Paso Part 3: Boys and Their Grapes
Have I ever mentioned that I like wine? Probably.
Alright, here’s one: Have I ever mentioned how MUCH I like wine? Darn it, I guess I need some new material.
Okay, have I told you lately that I love you AND the wine of Paso Robles? Well, grab a glass (please, drinking alone is no fun) and read on.
Well, I do love the wine from Paso Robles, but I think more than that, I love the people who tend it, envision it and create it. You just get that little ‘grabby feeling’ when you’re on location with viticulturists and vintners (especially the cute ones), and they passionately present you with their product. Their eyes light up and their cheeks flush a bit as they talk about the characteristics of their wine, hoping you’ll be as enamored of it as they. From my time spent with these people, I’ve come to see that wine-making is a kind of love affair of its own; it takes time, patience, and just the right touch. Of course, any good love affair begins with a first crush, and in the case of a wine-maker, that crush probably took the form of a truly wonderful glass of wine. As for me, I’ll skip the full-blown affair, as long as you keep those first crushes comin’.
Believe it or not, there is actually a company in Paso called First Crush, which is owned and operated by Becky and Lowell Zelinski, Ph. D., and it began with a (real human) love story. The Zelinski’s fell in love, realized their mutual enthusiasm for everything wine, and combined their individual talents to create a very unique experience ~ ”from berry to bottle”. How much fun would it be to go harvest some grapes, stomp them, juice them, barrel them, and come back at just the right time to enjoy your very own first crush? Stop dreaming and give them a call – trust me, you’ll be giddyJ
It seems to me that the ‘great amore’ and wine go hand in hand. Truth be told, steamy affairs with the boys from Halter Ranch and Denner crossed my mind whilst on my tours. There’s just something about farm boys who like grapes. Ahem, moving on, Michael Cervin (a hottie in his own right) and I took the long and winding road to Halter Vineyards. I asked the young man behind the bar if I was going to get the tractor tour, and like a good-little conscientious employee, he politely bashed my dreams with all sorts of legal mumbo jumbo. As a pretty savvy salesperson, I’ve learned that in some cases, “No” is negotiable, so I asked Bill (the wine-maker) the same question. Let’s just say all that legal mumbo jumbo was left in the dust stirred up by his 4 wheel drive. Yeah, baby!
Bill The Winemaker is one of the most understated gentlemen I’ve ever come across and also the most charming. I’ll let the quality of Halter Wines do most of the speaking for me, but in order to really savor this place, you’ll have to visit. The new winery and tasting room (soon to be completed) will knock your socks off, and did I mention they have caves? Weren’t expecting that, now were you? Oh, and in addition to Bill’s big smile and excellent off-road driving skills, he also makes a mean charcuterie. Bill Rules!
Okay, how does one describe Denner Vineyards Winemaker, Anthony Yount (rhymes with stunt). Oh--I know--just the opposite of Bill The Winemaker. “Understated” is replaced with “Pick Me! Pick Me!”, and “charming” is over-taken by “I’m right, and those boots don’t work with those jeans!” Well, you know what? I just might say yes anyway, “Mr. Right”. Not only because of the complete (and unadulterated) passion that you have for your trade, but the fact that you compared me to a slutty syrah on my radio show. You got guts, Yount!
I guess all those football coaches know what they’re talking about when they growl “No guts? No glory!” because thanks to the very gutsy Anthony Yount a.k.a Mr. Right, Denner Vineyards is turning out glorious wines, the majority of which are sold right out the front door of their tasting room. While I personally enjoy a good Slutty Syrah and the Denner Viognier that goes down like--I don’t know—well, maybe we shouldn’t go there, they have many other wines that are looking for more long-term relationships, so make sure to drop by next time you’re in the hood.
Look at that—my glass needs refilling, but you’ll have to find another blogger to share this one with as this concludes my three-part exaltation of Paso Robles and the Central Coast of California. Rugged and inviting, breathtaking and sublime: The people, the food, the wine will remain in my heart until the end of time.
Wine makes me rhyme.