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Craving Bordeaux? Choose a Blend from Paso Robles

Yes, France may be best known for Bordeaux, and Northern California for Cabernet, but have you tried the many blends from Paso Robles?  Awarded “Wine Region of the Year 2013” by Wine Enthusiast,  perhaps the next round of  accolades for Paso Robles will go to the  Bordeaux varietals that flourish as well.  

Since 2012, the CAB Collective (Cabernet And Bordeaux) has been formed to promote the many excellent producers. “Perfectly Paso,” (as the slogan goes) in flavor profile, these blends are noteworthy and worth the trip to taste. What makes their wine so drinkable is the messo-climate and 11 newly certified AVA’s of Paso Robles that offer distinctive characteristics and growing areas.

The huge diurnal temperature fluctuations, mountain and coastal influences and wine maker’s pride of terroir make for unlimited nuances on the palate. From elegant European styles to full bodied fruit forward examples—this region offers something for every taste preference. 

If your trip starts in LA, travel north and make your first stop a visit to Laetitia Vineyard and Winery in Arroyo Grande.  Laetitia produces seven sparkling wines as well as notable Pinot Noirs, many of which can only be sampled at the tasting room. After sipping and deciding on your favorites, continue north for 45 minutes and check into the SummerWood Inn in Paso Robles. 

The SummerWood Inn is a contemporary B & B. The inn is surrounded by vineyards, offers nine spacious suites and comfortable public rooms—all designed with a modern farmhouse feeling. Their evening Happy Hour is far from ordinary. Along with the estate wines and local cheeses, the seasonal  items sampled include beet and goat cheese bites,  a celery root gratin, chimichanga , and freshly made salsa.Breakfast at the SummerWood Inn is made to order and starts with house made pastries and granola, perfectly poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, and baguettes with fresh strawberry jam. Hard as it is to leave the property, Passo Robles offers over 300 wineries to sample.

You might start with Jada Vineyard and Winery. Winemaker David Galzignato takes meticulous care to ensure that every step of the wine making process is as perfectly and precisely executed as possible. He believes that each carefully completed step adds up to large gains in the finished product. His boutique, premium wines demonstrate the results. Their finesse and distinct flavor profiles are true to the character of the vineyard sites and the varietals harvested. Each wine tasting includes a choice of cheese or chocolate—thoughtfully selected to enhance the experience. 

At Robert Hall Winery, Winemaker Don Brady is committed to extracting the essence of Paso Robles from each vineyard and varietal.  The consistent accolades are proof of his success with the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2012 Meritage—-both prime examples and each demonstrating depth of color, plush ripe berry fruit flavor and firm but velvety tannins. Another member of the Paso Robles CAB Collective is Vina Robles Vineyards and Winery. This winery was started by two Swiss friends. Their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon  and their 2010 Suendero Blend are examples of their desire to  combine European inspiration with a California character to produce wines with restrained balanced flavor profiles. Their newly completed tasting room and amphitheater are welcomed addition to the area. Vina Robles hosts a season of world class concerts on concert grounds that include plenty of room for wining, dining and enjoying the good life. 

Additional CAB Collective wineries to visit in Paso Robles are Cass Vineyard and Winery  and Villa San-Juliette Vineyard and Winery. Both not only serve a variety of Bordeaux blends, but they also offer a selection of menu items well beyond cheese plates.

When you’ve sipped and sated your palate for the day, there are several dinner options to consider. Head on over to Thomas Hill Organics Bistro and WineBar.

The owner of Thomas Hill Organics, Debbie Thomas, will find the perfect pairing to enhance their locally grown, organic fare. Notable among the tastings was J. Lohr 2010 Cuvee Pom. This Merlot blend delivers intense red fruit, bright acidity and restrained tannins that can complement each dish. 

At Thomas Hill Organics you can settle into the hip, cool space and let Executive Chef Christopher Manning dazzle you with his refined technique and full flavors. Try his succulent “Pan Seared Scallops, Farro, Linguica, Broccoli Rabe, Oyster Mushrooms &Tomato & Eggplant Salsa” or his “Charbroiled Beef Tenderloin, Potato Coins, Cauliflower, Celery Root, Tuscan Kale, Syrah Bordelaise.” 

If you’re in the mood for Italian, think Il Cortile Ristorante. Chef Santos MacDonal takes Italian classics, adds locally sourced products and creates decadently sensual dishes that seduce all the senses. Think “Carpaccio di Agnello— Lamb Carpaccio with Shaved Celery, Piave Cheese, Citrus Dressing, White Truffle Oil” and “Vitello ai Funghi Porcini,Veal Chop with Porcini Mushroom Sauce, Finished with Truffle Oil”.

Allow the Chef’s wife, Carole MacDonal , to pair your dishes with selections from their award winning wine cellar. She often selects both an Italian and local wine with each item to make the tasting even more informative and intriguing, giving you a chance to compare “Old World” Style with that of “New World.”

For more fine dining in Paso Robles you can stop by Il Cortile Ristorante's sister restaurant,  La Cosecha, for your fix of ethnic fare. Here you can count on Chef Santos’s Honduran roots to enliven your palate with modern Latin American fusion fare and trust their Mixologist, Eric, to provide craft cocktails to complement each dish ordered.

The choice of wineries in Paso Robles seems endless. The architecture and ambience of each one is as distinctive as the wines produced but you can always be assured of down home Paso hospitality. This area was and remains agricultural at base, so you’ll find no pretense, just welcoming vintners who know how to make some of the most value laden wines on the planet. So next time your craving for Cab hollers, check out the CAB Collective wineries of Paso Robles for thirst-quenching, value-oriented Cab and Bordeaux Blends.

Diane Sukiennik & Michael Reiss

Diane Sukiennik is an internationally recognized writer, coach, keynote speaker, consultant, educator and licensed therapist. She is the author of The Career Fitness Program: Exercising Your Options, 11th edition, Prentice Hall, the most widely used text in colleges and universities in the subject area. A self-proclaimed 'leisurologist,' she speaks French and Spanish, is an avid world traveler and...(Read More)

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