• By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 7:40 pm   |     |   Print   |   Permalink

Ever see a 100-year-old wine press sitting on rails suspended from a high ceiling? Or a large mural of Goldilocks picknicking with the three bears? Or 2,000 barrels stacked along temperature-controlled tunnel walls thirty-feet underground?

Such were some of the sights I saw last week on a return to the Paso Robles Wine Country at wineries with names like Epoch, Oso Libre, and Eberle. And besides the interesting sites inside the wineries, there was splendid coastal mountain scenery in every direction and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean every now and then.

Most wine regions are in beautiful locations. That’s true partly because the vineyards themselves are beautiful. But vines tend to do best in terrain that stresses them and which affords them the right blend of rain, sun, and drainage. I’m sure you have noticed that the most prestigious wines come from vines blessed by the presence of a river — the Rhine, the Rhone, the Saone, the Garonne, the Columbia, the Napa, the Ohio, and so on. Even  South-Central  Indiana grapes profit from Bean Blossom Creek. River country is beautiful country.

But there’s more even than the scenery. Good food abounds where there are vineyards. Those who seek the finest of foods point to Burgundy, Tuscany, California, good wine country all. Highly regarded cuisine flourishes in Vienna, Budapest, Lyon — homes to the fine wines of the Danube and the Saone; and we North Americans are paying more and more attention to foods from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and New Zealand as their wines continue to enter our stores.

Many wineries boast historic connections tied to events, visitors, traditional equipment and artifacts, the building housing them, or the owners themselves.

As on this recent trek through Paso Robles AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), the conversations with wine pioneers Jason Haas (Tablas Creek) and Gary Eberle resuled in more first-hand knowledge and a personification of the wines they create. Wine families are people of the soil and how to care for it.

Of course the tasting and sampling of the wines are of utmost interest and importance. But a winery visit has so much more to offer than the juice of the grape; it interprets a life style, a culture, a past and present, and immense satisfaction.

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