Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paso Robles

There is a mystique with wine.  Yes, I love a great glass of wine shared with friends, but for me it is more than that.  In every glass I can feel the people that went into it; the vines, grown from sticks, flown from the other side of the world, the hands that pick the grapes, the expert wine masters who choose the methods and the beauty of nature, every changing, adding this year’s magic ingredient.

California is wine country; it is part of the landscape and culture.  A large part of the state focused on growing grapes, wine production, distribution and consumption; waiters in many restaurants are as knowledgeable about the wines as the pourers at the fine wineries.  This place knows and loves it’s wine. California produces 90 percent of the wine consumed in the US; if California was a separate country, it would be the fourth largest producer in the world.

There are four distinct wine regions, today, we are heading to the Central Coast region, specifically, Paso Robles. Boasting of 26,000 acres of vineyards and 200 wineries, this is lesser known than Napa or Sonoma.  Wine tours and tasting is a large part of what keeps these wineries going; we are committed to help the local economy.  We pick two, one with good view, and one with a good outlaw story. 

The drive along Highway 46 is beautiful; the view as we drive up the mountain road breathtaking.  Calcareous is the Latin word describing the chalky, limestone soil that makes up this area, it is also the destination as we climb to this lovely perch 1800 feet above the Salinas Valley.

The story goes that Lloyd, “boots” Messer and his daughter Dana had a dream realized when they acquired this land in 2000. Hard work turned it into a notable vineyard and winery. On his passing in 2006, Dana’s sister, Erika, came to help Dana guide the operation.

Our next stop is Tobin James. I bet you can not guess what draws us here? 

Frank was 7 and Jessie 3 when their minister father and Uncle Drury left Missouri to preach to the gold miners of California; the year was 1850.  Their law-biding uncle is actually given credit as the co-founder of Paso Robles.   Years later when Frank and Jessie, now part of the infamous James-Younger gang, found respite in the nearby hot springs.

Jessie once stood at this bar.  Tobin James, no relation, purchased this bar and had it shipped here. Very cool and it looks like Brad has had enough of this wine stuff; time to head back.

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