?
Written by Carl Danbury, Jr.

Having just returned from the Central Coast wine region of California, and having spent several days in friendly Paso Robles, I wanted to give you some insight on an upcoming annual event that piques the “ZINterest” of many wine lovers and travelers to the area that is equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival, Grow Zinfully Wild, takes place March 15 – 17 and includes a series of winemaker dinners, wine tastings and wine tours in a celebration of complex flavors, bright fruit and the intense colors of Zinfandel. Saluting the heritage grape of Paso Robles Wine Country, more than 130 wineries will participate, and even though all do not grow or produce Zin, it provides a terrific excuse to celebrate and visit this incredible wine region. Unlike some other wine regions, those who are “Paso Proud,” the winemakers, tasting room staffers, those engaged in the hospitality industry and the townspeople are genuine, friendly and welcoming.

During my recent trip, I visited several wineries that are doing some nice things with Zinfandel. Historic Rotta Winery, which was one of the first four wineries to set up shop in Paso in 1908, is one of the best producers of the varietal in all of California. Winemaker Mark Caporale, who regularly visits the Atlanta area for dinners and tastings, recently unveiled his 2007 Estate Zin, which I had the great fortune to taste during my visit to the winery.

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Brochelle’s Waterman and six of his fine wines.

In addition, Adelaida Cellars Zinfandel from Michael’s Vineyard is extraordinary, Anglim Winery‘s St. Peter of Alcantara Vineyard Zinfandel, made by wine maker Steve Anglim, is superb, and Brock and Michelle Waterman’s Brochelle Vineyards is creating a wonderful Estate Zinfandel and a very unique late harvest Zin called Nektar. Cypher Winery‘s ZinBitch, a blend of Zin grapes from three vineyards, is a “force to be reckoned with,” according to wine maker Christian Tietje, and Tobin James Cellars’ Ballistic Zin also is one to try.

Other wineries that may not be producing Zinfandel but warrant a visit include Scott and Bobbi Stelzle’s Venteux VineyardsTerry Hoage Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Stephan Asseo’s L’Aventure Winery, Caliza Winery, Eberle Winery and Robert Hall Winery.

The Stelzles and partner Adam Goldenberg are creating quite a stir with their blends and single vineyard selections like Old Vine Carignan, Petite Sirah and Grenache. Terry Hoage, a former All-American football player at the University of Georgia, and 13-year veteran of the NFL, is creating beautiful wines from Rhone grape varietals with his wife Jennifer. Tablas Creek, one of the leaders of importing unique varietals to the area, has a spectacular facility west of Paso and creates marvelous red and white blends. General manager Jason Haas’s wife Katie was born and raised in Dunwoody. Asseo is one of the bright stars of Paso winemaking, having left his family’s Bordeaux estates for the burgeoning wine region in the Central Coast. His winery is located in the Templeton Gap area of Paso and we highly recommend sampling his 2010 Optimus, an intriguing blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Carl Bowker’s Caliza Winery is at the extreme end of Anderson Road, also on Paso’s west side in the Templeton Gap area. He and wife Pam have created a magnificent following from those who enjoy Rhone varietals, too, and his Kissin’ Cousins, Sidekick, Azimuth, Pink, Cohort and Companion blends are excellent expressions of the terroir, as is his 100 percent Syrah.

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Terry Hoage in his barrel room

On the east side of Highway 101, Eberle Winery has been producing quality wines since 1983 in Paso, after Gary Eberle left his family’s Estrella River Winery to found a new operation. There, you can have a memorable experience by reserving a gourmet picnic lunch catered on the deck of the impressive tasting room, or book a private VIP Tour & Tasting during your visit. Another spectacular property is Robert Hall Winery, whose winemaker Don Brady came to Paso from Texas. He has managed the winery’s impressive and deep line-up of wines for more than a dozen years now. The gorgeous facility also is east of Paso Robles off Hwy. 46, and tempts you to taste their wines and enjoy an authentic Italian handmade pizza baked fresh daily. While many of Robert Hall wines are distributed nationally, the Meritage, Grenache Blanc and Pape de Robles are not, and these are not to be missed. For those seeking a perfect location for a destination wedding, Robert Hall Winery is a great venue.

Local hotels in Paso that we recommend highly include the Paso Robles Inn, with warm and inviting suites that include jacuzzi, fireplace and flat screen television. A fine steakhouse and an alluring bar, the Cattlemen’s Lounge, along with its central location make this historic hotel a great spot to stay. The Labellasera Hotel & Suites, with its marvelous king kitchen fireplace suites, can make an overnight stay feel like a two-week vacation. Its Enoteca Restaurant & Bar has a sensational menu and wine list. Another gem is the Hotel Cheval, a boutique property on Pine Street in downtown Paso.

One of the best sites on the web for all of the pertinent information related to Paso Robles wine festivals, wineries and places to eat, stay and visit is pasowine.com. Or visit their Facebook page, facebook.com/PasoRoblesWine.

Points North Atlanta will be providing in-depth information about Paso Robles in future print issues. If you want to stay up-to-date on future wine events and tastings, please e-mail us at pointsnorthmagazine@gmail.com.