Tasting room & bistro in downtown Paso Robles serves up luscious offerings
A wine tasting lounge serving small plates is just what was missing in downtown Paso Robles. The Burbank Ranch Winery has filled that void. Opened in May 2013, the tasting lounge and bistro on Park Street is beautifully appointed with a bar counter, comfortable sofas and vineyard landscape artwork gracing the walls.
Owners Fred and Melody Burbank tapped winemaker Steve Anglim to craft their wines. “He approaches winemaking with passion and a sense of business,” said Melody. “He’s real methodical about it.” Indeed the Burbank Ranch wines have that ‘Anglim touch’ — elegant, with balanced acidity and luscious fruit notes.
Winemaking is family affair
The 83-acre ranch itself, located in Templeton, dates back to 1886 and was part of a Mexican land grant. The Burbank family purchased it in 2008 and planted 44.5 acres to 16 different grape varietals including Bordeaux, Rhône, Italian, Spanish and, paying homage to Paso Robles, Zinfandel of course.
The Burbanks hunted all over California before zeroing in on Paso. “We like the cowboy feel to it. It feels like Napa would’ve been 30 years ago,” said Melody. The expansive ranch with panoramic views, rolling hills and oak-lined seasonal creeks was bare and uncultivated when the Burbanks bought it. “There was a lot of grass so we rented 100 year-long cows to eat the grass,” she explained. It took three months to clear the land.
Winemaking is a small family affair. At harvest, fruit is meticulously handpicked at the optimal balance of sugar development and seed/skin ripening. Picking decisions are made by taste or chemical analysis. The current annual production is 5,330 cases with a projection to increase up to 8,350 cases. The family has contracts to sell fruit to a few noted Paso wineries. The goal is to keep all the estate fruit eventually and to expand planting to increase annual production in the future.
The white wines are stainless steel-aged for 12 months. Red wines age in “neutral” oak barrels to extract natural flavors of the grapes. Generally, at the 12-month stage, a portion of each red wine is placed in medium-toast new oak barrels to pick up desirable toasty flavors. The wine from neutral and new oak barrels is blended at the time of bottling.
The current wine portfolio ranges from Zinfandel to Rhône and Bordeaux varietals. The family plans to release Sangiovese and Albariño bottlings in 2015. This summer also look out for Burbank’s Rosé program that will include pinks made from Grenache, Zinfandel, Sangiovese and Syrah.
For a newcomer, Burbank Ranch is stacking up impressive awards – the very first vintage, the 2010 Cabernet Franc won “Best in Class” and Gold in both the 2012 Central Coast Competition and a Double Gold in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc received Gold in both Central Coast and Orange County Fair Competitions. The 2010 Grenache Blanc nabbed two kudos; Gold in Central Coast Competition and Silver in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
The tasting experience at Burbank Ranch starts with a Sauvignon Blanc, the 2012 “Summer Moon,” a crisp wine with bracing acidity and grapefruit notes. This is followed by “Summertime,” a refreshing Grenache Blanc with apricot and nectarine flavors. Manager Sara Lloyd suggests the cheese platter with either of these whites.
The tart and aromatic Grenache Rosé, “Picnic Meadow,” is fragrant with hints of strawberries and a delicious match with the chicken sandwich dressed with basil mayo, arugula and mozzarella.
The red wine tasting ranges from “Fall Colors,” a 2012 full-bodied Estate Zinfandel laced with anise and blackberries, and “Fortunate Sun,” the 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, lush with warm spices and cherry notes.
Gold medal winner of the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, “Hidden Path,” the 2011 smoky Malbec is a riot of spice and cumin and a good match with Indian and Mexican food. Chef Nicholas also suggests chocolate brownies with the Malbec. He has ambitious plans ahead, crafting his own patés and charcuterie to pair with these exceptional wines.
Burbank Ranch Winery & Bistro tasting room, located at 1240 Park St. in Paso Robles, is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Sunday & Monday; available for private events. Visit to the ranch by appointment. For summer hours and more information visit burbankranch.com or call (805) 227-4538.
— Mira Advani Honeycutt