2011 Côtes de Paso





In the bustle of modernity, among the massive number of humans and activities taking place at any given time across the earth, it is unlikely one wouldn’t find a day or even a moment in time that is not monumental somewhere from someone’s perspecive.  At the moment, in our small corner of the wine world, today and this moment are monumental because we are releasing the first core red wine made from start to finish in our new winery and entirely under the watchful eye and attentive hands of our winemaker Kevin Sass.  2011 Côtes de Paso is composed of 48% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre, and 6% Tannat.  It is a delightfully smokey exhibition of dark fruit and spice with the versatility we’ve come to rely on from Côtes de Paso.  To use Kevin’s terms, this wine is ‘dangerously juicy’.  For clarification, and before either descriptor incites panic, dangerous in terms of how easily it is to move through a bottle and juicy in a fruit forward, full bodied, but not sweet way.


The component tasting.

The component tasting.


Kevin and General Manager Skylar Stuck took the time on Tuesday to guide the staff through a component tasting of  the four individual grapes that make up 11 CDP.  Here are a few facts and notes gleaned from the experience:

-A portion of the Grenache in this wine was fermented in neutral oak barrels.  This unusual practice consists of removing the head from a group of barrels (in this case barrels that had been used at least once to insure the delightful fruit character of Grenache Noir would shine through) and crushing the grapes directly into them.  Punch downs are then performed, by hand, on each individual barrel for the duration of fermentation.  Each group of three barrels containing juice and must produces one barrel of finished wine.  While more labor intensive and delicate than fermentation in tank, we have found the effect of barrel fermenting a portion of the fruit for Côtes Red has a very interesting and (we believe) absolutely delicious effect on the final blend.  You may expect additional barrel fermented offerings, and additional coverage here on the blog as we move forward.

-Unlike 2010 Côtes de Paso, the Syrah portion of 2011 CDP spent a little time in new oak barrels.  The effect on the wine is some subtle smoke throughout, a little meaty character on the palate, and a hint of vanilla in the aroma.

-The Mourvedre used for this wine was from Block 15 which saw it’s third leaf in 2011.  This means it was the first year the vines produce fruit and is generally considered a benchmark year in terms of grape quality.

-Tannat in this wine offers some delightful fleshy fruitiness, in contrast to its typically very tannic and structural role in other wine regions, and some delectible earthy spice.

It may be obvious at this point, but we can’t help saying regardless, we are very excited about this wine and about the opportunity to share it with you.  SO!  If you’re interested in experiencing it, swing out to the tasting room any day of the week between 11 and 5 and come prepared to be blown away in the most positive sense of the phrase.

As always thanks for reading, happy Thursday, and cheers:


Côtes de Paso

Let salivation commence.

Wine, Vines, Superman, and Sunlight



The effect of all the movie buzz lately has been a rekindling of my childhood fascination with the Man of Steel.  Wine is my profession, stories are my hobby, and much can be said about the comic world’s sun empowered demigod, but it is unlikely anyone will deny there is an abundance of story and mythology–both great and terrible–surrounding him.  It is with myth in mind and storylines all aswirl I here embark on an exploration of how Superman relates, in my brain, to wine.




It is at the intersection of human, plant, and super-person interactions with the sun that I begin associating Superman more with a plant than with a human.  Similar to the Man of Steel, the ways in which plants interact with energy from the sun are varied while human interaction, at least when it comes to our anatomy, is focused in Vitamin D conversion. Starting with the basics, Superman gets his power from our bright yellow star.  He was born on a world with a dimmer red sun, and so, similar to the way plants absorb sunlight and photosynthesize, Kal El‘s body processes sunlight and makes him strong, impervious, capable of flight, and other stuff depending upon which book you’re reading in what time period.  Grapevines also process sunlight, absorbing it through their leaves and using the energy derived from it to grow and ripen fruit.  The intention, whether or not the vines are aware of it, and I like to think that they are, is to create delectable, juicy, seed-filled treats irresistible to the animal kingdom so that birds, humans, deer, coyotes, chickens with super hops, and as much other fauna as possible will consume, process, and deposit grape seeds across the wide earth.

A Fourth In the Wild

Halter Ranch Vineyard



Today as I wound my way toward the ranch I turned a corner and startled a red-tailed hawk as it was picking a young gopher snake up off the middle of Vineyard Drive.  It flew in front of my car and the snake slipped from its talons, falling into the brush along the roadside.  As we prepared for the day a full grown bobcat wandered nonchalantly across the lawn directly in front of the tasting room and made its way down into the creek.  This was the first time any of us had seen one in the flesh.  While making our way back from feeding and watering the chickens we startled a barn owl on the covered bridge.  It flew to a nearby oak branch and gazed down at us as if to say “I am incredulous at your being here.”

In the wake this third wildlife event, I realized that human activity along Adelaida Road and Vineyard Drive was at probably about 10% of what it normally would be due to the holiday.  Two additional realizations immediately struck me.  First, it is amazing how quickly wild things appear even during the briefest respite from humanity’s noise and presence.  Second, such moments are becoming exponentially more scarce, and so today is very special beyond it being special for cultural reasons. I cannot help but gush at the astounding beauty in the quiet of this mostly wild ranch and the beautiful creatures we share it with.

And so I will unabashedly say, our wines and doors and eyes and minds are open on this fine Fourth. A happy one to all.  If you catch a moment and the inclination, sneak away from the beaches and explosives for a time–back to whatever wild place is nearest, maybe with some wine in hand–to take a quiet, respectful look at all the other living things that are celebrating today.

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