Fruit-forward and family first

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Edward and Muriel Dutton welcome visitors to their RiverStar Vineyards and tasting room, located north of Paso Robles in San Miguel.

Edward and Muriel Dutton welcome visitors to their RiverStar Vineyards and tasting room, located north of Paso Robles in San Miguel.

RiverStar Vineyards

RiverStar Vineyards, located north of Paso Robles in San Miguel, is home to the Dutton family. It is also home to the grapes that the Duttons grow and to the wines that they produce. Edward and Muriel Dutton have been growing grapes on this picturesque property for more than a decade, and grew grapes on another ranch in the area before that.

Edward and Muriel initially came to Paso Robles with the idea of settling into a quiet retirement. However, the property that they purchased in 1986 came with a feature that proved to be hard to ignore: a vineyard. With the help of their neighbor Paul Hope, of Hope Family Wines, the Duttons were inspired to get the 26 acres of vines back into prime grape-growing condition. They grew and sold the grapes for a number of years before taking another detour from their idea of a quiet retirement—Edward began to make wine from the grapes that they were growing.

Family business

Edward and Muriel’s daughter, Betty Coyne, says that her father has “always been able to be successful at anything he can put his hands on,” and with winemaking it was no different. She describes him as “very smart” and “very logical” and says that he “can figure anything out.” Edward has been making the wine since their first vintage in 2001, and the success of the winery speaks to the truth behind Betty’s words about her father. It would seem that Edward has indeed figured out winemaking.

Now Edward and Muriel, along with Betty, run RiverStar Vineyards on their 75-acre ranch in San Miguel. San Miguel is part of the Paso Robles AVA and RiverStar is a member of the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail. RiverStar takes its name from the history behind the property; when Edward and Muriel purchased the property it was a horse ranch of the same name. Most of the buildings on the ranch are converted horse barns, and the winery has kept the feeling of a working ranch.

Tasting room, vacation rental, special events

The Duttons have made the property their own over the years, and RiverStar Vineyards now includes a full tasting room, a sought-after vacation rental and two event sites, as well as the winery. The four-bedroom, two-bath vacation rental sleeps eight and has a fully equipped kitchen and a wrap-around deck with a view of the vineyards. It is usually booked two months in advance and Muriel says that people especially enjoy drinking RiverStar wine in the place that the wine was grown and produced.

The RiverStar event sites are available for weddings, birthdays and parties. The smaller of the two areas is designed for events up to 150 people. The larger area can hold up to 250 and includes a wedding pergola.

Fruit-forward wines

The Duttons grow Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel; there are 60 acres of grapes planted on the RiverStar Vineyards property. They also produce Chardonnay and Petite Sirah from grapes they purchase in the area. Muriel says that blends are their specialty, and that they are also know for their Sauvignon Blanc.

Calling their wines very fruit-forward, Betty said that her father’s winemaking style tends to focus on the fruit, as he is very proud of his farming. Muriel adds that RiverStar wines are “food-friendly” and “easy-drinking.” Visitors to this family-run winery can expect to see this friendly and relaxed approach to wine from the tasting room to the cellar, and should look forward to a great experience at this beautiful spot.

The RiverStar Vineyards tasting room is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5p.m. and by appointment. For more information, visit riverstarvineyards.com or call (805) 467-0086.

— Kate Joyce

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