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VINO is a local magazine focused on Paso Robles Wine Country events, wineries, winemakers and the local wine community.
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By Luke Phillips
Of Vino Magazine
The City of Atascadero, located between San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles on Highway 101, is a sleepy little burg. In the past, some might have said that it’s a little too sleepy, but recently the downtown area is experiencing a renaissance of sorts — abandoned buildings have been replaced by hotels, art galleries, coffee shops and even a few wine bars.
The downtown area’s first wine bar — the Grape Encounters Emporium — opened in 2014 and a new tasting room — Ruby Cellars — opened just this year. The area is obviously still a work in progress with limited options when it comes to nightlife, food and wine, but that is quickly changing and the city has a lot to offer those looking to experience the surrounding wine regions.
At the center of the downtown revival is the Carlton Hotel. The hotel first opened its doors in late 1929 with the first floor serving as a retail space — home to Sprouse-Ritz, JC Penny, Safeway, a restaurant and a coffee shop — along with 26 hotel rooms on the second floor. The hotel was a beacon for movie stars and other dignitaries staying in the area and also served as a hub of the downtown community. Eventually the hotel was transformed into a senior care facility in the 1970s and then fell into disrepair and was abandoned for most of the 80s and 90s.
David and Mary Weyrich, Paso Robles residents at the time, bought the building in 1999 and set about returning the hotel to its former glory. Nearly the entire building was torn down other than two exterior walls and rebuilt from the ground up. In addition to the hotel lobby, the first floor was reconfigured to include a gorgeous restaurant space and a bakery.
“My dad has an affinity for historic buildings and really nice architecture,” said David Weyrich’s daughter Annie, who serves as the hotel’s assistant manager. Annie said that her father spent many years in the billboard industry, traveling most of the time and staying in hotels all over California.
“(When he bought the hotel) He’d been looking to make something that’s beautiful here on the Central Coast for people when they’re traveling, when they’re going up and down the 101. So he really wanted to have nice bathrooms and very comfortable beds — those were the two most important features to him. He loves the Four Seasons, so he took the look of the restrooms in the Four Seasons and that’s what we kind of modeled our restrooms on, so big, jetted tubs, marble and travertine… but beyond the comfort of the beds and the restrooms, he wanted it to have this feel — that historic feel — so we worked with local craftsmen on all the wood work, all the metal work. It was just great talent that we have in this area that came together to do everything.”
The new Carton Hotel reopened in 2004 and has since attracted a a bevy of regular customers interested in exploring Paso wine country. Hotel manager Deana Alexander said that as much as 75 percent of the hotel’s guests come for the wine and, despite the sleepiness of Atascadero, they generally find the Carlton to be the perfect launching point for their adventures.
“It’s a great stop for wine tourists,” she said. “We’re only five miles from the beginning of the Templeton Highway 46 wineries, actually a little closer than Paso.”
Weyrich pointed out that the hotel is nearly an equal distance from not only the Paso Robles AVA and the Edna Valley AVA, but also the Creston Wine Trail to the east and the coastal wineries to the west.
“To be able to get a feel for the entire county and the wines that are present here, this is the place to come to,” she said. “We don’t have the hustle and bustle that Paso does — it’s just a perfect spot.”
Accommodations and amenities at the Carlton are plush. There is no room smaller than 375 square-feet, all but two of the rooms have over-sized, jetted tubs in marble and travertine bathrooms, the hotel is furnished with Thomasville furnishings, Egyptian cotton towels and bedding and handmade Italian linens… and the list goes on. The hotel’s 24 rooms are arranged around an open, second-floor courtyard with patio tables and umbrellas.
“Part of the amenity is just the ambiance of the hotel,” Weyrich said. “It’s just the feel, the woodwork that’s hand-made, the metalwork that’s hand-made, the kind of glow you get in the lobby area. So an amenity of the property isn’t just coffee in your room and things, but it having that real, authentic feel. It’s not particle board manufactured, it’s hand-made and people can tell the difference.”
The authenticity of the hotel that guests so admire is also what they like about Atascadero in general, Weyrich said.
“Our guests choose our hotel because it’s something that’s unique and feels real and they like Atascadero for those same reasons,” she said. “They come and walk around downtown and just because it’s not picture perfect… they like that. They like the authenticity and the shops and the people inside the shops. So many people say it so appropriately — it is a hidden gem. We’re not a big tourist destination and that’s ok.”
By Brian Williams
FOR Vino Magazine
With nearly 20 harvests under his belt, Kiamie Wine Cellars winemaker Adam Bauman half-jokingly says he’s “just now starting to figure it out.”
His blonde hair or his tales of being on tour with the Grateful Dead while in college, of traveling around the world surfing exotic locales, leads one to think Bauman is a free-spirited winemaker.
Not exactly, and this is most likely where his military family upbringing kicks in. He received appointments to West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force adacemy after graduating from high school in Orange County.
“I was an Eagle Scout, I was an athlete,” he says. “Ended up going to the Air Force Academy for about a year. I wanted to fly planes and then I realized that really wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to drop bombs on anybody.”
Bauman is a firm believer in using Old World techniques to produce high-quality, balanced red and white blends at Kiamie (pronounced key ah’ mee).
“I’m all about structure and well-integrated tannins and a long mouth feel,” he says.
Translation, he’s not making the “big fruit bombs” that have become synonymous with the Paso Robles AVA.
“What we try to do is take what we are given and try to let it be itself, but at the same time you have to drive it in a style, and our style is more traditional, more correct,” Bauman says. “We make wine a little different than most of our neighbors.”
Bauman is not saying the big fruit-forward wines don’t have a place, they are just not something he wants to make. He could if he wanted to as Kiamie owners Arem Deirmenjian and Greg Johnson give Bauman plenty of creative freedom.
Instead, Bauman chooses to play to his and the westside Adelaida District mountain fruit’s strength.
Kiamie and Tolo Cellars have tasting rooms next to one another on the same property on Adelaida Road just before it intersects with Chinmey Rock Road. Notable neighbors include Tablas Creek Vineyard, JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, Starr Ranch, Halter Ranch Vineyard and Dubost Winery.
Bauman has spent most of his winemaking career in the Adelaida District, learning from some of the AVA’s best.
“I’m an Adelaida boy, a westside guy,” he says.
Bauman, who has a degree in soil science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, has been the winemaker at Kiamie Wine Cellars since 2010 and learned from Paso legend Steve Glossner, who put JUSTIN and Paso Robles, for that matter, on the wine map in 1994.
The 1994 JUSTIN Isoceles was awarded the prestigious international Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for the best red wine of the year.
Bauman first met up with Glossner when he was the winemaker at Adelaida Vineyards and then later at the then upstart Halter Ranch Vineyard. Glossner was also the winemaker at Kiamie before moving on to start PasoPort. He worked his way up to assistant winemaker at Adelaida and eventually started his own consulting business in 2003.
“Steve pulled me on at Halter as a consultant in 2004, 2005 and 2006 to get Halter off the ground,” he says. “So I helped him do that and then I just started working for these small boutique wineries” — including Red Head Ranch, Orchid Hill, Whalebone, and Stanger.
During his travels abroad, Bauman worked harvests in Chile and France, where he landed at the highly lauded Bourdeaux house Château Cheval Blanc.
Every stop only helped to reinforce his belief in Old World practices.
“You are not making world-class Cabernet in plastic boxes, you are making it in static closed-top tanks, whether they are concrete or stainless steel, and using extended maceration,” he says. “I am a huge fan of that and I think a lot of people don’t do that. Napa does it more so, but I think in Paso not as much. I really tried to find my niche, with this kind of extended maceration, getting these velvety well-integrated tannins. That is kind of what I have always been after.”
Extended maceration, leaving wine on the skins for as long as three to four weeks following the end of fermentation, is used primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon.
“The wine goes through these huge waves of tasting great one day and not so great the next, and then it finally finds this balance, an equilibrium,” Bauman says. “They are so tannic, but so integrated and fine grained. I’m all about tannin but it can’t be clunky and weird.
“Then you are basically just a steward from that point on,” he adds.
Another Old World trick of the trade is fining, a process that is done prior to bottling. Basically it’s like polishing or taking off the rough edges of the wine with products like gelatin.
“I’m a huge proponent of fining and me working in France really hit that home, because they are doing that,” he says. “I think that is kind of a lost art around here. Not many of them are doing it or have that much experience doing it.”
These techniques fit perfectly with Kiamie’s Rhone and Bourdeaux blends. Kiamie sources fruit from highly-sought-after vineyards located “3-5 miles as the crow flies” from the production facility, which sits a stone’s throw from the tasting room.
“Twenty years in and there are lots that come off the truck into the winery and you just look at it and you are like winner,” Bauman says. “All I have to do is not mess this up. It’s really conducive for us to making consistent quality wines that have this pedigree.”
Kiamie produces Meritage, a straight Bourdeaux blend; R’Own Style Blend, a Rhone-style blend typically of Syrah and Grenache; White Kuvee, a white Rhone blend; a non-saignee Rose; and the flagship Kiamie Kuvee, which is typically Cabernet Sauvignon, along with possibly Zinfandel, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The winery produces between 1,000 and 1,200 cases per year, 1,500 on a good year, Bauman says.
Bauman enjoys working for small wineries and encourages people to give them a try.
“There are so many cool wineries and I encourage people to get off the beaten path and not just stop at the big boys and not stop at the ones that get all of the scores,” he says. “The scores help, but we don’t really care about it, it’s more about making something that we are proud of, that reflects this area and seeing people smile and making something that people enjoy.
“Because at the end of the day it’s just a glass of wine — enjoy it with food and friends,” he says.
Kiamie Wine Cellars is located at 9750 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles. The tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call 805-226-8333 or visit www.kiamiewines.com.
The Creston Wine Trail offers a full service wine country destination with wineries, olive oil tasting, lodging, restaurants and a country store/deli. An easy 16 minute drive from Paso Robles, Atascadero and Templeton.
Wine varieties to satisfy every palette and six unique wine tasting experiences, usually with the owner or winemaker.
“What a pleasure it was to serve as Chief Judge for the Central Coast Wine Competition in 2016,” said Chief Judge, Tom McDonald, president of Wine Spoken Here. “From adding the California Craft Spirits Competition to exceeding last year’s entries by over a 100 wines, I could not be more pleased with the outcome of the event. Our goal was to bring judges to the competition that would not only appreciate the regions wines, but aid in the marketing efforts of the wineries. With the top five wines produced from regional star wineries like Eberle Winery, San Marcos Creek Winery, Sextant Wines, and Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, it is a testament to the judges who dedicated their time and effort to the competition.”
In its 14th year the Central Coast Wine Competition is a collaboration of six California fairs and highlights the wine industry as an integral agricultural component of the community. Gold medal winners will be showcased at the California Mid-State Fair, Contra Costa County Fair, Grand National Livestock Exposition, Horse Show and Rodeo, Monterey County Fair, Santa Barbara County Fair, and the Ventura County Fair.
The following is a list of the Best of Class Award winning wines, a full list of results can be found at centralcoastwinecomp.com.
Best of Show, Best of Red, Best of Grenache Based Blends
San Marcos Creek Winery 2014 “Fling’s First Crush”, Paso Robles
Best of Sparkling, Best of Sparkling-Methode Champenoise
Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Non-Vintage Laetitia Brut Cuvée, Arroyo Grande
Best of White, Best of Viognier
Eberle Winery 2015 Viognier, Paso Robles
Best of Pink, Best of Other Varietal Rose
Sextant Wines 2015 Rose, Paso Robles
Best of Dessert, Best of Dessert Whites
Eberle Winery 2015 Muscat Canelli, Paso Robles
Best of Class:
Best of Albarino
Bodegas Paso Robles 2015 “Galicia”, Edna Valley
Best of Chardonnay
Vintage Cowboy 2015 Chardonnay, Paso Robles
Best of Chardonnay
Blair Estate 2014 Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco>
Best of Riesling – Dry
Coquelicot Estate Wines 2015 Riesling, Santa Ynez Valley
Best of Riesling – Off Dry
Niven Family Wine Estates 2013 “Zocker”, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley
Best of Sauvignon Blanc
Robert Hall Winery 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles
Best of Grenache Blanc
Saucelito Canyon Vineyard 2015 Grenache Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley
Best of Roussanne
Pomar Junction Vineyards 2014 Roussanne, Paso Robles
Best of Other White Rhones
Cass Vineyard & Winery 2015 Marsanne, Paso Robles
Best of White Rhone Blends
Pomar Junction Vineyards 2015 Blanc “Cótes De Pomar”, Paso Robles
Best of White Blends (other than Rhones)
Red Soles Winery & Stillhouse 2015 “Heart & Sole”, Paso Robles
Best of Other White Wines – Dry
Michael Gill Cellars 2015 “Oso Blanco” Vermentino, Paso Robles
Best of Other White Wines – Dry
Baker & Brain Wines 2015 Grüner Veltiner, Paragon Vineyard Edna Valley
Best of Other White Wines – Off Dry to Sweet
Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards 2014 “Orange Muscat”, San Luis Obispo
Best of Grenache Rose
Grey Wolf Cellars 2015 “Soul Mate”, Paso Robles
Best of Any Rose Blends
Denner Vineyards 2015 Rose, Paso Robles
Best of Barbera
Pianetta Winery 2013 Barbera, Paso Robles
Best of Cabernet Franc
Tantara Wines 2012 Cabernet Franc, Mateo Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley
Best of Cabernet Sauvignon – Prior to 2013 & Non-Vintage
Hoyt Family Vineyards 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
Best of Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013
Harmony Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
Best of Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 & 2015
Tooth & Nail Winery 2014 “The Possessor”, Paso Robles
Best of Grenache
Santa Barbara Winery 2012 Grenache, Lafond Vineyard, STA. Rita Hills
Best of Malbec
Burbank Ranch 2013 Malbec, Hidden Path, Paso Robles
Best of Merlot
Hearst Ranch Winery 2014 “Pico Creek”, Paso Robles
Best of Petite Sirah
Victor Hugo 2013 Petite Sirah (Durif), Templeton Gap District, Paso Robles
Best of Petit Verdot
Castoro Cellars 2013 Petit Verdot, Paso Robles
Best of Pinot Noir – 2013 & Prior
Plan B Cellars 2013 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley
Best of Pinot Noir – 2014 & 2015
Tlo Wines 2014 Pinot Noir, Paso Robles
Best of Sangiovese
Peacock Cellars 2014 Sangiovese, Paso Robles
Best of Syrah
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2014 “Gesture”, Paso Robles
Best of Tempranillo
Bushong Vintage Company 2014 “Spanish Castle Magic”, Paso Robles
Best of Zinfandel – 2013 & Prior
Alapay Cellars 2011 Zinfandel, San Luis Obispo County
Best of Zinfandel – 2014
Riboli Family Wine Estates 2014 “Maddalena”, Paso Robles
Best of Bordeaux Blends (Meritage)
B&E Vineyard 2013 Red Rhythm, Paso Robles
Best of Sangiovese Based Blends
Indigené Cellars 2014 “Ambiente”, Paso Robles
Best of Syrah Based Blends
On Your Left Wine Co 2014 Syrah Grenache Counoise, Paso Robles
Best of Cabernet Based Blends
Treana 2014 Treana Red, Paso Robles
Best of Other Rhone Style Blends
Rabbit Ridge/Russell Family 2013 “Allure de Robles”, Paso Robles
Best of Any Other Red Blends
Summerwood Winery 2012 Sentio, Paso Robles
Best of Any Other Red Blends
Croad Vineyards 2012 Taranaki, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles
Best of Any Other Red Varietals
Alapay Cellars 2014 Lagrein, French Camp Vineyard, Paso Robles
When you think of Paso Robles artwork, your mind probably goes straight to downtown, where paintings, sculpture, and prints shimmer behind glass at dozens of diverse galleries.
Artist Janet Lynn of Pipestone Vineyard is here to smash that perception once and for all. She wants folks to know that great art can be found across the entire Paso Robles region, from dusty backroads to the tops of bucolic mountain vistas.
Along with Westside Wine Trail founder Susan Poalillo of Poalillo Vineyards, Lynn is singing this truth from the highest hillsides.
“There are plenty of smaller tasting rooms that are far out here, and there’s not much traffic,” Lynn said. “Pipestone has been here for 20 years, but there are so many wineries now that it can be hard to spread the word. We’re off the beaten path, so we needed to come up with something to bring in more excitement. Bringing in local art just made perfect sense.”
The Westside Wine Trail will host a summer art and wine event this May 1 through the end of July, encouraging visitors to take a wine tasting detour and enjoy art hanging at five westside tasting rooms, Pipestone, Poalillo, Changala, Brecon and Calcareous, all of which are located on Vineyard Drive, Peachy Canyon, Niderer and Willow Creek Roads.
Most winery participants push out 2,000 cases or less per year and offer a boutique-style tasting room experience (it’s not uncommon to rub elbows with the winemaker in the flesh).
“So many wine tasters love to discovery the tasting rooms that are smaller and hard to find,” Lynn said. “There’s nothing better than sitting down with a fine glass of wine and a beautiful piece of art. They go hand in hand.”
Local art has been sourced from all over the area for the upcoming event and will include artists from the Paso Robles Art Association. Works will be available for sale alongside the wine, so you can take home your own art-and-wine pairing experience.
“Art is passionate, so is wine. They are both very emotional crafts,” Lynn said of the melding of worlds.
Lynn, originally a commercial illustrator from Orange County, loves the fact that so many local people across the Central Coast proudly pick up pens, paintbrushes, and pastels as a career and hobby. It seems there is no shortage of artistic spirits living in North County.
“Coming to a small town changed my perspective and I was interested in the downtown scene, where so many people are doing paintings of landscapes,” Lynn said. “The landscapes here are breathtakingly beautiful, but there are so many other forms of artwork out there, if only you know where to look.”
Artists will be in attendance during the tour, so folks can meet the masterminds behind the masterpieces. This, Lynn hopes, will bring up organic discussion between the viewer and artist—not something you often experience at established art galleries.
And, if the feeling is just right, collecting — and tasting — can become a powerful pairing.
“When you see a piece of art you have that immediate reaction that you just got to have it, wine is the same way,” Lynn said. “In the same way flavors form in your mouth and you know you’re in love, the right piece of art has a way of choosing you.”
For more infromation on the Westside Wine Trail Summer Art and Wine Event, visit the wine trail on Facebook.
The first-ever Vino awards takes a unique spin on wine competitions. The goal of the Vino awards is to provide a fun and different way for wine enthusiasts to pick their favorite wines in San Luis Obispo County. Instead of having sommeliers picking their favorite wines, or having a one-day peoples’ choice (where people may taste too many wines in one day to know the difference) we are asking the public to vote for their favorites over the course of 6 months. From June 1, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2016, you are encouraged to taste and vote on the wines you are tasting. At the end of the year, we will tally the votes and announce the winners based on your votes.
How it works: Participating wineries that signed up before May 1, 2016, are highlighted on our Vino map (see pages 26 and 27). As you (the voter) visit and taste wines at these wineries they will have anywhere from 1-5 wines that are eligible to be voted on for the competition. Tasting fees for each winery vary and more than likely you will be tasting wines that are not eligible to be voted on, so you will need to pay attention and be on the look out for the eligible wines. On the following pages you’ll find the participating wineries and you’ll have some room to jot down your votes to reference later when you cast your votes. The official voting takes place online at VinoAwards.com. You will be required to login, but that is so we can manage people from “stacking” votes.
There is an added benefit to voting, the more wineries you visit and then vote on gets you entered into more drawings for our contest prizes. For more information on prizes, please visit VinoAwards.com.
Vino magazine made every effort to get to every winery involved but with more than 200 in the area it was a challenge to see everyone and some were missed. We anticipate additional wineries signing up after the initial print deadline, so we encourage you to check the website for an updated list of participating wineries.
The ruling by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, establishing 11 new viticultural areas within the Paso Robles AVA, was applauded by wine growers and officials.
The districts are based on meso-climactic, geological and historical information which highlight each individual district to be unique as a winegrape growing area, according to the PRWCA. The 11 AVAs are as follows: Adelaida District, Creston District, El Pomar District, Paso Robles Estrella District, Paso Robles Geneseo District, Paso Robles Highlands District, Paso Robles Willow Creek District, San Juan Creek District, San Miguel District, Santa Margarita Ranch District, and the Templeton Gap District.
“Our AVA is an incredibly diverse region that has taken its rightful place on the world wine stage,” said Steve Lohr, chairman and CEO of J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, and former chairman of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “These sub appellations will allow growers and vintners to tell their stories more clearly, which in turn will give consumers and the trade a much greater understanding of Paso’s diversity and complexity. Prior to this, Paso Robles was the largest non-county California AVA not currently subdivided. It is also an area with more diversity of rainfall, soils and climate than almost any other comparably sized region. We have been a great believer in this initiative since the beginning, and are proud that it has been accomplished in a way that will strengthen the Paso Robles brand with conjunctive labeling.”
AVA labeling provides information to consumers and trade about what is in the bottle, helping them make a better informed buying decision based on expectations of the region.
Thanks to a conjunctive labeling law spearheaded by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in 2007, the Paso Robles AVA retains top billing on a wine label with the individual districts serving as a way to fine-tune location and potential character of wines.
While Paso Robles wineries are not required to use the sub-region on the label, when they do, Paso Robles will be printed with equal or more significance.
“These AVAs will be a powerful tool for wineries to explain why certain grapes are particularly well suited to certain parts of the appellation, and why some wines show the characteristics they do while other wines, from the same or similar grapes, show differently,” said Jason Haas, general manager of Tablas Creek Vineyard and Paso Robles AVA Committee member. “Ultimately, the AVAs will allow these newly created sub-regions to develop identities for themselves with a clarity impossible in a single large AVA.”
The petition for the 11 new AVAs was filed in the spring of 2007 by the specially formed Paso Robles AVA Committee. A group of 59 vintners and growers, with the assistance of experts in a variety of fields, methodically crafted the submission with science as its standard. The petition proved to be the single largest AVA proposal ever filed with the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) due to the scale and scientific data assembled to substantiate the request.