It's Sofa King Suite in Paso Robles

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, January 2, 2011

The week after Christmas, one of Mike's best friends from high school, also named Mike, and his wife Katie, came to visit. They were making a trip from San Fran to Las Vegas and spent a few days with us in Monterey.  In order to get them a little closer to Vegas, we decided to go to Paso Robles and spend the day and night before they set off on their long drive to Sin City. My Mike wanted to share a couple wineries with Mike K., and I put together a list of a few others we wanted to try.

Unfortunately, the day greeted us with rain and did not look likely to subside. Mike and Katie still wanted to seize the opportunity to take the Pacific Coast Highway down to Cambria and then cut over to Paso. Mike and I knew that on such a day many vistas would be lost in the rain and that the route would be slow and hazardous with its hairpins turn, so we opted to take the less scenic and quicker 101 route. We left about 45 minutes after our guests and arrived less than 2 hours later.  We called them when we arrived and knew it would still be close to an hour before they would be able to meet us. So Mike and I headed to Lone Madrone winery. We had sampled some wine of theirs at the Taste of Paso Event in San Diego last winter, and I had listed it as a winery we wanted to visit.

I really enjoy the Paso Robles wine, yet I still have not gotten a good consensus on what the region is known for. A lot of tasting rooms will say Zinfandel while others boast the region’s Cabernets and Rhone varietals.  Although not very descriptive, I find that I enjoy their blends the most. I feel like wine makers in Paso tend to have more fun than winemakers in other regions as the tasting rooms are full of unique blends. Although the host at Lone Madrone picked Zinfandel as the region’s star, the first two wines of the tasting reconfirmed my theory on blends. The first wine made with Garnacha Blanca and Albariņo was followed by the Points West White (Roussane, Viognier, and Picpoul Blanc  grapes).  I loved the mouthfeel and the complexity of the latter and put a big star on my tasting notes. Mike loved their Syrah and Mouvedre blend, the Points West Red, before I fell in love with the 2005 Cab.  The nose hinted at spice while berries, clove, and chocolate mingled on the palate before a late hint of vanilla. Yum! So our day of tasting began with buying three bottles of wine.

Just down the road we met Katie and Mike at Four Vines’s Cypher Winery tasting room. My Mike and I had been here before and their blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Mourvedre called Anarchy may just be my all-time favorite wine. The eclectic tasting room hosts some other blends I love such as the Monarchy and the Peasantry. We started with the Naked Chardonnay, whose first vintage was the first non-oaked Chardonnay made in California. We then moved on to the big, bad reds. The line-up included my favorites as well as the Loco Tempranillo and the ZinBitch. All the wines were great and I was ecstatic that the latest vintage of Anarchy was all that I hoped it would be. We purchased several bottles of wine before having lunch at the Farmstand 46 deli next door. Luckily the rain subsided enough for us to eat our yummy sandwiches outside with the pups.

We checked into our hotel and consolidated into one car just as the sky opened up once again. Our next stop was Calcareous, a winery that’s been on my "To Do list" for awhile.  The driveway wound up to a hill top tasting room. We tried not to be disappointed by the weather as we could only imagine the majestic views awarded on a clear day. I was delighted to discover the owner was one of the pourers as this always enriches a tasting experience. The wines lived up to their hype. Mike loved the cherry and chocolatey Cabernet, which was superb but I picked the more complex Meritage as the tasting’s winner. In the end, these two bottles plus their Tres Violet, GSM, joined our growing stash. We shook hands with the owner and vowed to come back to unwind on a beautiful day.

Thatcher Winery, a small fairly new family run winery was our next destination. The owner’s children played outside and the owner, Sherman, greeted us from behind the tasting bar. It was fun to try two different styles of several varietals including Viognier, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Katie and Mike K. really liked their KR Viognier and the Paso Syrah though I was not surprised to discover that I preferred the Monterey County Syrah to Paso’s.   However, we all loved the Controlled Chaos, a blend of Zinfandel, Mourvedre and Grenache. The in-your-face flavors included cherry, berry pepper, spice and vanilla with a wonderful long, lingering finish.  Although the wine juggled multiple layers it was so balanced that Controlled Chaos was in fact the perfect name. And I look forward to revisiting this wine after a chaotic day.

We saved one of my husband’s all-time favorite tasting rooms, Chronic Cellars, for last. We had bought a couple of bottles of their Dead Nuts Zin when we lived in San Diego. Mike enjoyed the wine so much that he had ridden his motorcycle down there shortly after we moved to Monterey. Besides the unique tasting room, their prices are fantastic and the wines are smooth, fruity and yummy.   Mike was delighted to discover the tasting room had a pool table too.  I knew he was the most eager about sharing this experience with his old friend. With its skull and cross bones logo, Chronic markets to the new generation of wine drinkers. Chronic Cellars’ popularity was obvious as they were sold out of most of their vintages and were still waiting to release the next batch.  We tried the Sofa King Suite Riesling and the Sofa King Bueno, a red blend of six or seven grapes. The Purple Paradise, mostly Zin with a little Syrah, was utterly smooth beginning with strawberries complemented with herbs and pepper before ending in vanilla. We bought a bottle of that to enjoy while Mike and Mike played a game of pool.  Katie and I nestled into the corner booth reflecting on the deliciousness of the day. And if you still haven’t understood the title of this post, say it aloud a few times and then you will know that despite the rain, a day with good friends and good wine is nothing but Sofa King Suite.

Thanks to Katie Kiefer for the letting me use her photos!

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