The Juice

CABs of Distinction 2014 Dates Announced

logo Final_red_for webWe at the Paso Robles CAB Collective recently announced details concerning the second annual CABs of Distinction event, scheduled for April 22 through 26, 2014.

For a list of participants and happenings, including the brand new CAB CAMP option for sommeliers and qualifying industry professionals – as well as tickets to the Grand Tasting and other events, please see the recently posted press release HERE.

We hope to see you at CABs of Distinction, glass in hand. Cheers!

Producer Profile: HUNT CELLARS

202327Located three miles west of Highway 101 on Highway 46 West, is the Hunt Cellars tasting room, whose Proprietor and Winemaker, David Hunt, is described as both a Renaissance Man and bon vivant. With a varied background in music, home security, and inventions (e.g. the invention of voice mail), Hunt is a trail-blazer in the wine industry, making and blending his wine by the gallon, rather than by the barrel.

In a classic case of lemonade-from-lemons, Hunt claims an extremely sensitive palate as a consequence of having retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disorder that causes gradual loss of vision. Able to pinpoint differences between wines that are nearly-indistinguishable to the average palate, Hunt uses his blindness to his advantage by blending from several hundred separate gallons of wine, by sense of feel, instead of by formula or lab calculation.

David Hunt

David Hunt

While some wines are made from outside vineyards, much of Hunt Cellars’ fruit is harvested from the estate property, Destiny Vineyard, named after his daughter, and meticulously made into award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux blends, among others.

For more information on Hunt Cellars wines, or to enjoy a tasting at their 46 West tasting room, please visit


Producer Profile: Calcareous Vineyard

calcareousOne of the newest members to join our Paso Robles CAB Collective is Calcareous Vineyard. Located off Peachy Canyon Road, Calcareous Vineyard was established in 2000 by father-daughter team Lloyd Messer and Dana Brown on one of the highest limestone plateaus on Paso Robles’ west side. Their 342-acre calcareous-soil vineyard fulfilled its promise and soon produced small, complex lots of Bordeaux, Rhône and Burgundy varieties.

Since then, the Calcareous Estate has picked up two other vineyards: Carver Vineyard, in the York Mountain AVA, a sub-region on the western edge of the Paso Robles AVA, which is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; and Kate’s Vineyard, where Calcareous sources its Zinfandel, about 1/2-mile southeast of their tasting room.

Though Lloyd passed away in 2006, Dana and sister Erika perpetuate the Calcareous vision and have called the beautiful hilltop tasting room “Lloyd’s Lookout.”


tasting room

Like so many in the wine industry, Winemaker Jason Joyce started at Calcareous cleaning tanks and moving equipment. Working his way up the ranks, he became Assistant Winemaker in 2007 and Winemaker in 2010. His industry blog, “Chalk Talk,” is a window into his distinctive take on life first, wine second.

“Franz Lebowitz famously said ‘Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine.’ Whereas most people that align themselves professionally with wine simply bristle at this notion, I whole-heartedly agree. I can’t think of a worse group of dinner companions then a group of skeptical wine experts humming a mantra of aromatics and phenolics to each other all night. I like to think of wine as a portal to almost any topic one finds fascinating. The more one learns about wine, the more one is exposed to the fundamental ideas behind it.”

Jason Joyce, “The Content is the Message,” Chalk Talk, May 16, 2013

2010 Calcareous Lloyd Bordeaux Blend, Paso RoblesCalcareous wines are produced using small lot fermentations, extended maceration, no use of chemical fining, premium cooperages, and minimum racking as the wine ages. Calcareous wines comprise four labels: white for estate wines, gold for York Mountain appellation wines, black for the reserve tier, and an estate showcase Bordeaux blend made in miniscule amounts called “Lloyd.” Additionally, the Calcareous winemaking team produces another brand called Twisted Sister, which uses fruit from partner vineyards which meet the company’s farming standards.





Logo w-Winery_Final_478 U Sky

At the southernmost end of the Paso Robles AVA sits one of the Paso Robles CAB Collective’s most distinctive producers, Ancient Peaks Winery (

Owned by three prominent San Luis Obispo County families, Ancient Peaks is overseen by Director of Winemaking, Mike Sinor, who has played on the Central Coast wine scene – and racked up some of its highest wine scores – for over 20 years.

Mike Sinor

“The opportunity to work with Margarita Vineyard is what really drew me to Ancient Peaks,” Mike says. “It stands apart as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region. The growing conditions here are remarkable—and that’s something I’m driven to reflect in the wines of Ancient Peaks.”

Historic Santa Margarita Ranch plays host to Ancient Peaks’ Margarita Vineyard, which is just 14 miles from the ocean and the Paso Robles AVA’s coolest site. First planted to vines by Franciscan missionaries in 1780, Margarita Vineyard is famous for its distinctive geological composition, including a block made up of ancient uplifted ocean floor.

Margarita Vineyard

Margarita Vineyard

Margarita Vineyard’s most spectacular soil profile is found along a block that we call Oyster Ridge, where the ground is riddled with petrified oyster shells that testify to the land’s origins as an uplifted sea bed. Volcanic protrusions, riparian rubble and fields of flaky shale are further evidence of the vineyard’s soil complexity.


Ancient Peaks presents a line of estate wines as well as a reserve tier of “white label” wines. Favorites include the 2011 Merlot (featured by Wine Spectator as one of “12 California Merlots Under $20“) and the 2010 Oyster Ridge, a Bordeaux red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Merlot (27%), Petite Sirah (11%), Petit Verdot (4%), Cabernet Franc (3%) from the eponymous vineyard block.

Tastings of Ancient Peaks wines can be had at their tasting room in Santa Margarita, which is open daily from 11 AM to 5:30 PM.

Ancient Peaks Winery
22720 El Camino Real, Suite B
Santa Margarita, California
(805) 365-7045

Harvest 2013 – A Promising Vintage

Despite the frenzied pace of this season, we’ve received early impressions on the 2013 harvest from a few Paso Robles CAB Collective member winemakers, which we’d like to share with our fellow Cabernet and Bordeaux fans.  This is a sneak peak at what Calcareous, Parrish Family Vineyards, Le Vigne Winery and Jada Vineyard are experiencing within each of their unique locations within the Paso Robles AVA.


The 2013 vintage is a classic example of why Paso Robles is such an exceptional location for growing Bordeaux varietals. Being weather-obsessive as most winemakers are, I knew this was going to be a year for dense Cab.  Dry conditions like this year usually produce small berries which have a concentrated skin-to-juice ratio.  This provides the wine with ample color, fruit and depth.  But these are typically a given when producing Cabernet in Paso.  Nowhere else is the richness and fruit of Cabernet so consistently expressed as in Paso Robles.

1238857_580796208644613_60520409_nIn an almost inverse challenge to other regions, the structure elements of acid and tannin are what I’m most concerned with capturing each vintage.Also, the heavy seed tannin concentration is high enough that I won’t need wood tannin from new barrels, so I’ll use less new oak than the pre-harvest plan called for.  With this commitment to producing a wine that needs aging comes another requirement (and here is where the true miracle of the 2013 vintage has shown itself): With each lot of rich, ripe fruit harvested last week, I expected to see the berries sapped of their acidic strength by the warm September sun.  Not the case at all.  The pH and total acidity readings have been incredibly high.  This is an absolute necessity for the creation of age-worthy wines, as without this acidic backbone, these dense ripe wines can be too easily off-balance, flabby, and without real character.

So all in all, at this earliest of stages in the wines’ life, I could not be more enthusiastic about the vintage.  It may not be until 2016 that these wines are ready to taste, but if there is enough patience to let natural aging run its course, this vintage has all the requisite fundamentals for the production of remarkable Bordeaux varietals.”

Jason Joyce, Winemaker, Calcareous Vineyard


“This year is turning out to be fantastic for Paso-area fruit in general, and I think many grape farmers in the area would agree. For us, we have been blessed with both a large, healthy crop-load, and amazing quality as well. Some of the clones that usually seem to struggle somewhat with fruit-set and the development of sugars have shown up in full-force this year with an impressive fruit-set, terrific flavor, and ideal sugar developmentThe berry size is small, with an excellent and ideal skin-to-pulp ratio, which we can already see will beautifully impart its luxurious colors and flavors to this year’s vintage.

558899_10151749433933305_1989147785_nThe talk of the town this year is the timing of these crops. I believe that most farmers are seeing their crop’s development as being weeks ahead of the last few years, due to good weather early on, and not having to battle much in the way of frost problems around bud-break. Also, with the fruit’s development being ahead of the expected schedule, it means that we will be able to comfortably develop the sugars we need, as well as the flavors we want, before the rainy season hits us. This is an unusual but huge blessing for us and our harvest.

We are very excited and enthusiastic about this year’s crop, and believe it will produce an excellent harvest, and in turn, some very special wine.”

Ethan Ray, Assistant Winemaker/Assistant Vineyard Manager, Parrish Family Vineyards


1233385_541838999218765_711048538_n“An early and warm spring got the growing season off to a quick start. Some cool stretches in the summer allowed varieties like Merlot to coast a bit and be ready for harvest around the same as an average year. However, for us, Cabernet Sauvignon will be coming in around two weeks earlier than normal. Our harvest size should be about average with nicely-sized clusters that should provide nice flavor and concentration.”

 Michael Barreto, Winemaker, Le Vigne Winery


“Jada Vineyard is located in a unique mesoclimate. 2013 is looking to be a perfect vintage for our vineyard site. I wouldn’t label our vineyard as a ‘cool’ site, because of our total degree days, but it does prove to be cooler than others in the area.  This has factored into our 2013 harvest, allowing flavors, color, and tannin to develop at a slower and more even pace.  In late September, we were just starting to pick some of our blocks.

1012719_10151494041516036_35960444_nThe challenging side of the 2013 vintage is dealing with uniformity issues within each block.  The key to rock star wines in 2013, for our vineyard and location within the AVA, is patience and picking extremely small sections of each block, and only when they are ready. If I were to pick the entire block at the same time, it could jeopardize the wine quality.”

David Galzignato, Winemaker, Jada Vineyard

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13