Sometimes you just know. Kind of like a good melon. You walk into a place, meet the person behind the counter, and you bond.
I’ve already raved about Epoch Estate Wines and can’t recommend it highly enough. Just bring your wallet and prepare to spend a bit more than you may expect. Worth it? You betcha. Just ask my wine cellar.
We met Ray Smith, the only black winemaker in Paso Robles, at his tasting room in downtown Paso. My group didn’t have a choice as we walked by! I recognized the name and made a beeline directly into the building, sat down, and started engaging with Ray immediately. His tasting room is only a few weeks old, and he’s still setting up since he’s sharing the space with other small businesses. He has samples of his smoothly flavored, nuanced, award-winning wines that we tasted through and enjoyed.
Indigené Cellars is not a “come lately” wine, as the label has been around for well over a decade. The decision to move to a more easily-accessible tasting room in Paso Robles was a smart one. The YouTube interview below was less about black winemakers and just as much about Paso Robles and its close-knit community spirit.
I can’t wait to visit him again the next time I’m able to visit Paso Robles. With Gold Medals wins and Best of Class awards, this is a winery to seek out.
Kiamie Wine Cellars
The Kiamie tasting room is located in what feels like the middle of nowhere on Adelaida Road and is open every day except for traditional holidays. Once again, Debbie is a member of the wine club and we got to hang out with Aram and Greg and talk about and taste their wines. Greg and I also argued about how many grape varietals are allowed in Chateauneuf du Pape. He’s so down to earth, that I didn’t realize till much later that he’s actually the owner of the winery! Of course we bought wines! I don’t know what everyone else bought, but I got a bottle of the R’Own Style Blend (R’Own = Rhône…get it?) and it’s now resting at home.
LXV Wine is another new experience for me. Debbie is a member of the club and friends with Neeta Mittal, who, along with her husband Kunal, is the owner. What Debbie likes about the wine club is that a packet of spices is sent along with the wine shipment, along with suggestions on how to use the spices to pair with the wines. I think that’s an innovative and interesting idea, and it seems to work!
We tasted through their wines and later attended the pick-up party where wine club members are able to get their wines early and avoid the cost of shipping. At individual tables, there was food seasoned with spices designed to pair with a particular wine. Unfortunately, I did not take notes but just enjoyed the festivities with my group! I loved the warm and welcoming atmosphere, and Netta is a doll! The video below is theirs, which relates their philosophy of wine, food, pairing, and the Kama Sutra. (see me blush as I write this)
We had a lot of fun visiting these wineries. My only problem is that it’s getting more and more difficult to visit everyone on just a weekend! Paso Robles is quickly becoming an extended destination point and is certainly worth the time to spend visiting, hanging out, and tasting the wines of one of the best wine regions in California.
All I have to say is that Napa better be looking in the rearview mirror!