April 2, 2008

Paso Pleasures, Pics, and Updates!

Okay, Okay. Stop yelling. But you’ll still have to be patient!

Here are some teasers about my trip to Paso last week, and I had to share some of my adventures with you.

As I mentioned in last week’s entry, who knew it was Easter?!? Since the kids are grown and the grandkids live in California, I tend to be somewhat lax when it comes to keeping track of holidays. Oh well. My Sunday plans went awry, but that’s okay. My visits on Friday and Saturday more than made up for it!

Here’s an overview of what my trip was about:

The first stop on Friday was at Opolo. It was a necessity, because somehow, my Mountain Zin wasn’t packaged in my shipment. !!!!! For those of you who are fans of Opolo Mountain Zin, you know that’s an unforgivable sin (no pun intended)!

Their large and lovely wine tasting room had a few fans in there who were (surprise) tasting and buying wine. We met with Sherri who took us on a tour of the grounds. I took lots of pictures which will be on the website shortly. I can’t even begin to describe the magnificence of the view.

Our next stop was to Vines on the Marycrest, where, once again, we were taken on a tour of the vineyards by the winemaker and owner, Victor Abascal. The next time Victor comes into town and does a pouring, you have to come and meet him and enjoy his wonderful wines! He is personable, chatty, and very passionate about winemaking. Plus, he has a heck of a story behind his unusual winery name.

The next trip was to Villicana, where we met up with Alex. (Yes, Alex fans, he’s still as cute as ever!). He took us to his expanded winery room, which is in the middle of construction. I am already envisioning Vegas Wineaux tastings in there! We tasted his new releases and bemoaned the fact that the Rosé is now filtered! Apparently there are quite a number of people who don’t understand that unfiltered and unfined means that the wine may be cloudy. Sheesh.

After making a quick trip to pick up the rest of our party, we went to Hug Cellars where we met with Augie Hug who regaled us with stories of vineyard politics, future plans, and later treated us to a barrel tasting. He told us about different types of oak, different barrel manufacturing processes, plans for his barrel room, and more.

We spent quite a long time there before we left for dinner and chatted far into the evening.

The next morning saw our intrepid little group at the Paso Robles Inn, where the Belgian Pecan Waffles with Pecan Butter was the choice of a couple of folks, and I had something “healthy.” Still delicious, though! We walked over to the square which was hosting the Farmers Market, which was smaller due to the Easter holiday we were told. We made some purchases while waiting for a particular wine tasting room to open.

Midlife Crisis Winery is a fun winery with award-winning wines. Jill Mittan, the co-owner (along with her husband … another funny story behind the name) was there with Allison, her pourer, and we had an Easter Egg hunt for grownups! I got an egg full of Kisses, and one of my traveling companions won bottles of wine! I was sooooo jealous! They were one of the few wineries open on Easter, so we returned Sunday to pick up our wines.

The next winery was the now-iconic Tobin James Cellars! “The Man” wasn’t there that day, but our pourer Helen was wonderful as she treated us to club member wines as well as the wines available for public tasting. This is the only tasting that started in Paso Robles and ended in a party in Vegas! You’ll have to stay tuned for the update on the website for that special treat!

The last winery we visited was Hidden Oak Winery. The owner, Mike James (no relation to Tobin) and his lovely wife Martha, treated us to his two wines, Merlot and Encanto, which is a Merlot/Cabernet blend. I didn’t expect this quality of Merlot out of Paso Robles, and was entranced by the perfume and flavor. We went for a walk to the vineyards on his spectacular property in Templeton. This is where we discovered something about terroir…the earth where the vines were growing is fragrant! Along with the substantial flint found in the soil, the evening breezes and climate make for an incredible wine. If you are familiar with CellarTracker, a quick lookup of Mike's wines will show you what the tasting community thinks of them. The scores are in the 90s, and I can fully understand why.

The places I *didn’t* get to visit because of the holiday were Arroyo Robles, Christian Lazo, Pasolivo, Dunning, Donatoni, Halter Ranch, Four Vines, and even Robert Hall. I will plan my next trip a little more carefully, and make sure that I don’t go there on a major Sunday holiday!

I took nearly 300 pictures during that weekend, and even counting the oopsies, the randon foot shot, the blurries, etc., I still had a pretty big bunch of good-to-great pictures. The magnificent early spring scenery of Paso Robles and the surrounding area screamed to be caught on film (or memory chip. whatever.) and I couldn’t resist.

Each of the wineries will have its own page and slideshow on the website which is being updated. It’s not difficult since I’m a techie person, but the organization can be tedious. Stay tuned!

Yes, it’s true. Vegas Wineaux is currently in negotiations for a winery cruise in December with Carnival Cruise Lines. As soon as I have some solid news to report, I will let y’all know. You will be stunned, I promise!

Until next time, keep sipping!

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