• By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm   |     |   Print   |   Permalink

The first thing I noticed when walking into the Epoch Winery was the modernistic portrait of Ignacy Jan Paderewski behind the tasting room bar. When I asked if that was the pianist, Kristin Darnell was not only pleased, she seemed impressed.

It’s always good to impress your host or hostess when visiting a winery — and as I mentioned in my last column, there is much pleasure in a winery visit that goes beyond the wine itself. (She had no idea that as a child I had heard the Polish pianist perform.)

Kristin explained that the great musician and one-time Polish Prime Minister had been a lover of fine wine and that part of the Epoch property included the 82 acres Paderewski had once owned and for whom one of their prestigious vineyards is named. Hardly in the door, and my “more than the wine” experience was underway.

Epoch is in the Willow Creek area of the greater Paso Robles Wine Region, the coolest vineyards in the area. That I grew up along a Willow Creek in northwest Indiana merely added to my interest in the place. Epoch is cooled by the Pacific Ocean, a scant seven miles away sending breezes through the Santa Lucia Hills to contrast with the brilliant California sunshine.

To continue my “more than the wine” rant, Epoch employs a staff architect to look after its historic buildings. While the overall impression of the winery is quite modern and up to date, the entire place is built from or part of the original 1882 farmhouse, bunkhouse, and barn established by Andrew York. Epoch can claim to be among the oldest wineries in the region. It’s also the winery housing that 100-year-old press on rails suspended from the ceiling mentioned in my column last week. Kristen said the raising of that press stopped all other activity on the day it went up. Her degrees from the University of New Mexico and Harvard combined with her work with wine make her an ideal ambassador for the Epoch aspirations.

Oh yes, the wines. There were samples of Veracity and Ingenuity, playful names for very serious wines from the Paderewski and Catapult vineyards, Veracity a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah, the Ingenuity of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Petite Syrah. The names, incidentally, are bestowed by winemaker Jordan Fiorentini, more proof, if any ever needed, that women can produce exceptional wines. Epoch is one of the recognized “Rhone Rangers,” replicating wines from the grapes best known in that famous river valley.

Epoch is owned and was created by Bill and Liz Armstrong, Denver-based oil and gas professionals, in 2010 to translate their love of wine into producing wine they would be proud to serve their friends. Kristen came to Epoch from her job with the Armstrongs in Denver to manage employee relations, sales, marketing, and greet visitors who used to listen to Paderewski.

Epoch wines sell out every harvest season, mostly to allocations for regular clients and visitors so your best chance to obtain some is to join the waiting list or, better still, pay a visit. The winery is about 15 miles east of Paso Robles just off State Highway 46 at 7505 York Mountain Road, Templeton CA  93465. Better call first: (805) 237-7575. Epochwines.com. And try the Estate Blend — the Rhone wine with a dash of Tempranillo and Zinfandel.


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