Paso Wine’s Adventure Seekers
June 21, 2017
Today marks the start of Summer 2017. Whether in Paso Robles Wine Country or around the world, the start of summer means longer days and more time for adventure seeking!
Damian Grindley, Brecon Estate, Martina Kingman, Calcareous Vineyard, and Pedro Vargas, Vino Vargas share their personal adventures and travels and give recommendations on how to adventure through Paso Robles Wine Country.
Damian Grindley, Brecon Estate
winemaker/OWNER AND caver
What adventures or activities do you participate in that make you an adventure seeker? Suspect I was always an adventure seeker -whether it was skiing down a mountain on a grand piano, diving on a new wreck or exploring a new cave. One cave we found (under a pub) was big and ended up being 41 miles long. The exploration took many years and is still ongoing. Consequently, time for the other adventure sports went out the window and I spent all my time and dollars traveling the world exploring caves. It really is the poor man’s way of putting your footprint where nobody else has gone before.
What is your favorite adventure trip or memory to share? Probably my first underground camp. Ten miserable days underground. It was forty-five degrees, damp. I was tired, covered in mud yet happily finding monster caves. Mad, I know, but went back many more times. The lack of cell phones and computers is bliss.
Have you always been an adventure seeker or was there something or someone that got you into it? I remember someone saying it was definitely something your mother would never approve of! That, of course, had a certain appeal in my rebellious late teens. So I went caving and liked it and never looked back. If you are scared of the dark, heights, drowning, hate dirt or are just plain claustrophobic – just forget it. The mud also keeps away folks trying to make a fashion statement.
What wine pairs best with your adventures? Many caves in the USA involve a long hike into the wilderness. So if you are going to carry a bottle that far (even if you decant it into a lighter container) you want to make sure it’s a great wine and has the desired effect. Consequently, big heavier reds like an Adelaida District Syrah, Petite Syrah or Tannat tend to hit the spot. In the winter perhaps something a little more Port-like.
How do you manage to escape wine duties to go on your adventures? Some people have a prenup. Strangely mine involved an agreement to take ten weekends a year to go caving including one expedition a year. For many years this was achievable, particularly when working for a larger winery when you get weekends off. However, since founding Brecon Estate, the number of weekends spent underground has slowly dwindled. So far we are up to one weekend in 2017. However, I do have an expedition planned to Thailand in the spring.
What wine adventure do you recommend for visitors to Paso Robles? Seek out the wineries you have never heard of before or can’t find in your local store. Many of the best wineries in Paso Robles are not found outside the county so use your time here wisely to track them down. They may not have the grandest tasting rooms but often have the more interesting offerings.
Martina Kingman, Calcareous Vineyards
Finance & Operations Manager and World Traveler
What adventures or activities do you participate in that make you an adventure seeker? I love visiting and learning about new countries and cultures by going on the path less traveled and being outdoors. As an avid runner, cyclist and hiker, I try to incorporate at least one of these activities during my trips, and am often surprised by the adventure it becomes and the wonderful people I meet along the way.
What is your favorite adventure trip or memory to share? A few years ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Tanzania with a high school friend and we hiked up to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet) – the tallest peak on the African continent. Our journey began at the gates of the Machame route through lush banana and coffee plantations through green fauna and waterfalls. Throughout the six day trip to the summit, we would hike through dense rain forests, heath and moorland, to the high desert and finally through scree towards the peak. Our highest camp was located at 15,600 feet. On summit day, we left at midnight under a full moon to begin our ascent of nearly 4,000 feet. The 6 hour journey wasn’t as physically challenging as it was mentally challenging, as we both began to experience the effects of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Moving one foot in front of the other became very difficult, and breathing became labored. But the reward of watching the sun rise over the sea of clouds below us as we stood on the roof of Africa was so very worth it.
Have you always been an adventure seeker or was there something or someone that got you into it? I think I was born with the wanderlust gene. My father traveled extensively to far off places and would delight me as a child with all his stories and pictures. I remember when he would spread out his big folding maps on the living room floor and we would trace the route he had just completed or the new places he sought. He was known in the neighborhood as the real “Indiana Jones”.
How do you manage to escape wine duties to go on your adventures? Ah, this is the trick which can be challenging. I have to plan my trips to make sure the dates fall in between payroll, inventory, wine club shipments, and bottling. Lucky for me, however, I work with a wonderful team here at Calcareous and they really take care of things when I’m gone.
What’ your next adventure? I hope to travel to the Northern African country of Morocco. I’ve always wanted to ride a camel in the desert and drink tea (or, better yet, wine) in a remotely located tent set against a view of the Atlas Mountains.
What wine adventure do you recommend for visitors to Paso Robles? Bring your bike! There are wonderful routes throughout the Paso Robles Wine Country that really showcase the beauty of this region. It is also a great way to discover new wineries. Take a nice ride early in the morning for interesting discoveries, then follow-up with your car or driver in the afternoon for a wine tasting adventure.
Pedro Vargas, Vino Vargas
Winemaker/Owner and Diver
What adventures or activities do you participate in that make you an adventure seeker? I am a PADI scuba dive instructor and have been diving California and many parts of the world since 1980. I am certified deep diver and mixed gas diver.
What is your favorite adventure trip or memory to share? My wife Vicky and I spent a couple of weeks traveling Australia. We visited the east coast, dove the barrier reef, saw Uluru (Ayers Rock) and spent time in wine country.
Have you always been an adventure seeker or was there something or someone that got you into it? Since young, I have enjoyed learning and experiencing by being adventuresome.
How do you manage to escape wine duties to go on your adventures? We make time for it especially before harvest. Otherwise, there is always more work to do.
What’s the most adventurous wine you’ve made (or tasted)? A methode champenoise blanc-de-blanc sparkling. This really challenged my adventuresome side from a wine perspective.
What wine adventure do you recommend for visitors to Paso Robles? Go ziplining at Ancient Peaks in Santa Margarita, then check out the skyline from Calcareous. Finally, come and enjoy our small winery.