The grapes of Napa often grab the headlines coming out of California wine country but the discerning vino cognoscenti knows that the Golden State harbors some of the best wineries in the world along its central coast. In the thick of it is Paso Robles, a vast countryside of rolling vineyards where vintners sport rustic spurs on their cowboy boots and the pace of life is calm. The annual Harvest Wine Weekend kicks off today, Friday, and promises to be the most robust yet. Over 150 wineries will host grape stomps, tours, tastings, dinners, and pairings (wine and bacon anyone?). One oenophile who will be traipsing around Harvest is Paso Wine Man (above)—the unabashed, vivacious Paso wine country cheerleader whose verve for the region’s splendors knows no bounds.
T+L caught up with the wine man before the big weekend to uncover his wines of choice; find out what makes “Tuscany with cowboys” so special; and why Paso Robles's brand of reds can’t be made anywhere else.
Q: What wines will Paso Wine Man be imbibing this weekend?
A: Per usual, I will start with a nicely chilled Roussanne in the afternoon and since it has been a gloriously sunny fall, we will be making our version of cassoulet paired with local wild boar (which I shot myself!). I will then be uncorking a Cuvee magnum (AKA Paso Blend) to complete the entire experience.
Q: How does Paso Robles stack up against other wine regions around the globe?
A: We here in Paso "know" the rules of winemaking as well (or better) as any other place in the world. And we know how to break the rules better than any other place in the world. You can't make these wines in France or Italy....they won't let you. We raise a glass to innovation and freedom.
Q: Where does Paso Robles Zinfandel stand in the pecking order of great red wines?
A: I hold our Zins in a rarified and respectful place. If you haven't tried them, do; you'll understand what I mean.
Q: Judging by the video above, you'll go to great lengths to be in Paso Robles this weekend. So it's Harvest eve, Paso Wine Man is grounded in Tokyo due to bad weather. What does he do?
A: He calls his friend, the Prime Minister of Japan, and Yoshihiko says, " My friend, it would be a dishonor to me and my country to be the cause of such a catastrophe. My jet is at your disposal. I have only one request: if you would allow me to accompany you I would be most grateful....."
"It's my life. Make it yours."
Catch Paso Wine Man's greatest hits here.
Nate Storey is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure