19th Annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival: cheers!

by Stevie on March 30, 2011

Print Friendly

Some of the weirdcombos headed down south to the 19th Annual Paso Robles Zin-Fest last week for a fun-filled time. Unfortunately the weather was a horror-show: rain and cold the entire weekend. But Mother Nature’s mischievous ways didn’t hold us back (for too long).

inside the 19th Annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival

inside the 19th Annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival

Paso Robles is near the California Central Coast across the mountains from the charming town of Cambria and fairly near Hearst Castle. It also lies somewhat close to about a half-dozen California State Prisons and “Men’s Colonies.” If that puts you off, than you’d be making a mistake. Wines from Paso are excellent and getting better.

Wine Spectator ran some gorgeous articles in their 31 March 2011 issue. The cover has a beaming Justin Smith from the now-legendary Saxum with a long feature article inside (I’m convinced that Smith made the photographer swoon. Did you see the last pic of Smith playing guitar sitting on a large barrel? Behind him is another barrel on its side in such a way that the rim makes a kind of halo around Smith. So, is it Saint Justin now, or since this is California, San Justino?)

That same issue has an amazing review of seven other high-quality producers from the region. We hit a few of these places on our delightful weekend away from kitchen-reno-madness.

Paso is known for Rhône-style wines, which is why the weirdcombos crew love them. That makes you wonder about the whole zinfandel-festival-idea, doesn’t it? Is it because it is (or maybe almost is) California’s official state grape? Former Goubernator Schwarzenegger was probably right to veto the bill that would have named zinfandel king of the hill. How would the other grapes feel? Seriously, though, zin likely took off here because it has the potential to be excellent. That’s what we found at the Festival.

2007 Eberle Rare and Reserve Paderweski Clone Zinfandel

2007 Eberle Rare and Reserve Paderweski Clone Zinfandel

Boy Scout coatcheck  these boys are learning about wine early on in Paso Robles!

Boy Scout coatcheck: these boys are learning about wine early on in Paso Robles!

Aside from wine, there were a lot of food spots from various restaurants in the area. We met and briefly spoke to the lovely Shanny Covey, owner of the incredible Robin’s Restaurant in Cambria.

We were lucky to see author Rex Pickett, who was signing his sequel to the famous book-come-movie Sideways: A Novel. The new book, Vertical, has the dynamic duo, Miles and Jack on a wine-tasting road-trip that takes them to Paso Robles among other hotspots. I asked Rex about the economics of Sideways. Apparently he made more money on book sales than from the movie. That’s sad, since the movie was such a hit. Nevertheless, he hinted that Vertical might go into movie production sometime in the near future. That’s something to look forward to.

chatting with Rex Pickett

chatting with Rex Pickett

Cayucos Cellars guys

Cayucos Cellars guys


the Hansen winery people make good wine and they're super fun

the Hansen winery people make good wine and they're super fun

For me, it is impossible to take detailed notes about wines at a festival. There are simply too many. So like I did with the South African tasting fair that we attended last year, I’m going to list wines that we really liked, wines that we would try again, and wines that we thought were iffy. Afterward, I’ll list some wineries worth a possible visit from among the ones that we were able to taste.

Calcareous Twisted Sisters

Calcareous Twisted Sisters

We really liked these:

2008 Adelaida Michael’s Vineyard Zinfandel
2008 Calcareous Zinfandel
2005 Eberle Winery “black label” Zinfandel
2007 Eberle Winery Rare and Reserve Paderweski Clone Zinfandel
2008 Kenneth Volk Lime Kiln Zinfandel Enz Vineyard
2007 Midnight Cellars Estate Zinfandel
2005 Midnight Cellars Gemini Reserve Red (50/50 zin and syrah)
2009 RiverStar Vineyards Affinity (cab/merlot/zin)
2007 RiverStar Allure (syrah/petite sirah/zin)
2009 Turley Wine Cellars “Dusi Vineyard” Zinfandel
2008 Wild Horse Unbridled Zinfandel

We enjoyed these and would re-taste:

2003 Adelaida Library Release Zinfandel
2006 Arroyo Robles Zinfandel
2008 Calcareous Twisted Sisters Zinfandel
2006 Cayucos Cellars Zinfandel
2004 Cayucos Cellars Zinfandel
2008 Hansen Vineyards Zinfandel
2009 J Dusi Dante Dusi Zinfandel
2007 J Dusi Fiorento Zinfandel blend
2009 Opolo Vineyards Mountain Zinfandel

A little iffy:

2007 Arroyo Robles Zinfandel Reserve
2010 Lone Madrone Zinfandel
2009 Minassian-Young Vineyards Estate Zinfandel
2008 Prolux Dimples
2008 Prolux Zinfandel, Willow Creek Farm
2007 Thacher Winery Triumvirate Reserve Zinfandel

Turley zinfandel was worth looking for

Turley zinfandel was worth looking for

we're real fans of Adelaida

we're real fans of Adelaida

Obviously, we liked or really liked most of what we tried. Aside from making trips to the wineries in the first group, I think that it would be worth checking out Cayucos and Hansen because the folks that we talked to were super charming and funny. J Dusi might also be worth a visit. Their wines were good, but Turley’s from the same vineyard was really something. Plus the name, “Dusi,” is a doozy!



Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

hamptontoes March 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

Oh, how I’d love to go to a wine festival! This one looks like a winner! Now I must say, that is some troop leader teaching the Boy Scouts about wine?!
hamptontoes recently posted..My daughters 5th birthdayMy Profile

ritatower April 1, 2011 at 1:13 am

It is so cool you chatted with the writer of Sideways Rex Picket…there you were up close and personal with him. Sideways was a really fun movie. I will look around for Vertical…sounds even cooler.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: