Nestled back in the rolling hills along the west side of Paso Robles, Halter Ranch is making some wonderful wines, with a primary focus on Rhone varietals. The tasting room at this winery, along with the extensive grounds, provide the perfect setting for learning about (and enjoying) the wines, which are very nicely priced for their high level of quality.
The land for this estate was purchased in 2000 and since then the vineyards planted have increased from 40 acres to well over 200, with additional vines planned for the future. The ranch initially sold many of their grapes to other wineries, but as the Halter Ranch wine production grows, more of the crop will be retained for the estate wines. The increase in production will be good for the wine lover as it should hopefully make Halter Ranch wines easier to find.
I had not initially planned to visit Halter Ranch on my March 2012 trip because of limited time. On our first evening in Paso Robles we dined at a wonderful Italian restaurant and our server recommended the 09 Halter Ranch Syrah. I was so blown away by this rich and succulent wine that I changed my itinerary for the next day and added Halter Ranch to our plans. This was a great decision on my part if I must say so myself.
The visit started on a great note because the tasting room staff made us feel really welcome. That may sound superficial, but I assure you it is not, and sadly, not always the case. I did find that Paso Robles wineries did consistently have cheerful staff relative to some other places I have been though.
While it was the 2009 Syrah that I was dying to try again outside of the restaurant’s ambiance, many of the other wines on the tasting menu were as good, if not better. Nearly all of the wines are made from Rhone varietals, which makes sense as those grapes thrive in the Paso Robles area. Highlights started with the 2009 Ranch White ($16), a blend of Marsanne, Roussane and Grenache Blanc. This wonderful wine was floral with a smooth and lingering finish.
The 09 Syrah lived up to the evening before, much to my delight. We also tried several of the reserve wines which were more expensive but well worth it. The 07 Block 22 Reserve Syrah could very well be one of the most amazing Syrahs I have ever had, and at $44 a good price for a wine of this quality. The 07 Ancestor Reserve blend of Bordeaux grapes was also a wine every lover of Napa Cabernet should try. Also at $44, a relative bargain for this caliber of wine.
In my wine travels across California, I have learned that it is not difficult to find a great $100 wine. At that price it better be! However, the wines that I get most excited about are those made by wineries like this one. A mind blowing Syrah for $28 is not very common and makes it well worth the trip to the west side of town. Even the two reserve wines that I mentioned are very good values for their respective caliber of wine.
After our tasting visit, we wandered around the extensive property for a while and it really is a gorgeous place. We had a picnic in the afternoon sunshine while my husband and I plotted various schemes to live in the farmhouse adjacent to the tasting room. While those plans may take a while to come to fruition, enjoying the wines from Halter Ranch is something we can do to bring much happiness to our lives in the near future.
Rating: 4 out of 4 – highly recommend
downsides? Not one, even though it is off the beaten path it is worth the visit.