News & Events
The Paso Robles Chapter of the Rhone Rangers organization is dedicated to the education and promotion of Rhone varietals and Rhone blends to local trade, media, and consumers, and of Paso Robles as a top California region in the production of outstanding Rhone varietal grapes and wines.
-Rhone Rangers Mission Statement
2016 is going to be a good year for Paso Robles. We as a wine region are becoming more well known and loved and continually evolving our approach to wine making and tourism. This includes several educational and fun events from the Rhone Rangers. The first event will be Sunday, February 14th, 2016 at Broken Earth Winery. There will be a “Rhone Essentials” Seminar in which you taste a top example of each of the principal categories of Paso Robles Rhone wines are you hear from winemakers and principals who have chosen the Rhone Ranger route in Paso Robles. The seminar panel will be moderated by Esther Mobley, Wine, Beer & Spirits Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. The wineries and speakers representing the major categories will be:
- Viognier: Four Lanterns (Steve Gleason, Owner)
- Roussanne: Cass Winery (Steerling Kragten, Winemaker)
- White Rhone Blend: Calcareous (Jason Joyce, Winemaker)
- Dry Rose: Halter Ranch (Molly Lonborg, Associate Winemaker)
- Grenache: Broken Earth Winery (Chris Cameron, Winemaker)
- Mourvedre: Adelaida Cellars (Jeremy Weintraub, Winemaker)
- Syrah: Alta Colina Winery (Bob Tillman, Owner/Winemaker)
- Red Rhone Blend: Pomar Junction (Jim Shumate, Winemaker)
- Petite Sirah: ONX Winery (Brian Brown, Winemaker)
Following the seminar will be a Vintners’ Lunch in which seminar participants will be joined by Rhone Rangers principles and winemakers for a gourmet banquet lunch, prepared by local chef Jeffery Scott (click here to see the menu). The members’ Rhone wines will be passed freely among the luncheon and you’ll get to interact with the wine producers. Next, there will be a Grand Tasting & Silent Auction in which you will taste nearly 150 wines from the complete membership of the Paso Robles Rhone Rangers, including top single Rhone varietals and the best in Rhone blends. During the Grand Tasting, bid on lots donated by Rhone Rangers member wineries and help support the Rhone Rangers scholarship fund!
Seminar and Luncheon 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM (Silent Auction Preview 10:00am-10:30am)
Grand Tasting and Silent Auction 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Tickets for the seminar and lunch are $90, and seminar/lunch attendees will receive free entry into the Grand Tasting. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $35, and free to qualified trade and media (advance registration is required).
Purchase tickets to the Rhone Rangers Experience
Sign up for the Rhone Rangers email list here
2016 “Varietal Nights” Series
Beyond the Rhone Rangers Experience, there will be eight smaller tastings throughout the year, each focused on a grape or a style of wine and hosted by a different Paso Robles Rhone Rangers winery. The 2016 schedule is below; tickets for each event go on sale about 6 weeks before the event:
- January 19 (at Derby) Petite Sirah
- March 8 (at Thacher) Red Rhone Blends
- April 19 (at Alta Colina) Mourvedre Seminar & Tasting
- May 24 (Venue TBA) Rose
- June 21 (at Eberle) White Rhone Wines of Summer
- August 16 (at Cass Winery) BBQ Dinner & Tasting of Best White & Red Rhone
- September 16 (at Tooth & Nail) Grenache
- December 6 (at Niner) Holiday sit-down dinner & Syrah tasting
As the year winds down, we want to thank each of one you for your continued support of Still Waters Vineyards. This past May we celebrated our 11 year anniversary and what a great 11 years it has been! The property continues to change and become more beautiful each year and we feel the wine has done the same. We hope you would agree. We love knowing that Still Waters’ wine has been on your dinner table, shared with family and friends.
We have a great year planned for 2016 and hope you can take part in some of the upcoming activities.
Happy Holidays and Cheers to a great 2015 and an even better 2016!
Paul, Pat, Kasey, Taylor, David, Carlos, Jesus, Pedro, Charlie, Jesus Jr., Martha, Sheila, Shelly, Rick, Carmen, Rachel and Lee
To cellar, or not to cellar? That is the ultimate question when it comes to aging wine.
Some assume the longer you keep a wine, the better it will taste, but multiple factors can influence the quality of a wine over time. Our winemaker and owner, Paul Hoover has some answers to your wine aging questions!
Ready to Drink
With 90% of all wine purchased being consumed within 12-18 months of production, there is a demand among winemakers to produce wines that are ready to drink now. These wines are delicate, soft, and smooth. In comparison, wines meant for aging may seem harsh and acidic, but those are the characteristics that will allow the wine to age beautifully into the future. With proper aging, some wines that are high in acid and tannins can develop into amazing wines. Once the tannins are allowed to soften, the fruit develops and the acidity comes into balance.
Ask the Winemaker
The structure of the wine – meaning acid, alcohol, and tannins will play a determining role in how long a wine will last. Ask the winemaker or tasting room attendant about these key components to learn if the wine will age well.
- Acidity: As wine ages, the acidity will fade. Typically a wine with a higher acid level and lower pH will have better aging potential.
- Alcohol: The best wines for aging will be 13.5-14% ABV.
- Tannins: Tannins are a structural component of a wine which allows the wine to change over time. Tannins come from the contact the juice has on the skins during fermentation and also from oak barrel aging.
Know the Variety
Know the variety. Certain varieties have intrinsic characteristics that allow them to age better than others. Although there are exceptions to every rule, white wine is traditionally meant to be consumed now. Varieties with smaller berries such as Cabernet Sauvignon have a very high skin to juice ratio. This creates higher tannins from the skins and seeds leading to wines that can age over 10 years.
One tool I use to test the wine is to leave about 1/4 of the bottle of wine overnight for sampling the next day… if you can! If the wine still tastes good the next day after the oxygen exposure there is a good chance the wine has many years to go.
Taste for Time
If an older wine still has good acidity on the finish, it still has more time to age. When purchasing a wine you think may age well, it is always best to buy at least six bottles. Taste one bottle each year to be able to learn how the wine evolves over time to develop a sense of how the wine will age.
Age for Memories
My favorite reason to save and age wines is to remember the year the wine was made. Maybe a marriage took place or a new grandchild was born. One tradition we have at Still Waters is to save a wine from the year each grandchild was born to drink at their 21st birthday or wedding.
September is California Wine Month and that is an exciting time for us folk in Paso Robles. We know wine. We love wine. It is arguably the lifeblood of this area. Every year across 11 sub AVAs in Paso Robles luscious plump grapes are grown to be made into a product that has always been in demand. Our vintners provide wine grown in the unique soils and hills of Paso Robles that cannot be duplicated nor ignored. In turn we welcome tourists who come to be relieved of the wearisome world and bask in the joviality that wine and cultivate. We’re very proud of the oasis we have created and in honor of this we have compiled a timeline of the Paso Robles Wine Industry for your enjoyment.
1790’s: Wine grapes are brought to the area by Franciscan monks. Vines are established at the Asistencia on the Santa Margarita Ranch as well as Mission San Miguel Arcangel.
Late 1870’s/Early 1880’s: Indiana rancher Andrew York establishes Ascension Winery, later known as York Mountain Winery, planting some of the region’s earliest Zinfandel vines.
1886: The city of El Paso de Robles (The Pass of the Oaks) is founded.
1914: Ignacy Paderewski purchases Rancho San Ignacio and Rancho Santa Helena in Paso Robles. Grows Zinfandel and other varietals.
1950’s, 60’s, 70’s: Bordeux and Burgandy varietals introduced to Paso Robles area, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.
1970’s and 80’s: Rhone varietals are introduced to the area. Gary Eberle and Cliff Giacobine plant 700 acres of Syrah, bringing to the region its first Rhone varietals.
1990: There are fewer than 20 wineries in Paso Robles.
1997 : JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery’s Bordeaux-style ISOSCELES named one of the top 10 wines in the world by the Wine Spectator.
2004: Still Waters Vineyards opens for business.
2007 – AB 87 law passes, requiring wines of Paso Robles AVA origin to list Paso Robles first (prominently) on label
2008 : The Paso Robles AVA expanded by 2,635 to extend its southern border
2010 : Saxum Vineyard’s James Berry Vineyard 2010 wine designated number one in the world by Wine Spectator
2013 : Paso Robles Wine Country named Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2013 Wine Region of the Year
2015 : More than 32,000 vineyard acres and more than 200 wineries in Paso Robles AVA
We are excited to be featured in this amazing PG&E commercial about the importance of being energy efficient during the drought. We think the vineyard looks beautiful and are happy that so many people all over California will get to see the gorgeous views Paso Robles has to offer. Thanks PG&E for selecting Still Waters Vineyards to be featured!
Throughout history, mankind has faced a myriad of questions in which the mind reels and boggles with the enormity of said idea. About this time one would assume man also learned how to make alcohol to help with those hard to take facts of life. Today we’ll explore one such question…What is the difference between a Syrah and a Petite Sirah? If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ll have grappled with this question time and time again when presented with a choice between the two. Why are there two? Is one smaller? Why is it spelled differently? Were you drunk when you wrote this? As we said earlier… hard hitting questions. So, without further ado, let’s start our exploration.
Syrah and Petite Sirah are two different varietals with very different flavor compositions. Syrah is the older of the two grapes and originates from the northern Rhone region in France. Syrah has a bit of an old, murky past dating back (predating even!) to the Roman times. Pliny the Elder may or may not have written about Syrah in his Naturalis Historia but DNA testing being what is was back then, we can’t know for sure. Syrah is the product of two obscure and now relatively defunct varietals Dureza (father) and Mondeuse blanc (mother), both native to areas close to the northern Rhone region. Syrah flavor composition is heavily dependent on the climate in which is it grown. Syrah does best in a warm (but not too hot) climate, and on well-drained, rocky soils; it buds relatively late and ripens relatively early; is not prone to disease or rot, making it a hearty yet valuable varietal. Paso Robles offers a warmer climate and varied soil conditions that generally impart flavors of dark fruits, sometimes smoke, meat (particularly bacon), leather and a white pepper finish. Syrah will benefit from being laid down for about 5 years and will make you forget about Bordeauxs. You’ll probably have heard of Shiraz, which is what the Australians and South Africans generally label their version of Syrah. The climate is hot and dry and gives forth a markedly younger, jammier Syrah. For that reason, a distinction is made, but is not legally enforced in the United States. Syrah has a lengthy and illustrious history, it is worthy of our admiration for its durability and adaptability.
Petite Sirah has a much younger history. Also commonly known as Durif, Petite is a cross between Syrah (father) and Peloursin (mother), another red grape from the Rhone region. Sometime in the 1880’s French botanist Francois Durif found that his Peloursin had been pollinated by his Syrah and had produced a vine marked by saturated color (the skin is nearly black) and very dense fruit clusters. In 1884 Petite Sirah was introduced in Alameda County (East Bay) and has steadily grown in popularity ever since. Petite Sirah is a very late ripening grape with a thin skin and is hence susceptible to the ravages of late season rains common in the Rhone region. Today Petite Sirah is virtually nonexistent in its native France but thrives in the United States, Australia, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. Petite Sirah is a big bold red that you can remember by noting that there really is nothing Petite about this wine. The grapes are small and concentrated, but the flavor they impart is huge. The tannins are strong, the color a deep inky red and the flavor fairly acidic with firm texture and mouth feel. The bouquet has herbal and black pepper overtones and typically offers flavors of blue fruit, black fruit, and plums.
So what have we learned? Syrah and Petite Sirah are their own varietals. Never again will you have to gaze confused at a tasting menu wondering if you should just pick the Syrah because why would you want a smaller version? In fact both varietals offer a lot, whether you want to just open a bottle to share with friends or pair it with something particularly delicious for dinner. The fun about wine is that it is ever evolving and the flavors always will show you something new. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t worry that you’re not a “wine connoisseur”. If you like it, drink it. And you won’t ever know if you like it, until you try it…am I right or am I right?
With over thirty barrels to taste and eight different varieties, the 5th annual Still Waters Vineyards Roll out the Barrels tasting was a BLAST! This year we had two sessions and over 150 club members helping us taste the 2011 wines.
This event is typically a tasting of our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Due to the fact that 2011 was an interesting year. we decided to bring in some Rhone varieties also. At Still Waters, we let Mother Nature play a huge roll in the way our wines taste from year to year and the growing season can completely change how a vintage of wines will develop.
The 2011 growing season started our perfect. We had four inches of rain in late December 2010, which was followed by two inches of rain on January 2nd. From February 1st to the 10th we had many days in the 70’s. Finally, we say five inches of rain in March and had a perfectly timed bud break on April 2nd. Unfortunately, all of that great spring weather came to a screeching halt! We experienced three days of temperatures below 28 degrees after bud break from April 7th to the 9th. We lost 50% of that year’s crop in just three days. YIKES!
So what does all this men for the 2011 vintage? It means these wines will be very different than past wines since all the fruit comes from the secondary fruit the vines produced. The wines will be higher in acid, dryer, lower in alcohol and less fruit forward. You will find them very food friendly, easy to enjoy and they should be able to age for years.
The following chart shows where each barrel that was available to taste ranked overall. Thanks to all who attended. We had the very best time and truly appreciate your help.. We look forward to tasting the final product!
We are thrilled to announce that our Estate 2010 Merlot won Best in Class at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Please come out the the tasting room to give this beautiful wine a taste and take a bottle home to share with your family and friends.
Bleu Cheese Crusted Grilled Lamb Chops
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
3/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. chopped mint
4 lamb rib chops, frenched
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish
Light the grill or start the fire if using wood burning barbeque.
In a small bowl, mix the olive, salt, pepper and vinegar. Place the chops in the oil mixture and coat on both sides.
In a separate bowl mix the bleu cheese, bread crumbs, vinegar, mint and garlic. Remove the chops from the oil mixture and coat them in the cheese/bread crumb mixture. Place the chops on the grill. After flipping once, add a heaping teaspoon of the cheese/breadcrumb mixture to the top of each chop. Grill each side for two to four minutes to preferred doneness. Plate the chops and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh mint.
8 small potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice and quarter the potatoes and place in baking dish. Pour olive oil over the potatoes and toss with the garlic and fresh rosemary. Bake for 35 minutes and serve.
August is upon us and with it, much excitement. Summer is trudging ever faithfully towards autumn, though not without imparting its brightest rays and warmest temperatures. Our vines have been dutifully prospering, making due with the conditions nature has bestowed upon us this year. Harvest is on everyone’s mind and the grapes seem to be relishing in this. They are, in fact, so eager that the traditional timeline of harvest just isn’t fast enough this year. The first fruit samples taken on July 28 indicate that the first of the whites will be ready about two weeks early. Read on to find out what this means for the fruit, for us, and for you!
Veraison : French for “the onset of ripening”, Veraison simply put is the physiological process of the fruit ripening. Before the grapes enter veraison, they are green and hard with low sugar levels and high levels of acid. As veraison progresses, the sugar and the PH levels rise and the acid levels fall. The goal is to find that perfect combination within the right timeline.
Acid: As sugar levels rise in the grape, acid levels fall. It is crucial to have a certain acid level in the fruit to provide a balance to the sugar and create a palatable wine. Titratable acidity or “TA” measures the total amount of protons available in the juice or wine and is measured as the date of harvest approaches.
PH: pH is the measurement of free (H+) hydrogen ions. A low pH number indicates a high concentration of acids in a solution. As the acid levels in ripening grapes fall, the concentration of acids are lessening which means the pH level is rising.
Sugar: The increase of sugars in the grapes comes from the storage of carbohydrates in the roots and trunk of the grapevines as well as through the process of photosynthesis. The rate of this build up will depend on several factors, including the climate, as well as the potential yield size of grape clusters and young vine shoot tip which compete for the resources of the mother grapevine.
In short, all of this information tells us that not only is wine making complicated, but farming the grapes with the right balance is a highly delicate and specific process. We have two weeks to raise the sugars, lower the acid, and bring up the ph. However, this sweet spot takes luck, dedication, and skill, ensuring that like a shepherd tending his sheep, Still Waters will be diligently monitoring the fruits of our labor to bring us a truly special wine.