The Employee Garden

HR_Garden

If you’ve been out to the winery recently you may have noticed something besides grapevines covering our beautiful landscape – the Halter Ranch Employee Garden. In the past we have had a small summer garden but this year we increased it to a quarter acre. We sat down with our Assistant Winemaker Molly Lonborg, and asked her some questions about the garden.

Molly, can you tell us about the Employee Garden and how it started?

We have a quarter acre plot of land that we have decided not to plant to grapevines, but instead leave for an employee garden to benefit all the staff. We generally plant a summer garden, and seed with cover crop in the winter, although we have planted some parts of the garden in the winter as well. Halter generously purchases all the starts and garden foundation needed to plant a successful garden. Although the specific vegetables and varieties vary each year we always have a good range of plants to provide a delicious harvest.

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What’s currently planted in the garden?

This year we have 32 tomato plants; 18 different varietals, predominately heirloom plants with a few hybrids. Three different types of basil, including lime, amethyst, and genovese, pole beans, eggplants, peppers and squash. Zucchini, patty pan, kabocha, butternut and spaghetti. We have five different types of melons plus flowers. Adjacent to the employee garden is also an employee fruit orchard with peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries, figs, pears, apples and pomegranates.

Halter Ranch Peaches

Do staff take the produce home or is it used for communal meals?

Anything harvested from the garden is fair game for all staff members to take home. We encourage staff members to spend time in the garden helping plant, weed and maintain the plants in exchange for a bounty of vegetables.

HR_Basil_Amethyst

In the summertime many of us (myself included) will just bring bread and mozzarella, and harvest basil and tomatoes from the garden for caprese salads. If we have extra produce we will bring it to the tasting room and give it away to visitors; occasionally we will put an optional donation jar out and collect money to give to the food bank. If we have overgrown vegetables like zucchini or over-ripe tomatoes we will feed them to our flock of chickens.

Halter Ranch Basil Pesto

We try to do fun activities from extra bounty from the garden that include and benefit all the staff. For example, our basil is growing very well at the moment and since we still have some time till the tomatoes are ripe, we decided to cut back some of the basil plants (which will only benefit them in the future as they will double in size), and have a pesto making party. We cut back four out of our nine basil plants, brought in pine nuts, garlic, and blenders then used our Halter Ranch olive oil to create a big batch of fresh pesto. The four plants created ten one cup containers that were distributed to staff to use fresh or freeze for a later time.

Above you can see the staff growing basil and then making it into pesto for their lunches, yum!

Halter Ranch Melon

Do all staff pitch-in to work in the garden?

Usually yes! It can be difficult to get every staff member to help (especially because we have a lot of part-time people that only work on the weekends), but I send out staff-wide emails when we have workdays. This year when we planted our garden we had a lot of staff from the tasting room, production, admin and vineyard all pitch-in. After the planting we had a big potluck breakfast to thank everyone for the work.

Thank you Molly for all the great information about the Halter Ranch

Employee Garden – way to go team!


Q & A with Vineyard Manager Lucas Pope

This spring we were humbled to receive the California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Award for Environmental Stewardship. The award is given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship. A commitment to the land is a core value here at Halter Ranch and thanks to the dedication, hard work and passion from our vineyard team this honor demonstrates our way of life. At the helm of our 14-person vineyard team is vineyard manager Lucas Pope. We sat down with Lucas to get an insider’s scoop about the inner workings of vineyard life at Halter Ranch plus learned a few fun facts.

Vineyard Manager Lucas Pope

Vineyard Manager Lucas Pope

How long have you been the Vineyard Manager at Halter Ranch?

I started April 1, 2012 as viticulturist and moved into the vineyard manager role in 2014.

Tell us about your team?

Our vineyard team includes 14 skilled and nurturing men and woman: Nick Painter – Vineyard/Production, Eusebio Rico – Vineyard Supervisor plus 11 men and 2 women who are full time, year round employees of Halter Ranch and work tirelessly to ensure vineyard health and sustainability.

What do you love most about the Halter Ranch property and your job?

The natural beauty that I am surrounded by here at Halter Ranch, my office has the best view. I work with a great team of people who are focused on the common goal of making the best wines possible from our site.

Challenges in the vineyard? Tell us about some.

The past few years we have been dealing with drought conditions which have left the vineyard very dry. We have had to come up with practices to conserve water in the vineyards while at the same time receiving lower than typical rainfall totals. We are fortunate enough to be able to use the newest tools on the market to monitor the vines water use and irrigate more accurately based on the plant’s needs. That has given us a water savings of 50% over past years , which equates into more than 4 million gallons a year!

Another large challenge has been to source the very best plants for our redevelopment. Nick Painter and I have been spending days at a time at the nursery selecting and testing our new vines to insure we get the best possible plants in the ground to insure we continue to improve.

Tell us something someone may not know about the Halter Ranch Vineyard?

Of the 2,000 acres that is Halter Ranch, 1,600 acres have been left as native vegetation. So many acres are being planted around the area and our owner Hansjörg Wyss has carved out a large portion of land to preserve as part of Paso Robles in its natural state.

If you had chosen a different career what would it have been?

I always dreamed about working on race cars as a kid, still think that would be fun!

Favorite activity outside of work?

Spending time with my family outdoors. Could be the beach, concerts in the park, or hiking,….

Best Halter Ranch food and wine paring, go!

This being summer, I tend to think about cooking over an open flame. Right now venison burgers with local avocados and home cured bacon paired with Halter Ranch Rosé or CDP.

Congratulations to Lucas and his team. What a great honor to commemorate your dedication and hard work at Halter Ranch!


Beat the Heat! – Q & A with winemaker Kevin Sass

Kevin

As I’m sure many of you are already well aware, it has been a little toasty here in Paso Robles, with temperatures in the triple digits. With this heat wave the first thing that comes to mind is what effect this will have on our vineyard (besides how soon we can open the next bottle of Rosé). We have the same questions you do: Can grapes get sunburnt? If so, what kind of sun lotion should we use? Or maybe, do they like to sunbathe? I bet they’re thirsty; will they be able to get enough water? We turned to our Halter Ranch winemaker Kevin Sass for all the answers.

It’s been over 100 degrees for several days, does this hurt/burn the vines? 

The vines don’t get hurt, but they have a tendency to shut down and stop photosynthesizing. Much like we do when we can’t sweat to cool ourselves down.

How do the high temperatures affect a vintage? 

Depending on how exposed your clusters are to the sun you can have “bleaching”, where the grapes skins get burned and don’t accumulate color. As a result those grapes are usually sorted out on the sorting table, but for people who don’t sort, it can impart unripe flavors. Luckily, we keep a close eye on protecting our vines.

Do you need to irrigate the vines more during these hot days? 

No, at this point we still have active growth from the 16 inches of rain that we received. This heat (when less than 100) will help slow down the vines and start them to think about ripening grapes and not reaching for the sky with their shoots. It can be helpful in many ways….

When do you expect veraison in the vineyard this year? 

We are looking to be three weeks from now until veraison.

What is your favorite ‘hot day’ activity when you aren’t at Halter Ranch? 

Drinking Rosé (Including ours!)

Still have some unanswered questions for Kevin? Come on into the Halter Ranch tasting room and ask us. And don’t worry we have the air conditioning cranking.  As always, we hope to see you soon!

-Halter Ranch

 

 


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!


A Sneak Preview

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Visitors who have ventured across the bridge or visited our Wine Club Lounge recently have seen a new structure emerging just east of the Winery. As part of our long-term strategy to get all of our visitors across the covered bridge and into the vineyard, we are building a new Tasting Room just below Block 1. We love the Victorian and the Barn Yard area, but we have woefully outgrown our current Tasting Room. We are hoping for a late September move in.  Enjoy this sneak preview.

patio


Our Timeless Barnyard

Though the function and look of the barnyard at Halter Ranch may have changed over the years, the experience of peace and tranquility remains constant. A sense of timelessness exists amidst the old barns, the orchard and open space that extend across Las Tablas Creek to the vineyard and surrounding oak woodland. Preservation of this space is of paramount importance to us, a task that receives a lot of attention from the team here at Halter Ranch.

In years past the big barn, now known as the “Event Barn” housed farm animals. The dirt floor had 2 levels; the center section was higher than the outer sides, which allowed easy access for tending animals. These photos show the cattle loading chutes, which were in front of the barn, the old tack room and hitching post. All of these old buildings have been renovated, a job which was a major labor of love. Restored to their former beauty, these barns serve an important function in this modern day business.

big barn barnyard1tack roomBigBarn_before


Celebrating Cycling History at Halter Ranch

L'Eroica at Halter Ranch

L’eroica is an annual bike ride in Chianti that since its inception in 1997 has celebrated cycling’s history. Participants ride vintage bikes and dress in historic attire. For the first time ever, on April 11, L’eroica crossed the Atlantic and brought their show to Paso Robles, CA. L’Eroica began as a foundation for the protection and preservation of the last gravel roads in Tuscany. A portion of this year’s ‘proceeds of the event will be donated to Hospice SLO. Hospice of San Luis Obispo County is a comprehensive resource center providing nonmedical support through group and individual counseling programs that are free of charge.’
Halter Ranch was selected as a rest/refueling stop for this fantastic event. Cyclists stopped to have a sandwich and taste a little Halter Ranch wine. A total of 680 cyclists stopped by to refresh and have their ride passport stamped.


Sharing Experiences

Open seven days a week and almost 365 days a years (minus a couple of holidays), Halter Ranch is able to share what our staff believes to be a very special property and some delicious wines here in Paso Robles.   We feel honored when our guests share what they have encountered during their visit and/or the wines they have enjoyed.  We would like to share some of these experiences with you.  Cheers!

Victorian

 

http://culinary-adventures-with-cam.blogspot.com/2015/03/exploring-halter-ranch-wine-tour-and.html

1Ancestor

http://www.tastingpour.blogspot.com/2015/01/halter-ranch-cotes-de-paso-and-duck.html

winery_photo

 

http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2015/03/10-paso-robles-wineries-to-watch/

 


A not-so-typical President’s Day Weekend

We just experienced the most amazing Presidents Day Weekend. The combination of a holiday weekend coupled with Valentines Day and the warm weather makes me think Halter Ranch is just the perfect spot to be. It’s not always 70 degrees here in February though. Since the inception of Halter Ranch in the year 2000, there have been two snow storms. Oddly enough they both happened on President’s Day weekend – once in 2006 & then again in 2009.

Enjoy the photos of Halter Ranch under a dusting of snow.

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