A slice of Tuscany just off 46 East
Your senses are in awe as you approach Mitchella…a magnificent Italianate structure surrounded by vineyards. As you enter the small intimate tasting room, you gaze out at the inviting patio and vineyard just a few feet away and are most likely greeted by Angela. The ambiance, view, tasting room and Angela’s infectious personality – all instantly transport you out of today’s world into an atmosphere of peace, pleasure…and wonderful wines.
Close your eyes…then open them again and gaze around: You will think you are in Tuscany.
Mitchella is a small boutique winery, the vision of Darren and Angela Mitchell – Darren is the winemaker, but Angela is the dream maker; she has the final say on each and every blend. Her goal is to make the final product reflect not only the personality and character of the grape, but also the couple’s love and passion for the land and what it produces.
Darren, an avid wine drinker, was getting tired of spending all his money on buying wine. He decided, since they had 20 acres, they could save money by making their own wines. That started the slippery slope of being a farmer and winemaker, in addition to his day job of running his oil equipment leasing company. However, Darren wasn’t going to let the small detail of time and work get in his way; he started studying wine making and in 1997 started to plant his vineyard. In 2002 the first release of 550 cases was introduced – Mitchella was off and running.
More recently, a commemorative blend was released, in honor of Darren’s frugalness, Cheap Bastard! But don’t think there is anything cheap about this big, chewy, aromatic blended wine. Acquiring another 20 acres in 2007, the current plantings are nine acres each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, one quarter acre each of Mouvedre and Grenache, and 75 vines of Portugese grapes for port style wines. Grapes for their whites and Zinfandel are sourced from other local vineyards, as well as for many of their reds; Mitchella sells a good quantity of their grapes to other wineries.
Angela hails from the high-tech banking industry and is responsible for the mechanics of the vineyard; she employs high-tech vineyard management, and receives regular text messages reporting on the vineyard’s condition: water pressure, soil temperature and soil moisture. If there is a problem or adjustments to be made, Angela is on it. Her goal is to produce the best fruit possible, while farming sustainably and using the tools at hand.
Currently Mitchella offers 13 different wines in small lots. The wines have consistently been awarded Gold and Silver medals in the Central Coast Wine Competition and by the Orange County Wine Society. French and Hungarian oak barrels are mostly used, while American oak barrels are used for the Zinfandel. No shortcuts are taken at Mitchella; wine will spend up to 18 months in barrel, and another 12 months in bottle.
You can be sure that when the wines are released, they are ready to drink. Angela poured me a glass of wine and, as I sniffed it, I could immediately tell this was definitely SUCH a Bordeaux! The Innuendo Noir has a blend of four Bordeaux varietal grapes. All the characteristics you would associate with a Bordeaux were just so obvious and oh so smooth and yummy. More please!
The property features a self-guided tour of the vineyard; there are three informational boards that describe the Vineyard’s history, growing cycles and sustainable farming practices. Take the time to wander and explore, and become enriched by what it takes to make good wine, from the ground up. The boards are located just a few yards from the tasting room, so take your glass, wander a bit, read, learn, return for more wine…and continue on the tour.
The first Sunday of each month features Pizza on the Patio, hot and savory out of an authentic Italian Pizza oven. Sip one of their liquid creations and nibble on freshly baked pizza while sitting on the patio overlooking the vineyards that surround the property then top it off with one, or both, of their savory Port style wines. The Mitchells also host special wine club events such as a lobster fest, crab fest and a Valentine’s Day dinner.
Current production is approximately 2,000 cases, most of which is sold to their loyal wine club members, out of the winery, and to some local restaurants and specialty wine stores. Thirteen different wines are produced including Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet and several tantalizing blends. The $10 tasting fee includes a taste each of the wines as well asa perfectly paired artisan cheeses; the tasting menu details which cheese is best paired with each wine.
Visit the Mitchella Vineyard and Winery tasting room, located at 2525 Mitchell Ranch Way in Paso Robles, Thursday-Sunday, Noon-5 p.m.; (805) 239-8555, mitchella.com.
— Don Sonderling