Guest Post: #Vinopanion Roy Jurgens visits Paso Robles

January 12, 2015 at 9:58 pm

It is quite the rare occasion here at Vinopanion (WL, FB, Tw, IG) when we greenlight a guest post. But, recently a Vinopanion reader contacted us about possible recommendations for a lovely planned trip to Paso Robles Wine Country (WL, FB, Tw). We had been in Paso again earlier in the year, for my Wildflower Triathlon. One of our favourites that trip was Proulx Wines (WL, FB, IG) along Vineyard Drive, which Roy Jurgens and his Lady (and pooch!) were also able to visit. Proulx’ array of estate dry rosés really rocked our vinous world.  I asked Roy for a recap of their own favorite Rhone-styled wineries and he sent back a fantastic, thorough recap.  So now, let’s let Vinopanion Roy Jurgens take it away, with their tour of Paso food and wines!

We just got back from Paso and had a great time. While there, we had a chance to taste at Caliza, Ranchero, Proulx, Alta Colina, and Thacher.

In addition, while eating dinner at Il Cortile Saturday and Artisan Sunday was able to taste a few wines. At Il Cortile, had a Ranchero Cellars Chrome (grenache blanc) which worked really well with a pappardelle, cutting through with some chalky deliciousness through the ragu. There, we also had a chateuneufdupapian GSM from Calcareous which paired extremely well with the venison medallion. At Artisan, the Lone Madrone “The Will” (grenache, petite sirah, zin) stood up nicely to the wild boar tenderloin.

Caliza Winery (WL, FB, Tw) – We met Carl Bowker, the affable owner & winemaker who took the time to have a chat with me while others were there tasting too. I really enjoyed the Kissin’ Cousins (viognier, roussane, grenache blanc) but also picked up a bottle of Sidekick (mainly roussane with some viognier). Chalky, flinty, but with rounded corners. Their Pink would pair with a host of food. They even have a spicy little Spanish tempranillo which – to me – was a pleasant surprise: bring on the paella!

Ranchero Cellars (WL, FB, Tw) – Owner & winemaker Amy Butler could not have been nicer. She poured for us at the lab of Denner Vineyards, where she makes her wines. The night before – at Il Cortile – I had had some of her grenache blanc, which turned out to be fortunate as she is all out of it now. While here I could taste her Viognier (as we started at 10.30 I can definitively state that this is an excellent breakfast wine).  Also, of course,  her deservedly well reviewed Carignans. The 2010 comes from old vines in Mendocino and has some nice body, the 2012 – from new vines in Paso and old vines in Mendocino – in particular is really interesting. As she said it is “still angular” but you could already tell this Carignan is heading into some interesting directions. I’m very excited to hear that she’ll be making a sparkling wine in the near future.

Proulx Wines (WLFBIG) – right next door to Denner, Ken (Genoa Riley’s dad and winemaker Kevin Riley‘s father-in-law) told us stories, poured wine, and made us feel welcome. There are a lot of different wines to go through, some better than others. I ended up really enjoying Dimples (named after his 5 year old grandson) which is a blend of classic Rhone-style grapes plus some zin. Really enjoyed his rosés as well which feature a Mission grape – really refreshing. Kevin tries to reproduce wines he has tasted and enjoyed, which accounts for the large blend of grapes in his wines.

Alta Colina Estate Vineyard (WL, FB, Tw) – Alta Colina had just moved into a new tasting room 2 weeks ago. All of their wines are made from estate-grown grapes. A real family affair, with Bob Tillman the winemaker and his daughter running the tasting room. Meanwhile, her mom Lynn & Bob’s wife, poured for us and shared their story of how they reached this point. Well-balanced wines that highlight classic Rhone varietals, I particularly enjoyed the Marsanne-focused 12 O’clock High which had pear & vanilla notes and didn’t (for me at least) have the chalkiness that the viognier and roussanes at Caliza and Ranchero did. Meanwhile, the Toasted Slope Syrah had delicious fruit on the nose but finished long with some peppery smokiness. These grapes get some heat on them during the day.

Thacher Winery (WL, FB, Tw, IG, P) – This is a fun little winery. They have a beautiful old barn on the property and a very affable tasting room attendant. This was the only place, though, where I didn’t meet the winemaker or members of the family. A crisp grenache blanc, a well-balanced GSM, and a nice surprise at the end; a late harvest syrah. Nothing really grabbed me, unfortunately, but an enjoyable way to end the day.

It was a very fun weekend getaway!

Roy Jurgens loves wine and has been fortunate to have walked through vineyards throughout California. He got his start tasting wines and learning about winemaking more than 20 years ago, while exploring Bordeaux in a tiny Renault. In his non-wine time, he has worked in investment banking, the organic food industry, and consulting. He lives in San Francisco.

Pup & #PasoWine!

Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, the West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for and Le Wine Buff for (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. View Ward's WineLog and check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter and Like Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.

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