While I didn’t expect to see or meet Nigel Lythgoe when I went to Villa San-Juliette, there was a little bit of hope in the back of my mind that hoped the opportunity would arise. Alas, he was in the process of navigating the craziness that is the auditions for So You Think You Can Dance and never showed up at the estate. Oh well.
One of the true estates – at least the way that my mind thinks of estates – of Paso Robles is Villa San-Juliette. The interesting part is that this is a new estate – it didn’t exist five years ago. That’s right – that gorgeous building just wasn’t there. The 168 acres of vineyards and magnificent estate look as if they’ve been there for years as a singular entity, but it’s only been in the last couple of years that it’s been built up to its current splendor.
Most wineries start on a shoestring (think Williams Selyem), and have to struggle for years before they’re recognized for the quality of their wines. Williams Selyem and Vines on the Marycrest – although admittedly Victor’s story is truly off the chain – are much more typical of how a successful winery starts. First, the struggle, then, many years later, sudden overnight success. The situation of Villa San-Juliette is a little different, however.
The brainchild of the creators of American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and So You Think You Can Dance Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, Villa San-Juliette had a little bit of a head start compared to the others simply because of the visibility, fame, and wealth of the founders. That also meant, however, that their problems were much more public, but their story was able to be told and, as they say, even bad publicity is still publicity. Located on Paso Robles’ Eastside – San Miguel, actually – it has had its share of problems, but those problems seem to be evaporating as their wines are recognized for their quality.
One of the vows I made to myself when I went to Paso last spring was to avoid joining any more wine clubs. While I walked out of VSJ without joining the club, that was by the thinnest of margins and utilizing a willpower I didn’t know I had. With that being said, I walked out with a half-case of wine, my largest singular purchase of wine while I was there. And all of the wines were white and Rosé. Yes, this red wine gal walked out without a single red. Amazing what happens when you’re determined to stick to a budget but allow yourself just a little wiggle room! Besides, the whites were stellar.
Zach and I recently tasted some of the wines, and each one was delicious. They were the 2012 VSJ Reserve Rosé of Zinfandel (don’t faint – it’s nothing like “White Zinfandel“), 2012 VSJ Reserve Rosé of Syrah, and the 2011 VSJ Reserve Albariño. All were terrific – which is why I bought them – but the Albariño is off the hook. I still have a bottle left and will do an official review at a later date, but it’s a killer white and better than I remember when I tasted it at the winery.
But I digress.
Charlene, one of the winery staff at VSJ, was kind enough to give me a tour of the grounds. And I kept snapping! The slideshow is just a small portion of the photos I took; unfortunately, technical issues have had me eyeballs-deep in post because of problems with my camera sensor (Pentax + fall on concrete = disaster), and it’s taken me a while to get this done! I hope you enjoy it even though the photos don’t really do it justice.
Yes, I will be back. Next time it won’t be at the end of the day and I will spend time just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful views. You gotta go visit!
Villa San-Juliette is located at 6385 Cross Canyons Road in San Miguel. Stop by!