AWG Correspondent

Anthony Marocco

Halter Ranch Vineyard Photos

Halter Ranch Vineyard Review

Regions: Paso Robles AVA, Adelaida District AVA, California

Reviewed: July 19, 2014 by Anthony Marocco
Published: July 31, 2014

As we were departing Justin Vineyards, the tasting room staff offered us suggestions on destinations to visit next. We were looking for some small to medium-sized gems that would offer us the most unique experience, and one place that topped that list was Halter Ranch Vineyard. Halter Ranch is located in the Paso Robles Westside Adelaida District and produces Bordeaux and Rhône-style wines made from 100% sustainable, estate-grown grapes. The ranch itself has been around since the late 1800s when it was originally owned by businessman Edwin Smith, who was a dealer in produce and livestock and was part of 3,600 acres of land he owned. Edwin built a Victorian farmhouse that later burned down, but was rebuilt and utilized until his business collapsed. In 1943, about 1,200 acres were purchased by the MacGillivray family and was farmed for over 50-plus years until the first grape vines were eventually planted in 1996. The original farmhouse still stands on the property and is an iconic home in the Adelaida District to this day. In 2000, Hansjörg Wyss purchased about 900 acres of the ranch and expanded the vineyards to about 280 acres of vines and renovated the historic farmhouse. The Swiss born Wyss believes that Paso Robles is the perfect setting to produce some world-class wines, and, with the enlisted help of winemaker Kevin Sass (the 11 year veteran winemaker from Justin Vineyards), it seems almost certain that his dream is coming true.

From the moment we passed the ranch fence posts, we were greeted with the gorgeously-restored farmhouse bearing red trim and white siding. The new stonework scattered about the property from the stone lined patio to the well is near perfection. As you park and make your way to the tasting room, you will find it almost impossible not to take photos of the historic home. To the left hand side, a patio covered with bistro tables and chairs surrounds the stone-built fireplace and leads you to the front doors of the tasting room. We did not have the opportunity to visit the recently-built facility that was located at the rear of the property. To the right of the tasting room was the old barn and new members' facilities. We entered into the tasting room with two gorgeous wooden tasting bars split in the middle with the right bar connecting to a bowed circular portion by the front register. To the left of the entrance is a cooler filled with assorted cheeses and charcuterie, and to the right is a small gift section with t-shirts and other swag. All the way down the left side of the tasting room are doors that lead out to the patio and with that it was time to begin our tasting. The tasting fee is $10 and is waived with the purchase of a bottle (which is the norm around Paso), and it allows visitors to taste through 5 wines.

On this particular visit, we tasted a rose, a white, and three reds. Our well-versed pourer, Kathy, began our tasting with the 2013 Rose ($21), which is a blend of 73% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 7% Picpoul Blanc. Strawberry and tropical nuances blessed the nose with light strawberry and mineral character on the palate while mixing in some light floral notes on the bone dry finish. We then moved onto the 2013 Côtes de Paso Blanc ($28), which is a blend of 75% Grenache Blanc, 20% Picpoul Blanc, 3% Roussane, and 2% Viognier. Aromatic, with notes of light melon and tea, the Rhone-style blend had smooth flavors of apricot and citrus notes that finished clean with nuances of jasmine tea. The highlight of the tasting was the red wines, beginning with the 2011 Côtes de Paso Red Blend ($32), a blend of 48% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre, and 6% Tannat. This heavy-hitter is full bodied and complex, peeling back layers of dark fruit, leather, cedar, plum and tobacco, adding in black pepper notes on the dry finish, and concluding smooth and soft. Overall, a masculine wine with a smooth delicate side. Next up on the menu was the 2011 Syrah ($32), which turned out to be one of my favorites in the tasting. Big, bold, and complex with a nose packed with clove, dark chocolate, and dark fruit. The palate is smooth with blackberries wrapped in chocolate and shows some peppery notes mid palate while tapering off with notes of leather and baking spice. We concluded the tasting with the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($32), which also includes small amounts of 13% Malbec and 6% Petit Verdot. Pepper notes explode on the front part of the palate adding in juicy blackberry, currants, and integrated tannins while finishing very lengthy, displaying some light toasty notes as it tapers off. An excellent wine, and a great way to conclude our tasting. As we wrapped up, we were sure to grab a bottle of the Côtes de Paso Red Blend and the Cabernet Sauvignon. If you are in Paso Robles, Halter Ranch is worth a visit for those looking for both Rhône and Bordeaux style wines.

Address & Contact Information: 8910 Adelaida Rd. Paso Robles, California 93446. Telephone: 888-367-9977, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00.

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