Chronic Cellars: a rad-ically different wine tasting experience

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

chronic cellars

Surf and skate lifestyle puts this colorful winery in it’s own class

At Chronic Cellars, get ready for a totally rad experience in wine tasting. When you walk into the tasting room decked out eye-popping art on wine bottles, T-shirts and pictures from snowboard racing and surfing contests, paired with entertainment such as a pool table and beanbag toss, you know that you may be in for a totally wild ride.

The evidence that this team puts a priority on fun is there when you step into the tasting room, dominated by a U-shaped bar counter and a pool table, surrounded by racks of fashionable clothing and a vibrant art display. Created by local artist Joe Kalionzes, the hand-printed wood block art is inspired by “Day of the Dead” imagery.

“The craft beer was opening doors to edgy crowds, so we wanted to introduce new demographics to the wine industry,” said Jake Beckett.

Patrons enjoying a day of tasting

Patrons enjoying a day of tasting

Founders of Chronic Cellars, Jake and Josh Beckett got their hands in the dirt at a very young age. As sons of Paso’s pioneer vintner Doug Beckett. The boys grew up working in vineyards of Peachy Canyon Winery and learned all about winemaking from their father. “We grew up on it — it was grape juice to us,” said Jake.

But it was time to break out on their own and the brothers launched Chronic Cellars in 2007 with a small 56-case production of petite sirah. Why petite sirah? “My father gave us some to help us out,” noted Jake, in charge of sales and marketing. Josh handles winemaking duties. From that humble start the production has now grown to 30,000 cases annually.

The wines here are approachable. You’ll find some unusual blends both of Rhone varietals and zinfandel. “Josh’s wines are stylishly unorthodox,” said Jake.

General Manager Dawn Becket assists with the tasting lineup starting with the sparkling non-vintage Spritz and Giggles, a crisp blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This sparkler proved so popular that now it has global distribution.

The 2013 Stone Fox, a blend of grenache blanc and viognier is refreshing and laced with aromas of honeydew melon. A unique blend of syrah, grenache, petite sirah with a touch of zinfandel, the 2013 Rose, labeled Kindly Swallows, is a crisp dry wine perfect for summer entertaining. The popular Purple Paradise is a deep-hued blend of zinfandel, syrah, petite sirah and grenache, bursting with ripe cherry notes.

A wine club members-only wine, the 2013 El Perfecto, is a classic 50/50 blend of zinfandel and tempranillo, loaded with raspberries and cherries with hints of black pepper. The 2013 Sofa King Bueno is another big bold blend of petie sirah, syrah, grenache and mourvedre.

Chronic’s portfolio includes 13 wines, but they ebb and flow. “We release a new wine every year to go with a new label,” said Jake. “We make small batches of new labels for our wine club members.”

The brothers own their vineyards near the winery. The Snow Vineyard is owned by Jake while Mustard Creek Vineyard belongs to Josh. Most of the wine production is from these two vineyards. Some fruit is also sourced from local growers. “In the end it’s all about quality,” remarked Jake.

An expert at sales and promotion, Jake said that part of his strategy is guerilla marketing. “Like sponsoring cage fights, motocross racing and surf contest in Pismo Beach,” commented Jake. “But we also do traditional stuff like the Paso wine festival,” he added.

Chronic Cellars is located at 2020 Nacimiento Lake Drive in Paso Robles and is open daily from 11.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The tasting room is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Closed New Year’s Day. For more information call (805) 237-7848 or visit Chronic Cellars.

– Mira Advani Honeycutt

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