Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Tasting Wines at the Paso Robles Wine Centre in Paso Robles, California
Halfway between the 2 main California metropolises of Los Angelos and San Francisco is Paso Robles. It is one of most dynamic wine regions in the US and now home to more than 200 wineries. A good place to get an overview about Paso Robles Wines (and to relax in the evening) is Paso Robles Wine Centre, right in the middle of the city of Paso Robles.
Paso Robles has a long history of winemaking and grape growing beginning in 1797 when the first wine grapes were introduced by the Franciscan missionaries at the historic Mission San Miguel Arcangel. The Padres produced wine for sacramental purposes. After Mexico secularized the California missions in the 1840s, the vineyards were abandoned until European immigrant farmers started to arrive in the 1860s, following California's independence in 1850.
Today, Paso Robles is California's third largest and fastest growing wine region, with over 26,000 acres of vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon is the leading variety for the Paso Robles appellation, accounting for 1/3 of the region's vineyard area. Major progress has largely come from a group of producers often referred to as the Rhône Rangers, specializing in grape varietals of the Rhône Valley of France. With Italian, Spanish and Rhône varieties on the upswing, more than 40 other varieties with 300 to less than an acre are planted in the region. In the last decade, Paso Robles has seen an increase from 35 to about 200 wineries, of which about two-thirds produce less than 5,000 cases.
The Rhone Rangers
The Rhone Rangers is a group of winemakers who promote the use of grape varieties from the Rhône Valley in the US. They are mostly based in Paso Robles, but also in other parts of the US. In particular, the Rhone Rangers are considered a catalyst in making Syrah more prevalent on the Californian wine landscape. In the 1980s, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard and Bob Lindquist of Qupé Wine Cellars began popularizing the marketing of the Rhône varietals.
The French government recognizes 22 varieties in the various appellations that comprise this large and diverse wine-growing region. Rhone Appellations, including Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Condrieu, Chateuneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Bandol and Cotes du Rhone each choose a different subset from the collection of these 22 grapes.
The most common red Rhone varietals are Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, with Syrah predominant in the Northern Rhone and Grenache in the Southern Rhone. Other relatively common red grapes include Cinsault, Carignan, and Petite Sirah. The Rhone Rangers have also adopted Zinfandel as a "cousin" grape. The principal white Rhone varietals are Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, each found throughout the Rhone Valley, with Grenache Blanc a widely planted but less well known contributor in the Southern Rhone.
The City of Paso Robles
The city of Paso Robles is a charming small, quiet town. There is quite a number of boutiques, antique stores and eateries all surrounding the city park, including the Paso Robles Wine Centre.
Paso Robles Wine Centre
Located just off the downtown square, this wine bar is an informative first stop on any tour of Paso Robles wine country. Relaxed lounge environment, nice art work on the walls. The 2 custom-made communal tables with 10 seats each in the middle of the Paso Robles Wine Centre – which are the work of owner and manager Kevin Rankin - have become the focal point for the wine lovers who come here and taste the wines. The Paso Robles Wine Centre would fit very well into Berkeley in California or Berlin-Friedrichshain in Germany.
Rock/Jazz music in the background. Live music on most Friday and Saturday nights from 7-9 pm.
Owner and Manager Kevin Rankin is always around to help you select the wines. This is not easy as the Paso Wine Centre offers 200 local Paso Robles wines for sale. Interestingly, the Paso Robles Centre has 48 of the Paso wines for tasting via an Enomatic dispensing system. This allows customers to taste a 1 once pour, or a glass of wine from a variety of wineries. The Paso wines are available by the taste, by the glass or buy the bottle.
Paso Robles Wine Centre offers light eats – cheese and charcuterie - to compliment the wine tasting.
The Paso Robles Wine Makers I have Met
I met Paso Robles Wine Maker Sherman Thacher in Washington DC: Meeting a Rhone Ranger and Tasting His Wines - Sherman Thacher from Paso Robles in California
I met Branson look-alike and Cass Vineyards and Winery Partner Ted Plemons in Washington DC: Richard Branson Presenting Wines from Cass Vineyards and Winery at Screwtop Wine Bar in Virginia?
I visited Sherman Thacher in Paso Robles: Visiting Sherman Thacher and his Thacher Winery in Paso Robles, California
I attended a Wine maker Dinner with Tablas Greek GM Jason Haas: Tablas Creek Wines from Paso Robles and Belgian Food at Brasserie Beck with Tablas Greek GM Jason Haas and Chef Robert Wiedmaier in Washington DC, USA
I tasted with James Brian Judd and Eric Alvarez their wines in Paso Robles: Tasting with James Brian Judd and Eric Alvarez their “A Cellar Full of Noise” and Judd Family Wines in Paso Robles, California
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Meeting a Rhone Ranger and Tasting His Wines - Sherman Thacher from Paso Robles in California
Richard Branson Presenting Wines from Cass Vineyards and Winery at Screwtop Wine Bar in Virginia?
Visiting Sherman Thacher and his Thacher Winery in Paso Robles, California
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