Bird Sightings and Event Updates

Bird - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Winery as our Vineyard Sleeps


Over the past week we’ve had two vineyard hikes and were the featured wine for guest chef Suzanne Tracht’s Monday Night Supper at Artisan Paso Robles.  Suzanne hails from Jar in Los Angeles and is close friends with Chef Kobayashi. According to staff and club members who attended, the dinner was absoutely stellar.  If you haven’t yet, we’d highly recommend a visit to Jar in Los Angeles and to Artisan in Paso Robles.  Our next winemaker dinner will be taking place at Robert’s in Paso Robles on February 25.  For additional information check our events page.

Sunday’s hike took guests up the old airstrip to visit the Ancestor Oak before heading out to block 52 where guests caught a nearly bird’s eye view of the entire vineyard.  A similar hike with a slightly different route will take place on  February 15, sign up information is available here if you’re interested in partaking.


Bird - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Hiking up to the Ancestor Oak


Monday, Mitch hosted our yearly birdwatching trek accross the property where the following list was compiled by the group and generously provided for the blog by Neil Gilbert and Mary Hirsch: (more…)

Blending Trials with the HRV Staff

Halter Ranch Vineyard

2012 Blending Trials


As our red wines make their way through the 9 to 18 month process of ageing in barrel, Kevin periodically pulls sample blends and has the staff taste them to assist in isolating the combinations that best exhibit the qualities of fruit, acid, tannin, and overall balance we seek in wines from Halter Ranch.  This past Saturday, the tasting room staff was treated to trials of potential blends for the 2012 yet to be named Reserve Syrah and 2012 Ancestor.  Each of 3 separate trial lots were tasted against their 2011 counterparts (11 Block 22 Syrah and 11 Ancestor) for a total of 8 tastings.  Final decisions for the blends are six months out but I have included here a few random samples of employee notes from the two trials.  The identities of staff members have been stricken from this particular record intentionally.  However, if you know us and think you can guess whose notes are whose, do please have at it in the comments below.

Ancestor Blend A – Blueberries and woodchips…lush…very grippy tannins

Syrah Blend C – Toasty vanilla-y oak.  Smooth round mouth.  Lingering finish.

Ancestor Blend B – More oak [than the other two samples in this trial] less distinct fruit; oak on the finish

Syrah Blend C – A little bit spicy and acidic on the finish; prickles the tongue; raspberry on the nose

Ancestor Blend C – The most fruity aroma;  lingers on the palate; velvety

Syrah Blend A – Great nose; lighter fruit; tannin; light finish

Ancestor Blend C – This lot didn’t leave my mouth feeling as chalky as the others

Syrah Blend C – Seemed pleasantly full but left behind too much of a drying sensation

Ancestor Blend C – Full on the palate with distinctly dark fruit.  The nose opens nicely with time

Syrah Blend C – Dark fruit with distinct tannin in comparison to A and B.  This would be my pick.

Syrah Blend C – Nascar on the nose, thick on the palate, grit on the teeth, bitey on the finish

Ancestor Blend B – Pretty girl [stated with enthusiastic tone].  Fruit is deep and floral on the nose. Rubenesque. [this means plump or rounded in a pleasing or attractive way according to Merriam-Webster Online] Rich and curvy.  A finish that keeps on giving.  Hey girl, hey

Kevin will make some adjustments based on staff consensus and his own preferences before we revisit these blends closer to bottling in July.  Check back next week for 2013 Pink updates and have a smashing time in the mean!


Blending Trials - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Sun On The Patio



Hobbit Stew on Friday the 13th



Preparing to stand in a long, early morning, Hobbit ish line.



We won’t deceive, there are a fair number of rabid Tolkien enthusiasts among the HRV staff.  As such, we embark on today’s Hobbit round 2 premier with great anticipation and some sidelong glances from those who have had to listen to Gandalf Groupies chatter in excitement over this next installment in the series.  Gone are the dark days between 2007 and 2012 when nary a Middle Earth premier lay on the horizon and we Tolkienites were relegated to viewing the extended editions of the first three movies marathon style in every possible combination of director’s cut and commentary.  It is with great hope and anticipation that we fantastical few don our wooden swords and elvish ears to travel the twists and turns of Desolation’s release.  (more…)

Teaming Up for 2013 Staff Wines

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Kim, Katie, Molly, Sarah

Making Wine With the HRV Staff


Those who have been watching the blog over the past 8 months may remember the exciting developments in our staff winemaking project.  What follows is an update on each team and their wines. (more…)

Block 11 Historical Society



Last Thursday we harvested Block 11 Syrah which is one of two remaining blocks from the 1996 MacGillivray planting four years prior to Halter Ranch becoming Halter Ranch.  The pick began at 12:30 am on Thursday September 12 and carried on until 6 am.  12.2 tons of fruit were delivered to the upper crush pad at a temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit.  8.5 tons of Syrah from Block 11 were destemmed and combined with 1.5 tons of Viognier from Block 35 and will comprise our Syrah/Viognier coferment for 2013.  The remaining syrah clusters were destemmed and will be fermented separately.  Beyond the excitement of being one of the first red blocks to be harvested this year, 11 is special because it represents an abundance of both Paso Robles and Halter Ranch history.

In the middle of Block 11 sits the Ancestor Oak.  This ancient Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak) is one of the two largest trees of this particular variety on the planet.  Rows of vines were planted in a radius around this huge tree to twelve foot spacing.  The wider rows in this block allowed the MacGillivray family to drive their normal (as opposed to vineyard specific) tractors up and down the block.  Syrah planted to 11 is the Estrella clone which originated in the vineyard of same name on the east side of Paso Robles.  The cuttings themselves were sourced from the now famous James Berry vineyard back in 1996.  Jim Smith gave the MacGillivrays permission to take cuttings from his vines prior to pruning.  Due to the cost of rootstock and grafting, the cuttings were planted on their own roots as opposed to being grafted to new world rootstock.  A quick aside: due to the risk of soil bound pests such as phylloxera most plantings of the last century are grafted to the root portion (rootstock) of vines from the new world that has resistance to said pests and is acclimated to the soil on this side of the Atlantic.  In Block 11’s, cuttings from the established James Berry vines were not grafted, but stuck directly into the soil to sprout their own roots a testament to the vigor and enthusiasm of grapevines!

Expect to see Block 11 as one component in our core Syrah for 2013.  Given the history and high fruit quality from these 17 year old vines, this block  may eventually join the ranks of our reserve line-up alongside Ancestor, Tempranillo, Block 22 Syrah, and Block 41 Cabernet Sauvignon.



Coveting Cotes de Paso


Cotes de Paso - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Covetous photo courtesy of Sarah Forstner


There are moments with a glass of wine when I’ll be sipping along my merry way and all of a sudden a certain clarity will enter the scene.  As if a group of notes in a musical piece all suddenly meld into one unified tone that causes the world to vibrate with exuberance.  What I’m really saying is, sometimes about halfway through a glass of wine I’ll realize that the experience has transcended the normal level of enjoyment and achieved the sublime.  Before I get carried away in amorphous and esoteric description, let me provide some context.  (more…)

Halter Ranch Vineyard – Frequent Questions


Thanks Madelyne! - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Old Victorian Farmhouse from Adelaida Road


Every few months we tasting room and tour staff accrue a group of  questions that crop up repeatedly in our interactions at Halter Ranch.  The following post is devoted to answering the top 9 of these questions so that they are accessible in the e-sphere.  For the record, we love being asked and having the opportunity to answer questions about this wonderful place and the philosophy behind it, so please keep asking and we’ll keep doing our best to provide answers! (more…)

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.

Rosé Musings and Upcoming Events


Halter Ranch Vineyard

Men Drinking Pink


Think of your palate as a fingerprint, in fact, think of everyone’s palate like you would a fingerprint.  That is, wholly unique and subjective to you and them.  So while we might occasionally reach consensus and agree about what is good or bad, we likely fall at different points along the continuum of those concepts.   We bring this up as the result of a recent series of comments in regard to rosé on the Halter Ranch facebook page.  The gist of the discussion was that when pouring rosé in the tasting room we  find a percentage of customers will initially wave it off, saying:  “I’m not a rosé person.”  This is disheartening both as wine lovers and as advocates for Halter Ranch because we know as the result of our own journeys in wine that while not every wine is for every person, a huge part of the overall experience and excitement (at least from our perspective) is the opportunity to experience something new.  Further, the possibility that the new thing will alter your perspective in a wonderful way.  With this in mind it is difficult for us, and we suspect, for many in the wine industry to hear the words “I am not a rosé person” or “I am not a white wine person” because there is so much diversity within “rosé” and “white wine” it is likely that while one may not always like the majority, there are probably many wines within each category that one would enjoy or at least find interesting.  With this in mind we encourage the world to open its mind to new experiences in wine and otherwise, enjoyment can come as easily from something new and different as it may from something pleasant and predictable.  On that note, below are a few upcoming events


Upcoming Events


Forks and Corks

The Forks and Corks Festival will be taking place here at the ranch on July 6. A plethora of beverages stored under cork will be served in our historic barnyard alongside delicious eats prepared in the pit (barbecue pit) and garnished with pitted fruits. This is, without question, an event to set your sights on. Proceeds will benefit worthy local non profit must! charities.  For details and tickets check here:

Real Men Drink Pink

On Sunday June 23 the second annual Real Men Drink Pink event will be taking place at Star Farms.  Music by the English Beat, delicious rosé from 20 of the top producers in Paso Robles, and an overwhelmingly excellent time await!  Check it here:

2010 Côtes de Paso – Let Me Count the Ways

2010 Côtes de Paso and Pairings

2010 Côtes de Paso and Pairings


Friday of last week we held our annual Bridge Dinner, pairing our wines with delicacies prepared by Julie Simon of Thomas Hill Organics. As always the food, atmosphere, and wine were absolutely stellar. There was one pairing however, that struck a particular chord among the Halter Ranch Staff. The wine industry is flush with excellent pairing experiences, but occasionally a wine and it’s companion dish shine so brightly in concert we cannot help but gush about it.  (more…)

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