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Taste of Wine: Touring & tasting Paso Robles — Part 1

For just the second time in the history of this 15-year column, a wine country will be featured in three parts. Only Napa Valley has had this distinction before.

Paso Robles has come of age. It has captured the hearts and palates of many more wine lovers than even a few years ago. For a number of years, it was mainly French Rhone Valley-style wines that caught the attention of visitors and buyers.

A number of French winemakers including Daniel and Georges Daou made the pilgrimage from the south of France proclaiming they could have settled anywhere in California, but found that Paso Robles offered the right weather and the right soil, predominately Calcareous Shale, for great, bright acidity. It’s a vast area, some 613,000 acres, nearly three times the size of Napa Valley. The area has gone through some morphing, from a Zinfandel and Syrah preferred appellation, to a budding now stronger Cabernet Sauvignon region. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture count, Cab has increased some 60% in production since 2009. Another eye-popping stat is the increase in wineries. Thirty years ago, just 20 … now more than 200!

It recently passed Sonoma in Cab acreage, although the Napa Valley is still the king to date.

No doubt, some very talented people have made their roots in Paso over the years, and we wanted to meet or renew our friendship with them.

Over a five-day period, we spent precious time with nine dynamic vineyards and wineries, eager for us to learn the “secret sauce” of Paso Robles. We would recommend them all on your next journey to Paso. From day one to five we tasted lovely wines from: Turley Wine Cellars, Hidden Oak Winery, Cass Vineyards and Winery, DAOU Vineyards and Winery, Justin Vineyards and Winery, Opolo Vineyards, NINER Wine Estates, Riboli Family Wines and a unique vineyard, winery and resort, Allegretto Vineyard Resort By Ayres.

 

Allegretto — where you want to stay when you Visit Paso Robles

 

Strategically located at California’s scenic Highway 101 and Paso’s main Highway 46 to most of the wineries, Allegretto Vineyard Resort opened in 2015 with 171 rooms, a restaurant and Allegretto wine tasting room, open to the public. It has an old California mission look surrounded by 20 acres of wine grapes on a commercial vineyard.

Art and antiques take their rightful place livening the walls and other indoor and outdoor focal points of the resort. There’s a saline pool, private cabanas and a pool side bar, as well as a bocce ball court and spa.

The friendly personal service of Allegretto was underlined when owner Douglas Ayres requested that he tour the property with our group. Some 15 years ago, he happened upon the bucolic location and promising wine region. Trips to other world-class wine countries only made stronger his resolve to build his dream resort, vineyard, winery and personal residence on his pastoral property in Paso.

Ayres walked us through many pockets of the resort that displayed beautiful antiques and artwork, acquired by travels around the world, and some produced by his favored artists in California like scenic impressionist Erin Hansen, one of my favorites from here in San Diego. Allegretto’s wine lineup includes estate whites like Brut Sparkling, Viognier and Rose’ Tannat. Reds include the Double Gold awarded Tannat, with other versions of this fascinating varietal also winning kudos. Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are well represented from the Ayres private resident vineyard, as well as the just released 2015 Malbec adjacent to the resort. A library 2010 Cab caused a lot of excitement with its nose of black tea, tobacco and spice. Visit allegrettoresort.com.

Next week, don’t miss Touring & tasting Paso Robles – Part 2.

Wine Bytes

  • Orfila Winery is planning a wine dinner at its urban winery in downtown Oceanside, just a few blocks from the pier at 6 p.m. July 23 at 6pm. Cost is $120 per person. Highlights of the five-course dinner include Seared Scallops and Trumpet Mushrooms paired with a premium Pinot Noir. Details at shop.orfila.com/events.
  • Cakebread Cellars gets the spotlight at a wine dinner at Parc Bistro-Brasserie in Banker’s Hill San Diego at 6:30 p.m. July 24 at 6:30pm. Five courses and wine glasses for $99.  Call (619) 795-1501 before it sells out.
  • Gianni Buonomo Winery in the Newport Beach district of San Diego celebrates its Cena in Cantina, launching the 2015 Rhone-styled blend, Avennio, at 6:30 p.m. July 25. This is a full-service sit down dinner saluting this Syrah-Mourvedre blend for $74 per person. Call (619) 991-9911.
  • North County Wine Company in San Marcos celebrates its famous Anniversary Party from 4 to 9 p.m. July 26, and all day July 27. Incredible Champagne and wine specials in the bar plus raffle prizes, food and sabering! Get the details at (760) 653-9032.

Photo Caption: Allegretto produces whites and reds of high quality on the estate. Wines are available online or through the Club Allegretto and at the resort’s restaurant, Cello. Photo by Frank Mangio

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