Paso Robles Wine Country This Month | October
October 1, 2022
October and Harvest Wine Month are here! It’s hard to believe autumn is upon us, with warmer and shorter days and drastically cooler nights. This is when we feel that diurnal temperature swing the Paso Robles AVA is known for. Grape harvest is still happening, for some a few more weeks, for others, they are wrapping up. With warm days, cool nights, and winemakers over the hump of harvest we will celebrate all month long with more than 100 events throughout wine country.
This Month in Wine Country blog highlights an in-depth harvest recap from our friends at Tablas Creek, we meet the makers at Croma Vera, learn more about a few brands who’ve made some big changes, deep-dive into Tempranillo, talk about upcoming events, and soooo much more!
The October blog features: Harvest Recap | Meet the Makers | What’s New | Guest Chef Recipe | Varietal Highlight | In the Vineyard | Behind the Scenes at Paso Wine | Podcast 57 & 58 | Awesome Upcoming Events | Trending
The Whirlwind of Harvest
By Jason Haas, Partner & General Manager, Tablas Creek Vineyard
It’s definitely been a month with interesting weather. Just three weeks ago I was writing a blog preparing for a potentially historic California harvest heat wave. And that heat wave was intense, with ten days in a row over 100°F, though we feel like we escaped the worst impacts that were felt in some of the regions to our north. Now, a week after that heat wave broke, we got our first real rain of the 2022-23 winter, and not from some tropical monsoonal moisture that just wandered a little far north, as we sometimes see in late summer here. No, we got a real winter storm plunging out of the Gulf of Alaska, bringing significant rain to the northern two-thirds of California.
While harvest rain is rare here in Paso Robles, it’s not unheard of. In the last two decades, the only other year we received September rain was in 2010, but we got rain before the end of October in 2004, 2006, 2021, and most notably 2009, when we received nearly ten inches on October 13th. And it’s more common in other wine-growing regions around the world; Chateauneuf-du-Pape, for example, has harvest rain most years, as September and October are the two rainiest months of the year.
Meet the Makers - Mindy & Jeremy from Croma Vera
We met up with our friends from Croma Vera Wines, owner Mindy Oliver and winemaker Jeremy Leffert, to find out their Why Paso and see where they like to chill after long days.
Croma Vera is a lovely little winery whipping up small-batch, Spanish-inspired wine. A tiny (but mighty) winery making damn good wine, Croma Vera is an independent, woman-owned micro-winery producing Albariño, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Revelación, a Spanish-inspired blend. They craft award-winning wines in small amounts focusing on just these few grape varieties from sustainably-farmed vineyards on the Central Coast of California.
Why Paso? -What makes Paso Robles Wine Country so special?
Mindy: I think what makes Paso Robles special is the combination of its high-quality wine, down-to-earth, friendly people, and supportive wine industry community.
Jeremy: The soil and climate of Paso Robles make fantastic, unique wines with tons of character allowing us to choose specific sites that produce wines in line with our stylistic goals. In addition, the sense of community within the Paso Robles wine industry makes everyone feel at home.
What makes your owner/winemaker partnership work so well?
Mindy: Jeremy and I both have a passion for Spanish grape varieties, we communicate well, and have similar palates which are important when we’re tasting through the wines still in the barrel or creating our blends.
Jeremy: Mindy and I share a lot of the same favorite wine regions throughout the world which translated into our mission when we started Croma Vera in 2015.
What’s one of your fave local hot spots/where do you go to unwind/have fun?
Mindy: Region wine bar in downtown SLO when I want to taste a million wines (actually 50 but that’s still a lot!), Goshi in Paso or SLO for top-notch sushi, Piadina because their fries are ridiculously good!
What's New - Switcheroo
We often get the question, “What sets Paso Robles wine country apart from other wine regions?” And the answer is simple, camaraderie. The spirit of trust and goodwill among the people who work and live in the Paso wine region. For those who have visited, you’ve seen and felt it. It’s something that cannot be faked, true authentic care and concern for one another. Tasting room servers offer up recommendations of their favorite places to visit and will call in favors to book a guest’s last-minute diner reservations, where winemakers drop what they are doing to go help a neighbor fix a wine press or move barrels. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” is a common phrase in Paso Robles.
As brands grow and change so do their needs for cellar, tasting room, and processing space. And some brands are able to take the leap from sourcing fruit to purchasing land and vineyards of their own, a dream of all winemakers. As this change happens winemakers lean on each other to find their next new location, project expansion, or land of their own. Over the last several months we’ve had some very cool changes here in wine country that we think you should know about. Check out the gallery below to see these switcheroos!
Lone Madrone moved from their Adelaida Road location after a decade, purchasing their own property complete with tasting room, commercial kitchen, guest house, garden, and vineyard! They moved to an iconic space on Highway 46 West and Vineyard Drive. Many of you will remember that as the past location for Four Vines, Anarchy, Farmstand 46, and others. Open daily with Kitchen 46 serving fresh wine country cuisine Friday – Sunday.
Nenow Family Wines now occupies the modern barn that once was Lone Madrone. This boutique brand is fairly new to the Paso wine scene and has been getting a lot of buzz. The young family is committed to sourcing from vineyards that are dedicated to farming grapes with quality and care, rather than quantity. The stylish space offers indoor and outdoor experiences. Personalized tasting appointments are available daily.
Bodega de Edgar | Straight Out Of Paso made big moves this year buying property and expanding their brands. BdE, who specializes in Spanish varietals, purchased property on Peachy Canyon Road that Newow was occupying and was once home to pioneer brand Nadeau. This big leap allows BdE to farm their own grapes, which surround the quaint tasting room, and expand the SOP Wine brand to the urban space on Combine Street. Both brands are appointment-only and offer unique wine-tasting experiences. Also, be sure to check out their new Wine Country Airstream rental!
Downtown favorite, Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, moved and fully renovated a very cool property just on the outskirts of town on Peach Canyon Road, once home to Stacked Stone Winery. Open daily, the open-air tasting space has a modern farmhouse feel with great indoor and outdoor tasting spaces. Asuncion Ridge not only crafts award-winning wines, they also have three unique vacation rentals: The Sommelier House, The Winery House, and Farmhouse.
Recipe of the Month - Jeffry’s Award-Winning Paso Paella
By Chef Jeffry Weisinger, Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ
Varietal Highlight - Tempranillo
By Wine Folly
Tempranillo is an easy-to-find and extremely diverse food-pairing wine that also happens to have a flavorful profile. This is Spain’s number one red grape but grows incredibly well in Paso Robles. Tempranillo in Paso offers fruit flavors like cherry, plum, and tomato sauce, followed by hefty yet smooth tannins and mild earthy notes. It can be characterized as both medium to full-bodied. This very approachable wine pairs great with all types of cuisine because of its savory qualities. Bolder Temps go well with rack of lamb, burgers, and steak while fresher styles are a perfect pair for tomoto-based dishes or baked pasta. Read more about this versatile varietal on Wine Folly and see what Paso producers are making some fantastic Tempranillo!
In The Vineyard With ONX
By Jeff Strekas, Director of Operations, ONX Wines
While Paso Robles may often focus on Syrah or Cabernet, if you were to poll our staff at ONX on their favorite wine we make, you’d most likely get an answer of Praetorian (our Tempranillo-based blend). It might just be that they’re forward-thinking and love the idea of a grape with a successful track record of growing in hotter climates like Portugal and Spain. But I also like to think it’s because we have a couple of pretty special plots of Tempranillo that thrive at ONX Estate Vineyard.
So that makes this Friday’s pick an especially important one for us, as we pick our oldest and most established 2-acre block of Tempranillo, which always forms the basis for Praetorian. As a plant, Tempranillo is generous with crop. However, in ripening, it is always an intricate dance to balance getting the desired phenolic ripening before the acids in the grapes crash out and are catabolized. Therefore, we always make a point to drop crop all the way down to a single cluster per shoot early in the season. That way, we can still get reasonable sugar levels along with mature, refined tannins while still picking the grapes with some refreshing, natural acidity.
So don’t forget to raise a glass to our favorite underappreciated grape every November on International Tempranillo Day (November 10th this year!). And don’t forget to try Tempranillos from around the world along with your favorite Paso Robles version! Along with the better-known ones from the Rioja, some of my favorites come from Toro (Spain), Ribera del Duero (Spain), and Douro Valley (Portugal) where the grape is called Tinto Roriz!
Where Wine Takes You - Harvest is Sexy
By Adam Montiel, Host of Where Wine Takes You
Ep 58: Harvest is Sexy – Cass Winery | Opolo Vineyards
Harvest is in full swing and we have two brands on Where Wine Takes You who deliver big in sharing their excitement about harvest with their fans. While Cass Winery and Opolo Vineyards have different levels of production and are on different sides of town, these two brands and podcast guests are infectious, and their enthusiasm plays big roles for their wineries.
The show was taped in the Cass barrel room. We were welcomed by co-owner Ted Plemons – Oww! (IYKYK), as well as Chanda Brown who is apparently tasked with keeping all these crazies in line.
From Opolo we have Jeff Faber. Jeff also is a ball of personality, and his voice makes me super jealous. He did radio in Chicago years ago. I’ve known both of these guys for years so this show will be a blast.
Also stoked to have Jennifer Bravo, an associate producer on the pod from Paso Wine join us and fill us in on everything Harvest Wine Month related.
Ep 57: Rock Guitars & Wedding Bells – Kramer Estate Wines | Terra Mia Vineyard
With Paso’s bursting popularity, folks are coming to Paso for more than just wine tasting. People are getting tickets for performances, they are booking weddings, and more.
On this episode, we will talk to two brands that have their own unique form of hospitality and entertainment, and not only does it fit in with Paso so well, but Paso is far better, having their unique life stories having brought them here.
Rich Secchiaroli and his wife Tracy own Terra Mia Vineyards, a breathtaking venue for weddings, and anything else you can dream up. We will also learn about their new venue, Bella Terra, which just opened.
Gary and Laura Kramer own Kramer Estate Wines, originally known as Gary Kramer Guitar Cellars, which is so unique and unlike anything you have seen in Paso. Laura makes the wines, and we learn Gary’s history that has enveloped the theme of the winery, Rock n Roll, and more specifically, electric guitars. Gary Kramer is the Kramer behind Kramer Guitars which in its time was the #1 guitar in the country, selling more than even Gibson, and Fender. Everyone from Mick Jagger to Jerry Garcia were using the guitars and Eddie Van Halen even told Gary in 1981, these would become the #1 guitar around, and indeed it did.
Upcoming Events - Harvest Wine Month is Here!
Crushing it in Paso! The entire month of October is Harvest Wine Month. Wineries host individual events throughout the month. Look for specialty tours, winemaker dinners, grape stomps, music events, and more. October traditionally has exceptional weather, when days are warm and nights are cool, a staple for Paso Robles Wine Country and a perfect time to take in the incredible colors, sights, and aromas of harvest.
A year’s hard work is rewarded with another great harvest. Harvest Wine Month (HWM) is a themed month that does not feature a single marquee event, but rather individual experiences at the area wineries. Take a look at the 100+ events happening during HWM. So what are you waiting for, start planning your trip!
What's Trending - Best Brunch in Paso
Wine tasting can require a lot of energy, especially when the weather is warm. That’s why it’s important to eat a good meal before you head off to the wineries and vineyards to start your Paso Robles Wine Country experience. Not to mention, not all the wineries and tasting rooms offer food.
While you can bring outside food and snacks to most of the tasting rooms, wine tasting on an empty stomach is not recommended. Typically tastings at three different wineries is a good amount, but depending on how long that takes you, you might be well into the late afternoon before you’re able to eat again.
Thankfully Paso is full of incredible brunch restaurants that can help you fill your belly with food before you head out for a great day of sun, wine, and conversation. It’s too hard to choose our favorites, but here are some of the best brunch restaurants in Paso Robles.