The second day of the Paso Robles pre-conference excursion was as busy, educational, and fun as the first. While the first day began in the afternoon and went far into the evening, the second day’s events began at 9:00 am and continued until the afternoon with the drive into Buellton.
The morning began at the stunning Villa Robles winery. Of course it’s not the first time I’ve been there; I stopped here at my vacation’s end last year and (of course) scored some wines. It was a great destination after breakfast and after reluctantly checking out of the beautiful Paso Robles Inn. We were greeted with a panel of five local winemakers including Kevin Willenborg of Vina Robles, Steve Lohr of J. Lohr, Mike Sinor of Ancient Peaks, Justin Smith of Saxum (yes, *that* Saxum!), and Cris Cherry of Villa Creek.
At this presentation we learned about the still-pending decision to separate the single Paso Robles AVA into 11 separate sub-AVAs. Each winemaker spoke about the terroir in each region – including weather patterns, soils, and vineyard aspects – and how the decisions were made to divide the regions. It wasn’t easy; I read the document and it’s long, complex, and well-argued.
After leaving Vina Robles, we went to the Dusi Zinfandel vineyards. Beauteous! Janelle Dusi shared the history of the vineyards and how the vines are cared for. Naturally there were many voiced concerns about the drought, and Janelle (as did other winemakers, by the way) indicated the concern of early veraison, which is happening a few weeks ahead of time. This early veraison may indicate that the vines are really quite stressed. As an aside, the winemakers seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude since the ultimate proof of the harm – or not – of the ongoing drought will be in the quality of the wines.
It was fun being in the vineyards as you can see from the photos! We tasted Barrel 27, Tobin James, Brochelle, Dusi, and Turley, which all had wines made from the Dusi grapes.
After the fun in the vineyard, we left for Wild Horse Winery, where we had a terrific buffet-style lunch and tasted through many of their wines including the 2013 Wild Horse Malvasia Bianca, which was refreshing and delicious, and was my first experience with that grape. Once again, we had some knowledge served to us, this time about SIP, Sustainability in Practice, which is the sustainability effort that many California wineries are participating in.
After Wild Horse, we finally headed for Buellton and the official start of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference!
PS – I was surprised to find out that I had taken even more pictures than I did the first day! I had to cut down a 15 minute (or so) slideshow down to six. While I left some suitable educational slides in, most of them are just showing the beauty of wine country. Of course, I have yet to see a wine country that isn’t beautiful!