< All Blog Posts

Balanced Blend

February 20, 2024

Paso Robles has become known for its innovative, rule-breaking blends. From swapping the Grenache in a traditional GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) for a more unique Carignan, Syrah, and Mourvèdre blend, or adding a little Viognier to Syrah, Paso Robles Wine Country has mastered the art and science of blending wines.  So, what makes a good blend? Let’s hear from some of the Paso wineries pouring at the upcoming Paso Robles BlendFest on the Coast.  

 What makes a good blend?  

 Blends are Complex 

  • “Imagine a curry with only one spice ingredient. It might be decent, but hard to imagine it compared to the ethereal magic of a great curry blended with many spices. Substitute wine/grape for curry/spice. ‘Nuff said.” – Bob Tillman, Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery 
  • “A great blend is similar in construction to a great song. It requires a captivating hook that inspires neurons into action, often leading to nodding of the head, clapping of the hands, and shaking of body parts. As the verses unfold, new layers of insight and expression are revealed, leaving you craving to hit the replay button when it’s over.” – Brenden Wood, J. Lohr Vineyards & Winery
  • “A good blend should contain all of the positive attributes of each of the blender wines to create a unique and distinctive experience. A good blend should exhibit a complex layered profile that expresses the palate of the winemaker. Blends allow the winemaker the opportunity to break free from the restrictions of varietal wines to create an experience in the glass.” – Rich Hartenberger, Midnight Cellars 
  • “Wine blends can be more complex and attractive than a single varietal. Varietal wines can be lacking something. Blending can fill that void as well as enhance the wine’s overall flavor, complexity, and mouthfeel. A good blend highlights the best qualities of each variety resulting in a multidimensional, dynamic, and balanced wine.” – Chuck Mulligan and Kevin Paup, Harmony Cellars 
  • “Complexity and balance. Making the blend better than any of its components.” – Holly Salzman, Castoro Cellars 
  • “A good blend has to have a purpose for being. It needs to show something intentional, like highlighting the strengths of one specific variety but making it better with the others that you decide to blend with it. Or, highlighting what is the strongest variety on or characteristic of a given site but also making that the best it can be with other varieties/blocks blended in.” –Jordan Fiorentini​​​​, Epoch Estate Wines 

 Blends are Balanced 

  • “The perfect blend is an ideal balance across the key elements of wine – acidity, sweetness, and body.” – Michael Keller and Magdalena Wojcik, The Blending Lab Winery
  • Blends require balance and finesse. When creating blends from multiple vineyards, the goal is to use each vineyard’s grapes to craft a wine that hits the hallmark of the region as a whole. Different vineyards might have grapes that are higher in acid, are more tannic or spicy, or have other standout qualities, so working with fruit from multiple sites is like assembling a puzzle. For single vineyard blends, the priority is to showcase the unique properties of that site first, and varietal characteristics second. I prefer distinctive blends, from year to year, as the growing season plays a significant role in the development of the fruit and leads to more unique wines.” – Liz Gillingham, McPrice Myers  
  •  “A good blend balances aromatics, weight, tannins, and acidity.” – Amanda Gorter, Robert Hall Winery 
  •  “Balance is the most important aspect of a blended wine. Utilizing components with different personalities to achieve balance is a must.” – Soren Christensen and Margo Adent, Hearst Ranch Winery 

 Why are Paso Robles blends so special? 

 Diverse and Rule-breaking 

  • “In Paso Robles, there is no rule book on what can and cannot be blended together. With so many grape varieties grown here, we have the ability to make interesting, unconventional blends that cannot be achieved anywhere else in the world.” – Brad Ely, Barton Family Wines & Grey Wolf Cellars  
  • “Paso blends are special because we get to play with one of the most diverse selections of varietals in the world to satisfy our thirst to play and make the best blend. For example, I make a Grenache/Tannat blend which in France would be possible but very unlikely to happen because these two varietals grow a hundred and fifty miles apart from each other in very different AVAs which don’t allow one or the other. Here I grow Grenache and Tannat side by side.” – Bastien Leduc, Seven Oxen 
  • “I describe Paso as making blends since before they were “cool” and now they have become a showcase of the diversity of Paso Robles as a wine region! We grow such a wide array of different varietals in this area that you are bound to find classic blends as well as new, nontraditional blends that will just blow your mind!” – CJ Gormley, Hope Family Wines 
  • “Paso Robles blends are special because of the large diversity found within our AVA giving us a wide range of profiles to work with.” – Sherman Thacher, Thacher Winery 

Only California Festival Dedicated to Blends 

If you want to try a taste of the balanced yet rule-breaking blends of Paso Robles, join over 40 wineries (including those quoted above) at the BlendFest on the Coast Sunset Grand Tasting on Saturday, Feb. 24.