Eberle Winery, Paso Robles, CA
Eberle Winery is located in Paso Robles, CA which was unchartered territory for Neil and I. When we lived in California, we focused on the wine regions immediately surrounding San Francisco. We took the opportunity during our recent trip to California to explore some new wine regions. As luck would have it, Lori from Dracaena Wines volunteered to bring us to some of the landmark wineries of the area as our introduction to Paso Robles. She knew it was only appropriate to begin at Eberle Winery where we could experience the winery responsible for getting the AVA started. Not to mention, that Eberle Winery uses many Rhone varietals, grapes that Neil and I enjoy very much in wine.
When we arrived at Eberle, I had to take photos of the sprawling vineyard of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat Canelli. The tasting room had just opened for the day and we were anxious to start learning about the winery and the area. Eberle Winery opened in 1983, the same year that the AVA was approved. Gary Eberle, the current owner, was instrumental in this process. In order to prepare for his winery to open, he created his first batch of Cabernet Sauvignon using grapes from the 1979 vintage. Since this first batch they’ve won many awards and have become very well-known; Gary himself is known as the Godfather of Paso. One of the things people in the area know about Eberle Winery is their wine cave and the tours they offer throughout the day. We were excited to hear about the wine and cheese pairings you can also participate in during the cave tour. If only we had more than one day to fit all these Paso Robles tastings into, we’d get to try out that cheese supplied by Vivant Fine Cheese.
Our complimentary tastings were lead by Kaelin, a sommelier who was pleased to see how detail-oriented we were with our note-taking and wine tasting. Our tasting included these wines:
2017 Côtes du Rôbles Blanc (grenache blanc, roussanne, viognier)
2016 Côtes du Rôbles (grenache, syrah, mourvedre)
Full Boar Red (cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, barbera, syrah, sangiovese)
2016 Syrah (100% syrah)
2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2017 Muscat Canelli
We began by tasting two white wines, their white rhone blend, Côtes du Rôbles and Gary’s choice, the Viognier. I am usually drawn to white rhone blends so it was an easy choice to include in my tasting. I described the aromas as clean, mineral, and honey. Neil can always identify the fruit side of the wine, finding apricot and tangerine aromas. The fruit continued to come through in the flavor for him with apricots and pears. He thought it was light and refreshing. I noticed a smooth flavor with some oak and apples. As we swirled the Viognier, I picked up petrol, peach and sweet aromas but Neil identified caramel and a slight creme brûlée aroma. I questioned if I detected oak in this wine but with Neil’s description of aromas and round, caramel flavors, he definitely did. I found the wine to be more mineral and citrus and Neil added a melon-cantelouple flavor too.
Next we moved on to the red Côtes du Rôbles, a wine we had just tried a week before with Pam in Seal Beach. She received a bottle at the Pacific Rim wine competition where she had volunteered and met Gary. Not only do I like white rhone blends but red rhone blends are great too. It was pretty cool to get a sneak peek at a winery we’d be visiting soon. This wine had soft, strawberry aromas and some spice. It was dry, light, soft, and spicy with a nice amount of acid. When Neil tasted the wine he thought it was different than he remembered from Pam’s house. Neil opted to try the Zinfandel next, finding jammy and lightly spiced aromas. As he sipped it, there were flavors of blackberry, jam and licorice. I thought it’d be fun to try the red blend and see if I could taste all the different grapes. There were red fruit and licorice aromas with a light texture, soft and dry flavors and red fruit. Guess I didn’t really call out any grapes but it was time to try the Syrah.
The grapes for this wine come from the Steinbeck Vineyard and it’s another example of how Gary is a wine pioneer. He made this wine using 100% syrah grapes, which hadn’t been done since Prohibition. It’s so great to be around innovations in wine! He actually came in the winery during our tasting and pointed up at an older photo very casually saying “that’s me up there”. I picked up aromas of meat and smoke in the Syrah but Neil found the terroir this time calling out “rocks”. We both described it as dry but Neil still found those rocks and some dark fruit. The estate Cabernet Sauvignon, is the red wine you’ll usually find Gary sipping as he greets visitors at the entrance. I enjoyed it’s savory aroma that reminded me of olives or salt. Neil noticed the aroma to be big dark fruit and leather. He called it one of the most interesting Cabernet’s he’s ever had, since it was fruity, smooth, velvety and dark. I thought it was dry with cherry, dark fruit and a nice amount of acid.
As a sweet treat, I ended my tasting with the Muscat Canelli. I used to pour this varietal in one of my previous tasting room jobs so I figured I’d give this one a try. There were sweet and tropical aromas with a smooth, soft, fruit flavor. They grow these grapes here on their property. At 7% residual sugar, it really wasn’t overly sweet, just pleasant.
We decided to purchase a bottle of the Viognier at the end of the tasting that we would bring to our friends in San Francisco. They are fellow winelovers and will certainly enjoy hearing the story of Eberle Winery if they aren’t familiar with it. Thanks to Lori for starting off our Paso Robles wine tour with Eberle Winery. She already knew these wines but happily tasted alongside us that day. Her dog Vegas was even enjoying himself by showing us his dog tricks in order to get a treat from Kaelin. And now, onto the next Paso Robles vineyard.
Later on that day, we returned to Eberle Winery to pick up our car. It was then that we saw Gary and some friends sitting outside enjoying some of his Cabernet. I went over to say Hi. We spoke of favorite chefs that had visited the winery for events, local restaurants and the wine and cheeses served during the cave tour. What a terrific way to end our day in Paso Robles!