Paso Robles, a tale of two cities! Part 3

So day two (which again was very hot) of our winery road trip in Paso Robles, we headed to the West side. The locals call Justin and most of the wineries located here the "farside". In October the hills of Paso are like giant stacks of pale yellow hay dotted with solitary oak trees. But before we head out I filled our large ice chest with some ice, to avoid (inside temp reached about a 98 degrees) cooking all the wine, we anticipated purchasing. Upon arriving at the vineyard you could definitely see the soil type differences between the East and West. The calcareous soil, white soil containing calcium and magnesium, similar to that of the Rhone Valley jutting up above the surface, like icebergs floating on a ocean of soil. There in lies the contrast in East vs. West wine styles.
We had scheduled a tour @ Justin first thing in the morning. Our tour guide Jim Gerakaris, who is part of the tour and tasting room team gave us a grand tour of the facilities. Since we were there in the middle of harvest, we witnessed first hand many of the harvest (including a pesky flies which can't leave you alone) activities from grape to glass. It is a very impressive operation, the machinery and attention to detail is evident in the quality of wine they are producing. Our tasting was conducted back in the tasting room which is pretty lavish and encourages purchases.
The tasting line-up included the 2007 Reserve Chardonnay, 2007 Viognier, 2006 Syrah, 2006 Syrah and the 2006 Savant. Unfortunately were unable to taste the 2006 Justification or 2005 Isosceles, but we did purchase a few of the 06 Justification and trying this at home. Wow, very good! We luckily already had some of the 05 Isosceles at home. We did join the Justin Wine Society so we would be able to purchase the Isosceles Reserve.
The wines I would pass on here are the 07 Viognier and the 07 Chardonnay. These varietals typically grow better in a cooler climate and despite being sourced from the cool, ocean influenced Templeton gap area I thought both efforts were too austere. Justin also produces about five other wines which we politely ask to taste and they politely refused. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area it is totally worth the trip and book a tour.

Next we went to Tolo Cellars, and met the young winemaker and proprietor Josh Gibson. In wine circles he is said to be "flying under the radar", but definitely not a place to missed. As you pull up to a "little red school" which serves as the tasting room. I think we hung out in the kitchen which has a bar facing the sliding door entry way. He was very gracious to grant us a private tasting during the harvest. We had a great time talking about his wine making style and how he got started. The wines are very good and had a long persistent finish. The wine descriptions are very different than most, but are very smartly written. We walked out with six bottles and wished our budget could have afforded us more.

The wines we left with were the 2004 Cabernet, the 2002 Zinfandel and the 2004 Asini two of each. All of Josh's wines are worth your consideration and worth the trip to the tasting room. You can't find these wines on your supermarket shelves and your local wine shop guy won't have these either, but give him a call he may be able to ship a few bottles. If not "make the trip, you won't be disappointed", this is the advice I received and I am very happy I discovered this Westside gem. Thanks Josh!

In Part four you can look forward to my visit @ Tablas Creek, L'Adventure and Lone Madrone. Until then cheers!


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