Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Here's to That Sparkle in Your Eye!

Sparkling Wines and Heartfelt Toasts: The Paso Robles Wine Club
As we come to the end of another year in Paso Robles Wine Country, we take a moment to reflect on a year of good times and fun wine tastings, and raise our glass to a year well spent. With a New Year fresh on the horizon, there’s no better way to move forward than to grab a bottle of bubble and make a toast to 2016. If you find yourself trying to decide on which sparkling wine to pour to for your festivities, read on for a definitive explanation of bubbles.

Bubbles are all categorized as sparkling wines, but not all bubbles are called Champagne. Here’s a quick primer and a few recommendations so you can find the perfect pour to toast in the New Year:

Champagne: Many people use this term interchangeably for any sparkling wine, but Champagne is a region in France. Champagnes can run the gamut in taste from sweet to very dry and in price from affordable to break the bank.

Proseco: This Italian sparkler usually has a fruit forward style and is dry to very dry.

Cava: In Spanish, cava means cave or cellar, a nod to how this Spanish sparkling got its name. Like Champagne, Cava can go from bone dry to sweet.

No celebration is complete without that telltale pop of the cork and spray of foam that only comes from a bottle of bubbles. There are a handful of wineries on the Central Coast that produce sparkling wines, including Laetitia Vineyards and Cellars, Cass Winery, Chronic Cellars and Domaine Le Mieux. Pick one up today for your New Year’s Eve celebration, or take a wine tasting tour with The Wine Wrangler and taste them in person.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Toasting the Holiday Feast

A Very Merry Pairing with The Paso Robles Wine Club
Many Paso Robles Wine Club members set aside their wine shipments to enjoy during the holidays when they can share them with their family and friends, while others like to spend a day wine tasting in Paso Robles Wine Country and selecting a few new favorites for the holiday table. Whether you’re in the first group, or the second, no doubt you’re looking for the perfect wine suggestions so you can pair the right wine with your holiday meal.

Here are a few suggestions for the traditional meals that might be gracing your table this season:

The Holiday Ham: Whether glazed or topped with pineapple slices and brown sugar, choose a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir—or go white with a Roussane or Marsanne blend.

Prime Rib: Ultra succulent and savory, a fatty beef roast with rosemary and herbs needs a wine that can stand up to its flavors. Choose a Cabernet or Bordeaux blend.

Roast Goose: The rich, dark meat of roasted goose needs a wine that can complement its flavors without getting lost in the mix. Choose a Syrah for this feast.

Pork Crown Roast: Tucked beneath a glaze of apricots and served with cornbread dressing, a Grenache blend is the perfect choice.

Roast Duck: Fatty, wild and complex—for some, duck is an acquired taste, but when paired with a Rhone blend, you’ll have everyone asking for seconds.

Finding the perfect wine for your holiday feast takes only a little planning. Use the guide above, or choose one of the recent selections from the Paso Robles Wine Club. Finally, remember that choosing the perfect wine for your holiday celebration is more than just choosing the right wine to pair with the main course. Remember to select a local Sauvignon or Chardonnay to pair with your cheese course.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Found: The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

Add a Little Cheer with a Membership to The Paso Robles Wine Club

As the holiday season gains momentum, it gets increasingly more difficult to find the time to get out and shop for the perfect holiday gift for the wine lover in your life. The Paso Robles Wine Region is home to over 200 wineries, each with its own unique wine crafted by an expert wine maker. Even if you wanted to select the perfect selection of wines from the Paso Robles AVA, you would have to commit to spending days driving from one winery to the next, wine tasting, and picking the ones that you felt would not only reflect the area, but please the palate.

With a membership in the Paso Robles Wine Club, you can give that special person a taste of Paso Robles Wine Country. Wines are selected from a range of boutique and larger wineries and each wine shipment is hand-selected to include premium Paso Robles wines.

Choose one of these shipments for the perfect gift:

Rustler: Looking for the perfect way to taste the best the Paso Robles AVA has to offer—but in a smaller package? The Rustler fits the bill. You’ll receive 3 bottles of premium wine three times a year—and the price will never exceed $120 per shipment.
Wrangler: Thrill your palate with a varied selection of premium wines from the Paso Robles AVA. This package includes 6 bottles of premium wines shipped three times a year at or less than $240 a shipment.
High Plains Drifter: COMING SOON! This will be a completely custom select shipment.

By giving that special person in your life a membership in the Paso Robles Wine Club, you’re not only giving them a shipment of wine, but an opportunity to taste a variety of premium wines from the Paso Robles AVA, named by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 2013 Wine Region of the year. This year, give the wine lovers in your life a gift of good taste.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Best Wine Books to Read on a Winter's Night

Cozy Up: The Best Wine Books from The Paso Robles Wine Club
Wine tasting is an intellectual activity. When drinking wine, the palate and the nose—along with the other senses—are working in conjunction with the brain. At The Paso Robles Wine Club, we understand that our Wine Club Members enjoy more than just drinking wine from the Paso Robles AVA—they like learning about it as well. We’ve gone through our bookshelves and hand-picked a few of our favorite books about the area to share with you.

So, pour yourself a glass, get comfortable in your favorite chair, and settle in to read one of these books:

Paso Robles, California, 1930-1950: When Highway 101 Ran Through My Hometown: Author Clifford Tucker writes a first-person account of the people and places that made Paso Robles a perfect stopping spot for people traveling between San Francisco and Los Angles.

Paso Robles (Images of America): An abundance of hot mineral springs brought those from far and near to Paso Robles and that first wave of tourism ushered in an industry of hotels and bathhouses. Authors Andrea H. Hobbs and Milene F. Radford recount the historic details of the early days of life in Paso Robles.

The New Wine Country Cookbook: Recipes from California’s Central Coast: Brigit BInns captures the spirit of the Central Coast with recipes that incorporate local ingredients, including real winners like Feta stuffed chicken thighs with white wine and olives and Radicchio and Monterey Jack Quesadillas with fig salsa. There’s also a section on pairing food with local wines.

My Nepenthe: If you’ve been on The Wine Wrangler’s Big Sur Trip, then you know all about Nepenthe—the historic restaurant and bar perched along the Big Sur coastline—but this book provides a behind the scenes look into the days when Big Sur was an outpost for the likes of Jack Kerouac and other beats. Not to mention, the recipes and photographs are spectacular.

Before you settle into your favorite comfortable chair with a good read, don’t forget that a membership in The Paso Robles Wine Club will give you the opportunity to add to your Paso Robles wine library without ever leaving home—of course, if you do decide to venture out, give us a call and we’ll take you wine tasting—and point out our local history on the drive.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wine: The Perfect Gift to Give--and Receive

The Perfect Holiday Gifts with The Paso Robles Wine Club

Once the holidays arrive, it seems time speeds up. There’s no better example of the quickening pace and hectic rush to get things accomplished than the arrival of ‘Black Friday,’ that all American event when shoppers everywhere hit the stores to find the perfect holiday gift. But, shopping for the wine lover—and picking up the perfect gift—shouldn't be taxing. 

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the wine lovers in your life, why not pick up one—or more of the following:

Give the Gift of Wine: Need the ultimate gift for the wine lover in your life? Give the gift of wine by choosing a membership in the Paso Robles Wine Club. You choose the shipment that fits your budget and the occasion and you can select red or white wine, or a mix. Choose from these packages:
Rustler: Looking for the perfect way to taste the best the Paso Robles AVA has to offer—but in a smaller package? The Rustler fits the bill. You’ll receive 3 bottles of premium wine three times a year—and the price will never exceed $120 per shipment.
Wrangler: Thrill your palate with a varied selection of premium wines from the Paso Robles AVA. This package includes 6 bottles of premium wines shipped three times a year at or less than $240 a shipment.
High Plains Drifter: COMING SOON! This will be a completely custom select shipment.

Give a Wine Tasting Tour: The Wine Wrangler offers an array of wine tasting tours to fit even the most discerning. Here are a few of the most popular:

½ Day Wine Tasting Adventure Tour: On this tour, you’ll visit 3-4 wineries with one of our personable and knowledgeable guides. Many wineries will waive the tasting fees with the purchase of wine. This tour is available Sunday through Friday.

Level 2 Wine Wrangler Adventure Tour: This tour is not only our most popular, but our most social, as well. You’ll tour with other guests and enjoy tasting at 4-6 wineries while learning a little more about our area. The tour usually lasts about 5 hours and includes a picnic lunch.

Give them the Adventure of a Lifetime: For the person who really does have it all—or would like to—there’s nothing better than the perfect getaway adventure to the incredible timeless beauty of Big Sur. How wonderful would this be?

Big Sur Tour: Anyone who has traveled along California’s coast knows how breathtakingly beautiful it is, but the Big Sur coastline is 10 times more beautiful. This tour will have you cruising along the coast and enjoying the scenery as your guide points out landmarks and shares the history of the area. We offer both 1 and 2 day tours that include Hearst Castle, Monterrey, The Steinbeck Museum, and wine tasting in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

This year, don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Relax and enjoy the holidays by choosing the perfect gift for the wine lover on your list—shop the Paso Robles Wine Club or The Wine Wrangler for a gift they’ll appreciate all year long.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Talking Turkey: Choosing the Right Wine for Your Holiday Meal

Selecting the Right Wine for Your Holiday Feast with The Paso Robles Wine Club

November in Paso Robles Wine Country brings cooler temperatures and morning fog, which turns the rolling landscape into a picture perfect postcard made for the Thanksgiving holiday. The long weekend brings family and friends together to eat, drink and make merry, but with a holiday feast that includes both light and dark meat and as many savory sides as the heart desires, trying to find the perfect wine can leave any host perplexed, if not riddled with anxiety. If you’re a member of the Paso Robles Wine Club, you’ve probably already set aside a few bottles for your holiday dinner, but if not, read on for a few suggestions on what to serve at your Thanksgiving feast:

Go for the bubbles! A great way to kick off the day is to pour your guests a glass of sparkling wine, cava, or Champagne to get the festivities underway. Set out a triple cream cheese with water crackers alongside so that guests have something to munch on while waiting for dinner.

Let’s Talk Turkey:  With a mix of complicated herbs and light and dark meat, it’s hard to pinpoint what wine to serve with turkey. Here’s a few wines that will go well with the bird and the sides:
·         Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc are both refreshing and with notes of honey, pear and apple would work well with the turkey, or, even a crisp, light, fruity rose.

·         Riesling strikes a balance between sugar and acidity and it can hold its own against an array of spices, so it’s a good match for sweet potato casserole, gravy and even pumpkin pie.
Think Late Harvest: Some would argue that the best part of the Thanksgiving feast is the dessert table, but finding a wine to pair with the traditional fare of pumpkin, sweet potato and pecan pie can seem impossible until you discover the magic of a late harvest wine. With their high sugar content they’re a good match for sweet, spicy desserts.

A good Thanksgiving meal will give you leftovers for days and while it’s a good idea to get outside and get a little exercise to counter all of the rich food, the long holiday weekend is also the perfect time to gather with family and friends and embark on a Wine Wrangler wine tasting tour through the Paso Robles Wine Region—or beyond to Santa Ynez or Monterey.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Effects of the Drought on Harvest 2015

Enjoy the Stars of Harvest 2105 with a membership to The Paso Robles Wine Club
In Paso Robles Wine Country and all over California’s Central Coast, people are eagerly waiting for the winter rains to begin in earnest. Weather forecasters are predicting a very wet rainy season for California and just about everyone has their fingers crossed that El Niño will provide us with some much needed relief—and moisture—after 4 long years of drought.

Grapevines love a Spartan life and can easily thrive in difficult growing situations. After all, some of the world’s best wines come from regions where water is scarce and the roots of the vines need to go deeper into the soil in search of more water. But, after several years of minimal moisture, even robust vines can begin to weaken and become more prone to diseases, such as leaf roll and red blotch. Additionally, the soil can quickly become potassium deficient, throwing the vineyard team’s focus onto triage and strategic planning.

Drought affects wine in many ways, including:

Smaller GrapesWhen vines receive less water, the grapes are smaller in size. This process makes for deeper flavors in the fruit because the fructose is more concentrated. Consequently, more water would have the opposite effect, diluting the concentration of sugars. So, theoretically, when the vines are forced to survive on less water, the wine will have more intensity in flavor.

Stress on the VineThere are several factors that can put stress on the vines and drought is certainly at the top of the list. When water is scarce, the roots of the vines will go deeper into the soil seeking more water, a process that adds other flavors to the finished product.

In theory, the more wood that comes in contact with the soil, the more those flavors will impart themselves on the finished product. Similarly, the deeper the roots go into the soil, the more surface contact they will have with the microclimate and mixed nuances of the soil. This is where wines will typically pick up flavors of graphite, iron, and minerality.

Soil Matters: When it comes to wine, soil matters, not only in regard to the varietals, but also in the style of wines and the water needs of the vines. A major component of wine making is the wine maker’s understanding of the depth and size of the vine's root system and how much water the soil can hold. Typically, alluvial, or sandy soils, need more frequent irrigation than Calcareous clay soils (which has a higher moisture content and stays cooler).

So, what are the effects of the drought on Harvest 2015?

Smaller Yield: Winemakers throughout Paso Robles Wine Country have reported a substantially smaller yield in 2015 and for some vineyards, the yield is down by as much as 50%.

Differences in Fruit: With less moisture, overall cooler temperatures, and an unusual spate of summer rain, some winemakers have noticed differences in the coloring of the fruit and some have even described the variances of hues as ‘impressive’.

What these factors point to is more concentration in flavor and as long as sugar development has been adequately controlled, even with lower yields, we could enjoy some great wines from this harvest. Wines to anticipate--Mouvẻdre and Grenache—both predicted to be stars of the 2015 Harvest.

Over the coming months, members of The Paso Robles Wine Club will enjoy tasting through a number of wines with more concentrated flavors and with each bottle they will come to more fully understand how the flavor of wine is crafted not only by the artistry of the winemaker, but by Mother Nature herself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wine Winners

Win Big with a Paso Robles Wine Club Membership

It’s no secret that Paso Robles Wine Country wins big when it comes to wine. In fact, not too long ago, Paso Robles Wine Country was named Wine Enthusiast Magazine's 2013 Wine Region of the Year and many of our Paso Robles Wine Club members enjoyed tasting a number of unique, high quality wines from the area.

Not surprisingly, with each passing year Paso Robles and California’s Central Coast is becoming a top wine region, producing some of the top wines on the market. We’re always glad when wine aficionados and newbies take an interest in our part of the world and the really great wines in our area, so we look forward to the accolades and awards.

Just recently, Wine Enthusiast Magazine announced their 2015 Wine Star Awards—a really big deal with a focus that has no boundaries—literally—and includes reviewing wine stars, wineries, and wines from every country. After the winners are announced and they'll have ample time to bask in the glory of winning before being swept away to New York for a special dinner and award ceremony in January.

In the winner’s circle for 2015, in the category of American Winery, is our very own Justin Winery—a favorite stop on our Wine Wrangler Adventure Tour and home to some amazing wines that we can’t seem to enjoy enough. Kudos and congratulations to the team at Justin Winery and all they’ve done to put the Paso Robles Wine Region on the map.

Other categories in the 2015 Wine Star Awards include:

  • The Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Person of the Year
  • Winemaker
  • Sommelier/Wine Director
  • European Winery
  • New World Winery
  • Wine Region
  • Importer
  • Mixologist/Brand Ambassador
  • Innovator
  • Spirit Brand
  • Brewery
You can read all about it by visiting The Wine Enthusiast Magazine. And, if you'd like to enjoy a great glass of wine to sip on while you're reading up on the latest and greatest, we'd like to recommend joining our Paso Robles Wine Club, where you'll receive regular shipments of the best wines that California's Central Coast has to offer.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Red Wine Primer

Taste Unique Red Wines with a Paso Robles Wine Club Membership

When it comes to wine tasting, whether you’re tooling around the Paso Robles Wine Region on a wine tasting tour with The Wine Wrangler or curled up on your sofa with your latest wine shipment from the Paso Robles Wine Club, knowing about the different varietals will give you a better appreciation of wine.

Read on to learn more about the top 5 red varietals and their flavor profiles:

Mourvedre: This Native from Spain is a winner with most wine drinkers who fall in love with its earthiness and flavors of chocolate, coffee and mint.

Zinfandel: A staple in Paso Robles, this varietal thrives in a climate that has hot days and cool nights. Flavors range from intense blackberry and black pepper to anise.

Petite Sirah: This varietal also goes by the name durif and originates from France. When ripened, the small, intensely colored berries are herbaceous with flavors of blueberry and licorice. This varietal is particularly suited to a dry climate and hot weather, making it a favorite in the Paso Robles Wine Region.

Syrah: In 2004, this varietal was the 7th most grown grape in the world. This hardy varietal is prized for its flavors of chocolate and spice, anise, leather and jam.

Grenache: This varietal arrived in California in the 1860s and has been a favorite ever since. A vigorous grower, it’s particularly suited to a hot dry environment. Flavors include intense fruit, menthol and black pepper.

Expanding your knowledge about the different varietals and their flavor profiles can enhance the wine tasting experience. The next time you’re out tasting wine—whether on your own or with The Wine Wrangler, look for these varietals and the common flavors they add to wine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tastes Like Candy: Wine Tasting Notes

Taste for Yourself: Join The Paso Robles Wine Club
All over Paso Robles Wine Country, adults are hosting Halloween wine tasting parties where they pair Halloween candy with local Paso Robles wine. It may sound a bit unusual—maybe even slightly scary—but sweet treats can be a perfect match for wines and, of course, if you like the concept, there’s a path to explore in learning about the many fabulous dessert wines available.

Many people new to wine find themselves a bit puzzled when they hear wine descriptors that sound more like the wine taster is describing the candy shelf at the local market place. Wine is a many nuanced agricultural product and in the hands of a skilled winemaker, a sort of alchemy takes place, creating the perfect marriage of flavors.

Here are 5 common wine descriptors that describe the sweeter, candy-like tastes of wines:

Green Apple: Wines that have a fruity, green, sour, tart, or leafy profile can taste similar to green Jolly Ranchers and green apple bubble gum; think of how your mouth puckers when you bite into a green Granny Smith apple and you’ll understand what this flavor means to your palate.

Watermelon: If you hear a taster exclaim that the wine has a candy or confectionery taste, or words like melony or sugary-sweet, chances are you’ll notice underlying tastes that are very much like those you’d find in watermelon Jolly Ranchers, Airheads—even melon flavored gums, like Bubblicious.

Lemon: Fresh, juicy, and citric? Think Lemonheads, candied lemon peel, and sour lemon drops.

Chocolate: One of the most popular profiles is chocolate, which can range from the milky and fatty, almost buttery, to the dark and bitter, with notes of burnt coffee and even botanicals. In these wines you’ll find notes of semi-sweet chocolate chips, malted milk balls and chocolate covered marshmallows.

Maple: You probably shouldn’t drink wine for breakfast, but you might find a very similar profile to your favorite breakfast items. In wines with notes of maple, you’ll taste brown sugar, butter, bread, honey, and even anise or warm spices. Here you’ll notice how well the descriptors of pancake syrup, maple candies, and Bit O’ Honey work in describing the wines.

While it may be fun to raid the trick or treat bags and mindlessly chomp down on a handful of sweet confectioneries while relaxing with a glass of wine, you don’t need the candy to find the sweetness in your glass. Join The Paso Robles Wine Club and enjoy regular shipments of Paso Robles wines and you can thoughtfully taste through them and find the candy flavors on your own.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Palate: Why Wine Tastes So Good

Celebrate Your Palate: Join The Paso Robles Wine Club 

Paso Robles Wine Country is home to over 200 wineries and an untold number of artisan food producers who make everything from olive oil and salami to French bread and goat cheese. Visitors to Paso Robles enjoy both the scenic and gustatory pleasures while riding around the back roads, visiting wineries and tasting wine. Over the course of a few days or a long weekend, the average person can encounter all sorts of new tastes—some pleasing and some, not so much. So, why is it that what pleases one person’s palate is a total fail for another’s?

The mystery of the palate has long been pondered, but the science behind taste leaves little to the imagination. The palate is located on the roof of the mouth where it separates the oral cavity from the nasal cavity, but that separation doesn’t mean that smell doesn’t affect one’s sense of taste.

On the contrary, taste is a complicated matter that includes not only the tastes buds (those raised bumps on the tongue’s surface) but a processing of temperature, texture, and even psychology—or past experiences.

The average adult has 10,000 taste buds located in an intricate network of taste receptors. When food—or drink—comes into contact with these receptors, they process the information and send a message to the brain. The brain then sorts out the information and decides whether the taste is pleasant or unpleasant.

Pleasing tastes vary widely from one individual to another and a person’s taste buds can even be influence by genetics. As a person ages, they have fewer taste buds, which explains why tastes change as we age.

The best way to keep young is to tantalize your taste buds with all sorts of new tastes. A Wine Wrangler Adventure Tour can take you wine tasting throughout Paso Robles Wine Country where you can enjoy a day of introducing your taste buds to all sorts of new things to love. Better yet, join The Paso Robles Wine Club and you'll enjoy regular wine shipments delivered to your door--the perfect way to celebrate your palate and sample the best wines that Paso Robles has to offer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Ultimate Harvest Party with Your PRWC Shipment

Enjoying Wines from The Paso Robles Wine Club

In Paso Robles Wine Country, we look forward to Harvest all year long—and so do the many people who travel to our area just so they can go wine tasting at over 200 wineries along California’s Central Coast. One of the benefits of our temperate—and envious climate—is that there is a bounty of local foods that pair perfectly with wines from Paso Robles, so come Harvest, when we open a bottle of our favorite local wine, it seems to pair especially well with our local foods.

While pairing wine with food is a practiced skill, in general, it’s all about bringing out the nuanced flavors of a dish by pairing it with a complimentary wine. In honor of our recent Paso Robles Wine Club fall shipment, we’d like to share a few recipes for our favorite dishes that will pair well with the wines in the shipment. So grab your aprons—and your wine openers—and get set to enjoy a wine and food experience in the comfort of your own home.

Classic Spanish Paella

The Diablo Paso Winery Grancha—or, Grenache, originates from the vineyards in northern Spain and made its way to California in the 1860s. This is a rich, elegant wine with violet and orange coloring and cherry tones. What better dish to pair with this wine than the classic Spanish Paella?  This recipe from Martha Stewart is easy to prepare and incredibly delicious.

Perfectly Roasted Duck Breast

Next up, a favorite—Robert Hall Winery Grenache. This wine is rife with plum, strawberries and smoke and begs to slurped up with a succulent roasted duck. Try this recipe developed by Lisa Pretty.

Join the Paso Robles Wine Club and we’ll deliver the best wines of California’s Central Coast and Paso Robles Wine County direct to your door. You’ll enjoy a selection of premium wines delivered right to your door, which means you’ll never have to search far and wide to find the perfect bottle of wine to pair with your favorite seasonal meals.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ever Wonder About Wine Legs?

Enjoy Looking at Wine Legs with a Paso Robles Wine Club Membership

Whether you’re enjoying a wine tasting tour on California’s Central Coast or relaxing on your sofa on a Sunday afternoon, if you’ve ever wondered about wine legs—those beautiful streaks that form on the sides of your wine glass after you give it a swirl—you’re not alone. In fact, wine legs are often a conversational topic among both novice and well-schooled wine lovers and while some wine drinkers may wax poetic about their meaning, there’s more science than mystery when it comes to deciphering their meaning.

Not surprisingly, wine legs—or, as the French call them, wine tears, have a long history dating back several centuries and like any mysterious occurrence, it didn’t take long for the scientists to arrive on the scene in order to come up with a rational explanation.

Wine legs are the result of a complex process that occurs between alcohol content, evaporation, and the surface tension between the alcohol and the water content in a wine. This effect was first noted by James Thomson in 1855 and later, the phenomenon was furthered studied by both the Italian scientist, Carlos Marangoni and J. Willard Gibbs for whose research the effect was named—The Marangoni-Gibbs Effect. And, while the wine romantics among us may want to believe that the weight and thickness of the legs can tell us the quality of a wine, there’s no supporting evidence to substantiate that claim.

So if wine legs can’t tell us about the quality of wine, why bothering swirling? Swirling wine allows oxygen into the wine and helps to open the flavor profiles and nuances, which makes for a better wine tasting experience. And those legs?  Molecules, droplets, and gravity aside, wine legs are an important part of enjoying wine, too, if for no other reason than their beauty.

Savoring a glass of wine is an artful mix of the science of winemaking and an experience of the senses. So pour yourself a glass, give it a good swirl, and enjoy those legs.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wine Spotlight: Winemakers

Taste the Best Wines from Paso Robles with The Paso Robles Wine Club

Farmers. Chemists. Rock stars. Winemakers are a compilation of characteristics from many professions. On the one hand, winemaking is pure science, but on the other, the artistry of experimentation and expert blending is what makes for an amazing wine. Our members of the Paso Robles Wine Club experience signature wines from over 200 wineries and winemakers, from the big producers to the boutique winemakers. If you’ve ever wondered what winemakers do to get the grapes from the vine to the bottle, read on to learn more:

Hitting the Books: Becoming a winemaker involves more than just having a love of wine and an interest in how it’s made. Training includes studying both Enology (the science of wine and winemaking) and Viticulture (cultivation of grapes). A keen understanding of chemistry, microbiology, enzymes and yeasts is a winemaker’s foundation. Equally important is knowledge of grape maturation, harvesting, fermenting, bottling, blending and filtration. Finally, a good winemaker has a ‘nose’ for wine and a well-trained palate.

Working the Cycle: Winemakers are busy year round, but the two busiest times of the year for a winemaker are in the spring when the vineyard begins anew, and in the fall when it’s time to Harvest the grapes and make the wine. Winemakers are always watching over their barrels and tanks, but they’re also responsible for looking after the vineyards, surveying the growing of the grapes, managing growth, directing the pruning of the vines and even keeping pests away. 

During Harvest—which can extend for 12 weeks or even longer—winemakers work 16 to 18 hour days, 7 days a week to get the grapes from the vines and into tanks or barrels.

Orchestrating the Magic: Once the call goes out through the vineyard that it’s time to pick the grapes, the winemaker must manage multiple processes, people and personalities in a timely and organized process. Much like the maestro directing an orchestra, the winemaker needs to ensure that everyone is doing their job effectively, all while overseeing the heavy machinery need to process the grapes, both in the vineyard and inside the production facility.

Before the winemaker can even begin to play with the alchemy of the grapes, he/she must plan the logistics of where the incoming fruit will go, the placement and duties of the cellar crew and the processing schedule.

Artistry and Alchemy: In lore, alchemists had the power to transmute base metals into gold. Additionally, they were beholden with the powers to create an elixir of life that could give anyone who sipped it endless youth and beauty. In some respects, the winemaker’s craft is similar; taking the humble grape, an agricultural product, and transforming it into something of remarkable beauty and taste, requires both alchemy and artistry. Wine couldn’t be made without a deep understanding of chemistry, but good wine can’t exist without passion.

Many wine growing regions require winemakers to follow strict guidelines and produce wines that define a geographical location. Not so when it comes to winemakers in  Paso Robles Wine Countyr who have more freedom to approach the grapes with artistry, experimentation and talent to create an exceptional wine. Ready to try a few of these award winning local wines for yourself? Membership in The Paso Robles Wine Club will give you the opportunity to taste these wines for yourself. Or, book a tour with The Wine Wrangler and visit the amazing winemakers of the Paso Robles AVA.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Put a Cork in It--Or, Not!

Join The Paso Robles Wine Club and Enjoy the Best of Paso Robles Wine Country

Perceptive wine drinkers all along California’s Central Coast have noticed that their favorite wines often come with two distinctly different wine tops—the classic cork stopper and the fairly new arrival, the screw top. Members of The Paso Robles Wine Club often receive shipments of wine with both types of bottle toppers and quite often, the question arises if one is better than the other. So to better answer the question, today’s post will look at both and provide a little history along the way.

Interestingly enough, the screw top, as it’s commonly referred, was invented in the 1950s by the French. However, traditionalists by nature, the screw top never gained popularity among the French winemakers and instead, was commonly used in the United States as the bottle closure of choice on some of the lowest priced wines on the market—think Boones’ Farm and Mad Dog 20/20.

In 1970, a company called Australian Consolidated Industries acquired the manufacture rights, renaming the screw top closure, Stevlin. Of course, back then, the Australian winemaking industry was a sleeping giant and winemaking was the sort of agricultural hobby that happened in conjunction with farming, and then, among family and friends.

Then in 2005, a group of winemakers in Australia’s Clare Valley decided to put the screw top to the test and collectively bottled 250,000 bottles with the screw top. The following year, with great anticipation, they decided to check the wine to see how it was aging; they found the wine was aging so well that they couldn’t discern a difference between the screw top and the cork. Thus, the Australians led the way in bringing public acceptance to screw cap wines.

Well, that is, just about everywhere, but among luxury winemakers—and drinkers—who still have reservations about the screw top. The cork, of course, has deep roots in winemaking and for many people, the ritual of using a wine opener to pull a cork is part of savoring the experience.
The introduction of the cork came by way of the Benedictine monks, or more specifically, Dom Perignon, who was looking to replace the commonly used wooden stoppers with something that wouldn’t regularly pop out of the bottle. Cork was widely available and plentiful. Made from the bark of Cork Oaks, native to Mediterranean regions, corks quickly replaced the wooden stoppers and were embraced by wine makers.

While the debate still rages on whether screw tops or corks are better, aside from personal preference, here are some guidelines: white wines and those red wines that are meant to be drank very young, are perfectly suited to the screw top. However, for big wines that are better with a little age, the cork allows for a little oxygen, perfect for softening tannins.

To sample a variety of unique and boutique wines produced in Paso Robles Wine Country, join The Paso Robles Wine Club and you’ll receive regular shipments of wine—some with screw tops, and others with corks—and all, perfectly suited for enjoying with family and friends.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wine and Food Pairing: Hearst Ranch Winery

The Paso Robles Wine Club and Hearst Ranch Beef Burgers

Hearst Castle might be the biggest tourist attraction on California’s Central Coast and a tour of the castle is a not to be missed adventure. But, there’s another Hearst adventure well-worth enjoying and that’s a trip to Hearst Ranch Winery where you can taste the wines and where your palate will be entranced by the magical flavor profile of the wines--the result of sound agricultural practices and talented winemaking.

If you’re a member of The Paso Robles Wine Club, your latest wine shipment included two of our favorite Hearst Ranch Winery selections: Three Sisters Cuvee, a lovely white wine with notes of lemon and honeydew (perfect for sipping on a warm fall afternoon) and the Pergola 2013 Petite Sirah.

The Pergola 2013 Petite Sirah manages to both be decadent and versatile, which is no small feat! During the blending trials the descriptors of chocolate, sweet bacon fat, vanilla and spiced stone fruits were oft repeated. While being delicious is of great importance, it is also imperative that the depth and structure add intrigue to the wine. To rein in the bold tannins inherent to Petite Sirah, Hearst Ranch Wines employ a cooler fermentation than normal, which limits extraction. The resulting mid-palate is nothing short of velvety and allows the acidity to keep the wine composed.

This wine is delicious on its own, but it is pure magic when paired with fat and charcoal to tame the tannins and enhance the underlying notes of coffee, clove, and dried raspberry.

Open a bottle and let it breathe while you stoke the coals. Our favorite food pairing for this wine: Hearst Ranch Beef Burgers grilled over an open flame and topped with aged cheese and crisp bacon on buttery brioche buns.

Hearst Ranch Beef Burgers
1 ½ pounds of Hearst Ranch ground beef, divided into four 6oz patties
8 strips of good quality bacon, cooked until crisp
4 thick slices of aged cheddar (or Blue cheese, if you prefer)
4 brioche buns, split and lightly toasted
Condiments of your choice, including grilled onions and pan fried mushrooms

1.       Sear burgers over hot coals until charred on the outside, then finish over indirect heat until medium rare.
2.       Top with cheese and cook until cheese is softened and melted.
3.       Transfer to toasted buns and top with bacon and condiments.

4.       Enjoy with a glass—or two—of Hearst Ranch Winery Pergola 2013 Petite Sirah and say hello to delicious!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Whites

Enjoy Summer Whites with Membership in The Paso Robles Wine Club

Crisp white wines are the perfect antidote to the rising mercury. Their herbaceous and citrus characteristics are just the ticket to refresh the palate and they pair perfectly with the lighter flavors of summer foods. Wondering what to drink on those hot August nights? Prepare for the hottest days of summer by venturing out in search of white wines. The Wine Wrangler can arrange to take you on a Private Wine Tour through Paso Robles Wine Country, or if you, like, Monterrey to the north, or even Santa Ynez or Santa Barbara to the south. Or, if you'd rather stay home and lounge by the pool, join The Paso Robles Wine Club and receive regular shipments of the best white--and red--wines from the Paso Robles Wine Region.

The Central Coast of California is home to over 200 wineries and with several microclimates, there are so many varietals to try. Even if you’re a steadfast red wine drinker, we urge you to lighten up this season and give white wines a try—and if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try a rose or two, as well.

Here are of our favorite whites to try:

Chardonnay: Typically full-bodied and velvety, Chardonnays can have a buttery tone, and nuances of melon, coconut, and vanilla. Chardonnays pair well with fish or chicken.

Sauvignon Blanc: Unlike Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc tends to be herbaceous and grassy, often with undertones of green bell pepper, sour fruits, green apples, and even the tropical flavors of ripe melon or mango. Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with salads and chicken.

Moscato: The darling of both newbies and old timers, Moscato can have a heavily perfumed aroma, often with notes of honeysuckle, rose and orange blossoms, and peach undertones; it’s also sweet smelling and often musky. Surprisingly, Moscato can pair well with cheese.

In the same way that we lighten up our summer wardrobes to keep cool, hot summer weather calls for crisp summer whites that pair well with seasonal fare and are pleasing to the palate. If you’d like to venture out and find the perfect white wines for your palate, take a Private Wine Tasting Tour with The Wine Wrangler.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Art of Making a Memorable Toast

Cheers! Paso Robles Wine Club
As we near the end of summer along California’s Central Coast, many people think that wedding season is on the wane. However, with striking views and nearly 200 wineries, Paso Robles Wine Country is a popular venue for late summer and early fall weddings. As a member of the wedding party, or even a close family friend, you may be asked to make a toast to the couple. After taking a moment to put your nerves at rest, you might be left wondering how to make a memorable toast.
Here are 3 tips for making a memorable toast:

Keep it short: Before you start working on what you’re going to say, the first thing to remember is brevity. Keep your sentiments short. It’s easier for people to pay attention and your words will be more memorable.

Have someone introduce you: It’s hard to get the group’s attention, especially during a festive event. Research shows that when someone else introduces you, the group is more likely to give you the floor, pay attention, and see you as an authority. Your introduction need not be grand, just a short, “Here’s ______ with a few special words."

Tell a story: We all come from a long line of storytellers, so it’s no wonder that we’re hardwired to prefer short narratives. Whether you’re telling a story about the bride or the groom—or both—remember that the best anecdotes entertain and make a point, but don’t embarrass.

Life’s special moments are meant to be celebrated and shared. If you’re asked to make a toast, a few simple tips can help you make one that’s memorable. As for the perfect gift— a membership to  The Paso Robles Wine Club will provide the couple a selection of wines to make the most of life’s special events. Our club members enjoy regular shipments of unique, boutique wines from Paso Robles Wine Country and always include wines to enjoy now and others, to put away for a special event.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Best Sparkling Wines to Pair with the Perseid Meteor Showers

A Sparkling Night with Paso Robles Wine Club
No matter the season, Paso Robles Wine Country has long been a popular destination for romantics, but every summer, lovers, young and old head to our picturesque landscapes to lie beneath the skies and count shooting stars. In August, as the Swift-Tuttle Comet makes its way through the inner solar system, and the skies light up with hundreds and hundreds of meteors over the course of just a few hours. With her rolling landscapes and inky dark skies, California’s Central Coast is the perfect place to watch the Perseid Meteor Showers.

While the pre-dawn hours are the best times for viewing the meteor showers, a great way to honor this August tradition is to stay up late and enjoy a glass—or two—of a locally made sparkling wine. 

Here are a few of our favorites:

Carmondy- McKnight Pomegranate Cuvẻe: What could be more festive than a pretty pink sparkler with the addition of California pomegranate?  A specialty of Carmondy-Mcknight Vineyards, this popular sparkling wine is perfect to match for an evening spent star gazing.

Laetitia Brut Coquard: Creamy, toasty and layered with the flavors of hazelnuts, cherries, and pears, this lively sparkler will put a little kick into the night.

Derby Sparkling Brut Rosẻ: This salmon-hued palate pleaser from Derby Vineyards is a well-chosen accompaniment to the perfect warm summer night, but more importantly it has everything a true romantic could want in a sparkling wine—from the notes of raspberry and almond to the soft pretty bubbles.

Soon enough, the lazy days and nights of summer will come to an end—all the more reason to kick back and enjoy the Perseid Meteor Showers. The Paso Robles Wine Club can help you make the most of summer’s best moments. Our wine club members enjoy regular shipments of unique, boutique wines from Paso Robles Wine Country and always include wines that you can enjoy now, or put away for a special event.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Keeping Cool: Tips for Protecting Your Wine from Summer Heat

The Paso Robles Wine Club Wine Storage Tips 
Members of The Paso Robles Wine Club and wine lovers across the world, know that the summer heat can damage a good bottle of wine very quickly. For the wine lover, there’s nothing worse than opening a much anticipated bottle of wine only to find that it’s been cooked. Thankfully, with a few insider tips and a little pre-planning, you can protect your investment and keep on sipping all summer long.

Here are 3 ways to protect your wine from the heat:

Don’t Leave Your Wine in a Hot Car: Nothing fares well in a hot car. Even when the outside temperatures are in the 80s, the inside temperature of a car can easily climb well into the triple digits. When it comes to storing wine, even sustained temperatures in the mid 80 degree range can wreak havoc and create accelerated oxidation. If you’re out running errands, make wine the last stop on the journey, or bring along an ice chest in an emergency.

Find the Perfect Room: Exercise care when choosing where to store wine in your home. The best place is in a wine cellar or basement, or the coolest spot in your home. You definitely don’t want to store your wine where it’s hot, including in your kitchen, on top of your refrigerator, near a window, or in an attic or garage.

Sip Smart Outdoors: There’s little better during the summer than enjoying a glass of wine outdoors, while tending the BBQ, lounging poolside, or chatting it up with friends on the patio. Many people don’t realize that the dark glass of the wine bottle draws the hot sun to it, and once the bottle heats up, the wine can cook within minutes. Keep sipping outdoors, but keep the bottle in the shade.

Keep your wine safe from the heat of the summer. With a little pre-planning, you can protect your Paso Robles Wine Club shipments, along with the wines you pick up to add to your collection, from the harmful effects of the rising thermometer.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fair Judgement: The Wine Competition

Wine Competitions: The California Mid State Fair

Come summer, all across California’s Central Coast, people start getting ready for the highlight of the season—a trip to Paso Robles Wine Country and a chance to attend The California Mid State Fair. Like every other fair across the United States, there are livestock competitions and exhibit halls filled with arts and crafts, but The California Mid State Fair offers a special perk for winemakers and wineries—a chance to win praise and take home a ribbon.

Have you ever wondered what goes into a wine competition and what’s in it for the wineries and winemakers? Well, here’s a quick rundown:

The Law of Attraction:  Way back in the day, the fair was an opportunity for people from all across rural areas to meet up and interact—not only with each other, but to see what was going in the world outside. Fairs were magnets, drawing people from near and far and the perfect place to show one’s wares and talents. In Paso Robles, the fair is still a huge event—the perfect venue for wineries to showcase their wines to the public.

An Expert’s Opinion: At a wine competition, the judges are rigorously trained individuals with expert palates and experience with professional wine tasting. The competition is a carefully controlled tasting and each judge brings his/her expertise to the mix. Winning a ribbon—or even a word of encouragement—can put a winemaker and the wine on the map and instantly boost demand and increase revenue.

Setting a Standard: Entering a wine into The Mid State Fair’s Wine Competition gives the winemaker important feedback. A benchmark is a standard by which something can be measured, so seeing where their wine finishes and comparing it to other wines made in the same style, is a way for winemakers to make a better product and stay competitive in a tough market.

You may not be able to travel to The California Mid State Fair this year, but with a membership in The Paso Robles Wine Club, you can enjoy tasting a variety of exceptional and unique wines from Paso Robles Wine Country all year long.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Perfect Getaway for Your Palate

Pleasing Your Palate with the Perfect Getaway

Just a few years ago, it seemed as if everyone along California’s Central Coast was taking a staycation—a vacation enjoyed right in our own backyard. And why not? It’s no secret that California’s Central Coast is a beautiful little gem of a location with plenty to enjoy, including the many wineries that make up Paso Robles Wine Country. We live in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state and as locals, we never grow tired of the many adventures that are ours for taking, but it’s especially cool when we get a shout out from someone who has recently visited our area and enjoyed what life here has to offer.

Recently, we had the chance to visit with Allan Wright, the owner of Taste Vacations and Zephyr Adventures, who runs his own tour company, taking clients on vacations specifically designed to woo their palates, including tasty trips through Spain’s Basque Country, Tuscany, and even Peru! Wowed, he was, upon discovering Paso Robles and taking a tour with Coy Barnes, the proprietor of both The Paso Robles Wine Club and The Wine Wrangler.

Here’s what Mr. Wright had to say about his experience:

Paso Robles is one of the cutest small wine towns in the country. The town of 30,000 is situated between LA and San Francisco, about 30 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, and is considered part of the Central Coast region of California. Paso (as many locals call it) has a cute main plaza, excellent restaurants, and fantastic wineries in the area.

We don’t yet run a tour in the Central Coast region but if you find yourself in the Paso Robles area, I can strongly recommend doing a little wine touring with The Wine Wrangler. Coy Barnes, the owner, is an ex-teacher turned wine educator who is competent, organized, and friendly – just want you want from a tour company.

Coy spoke at the Wine Tourism Conference and I had a chance to sit down to lunch with him. It is always a pleasure meeting attendees at our conference but Coy and I, naturally, had a lot in common. The beauty of taking a day tour with Coy or one of his guides is they select the wineries to visit - with 170 in the region, it helps to have expert advise - and handle all the driving.

So until we at Taste Vacations create a Central Coast trip, look to Coy and The Wine Wrangler for your wine touring in the Paso Robles area!"

It’s always nice to get positive feedback, because our mission is to provide the best for our customers. So, whether you’re looking to enjoy a day of wine tasting with our sister company, The Wine Wrangler, a trip up California’s historic Highway 1, along the Pacific Ocean to the awe-inspiring Heart Castle, a private tour to Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara Wine Country, or, just kicking back and opening up a bottle of unique wine from your Paso Robles Wine Club membership, there’s a plenty to savor right in our own backyard.

Here’s to living in beautiful, Paso Robles Wine Country!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Entertaining: Paso Robles' Style

Summer Entertaining with The Paso Robles Wine Club
Paso Robles Wine Country has a well-deserved reputation for hot summer days, but by evening, temperatures drop and those famous cool breezes arrive, creating the perfect weather for summer entertaining. All summer long, up and down California’s Central Coast, people head to their backyards, fire up their grills, and open up a bottle of wine—it’s what we do best and according to our members in The Paso Robles Wine Club, it’s one of their favorite ways to enjoy wine from the Paso Robles Wine Region.

To get the most out of summer entertaining, try these tips:

Add Some Sparkle: Greet your guests at the garden gate with a glass of sparkling wine. It’s a refreshing and festive way to start the evening.

Keep it Simple: California’s Central Coast is a haven for fresh from the garden summer fare and local cheeses. Wow your guests with a selection of ripe heirloom tomatoes to pair with a fresh goat’s milk or raw cow’s milk cheese. Serve with a glass of chilled rosẻ for pure summer perfection.

Go Wild: Save the BBQ ribs and tri tip for another day. Instead, pick up a side of wild Pacific salmon. Lightly seasoned and grilled, it will pair perfectly with a Pinot Noir—a light, fruity wine that pleases most palates.

Gather Around the Fire Pit: The best summer evenings end with everyone gathered around the fire pit, sharing stories and engaging in deep conversation and making s’mores. Of all the summer foods, s’mores are challenging when it comes finding a wine that complements their myriad flavors, but picking something full of red fruit, particularly, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry, or an aged port, will be a good match.

Summer entertaining is a way of life along California’s Central Coast, particularly throughout Paso Robles Wine Country. Those fabulous summer evenings and panoramic views are the perfect match for enjoying a bottle of wine and making a toast. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Wine: A Revolutionary American Beverage

Enjoy the fireworks: Join Paso Robles Wine Club
When most people think about the Fourth of July holiday, their thoughts quickly turn toward hot dogs, cold beer, and fireworks, but wine lovers and members of The Paso Robles Wine Club know better—wine has a long and storied history in American culture, including Paso Robles Wine Country.

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and perhaps the greatest oenophile of any president, had such a love of wine, that he was deeply committed to producing it in America. Although Jefferson first sampled wine in America during the American Revolution, his true introduction didn’t occur until the years that he served as Ambassador of France, touring his way throughout the classic wine regions of the county.

Upon his return, he had a rumored 20,000 bottles of wine imported from France and undertook the arduous task of planting the Vineyards at Monticello. Jefferson was never successful in establishing Vitis Vinifera—the classic European grape—but, with his two vineyards encompassing approximately 25,000 acres, he remained a staunch advocate of American wine making throughout his life.

Benjamin Franklin, well-known for his pithy sayings and a lifetime of incredible productivity, said the now famous quote: “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” As a gourmet, he regularly enjoyed a glass of two of wine with meals—along with many of his compatriots.

The history of wine in California came not with politicians, but with the Franciscan Friars. In 1769, Father Junipero Serra established the first of California's missions in San Diego , planting grapes nearby so that there would be an availability of wine to use during church services. Interestingly, as Father Serra and his fellow friars moved north, to build other missions, they brought with them root stocks from the first vineyard so that they could plant new vineyards.

Eventually, with the building of the Santa Margarita Asistencia Mission, grape growing was introduced to San Luis Obispo County. When Andrew York arrived several years later, he planted and founded York Mountain Vineyard off of the 46 west. By the 1830s, wine was a commercial industry in California and between the years 1860 to 1880 wine making flourished.

Not traditionally associated with the Fourth of July festivities, wine is part of American history and culture and with over 200 wineries in Paso Robles Wine Country, it’s hard to think of a more appropriate beverage to enjoy with the fireworks.