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

 


Award-Winning Tours

Many of you have been to our tasting room on Adelaida Road in the west hills of Paso Robles. It sits on the edge of our 2,000-acre property situated next to the historic Victorian farmhouse. Very soon we will be moving into our new tasting room. You will venture across the covered bridge, cruise up the hill and find us in our new digs next to the Winery and Wine Club Member Lounge. In addition to our tasting room, we now offer three unique tasting and touring experiences and invite you to join us on an adventure.

Sunset Magazine named us Best Vineyard Experience and Touring & Tasting selected our tours for their Platinum List 2016. Here is a preview of our tasting experiences:

Winery4Blog

WINERY & CAVE TOUR

Want to learn more about the winemaking process? What does the inside of the barrel room look like? Why are caves important in winemaking? The Winery and Cave Tour takes you though the multi-level, gravity flow building and showcases 22,000 square feet of caves that run deep into the limestone hillside.  This complimentary, one-hour walking tour is offered daily. You’ll start at our tasting room, view the vineyards and head up to the winery. During the tour, your Halter Ranch guide will give you an overview of the Ranch’s history and describe our sustainable farming and viticulture practices. Once at the winery, you will follow the path a grape takes through our winery, from the crush pad, into the tanks, through fermentation and finally into barrel and caves.

Caves4Blog

BARREL TASTING TOUR

Available on Saturday and Sunday at 10 am, the Barrel Tasting Tour starts outside the winery where your guide will give you an overview of the Halter Ranch history as you peer over the vineyards.  Walking through our modern winery, you will see first-hand the step-by-step processes involved in the making our wines. Your tour then drops into our subterranean cave, the largest of only four cave systems in the Paso Robles area. Here, you will sample wines from three different barrels, learning the varietal and barrel differences. The one-hour tour concludes with a private tasting of our current release wines in the Member Lounge. Hang out and enjoy a relaxed, seated tasting on the mezzanine with a bird’s eye view of the working winery.

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EXCURSION TOUR

Take an extended journey of Halter Ranch’s property and vineyard on the Excursion Tour. This one-of-a-kind tour is offered Saturday and Sunday at 10 am (weather permitting). Hop into the restored 1984 Land Rover Defender 110 as you tour the historic property. During this three-hour excursion, you’ll see the wildlife corridors and explore the 281-acres of estate vineyards, the largest contiguous vineyard in west Paso Robles. After a stop at the pond, you’ll experience first-hand the unique topography of Halter Ranch that sees nearly a 500 ft. change in elevation. At Lion’s Ridge, the vineyard’s highest point, you’ll take in the views and taste a special selection of estate wine. The next stop is at the famed Ancestor Oak tree to taste the estate’s flagship wine, Ancestor Reserve. This Coastal Live Oak tree is a Champion Tree – the largest of its kind on record, and is estimated to be nearly 500 years old. Following the vineyard tour, the excursion continues into the winery, production facility and underground caves. The tour ends in our beautiful Member Lounge, overlooking the production area and barrel storage, where you’ll enjoy a private tasting of our current release wines.

Join us for one, or all, of the many tasting and touring experiences at Halter Ranch. Please call us at 888.367.9977 for availability and to reserve space on the tours. We look forward to seeing you!


Distinctive

 

Poppys and Winery

Poppys and Winery

 

Given proximity to the Cabs of Distinction Weekend I’ve decided to devote this week’s post to the concept of distinction.  Specifically what might make a wine distinct, or not so distinct–perhaps even indistinct or homogeneous.  First, some definitions:

distinct

: different in a way that you can see, hear, smell, feel, etc. : noticeably different

: easy to see, hear, smell, feel, etc.

: strong and definite

homogeneous

: of the same or a similar kind or nature

: of uniform structure or composition throughout  (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

 

Hobbit

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…)


Tasting through Tuscany, Bandol, Côte-Rôtie, and Paso Robles

Tasting - Halter Ranch Vineyard

A line up of 1.5 Liter friends

 

This past week we had the opportunity to take a tasting journey through 6 delicious and distinct wines from around the world.  The first third of the tasting included 2 wines from France.  A 2010 Domaine Tempier from Bandol and a 2005 Levet “Chavaroche” Cote Rotie.  The middle third was a comparison between our 2011 Côtes de Paso and Denner’s 2011 Ditch Digger.  The final third included a 2004 Justin Isosceles and a 2010 Fontodi Flaccianello Sangiovese.

The Tempier, a Mourvedre based blend that exhibited a hint of Brettanomyaces on the nose and palate, offered lush spicy fruit just beneath the surface and these latter qualities became more apparent as the wine opened up.  The Côte-Rôtie is Syrah based and was distinctly spicy and earthy out of the bottle.  Some brambly red fruit began to arrive as more air arrived to open things up.  Tasting our Côtes side by side with Denner’s Ditch Digger was very interesting given the similarities between the two blends.  Both are composed predominantly of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, but the Côtes has a little Tannat in it and the Ditch Digger contains some Counoise and Cinsault.  Both blends were notably fruit forward but the Côtes seemed to lean more toward spicy red fruit while the Digger tended more toward the dark plummy end of the spectrum.  Judging from our own wines, the 2004 vintage was very warm and the ripeness of the 2004 Isosceles seemed to support this.  The wine was distinctly dark and viscous when compared with its compatriots up to this point.  Our final taste was the 2010 Sangiovese which was probably the staff favorite among the  larger format bottles at first taste (the Halter Ranch and Denner tastes were from more standard 750 ml sized bottles).  It was relatively fruit oriented compared to the Bandol and Côte-Rôtie while displaying enough acid and tannin to pair well with food and potentially cellar for 5-10 years more.

Expect similar posts as our staff tasting journeys continue.  As always, thanks for reading and cheers!

 

Tasting Room Glasses

The Tasting Room Team


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…)


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…)


Bonding Over Breakfast

 

Breakfast - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes

Breakfast - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Death Wish Coffee

Breakfast - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Eggs, Happy Acres, Bacon, and White Truffle Oil

 

Breakfast.


Comparing Cabernet Despite the Splinters

 

Cabernet - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Cabernet and Light

 

 

Last week the production crew set aside some time to blind taste through a group of prominent Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet based blends.  Among the eight wines were many famous, critically acclaimed, and highly sought after offerings from Napa Valley.  Our 2010 Ancestor was thrown in the mix for comparison.  The task for each taster was to select her or his favorite wine from the bunch while also noting any wines that seemed to differ significantly from the rest of the group.  The difficulty in tasting Cabernet Sauvignon is that it tends to be noticeably tannic, fairly acidic, and depending on the region, heavily oaked.  The result is a distinctly weighty and mouth stripping experience.  The crew persevered however, and the consensus among the staff was quite interesting.  We found that though Ancestor is from an entirely different region than the rest of the offerings, it was not selected as among the outliers.  Additionally, while it fit well with the rest of the line up in body and flavor profile, it is less than half of the retail cost of most of the other wines tasted.  (more…)

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