This past weekend my husband and I went to Paso Robles, CA for Vintage Paso Weekend. It used to be called Zinfandel Weekend because it honors Paso’s heritage varietal, Zinfandel. There are events at over 100 wineries, a Zinposium and a Z Afterparty. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile food wines. I love pairing it with pizza, BBQ, steak, you name it, it’s delicious and a great go-to wine.
The first Zinfandel vines in Paso Robles were planted in 1885!! And what is incredible is that they are still producing!! That’s what I call Old Vine Zin! Obviously the yields are lower the older the vines get, but these vines are still producing great Zinfandel.
My most favorite event of the weekend was the Zinposium hosted by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance at the Paso Robles Inn ballroom. There is just something magical about listening to a winemaker talk about his/her wine; what block in the vineyard it’s from, the soil, how the climate affected growth, how it was aged and for how long, etc. I could listen for days! Their passion and energy is contagious. You realize very quickly that they are very hardworking people, and that being a winemaker is not at all glamorous.
There were 5 winemakers on the panel this year: Janell Dusi from J. Dusi, (a 4th generation grape grower!) Brennan Stover from Turley, Doug Beckett from Peachy Canyon, Neil Collins from Lone Madrone, and David Young representing Minassian Young Vineyards. We got to taste a Zinfandel that each of them showcased. Each Zinfandel was very different in color and taste, and ranging in price from $34 to $95. What they did have in common is that each Zinfandel was dry-farmed. No irrigation at all. According to the winemakers, this allows for the best representation of what a wine from that particular vineyard can taste like. The lack of irrigation forces the roots to go down deep to find the water table and produces much better wines. Struggling vines make the best wines. For once my favorite of the Zins wasn’t the most expensive! I loved Turley’s 2016 Ueberroth Vineyard Zinfandel. That’s the vineyard with the oldest producing vines in Paso. 130 years old!! They are known for their many good Zins.
After grabbing a quick dinner at Jeffrey’s Wine Country BBQ, (I highly recommend it) we went back to the Paso Robles Inn ballroom for the Z After party. There were 20 wineries represented, all pouring a couple of different Zinfandels or Zinfandel blends. While we listened to the jazz band play we walked around eating desserts from different local establishments and tasting wine. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night, am I right? Now, with that many different wines being poured there’s just no way to taste them all. Your palate gets tired pretty quickly, even if you’re sipping and spitting. What the Z Afterparty confirmed for my husband and I is that we are in the right wine clubs. Our favorite wines were from the wineries that we are already members at.
We had a great time and hope to attend Vintage Paso Weekend again next year. I just can’t pass up a good wine seminar. The next big weekend in Paso Robles is the 37th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival May 15th – 19th. Try to go if you can. There will be another wine seminar, a grand tasting with local bites in the downtown park, and many events and wine dinners at the wineries. You will love the down-to-earth charm of this small town. Cheers! 🍷