A Day in Paso Robles

When William and Katherine invited us to spend two nights at The Canyon Villa, we jumped at the chance. As always, the food, friendship, and accommodations were superb. We got January off to a good start by spending a day in Paso Robles. And we found two terrific wineries we did not know about. As an added bonus, we were the first to visit the tasting room at a third winery that doesn’t even open until February.

Lauren and Leslee A Day in Paso Robles

Lauren Rava and Leslee Falkenberg of Rava Wines (click for larger image)

We promised Lauren and Leslee that we wouldn’t do a full write-up of Rava Wines until they release their full wine lineup next month. We’ll just say that what we tasted shows a lot of promise and potential. We’ll write a longer review in February.  But you can taste their excellent sparkler and albariño right now. They are also pouring a selection of Brophy-Clark wines.  (John Clark is doing double duty as the winemaker at both Brophy-Clark and Rava.) Make an apopointment first. And ask for a tour of the spectacular facilities. By the way, Rava is a must-visit for the scenery, architecture, and good vibes. Those planning a wedding or other event should consider this place.

Ryan and Grace A Day in Paso Robles

Ryan and Grace (click for larger image)

Next up was Deovlet Wines (pronounced Dev’-let). We were greeted by Ryan Deovlet and Grace. Three outstanding pinot noirs led to one question: why haven’t we found these folks before? It turns out that we had visited their tasting room once. But it was occupied by 4 Vines.

Dilecta dog wants to play A Day in Paso Robles

Dilecta dog wants to play

Finally, we arrived at Dilecta. William and Katherine have their wines on The Canyon Villa’s in-house wine list. We were greeted enthusiastically by the winery’s golden retriever who was eager to play. Owner – winemaker Orion Stang rescued us from the puppy and proceeded to pour us some yummy GSMs. We’re normally not big fans of Rhône-style blends, but Dilecta has made us believers.

Dilecta's Orion Stang and Tony A Day in Paso Robles

Dilecta’s Orion Stang and Tony (click for larger image)

Three for three on the day. And 2018 is off to a very, very good start.

Please Vote For The Canyon Villa

USA Today  is running a competition for “Best Wine Country Hotel.”  We urge everyone to vote for The Canyon Villa in Paso RoblesWe have stayed at this lovely place many times over the years.  And it has always been a first-class experience.  The new owners, William Carter and Katherine Bloxsom-Carter, have managed to improve what was already a terrific experience.

William and Katherine Field Recordings in Paso Robles

William and Katherine

Here’s the problem.  The Canyon Villa is currently in second place, trailing Gervasi Vineyard in Ohio.  Now we could stand losing to Oregon, Washington, or Virginia.  But OHIO?  When we were acquiring WineFan properties we didn’t even bother with OhioWineFan.

Disclaimer: we are doing a bit of work with William and Katherine getting their e-mail lists and processes up to date.

Jack Creek Cellars: Paso Robles Pinot Heaven


Jack Creek Cellars is pinot heaven in Paso Robles.  We were introduced to them by Diane Babcock, co-owner of The Canyon Villa Bed & Breakfast on a trip to Paso Robles in late July, 2007.  (Diane’s husband Jim is the other partner.) We won’t say any more about the Canyon Villa beyond this: if you get a chance to stay there, don’t pass it up.  A once-in-a-lifetime experience featuring Italian luxury in the hills just southwest of Paso Robles.  Diane made reservations for us at Jack Creek.

The Canyon Villa

The Canyon Villa

Doug and Sabrina Kruse, the owners, growers, winemakers, marketers, and bottle washers, were gracious hosts and introduced us to some of the best pinot noir and chardonnay we’ve ever tasted.  Norma immediately insisted that we join their wine club because, “in a few years only club members will get any of their wine.”     Jack Creek now has a tasting room open Thursday through Monday.  (Technically the winery is located in Templeton, a small suburb of Paso Robles.) Their two most recent pinot releases are both 2009 vintage. We’ll save you the trouble of visiting their site: both these are sold out. Looks like Norma’s prediction wasn’t far off the mark.

[doptg id=”8″]

The Estate Pinot Noir ($33) is “hard-candied watermelon, black cherry pie, and traits of raspberry reduction. If you judge a book by its cover you would expect the wine to be a fruit bomb, but it mellows out and gains complexity on the palate. Cola, plum, blackberry, and spice move in harmony as they dance across your senses, and take a final bow with a soft, sweet, dusty tannin finale.”  We’ll add that this wine is very intense and could probably use six months or so before drinking.  Not that we waited.  This wine is just too good.  We need a wine vault with a time lock, not just a wine cellar.

The Estate Pinot Noir Reserve ($43) is, “Deep, rich, gorgeously subtle fruit that is exploding in its youth. Where it will lead us is exciting to anticipate!”  We have a couple of bottles of this one left in the cellar because, frankly, the winemaker’s notes are correct.  It’s just too intense right now.  We’ll try to resist for a year or two and see how it develops.  Also available in magnums ($115) which are, of course, also sold out.

The 2010 Estate Chardonnay ($35) is best described as nearly naked.  Just a bit of oak and no malolactic fermentation allow the grapes to express their true nature.  Classic citrus and pineapple notes grace the palate.  Great stuff and, somehow, we still have a bottle left.

Sabrina Kruse Charming Guests

Sabrina Kruse Charming Guests

Now that the winery is on its feet, Doug and Sabrina are having a little fun naming their their wine.  That’s good luck for all of us.  Their 2010 Concrete Blonde Estate Chardonnay ($37, available only to club members) is a bit more acid than the Estate Chardonnay, with minerality that reflects its fermentation in concrete tanks.  (I may be wrong about the concrete fermentation, since I’m relying on my memory.)

The 2010 “Glow” Rosé of Pinot Noir ($23) will persuade those who actively dislike pink wine.  Current releases also include a 2010 Rosé of Grenache/Syrah ($22), a 2009 Estate Grenache ($41), and a 2009 Estate Syrah ($46).

Doug and Sabrina are charming hosts.  Club members are invited to their annual pickup party in the spring.  If the wine itself wasn’t enough to keep us in the club, this event would seal the deal.

Jack Creek Cellars
5265 Jack Creek Rd
Templeton, CA 93465

The Canyon Villa
1455 Kiler Canyon Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446