Wineries in California:
All things gourmet are the passion at Sylvester Vineyards and Winery. The story begins nearly three decades ago on two separate continents: on a farm in Paso Robles and in a kitchen in Italy.
It was late 1981. As Sylvester Feichtinger prepared to plant his first wine grapes on his 400-acre ranch, which had previously been dedicated to hay and orchard fruit, a budding Italian chef named Walter Giovanni Filippini entered an important event to demonstrate his culinary talent. It was Italy’s National Chef’s Competition, and Chef Walter’s elaborate display of pheasant paté medallions won first prize. The success inspired him to move to New York City, where he went to work with Dino de Laurentis on the esteemed Italian film producer’s food show.
Meanwhile, Sylvester was enjoying his own share of success. His grapes were of premium quality and desired by many of the top wineries in his area. Sylvester decided to go into the winemaking business for himself. In 1990, Sylvester Vineyards and Winery released its first wines. They exhibited soft, fruit-forward varietal characteristics and immediately started winning awards. This quick success made the building of a modern winery and tasting facility possible. These were completed in time for the 1995 harvest.
In the meantime, Chef Walter’s work on the Dino de Laurentis food show moved him to Hollywood in the mid-1980s, and in 1986 he began working at Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica. The following year, he met his bride Sylvia, who worked with him on developing several successful enterprises: Peacock Cheese Distributing and Il Treno Restaurant. Enter the new millennium. Walter and Sylvia set up shop in Paso Robles with Sylvia’s father, who happens to be Sylvester of Sylvester Vineyards and Winery.
Today, Sylvester Vineyards and Winery is known not only for its exceptional wines but for its wonderful gourmet food. Besides having a master chef who plans marvelous winemaker dinners, the winery’s tasting room offers a tempting selection of cheeses from around the world, said to be one of the most extensive in the area. So it comes as no surprise that the winery received the California Wine Club’s first annual Golden Grape Award for Best Cheese Pairing at a California Winery. There are many other delicacies on hand in the tasting room, like estate-grown pistachios and rich, hedonistic chocolates. Happily, samples are available for the asking.
With Chef Walter in the kitchen, Sylvester’s winemaker dinners are the talk of the town. Inspired by the fine wines that compose the Sylvester portfolio, he presents a delightful buffet of paired dishes, including his signature traditional raclette fondue. Everything is carefully prepared to pair with Sylvester’s French- and Italian-style wines from the Bordeaux, Rhône, and Tus-can regions. When it’s time for dessert, there are delightful dessert wines and ports that are usually sold only in the tasting room and online.
Fabulous food, delightful nibbles, and magnificent wine complement the vineyard’s expansive view and add up to an unforgettable stop on a wine tourer’s day in the fabled Paso Robles wine region.
What to buy:
’06 Kiara Reserve Sangiovese Vanilla, maraschino cherries, strawberries, cracked pepper finish $19.99
’07 Kiara Reserve Pinot Noir Light strawberry, raspberry, hint of earth, spice $24.99
’06 Le Vigne di Domenico Cabernet Franc Plum, red currant, black cherries, lingering briary spice $29.99
’06 Nikiara Meritage Fresh black cherry, cassis, plum, subtle cinnamon $35
805.227.4000; Fax: 805.227.6128
5115 Buena Vista Dr.
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Tasting Room Open Daily 11-5
From Hwy 101, take the 46 E exit. Go to Airport Rd and turn left onto Buena Vista Dr. Go 1 mile to the winery.
Touring and Tasting