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Feb 10, 2007 10:38 PM

Paso Robles Wineries to avoid

Hi - Headed up to Paso Robles in a couple of weeks for winetasting and an anniversary celebration. So many postings have listed favorite wineries to visit, and I have pages of notes which ones have been recommended. I want to know which ones to avoid, and your reasons. Just so you know I love good wine, hate the mediocre. I don't care if they have fancy tasting rooms - been to plenty of those with boring wine. I love the Hunt winery.... looking for more recommendations please. Thanks!!

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  1. Arciero/EOS. Fancy winery, wine not so good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snackish

      The wine was mediocre, but the EOS people were very, very nice and accomodating.

    2. General rule of thumb is that you want wine from grapes grown on the west side of 101, not the east side. Don't confuse tasting room with which side the grapes are grown on, though. Garretson, for instance, makes great wine but it's tasting room is on the east side.

      9 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        I don't think that is a fair piece of advice. What about Eberle, or Chumeia, even Bianchi. All use east side fruit & produce fabulous Paso Robles wines...

        1. re: missyumyum

          Don't forget Garrettson, and Robert Hall, just picked up some of his Grenache and the Rhone du Robles is a great value.

          1. re: PolarBear

            For the record Garrettson ceased operations a year or so ago. They did make some nice Rhone-style wines.

          2. re: missyumyum

            Agreed. Geography is not to blame for enological generalizations. There are many fine wines on either side of Paso, east or west. One must understand the west side has a greater coastal influence, so they can grow a more delicate grape (pinot noir), and the east side is warmer so lends itself to growers of a hardier variety (syrah, zinfandel).

            1. re: FoodyinLA

              well ..... I would contend thta the best syrahs also come from the west side and perhaps the Templeton Gap region. Both areas that receive a fairly large coastal influence. I also think that there are particular valleys within the west side that have better access to those coastal influence and they are better off for it.

              Of course you can also get too much. When you get way out on the west side, there are actually a couple of vineyards whose yields can drop to almost nothing because they don't actually have enough sun and heat to fully ripen!! It shocks people to realize that but it is true.

              I kind of hate to just hear Paso talked about in an east vs west perspective. The Templeton Gap as far east as Creston can produce some excellent wines. Graves, way out in Creston has a small little vineyard that has grown some excellent grapes. Falcone, (haven't been there yet) are located somewhere out in the Gap as well and they make a terrific syrah.

              Of course, I have yet to try anything out on the north east side of Paso that I think has that level of quality. I find the syrahs up that way to be very plummy and lacking in definition.

          3. re: SteveTimko

            As a matter of record I"d like to point out that Garretson has closed.

            1. re: SteveTimko

              Sadly, Garretson did not make it through the downturn. Garretson is all gone...

              1. re: tward

                He was out long before the downturn.

              2. re: SteveTimko

                Many wineries are growing grapes on both East/West but they are joined to bottle. Depends on where they lease land. As they are having water problems and permits to grow more and more grapes are getting hard to get.

              3. I would 2nd arciero and add jankris, i have never been a big fan. However, tasting room likes and dislikes can be very subjective. I really enjoy toby james' zins, but that room can get quite crazy espically late in the day. so if I want to taste his wines, I try to hit his room early on in the day. Turley's wine are nice, but every time I have been there they seem to have a bit of a 'tude and I am not sure their wines match their price point. The biggest turnoff up in paso is the crowds. If we see a tour bus in the parking lot, we go some place else. The bridal shower wine tasting parties also make for a very unpleasant experience. This is much more common down in santa ynez than up in paso. That is why I rally like the far out wineries on the westside because the crowds are so much less, and I can find somthing I like at almost any of those wineries.

                3 Replies
                1. re: littlestevie

                  Funny you should mention the attitude at Turley. The pouring staff were friendly enough. The winemaker-- less so-- curt and dismissive of anything even mildly negative about the wines (they served me a cloudy one).

                  As for the Turley wines: I did not find any there that had the presence to justify their pricing. But, obviously, there are people who will disagree with this assessment given that they regularly seem to sell out of their wines. Better for you and me, littlestevie, that leaves other wines from better producers for us to drink. ;-)

                  Go to Denner, Lone Madrone, Adelaida and Justin, instead

                  1. re: The Sybarite

                    Adelaida is improving quality in some areas from what I was able to tell during a visit a few months ago. Interesting that you didn't like the value (quality vs. price) at Turley, but still include Justin in your recommended list. Justin has done a great job building their 'brand' and they've got a fancy place where they work hard to instill a sense of exclusivity, I'll say that.

                    Sadly, given the heavy discounting going on in the wine world, it's hard to find much in Paso's better wines that represents a solid value. I'm finding fabulous wines in a dizzying array of styles from around the world (in particular European regions) with much better value than I'm finding in most of California, especially the 'big name' wineries and regions.

                    I would still encourage people to go to Paso Robles and taste for themselves. There are a number of wineries making increasingly good and even interesting wines.

                    1. re: tward

                      It's a fair point you make re Justin-- Still, I felt their wines had more presence and were more interesting than the Turley wines, even if price/value ratios are also a bit off. The skinny on Justin: worth visiting and tasting for sure-- worth buying, perhaps not. For the record, of the 4 wineries that I recommended, this is the only one I did not buy from, even though I enjoyed the tasting room experience.

                      As for Adelaida, December was my first visit there and so I don't have an earlier reference point. It does seem that they have respect for the land, the fruit and their customers. Those are factors that are going to win me over when it translates into wines that speak of the place.

                      If you want to speak of value-oriented as well as interesting wines, my money these days is on Portugal, Spain, Chile & Argentina. Some good values from smaller producers in Italy as well. Still variety is the spice o'life, and there are a few Paso bottles in my cellar...

                2. Go to Mastantuono and try their Zin and Champagne (sparkling wine, whatever). Not the raspberry Champagne, but the regular. I brought home 2 bottles of the Zin and I wish I had brought more Champagne.

                  I used to really like Justin, but didn't try anything worth bringing home when we went last fall.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: leanneabe

                    I was disappointed with Justin when I went last fall also. They don't let you taste any of the good stuff. I even paid for the tour.

                    1. re: leanneabe

                      Mastantuono is no more. Retiring; others will take over the tasting room in the near future.

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        As in, new wine producers or is it just a new owner taking over the operations? I'm so sad!

                        1. re: leanneabe

                          Mastantuono is being taken over by the Donati's from up near Hollister. They will rename it using the Donati family name.

                          1. re: FresnoFacts

                            Donati's was just hanging the sign when we went in. Good wine - give them a try.

                      2. re: leanneabe

                        Mastantuono was recently sold & is closed for re-model. They had a huge close out sale on all of their wine...

                        1. re: leanneabe

                          Mastantuono USED to be great.. we used to be members.. but then the winemaker, I'm forgetting his name, retired and I don't know WHO was making the wine, but it wasn't very good... then yeah, they sold it. Haven't been there since the Donati's took over. :)

                        2. Avoid Rabbit Ridge... they are sort of gimmicky, with their tasting room attendants sometimes dressed up to look like Playboy Bunnies and I personally didn't taste any wine worth buying.