Two Awards For Two Sides of Halter Ranch

Over the last 6 weeks Halter Ranch has won two prestigious awards for different sides of our business.  On July 21st General Manager Skylar Stuck took the stage at the Mid State Fair to accept the Central Coast Wine Competition’s Winery of the Year Award and last Thursday Tasting Room Manager Tony Quealy and Noah Parker traveled to Santa Barbara to accept the Pacific Coast Business Times Small Business Award in the Green Business category.


A great turnout of staff for the award ceremony!


Results like the Winery of the Year award from the Central Coast Wine Competition are especially thrilling. All wines are sourced only from within the Central Coast AVA and are tasted blind of price point, blend percentages, and producer by a mix of 19 journalists, wine buyers, and sommeliers.  The judging panel must agree unanimously that each wine is worthy of a Gold Medal.   This blind evaluation by varied groups within the industry truly speaks to the broad appeal of our 9 Gold Medal and 4 ‘Best Of’ winners.


Halter Staff with former Congresswoman Lois Capps


Sustainability has always been important to our company and for almost 10 years Halter Ranch has been SIP Certified; in fact we were one of the program’s pilot vineyards.  Awards like the 2016 California Green Medal for Environment and the new Green Business award are recognizing what we have always strived to do. As Kevin said in our Green Business Award video, when it comes to green practices and sustainability, it is our guys in the field who make these awards possible.

“Those guys don’t get a lot of recognition for what they do and they’re the ones who have to implement the extra tractor passes, the hand hoeing, all the really difficult things in 95°F weather to get it done…they don’t get the recognition that the winemaker or senior management gets, so really this [award] is for them.”

-Kevin Sass, Winemaker

Green Business Award Video


A month’s worth of accolades!



While these honors are impressive individually, together they show a more holistic view of the company.  We are able to not only make wines that appeal broadly to industry professionals and the public but we can do it using sustainable practices, not just for the future of our soils and environment but also the long term cultivation of our human resources.

Our New Tasting Room

TR Exterior right2

We are thrilled to announce that the doors to the new Tasting Room are now open!

Nestled between blocks of Cabernet, Syrah and Grenache, the new tasting room features floor to ceiling windows with sweeping views of the estate vineyards. The main tasting room has a large, open floor plan with multiple tasting bars to give everyone a little more elbow room. There are two smaller tasting rooms to accommodate private events and group tastings. A commercial kitchen was installed to expand our food and wine experiences. To the back of the tasting room is an indoor patio with a large fireplace and a variety of couches, chairs and tables. The outdoor patio is just as inviting and features teak tables and chairs, a large fireplace, a pizza oven and an oak pit Santa Maria-style barbecue. On the other side of the patio are two large wooden doors that open to the underground caves leading to the winery.

TR Interior H1The inspiration for the design of the tasting room came from the local rustic cabins and barns with various uses of wood, cedar siding and rusty metal roofing. Owner Hansjörg Wyss carefully hand-selected all the artwork for the tasting room. While his passion for architecture led the design process, the entire Halter Ranch team was involved. Hansjörg felt that each person brought a unique perspective and point of view with regards to what was important for guests at Halter Ranch.

This week, we welcomed our first guests to the tasting room. They came by car and by bicycle to check out our new space. We look forward to welcoming you too – just follow the signs past the barnyard and across the covered bridge – keep an eye out for the chickens crossing the road as they think they have the right of way. We are open daily from 11am – 5pm.

Wessel Group1  Bikers  Bailey_Dykzeul_Richardson


The Collective



As we have been alluding to on the blog over the past few months, the Paso Robles Cab Collective will be holding a series of events focused on Cabernet Sauvignon this coming weekend (April 24, 25, and 26).  You may recall a previous post featuring our 2011 Cabernet and a discussion as to why Paso Robles is uniquely suited to producing Cabernet Sauvignons of distinction.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is in a particularly delicious phase at the moment so we’ve decided to included some tasting notes and pairing recommendations here. (more…)

Happening Season

Old Speedsters and Winery

New looking old cars and new looking new winery


Event season is upon us!  Over the course of the next two months multitudinous opportunities to taste, and eat, and all around wine will be presenting themselves.  What follows is an update on various events (Incoming!) and a few details as we break ground on an exciting new project here at the ranch. (more…)

Weather News

Weather - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Weather Station


After much consideration and planning, a shiny new weather station has been installed along the Halter Ranch airstrip by Joe Thorp of Signature Ranch Technologies.  Given distinction between weather here on the ranch and weather nine miles east of us in Paso Robles proper, we’ve been relying on readings from Tablas Creek’s weather station up to this point.  For each mile you move away from the town of Paso Robles toward the coast you may add approximately an inch of rainfall and about half a degree of decreased temperature.  As a result we tend to average 25-30 inches of rainfall, and about 5 degrees fahrenheit less on average over the course of a year than Paso Robles proper and vineyards east of highway 101. (more…)

Wine Resolutions for 2014


Resolutions - Halter Ranch Vineyard

A Hearth-y Happy New Year!


Here published are 14 wine resolutions for 2014.  Sourced from the diabolically wine-centric brains of our very own staff.

1. We resolve not to judge a wine by its alcohol content or any other attribute prior to actually trying it.

2. We resolve to refrain from purchasing half bottles as they are too tempting to drink all by oneself.

3. We resolve to drink more dry Rose.

4. We resolve to refrain from purchasing ‘critter label’ wines purely based on the fact that critters are cute, and instead to fulfill our critter cuteness needs here and here.

5. We resolve not to acquiesce to the notion that a wine is better because it is uniformly composed of a single variety (i.e. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon).

6. We resolve to keep our minds and palates open to new and wondrous tastes despite not being certain whether we will like them or not.

7. We resolve not to influence our wine tasting fellows with normative terminology when they are in the midst of a fresh tasting experience.

8. We resolve to drink more Champagne and less soda.

9. We resolve to sip and fully experience, rather than simply drink.

10. We resolve to drink wine with food.  After all, nutrients are best absorbed when liquids and solids are consumed in concert.

11. We resolve to remember that while wine is how we make our living, we need not approach it as if it is work.

12. We resolve to remember to drink what we like and not feel guilty about it.

13. We resolve to continue finding new ways to share our fascinations and foster fascination in others.

14. We resolve to incite joy by keeping glasses, both real and proverbial, topped off and raised high.

Check back next Wednesday for more wildlife photos and vineyard updates with Lucas. If you feel so inclined, do share your wine resolutions for 2014 in the comments below. We would love to read them. Cheers and happy nearly new year to all!


Resolutions - Halter Ranch Vineyard



Halter Ranch Vineyard on PBS with Original Fare

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Click the Photo to visit Original Fare


Original Fare is a PBS sponsored YouTube series revolving around farm to table cooking.  We were offered the privilege of hosting creators Kelly Cox and Lucas Longacre onsite for a few days while they produced the show linked to the photo above.  Beyond the fact that it provides great information about Halter Ranch, the video offers an excellent quick but complete look at the various stages and processes of harvest.  Check it out and let us know what you think on our facebook page here, Google+ here, and Twitter (@halterranch).  Also please go check out Kelly and Lucas’s Original Fare website and the PBS Food YouTube Channel.

Fitcation at Halter Ranch

Fitcation - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Fitcation Crew and Ancestor


Fitcation is a retreat founded by a network of food and lifestyle bloggers who gather once a year to promote health, explore, and share ideas.  Check out the website here.  This past Friday we had the absolute pleasure of hosting the group toward the end of the first day on their 2013 Fitcation weekend.  They arrived around 3 pm for a tour of our vineyard and winery before meeting in the barn for dinner, provided by Trumpet Vine Catering,  and a presentation by Earth Shoe Company. Kris Beal, director of the SIP (Sustainability In Practice) Program, helped sponsor and organize this visit

The vineyard tour peaked with a visit to the Ancestor Oak and we stopped to soak up the shade. While sitting in the embrace of this ancient guardian the group wandered into a discussion about what the SIP program means and how it is incorporated into our vineyard and business practice here at Halter Ranch.  Though we’ve already discussed SIP on the blog, the Fitcation discussion opened up new questions and lines of thought that we’d like to touch upon here.

Very briefly, SIP certification is distinct from other third party certifications (like USDA Organic or Biodynamic) in that it requires a rigorous set of sustainable practices with regard to employee benefits, continuing education, and business plan, in addition to farming practices in the vineyard.  While sitting and talking under the tree we touched upon the concept of greenwashing.  A brief definition of this practice is: the use of any term or group of terms making an environmental claim about a product, in the interest of selling said product, without any basis in actual practice. Or as Kris and Leslie put it…without any teeth.  A glaring example of greenwashing in the food and beverage industry is the term ‘natural’ (also ‘naturally’).  There is no regulation of this term from the standpoint of the USDA or any other agency when it comes to food products.  As a result it has been appropriated and widely used on food packaging to encourage–essentially to take advantage of–consumers who are interested in buying products composed of ‘natural’ ingredients.  The result is that without definition and subsequent regulation, the term ‘natural’ is used so widely as to be essentially meaningless when it comes to telling us anything about how food and beverages are produced.

It is through the rigor of programs such as SIP that we may rely on the practices behind a product and its subsequent quality.  It was refreshing to participate in this discussion with a group of open minded folks who are both eager to engage with quality products and healthy living and to share the knowledge gained through that engagement.  A resounding thanks to our Fitcation guests for great discussion and an absolutely delightful afternoon.  Check out the Fitcation Blog here



Fermenting in Barrel


Halter Ranch Vineyard

Arnaud guides Block 8 Syrah berries into new French oak.


Since the 2011 vintage a portion of Syrah and Grenache have been sorted and crushed directly into French Oak barrels, some new (which means freshly toasted and constructed from the cooper, as yet untouched by wine), some neutral (neutral means that the barrel has had wine in it over the course of at least one year–this is our definition, some winemakers distinguish between barrels that have been used just once and those that have been used 2 or more times).  These special Rhone lots go through both primary (yeast eating sugar to create alcohol) and secondary (acetobacter eat malic acid-the variety of acid that comes from fruit-to create lactic acid-the type of acid associated with dairy, red wine, and some white wines) fermentation in barrel. (more…)

Ian Adamo of Bistro Laurent Drops Knowledge

Knowledge - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Liquid Knowledge


Monday evening we were treated to the immeasurable privelege of a wine tasting and education session with the famed (or infamous depending on perspective) Ian Adamo of Bistro Laurent.  Ian has achieved various wine service and education certifications (including WSET and Somm); he is now in the process of studying for and finishing his Master of Wine Certificate (think Jancis Robinson, but a dude, and not British).   Beyond managing the wine list and shop at Bistro, Ian has begun offering his knowledge and experience to assist local wineries in educating their staff and coming up with a comprehensive plan to present the wines and wineries of Paso Robles to consumers in an engaging and memorable way.

The idea behind our tasting was to compare Halter Ranch wines with various offerings from around the globe in a process of reductive reasoning.  By reductive, we mean breaking the wines down by what they are not in terms of variety, place, and quality.  A few pointers we received from Mr. Adamo at the outset:  Your nose and eyes will tell you far more about a wine than your palate will.   The ‘why’ in regard to a wine is far more interesting and engaging than an individual point score, adjective, or even group of adjectives can possibly be.  After visually and aromatically analyzing each offering, we tasted through and broke down quality to price ratio using a system Ian refers to as BLIC (Balance, Length, Intensity, Complexity).  This offers an objective map for determining a wine’s quality outside of personal taste.  For example, I might personally delight in Nebbiolo, and be less interested in Pinotage, but focusing on those four characteristics may create a conceptual map by which to assess a wine without involving personal preference.

My personal favorite among the group of wines we tried (outside the Halter offerings of course ‘ ) is pictured above.  This complex and delicious white is composed of 100% Viognier from Condrieu in the Northern Rhone region of France.  It presented full body and fairly low acid while remaining delicate in comparison to most of the Viognier I’ve tried in the past.  Tasted against the Condrieu, 2012 Cotes de Paso Blanc displayed distinct acidity, bright fruit, and notable length.  Both wines would perform well in the four BLIC categories, but it is interesting to note that the Condrieu goes for about $90 a bottle, while CDPB retails for $28.

Expect coverage of additional tastings as they happen.  Our next article here on the blog will cover new developments in the cellar as we prepare for harvest 2013.  In the meantime cheers and thanks for reading!





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