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Drinking PASO: The Old World Rules Do Not Apply
Thursday, October 10, 2013
With over 200 wineries in the Paso Robles region,
it's hard to believe I still have to explain to people where Paso Robles is.
I’ve been drinking Paso wines for over a decade and know first hand that they
are only getting better. Perhaps it’s the lack of focus that makes it hard for
people to easily understand the region. No one grape to help pin it down. For
me, it’s the plethora of options that keeps me coming back for more.
Zinfandel may have been king of the region
in Paso’s early wine days, but with no governmental rules or varietal and
climate restrictions, like in some Old World and other CA AVAs, active experimentation
to see what grapes truly thrive here has literally changed the varietal
landscape. It’s the Rhone grape clippings, brought over by Tablas Creek almost
30 years ago, that kick-started the expansion of Syrah, Grenache and Viognier
into the region and that has, over the past decade, helped Paso gain national
While many of our garagistes love their Rhones - that doesn’t mean they are always
content to just make a GSM. Or a traditional Bordeaux blend, if that’s the way
their passions flow. Mother nature provides more options in
Paso than any other winemaking region. With virtually every varietal from
around the world growing at their fingertips, Paso winemakers are free like
nowhere else to experiment and create blends that pay off on the palate. Rather than simply combining the grapes that
happen to grow there, or being hemmed in by tight winemaking rules, they
make the best wine they can, that vintage, from their plot of land. Who cares
if you put some Syrah or Grenache in your Cabernet? Or a touch of Zinfandel in
your GSM? Certainly no one making wine in Paso does. It’s
about the passion they bring to the bottle, regardless of what grapes are in
it. Old school notions be damned.
Festival attendees will be able to
taste that spirit firsthand, with over 20 unique wines that could only be made
in this region. To delve deeper into the topic, VIP guests will get the
opportunity to taste and understand the whys behind blending off-book in our
Saturday Seminar “Breaking
the Old World Blending Rules” with panelists Christian Tietje from Cypher
Winery and Jeff Strekas from ONX Wines. Both of these wineries are pushing the
envelope when it comes to mixing grapes varieties. Whatever works to make the
wine shine. Having had the pleasure of tasting their efforts, their
imaginations are clearly unimpeded, much to the wine world’s benefit.
Being part of the Festival team
allows me to explore the world of wine through the talents of a diverse
group of devoted winemakers. I learn something new every year from every
winemaker and have gained a deeper respect for all the hard work the wine
“lifestyle” really is. There’s an experience at the Festival for every level of
wine lover, from those who just want to taste and explore, to those who want to
make the leap to the winemaking side. I hope to see you there.
Schedule of Events
Thursday, November 7th: “Undiscovered Treasures”
Winemaker Dinner – 7pm
Friday, November 8th: Happy
Hour at “The Opening Round” – 4-7pm, followed by our Winemaker Mixer
Saturday, November 9th: The Main Festival day
includes (2) educational seminars - “What’s Wrong With This Picture? Educate Your Palate About the Most Common
Wine Flaws” and “Garagiste Outlaws: Breaking the Old World Blending
Rules” followed by the Grand Tasting and After Party - 11am-9pm.
Sunday, November 10th: “Nothing’s Perfect: How to Manage and Influence Your Wines to Greatness”
Winemaking Symposium – 11am-1pm
tickets or get more information about the 3rd Annual Garagiste
Festival, please visit their website at: http://garagistefestival.com/2013-paso-festival/
Lisa Dinsmore is the Event Director for the Garagiste
Festival and has been a passionate Paso Robles wine lover for over a decade.
She also has her own wine blog called Daily Wine Dispatch and has earned the
Advanced Degree from the international WSET program.