A Weekend Away in Paso Robles, Ca

By Donna Polizzi

Paso Robles is home to over 300 wineries and tasting rooms.  Over the last few years, we have seen the wine industry take off to the point that I see it as a modern-day gold rush.  Everyone wants to get in on the action.

Fortunately, the wine business has also sprouted numerous cottage industries and created countless jobs with upward mobility.

Speaking of cottage industries… I recently met an ambitious young couple named Casey and Caroline Shepherd. They invited me to stay at their vacation rental, Cornerstone Cottage. Have you ever opened a door & just said, “Wow”? Walking into this beautiful 2-bedroom charmer, immediately put the lists of life that ramble thru my busy brain on mute!

This is the third century-old home that the Shepherd’s have fully renovated into a West Paso Robles vacation rental. This beautiful home, located on Filbert Street, bursts at the seams with character and rustic charm.

The upstairs master bedroom reminded me of a fairy tale cabin that you’d find in the woods. Hardwood floors and heavy wood paneling gave this home a warm and comfortable feel. The door from the downstairs bedroom leads out to a backyard area that feels like you are at the edge of a forest, where we sank into a swing for two. We watched deer frolic in the woods behind us while being serenaded by the sound of birds, an owl, and ambitious woodpecker.

At dusk, we simply hung out in front of the fireplace…. (with no TV, imagine that), while sipping a fantastic Robert Hall red blend.

In the morning, we had coffee on the porch swing and couldn’t believe the number of deer that passed around the house, as well as prancing around the neighborhood.  It was a delight to see.

Paso Robles has proven to be one of the worlds most exciting wine regions. The rolling terrain, the rich soils, and climate combine to create a character unique to this specific area.

Recently, I went to a Cabs of Distinction event held at the impressive Allegretto Vineyard Resort. Paso Robles reds of the same vintage were put up against Napa and Bordeaux. In a blind taste test held by 8 Sommeliers, Paso Robles wines shined. I was honored to be invited to this event, held for media and industry guests.  This is where I first learned about Calcareous Vineyard.

Calcareous Vineyard is perched on a hilltop with magnificent views.  Golden rolling hills as the backdrop for green vineyards and deep yellow mustard blowing in the wind is a gift to see.

Speaking of gold…The 2014 Calcareous Estate Chardonnay was like drinking liquid gold.  Priceless. Initially, I tasted bright pineapple notes that builds to an oaky, rich elegant finish with nice structure.

Erin McLaughlin is the tasting room ambassador who has been with the family for 10 years. She shared passionately about the history of this family business, as she served several wonderful wines. Calcareous is the Latin name for limestone and they’re known for their Rhone & Bordeaux varietals.

Erin told us that “the tasting room is affectionately named ‘Lloyd’s Lookout’.  Lloyd Messer passed just before the tasting room was completed and his two daughters Dana Brown and Erica Messer carry on the business”.

The first vintage was planted 2000 and their first harvest was in 2005.  They grow only one white on the property.

The 2013 Calcareous Pinot Noir is a powerful, but smooth red, with a surprising richness. Strong notes of current, black cherries and herbs with a smooth finish made my taste buds do the tango.

The 2013 Calcareous Tre’s Violet, named after Dana’s daughter, has big fruit and structure upfront with hardy tannins and dark fruit.

Anytime would be perfect for a visit to Calcareous Vineyard. I recommend Saturday’s & Sunday’s from 12-3 if you love food pairings as much as I do.  On Wednesday’s during the summer, they fire up the stone pizza oven that gracefully sits on this glorious hilltop, accompanied with live music.

Get up and get out there. Sip, savor and enjoy the abundance of beauty, wine, fine foods and cultural offerings that surround us, here on the beautiful California Central Coast.