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!





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…)

2012 Côtes de Paso Blanc. Yes.

Blanc - Halter Ranch Vineyard


As of May 1 we’ve begun pouring the 2012 Côtes de Paso Blanc in the tasting room.   Having spent a few days with it we can say without reservation: this is one of the most delicious white wines we’ve yet produced (those of you familiar with our white wine will note this is a somewhat more than merely bold statement).  At first scent it shows the delightful minerality we’ve come to expect from Côtes Blanc with touches of tart lemon, granny smith, and honeydew.  On the palate it is medium bodied with an absolutely inspiring acidic zest.  Grenache Blanc again dominates the blend at 58% with smaller quantities of Roussanne (18%), Picpoul Blanc (16%), and Viognier (8%).  In concert with its 2012 vintage cousins, CDPB shows remarkable brightness and lush fruit while remaining somewhat restrained with regard to alcohol (13.5%).  Flavors here run the gamut from briney mineral, forward toward spice, on to citrus, and beyond through ripe stone fruit as it opens.  CDPB will pair impressively with…well…itself…and nearly everything else  (more…)

Pairing Appetizers With Pier 46

Lindsey B, Sarah, Tony, Christina

Pier 46 and Halter Ranch


This past Wednesday morning we had the opportunity to apply our culinary expertise while discussing sustainability with Tony DeGarimore of Pier 46 Seafood Market in Templeton.  For this momentous occasion our own Sarah Forstner selected three simple appetizer recipes to pair with 2012 Halter Ranch Rose and the soon to be released 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.  Tony generously provided some delectable  treats to flesh out the project and we lept into the kitchen with abandon.  (more…)

Earth Day, Farms, and Forks


Green Horizon - Earth Day

The Green Ranch


The horizon looks increasingly green as Earth Day 2013 approaches…

Beyond our participation in the main event, Halter Ranch will be hosting the Farm to Fork tour and dining experience on April 19 from 6-9 pm.  Our own Kevin Sass will be leading guests on an educational journey through our sustainable vineyard and winery.  The idea here will be to convey, to the best of our ability, the combination of beauty, terroir, specificity, history, philosophy, and approach that make Halter Ranch Vineyard so special.  The journey will be capped off, or topped off if you like, with a multi-course meal prepared by Tom Fundaro of Villa Creek.  Expect some stellar pairing interactions betwixt HRV wines and chef Tom’s stupendous cuisine.

Why attend this event, or celebrate Earth Day through this festival you might ask?  Beyond the reasons above, what body in physical space could possibly compete with our planet when it comes to order of importance?  The sun and moon might be high on the list given our little Third Rock’s codependent interaction with them, but it would be difficult to argue they deserve more attention.

As we’ve expressed in a few previous posts, wine may be considered the sensory exemplification of our planet’s interaction with the sun and moon, given it is essentially the result of natural process that would not exist without these relational physics and the interactions of starstuff that drive them.  So, with this in mind, how indeed could we not spend at the very least one day a year paying homage to our vibrant host planet and the natural happenings round which we base our lives.  While we’re at it, why not indulge in a delicious glass of wine (perhaps even a few!) and a plate (or three!) of scrumptious locovore-type eats?  Why not indeed.

For tickets click here.


Wining Philosophical

Philosophical tanks, barrels, and bottles - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Halter Ranch Headspace


There is a phenomenon within the tasting room which results from the tendency of particular patrons to wax philosophical across the tasting bar in the interest of fomenting discussion.  This post is a sort of homage to said patrons as the discussions they incite are often profound and quite memorable.  So what is it about fermented grape juice that inspires humans toward the cerebral?

It would be inaccurate to imply the only effect of wine is to inspire the mind toward the cerebral, or to lubricate dormant thought process, more accurately it probably functions to…inspire…a variety of behaviors positive, cerebral, and otherwise. For the sake of this article, we will focus on its talent for extracting deep brooding thoughts and encouraging conversation of the conceptually wandering kind.

On that note, let’s take a brief trek back through time to the underpinnings of modern philosophy.  Plato and Aristotle sit across from one another brooding.  Each holds in hand a clay goblet filled with, what else, vino. In this past era wine is generally stored and served from cool clay vessels and is probably sweeter than the majority of modern vinified offerings.  (more…)

Tasting 2012 Rosé and 2011 Synthesis

2012 Rosé

2012 Rosé preparing to enter the line up


Our 2012 Rosé is unique in the history of HRV pink.  It represents one of only 2 wines we’ve produced that come in at less than 14% alcohol (the other being 2009 Cabernet Franc).  The shift toward lower alcohol and higher acid in the rosé is intentional.  We have found it maintains its delicious bright red fruit character quite well while the bracing acidity provided by Picpoul Blanc makes it even more delectable with food.  We cannot wait to share it with you.  In the meantime here are our notes:

2012 Rosé is composed of 68% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 12% Picpoul Blanc, and 5% Syrah.   Immediately the nose is bright and bursting with red fruit in the cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry spectrum.  On the palate the texture is light but mouthfilling with that thirst quenching quality rosé has the potential to achieve so welll.  Acidity is present but not overwhelming.  As the wine opens notes of passionfruit, guava, grapefruit, and sour cherry begin to emerge.  A delightful cranberry grapefruit zip swoops in on the finish leaving the palate fresh and awaiting the next sip.   (more…)

Industry Party 2013 – Big Time!

The Clean Slate - Industry Party

Ready for the crowd…


Last night we held Industry Party 2013 showcasing our 20,000 square feet of caves and a very special pre-release taste of 2012 Rosé.  As always we were eager to present these exciting new developments and to show our appreciation for all the neighborly love in Paso Robles.


The Room Beginning to Fill - Industry Party

At 7 pm


The main room filled rapidly as groups from every aspect of the food and wine industries arrived to partake in fresh cooked food and Halter Ranch wines.


Tacos Al Pastor - Industry Party

Los Robles Tacos. Incredible.


Los Robles was back in force with their incredible portable taco line.  Always a hit with Côtes de Paso Blanc and Rouge (really any of the wines could pair with one or another of the various taco combos).


The Los Robles Crew Poses Post Party

The Los Robles Crew Poses Post Party


We were also privileged to have Artie and the Gypsy Flame crew slinging barbecued pizza throughout the evening (apologies for the lack of photo, the ‘zas never seemed to hang round long enough for a shot).


Artie and a Gypsy Flame Compatriot Pose by Their Magic Barbecue

Gypsy Flame rocked the house!


The evening began with a walk through the cave system from the eastern outer door through the caves to the main barrel working room with tastes of 2o11 Côtes de Paso Blanc and 2012 Rosé en route.  Michelle and Katie were on greeting and glass duty at the (chilly) front door.


The Katie and Michelle Dance

Katie and Michelle doing the greeting dance


720 glasses were washed and polished in preparation for the event.  600 ended up being put to use which meant lots of boxing and unboxing!


No Glasses Were Harmed in the Shooting of this Photograph

No Glasses Were Harmed in the Shooting of this Photograph (those boxes are empty)


Kevin offered insight into the new 2012 Rosé which contains the largest percentage of Picpoul Blanc (in a Halter Ranch Rosé) and the lowest alcohol in an HRV wine  to date.  The Picpoul contributes a delicious lip smacking acidity while lower alcohol makes the wine even more food (and porch!) friendly.  We cannot express enough how excited we are about this wine.  Expect an official release date sometime next month.


Kevin and Darren Catch a Sip in the Aftermath

Kevin and Darren Catch a Sip in the Aftermath


This was Kendall’s inaugural event at HRV; very exciting and what a success!


Awesome Inaugural Event Kendall!

Awesome Inaugural Event Kendall!


If you didn’t manage to make it out this time don’t hesitate to plan a visit the next weekend (tours take place at 11 and 1) you have free or during the week by appointment.  A massive thank you to all and cheers!


2013 Rose

Our special pour, in keeping with the pre V-Day Spirit





Barrel Tastes – Spelunking of a Sort


Barrel Experiment Alcove - Barrel

Barrel Experiment and Special Cabernet Alcove


Each year Kevin and the winemaking team compile a barrel experiment to assist in the ongoing effort toward improving our wines while being fair and balanced with regard to the various cooperages courting us yearly to purchase their barrels.  You may recall a previous post about the initial tasting for the 2011 Barrel Experiment.  This week Kevin took a few of us into the caves to revisit a select group of wines that may be included if we begin offering barrel tastings as part of the cave tour program in the future.  (more…)

Philosophically Wandering Among Wines

7 Merry Wines

7 Merry Mourvèdre


If you’ve followed the HRV blog for a bit we’re sure you’ve noted that tasting philosophies are never far from our hearts and minds.  In this instance our line of thinking derives from a combination of internal discussion and suggestions from a few of our fans (thank you for being attentive! : ) in regard to a tasting we recently posted about on our illustrious facebook page.  The discourse arose as the result of communicating staff consensus on a few favorites within a pool of  (all wonderful and unique) varietal Mourvèdre, generously donated by our friends and neighbors in the industry.  In communicating the consensus we took pause to consider whether or not revealing such detail might cause distress or offense among those producers whose wines did not shine as brightly among the majority of HRV staff present for the tasting.  (more…)

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