Publisher’s note: For the eighth year in a row we thought it would be a great idea to recommend local wines for the holidays. Once again, we received an amazing amount of participation from our local wineries. Over the last two weeks, we received more than 100 entries. After tasting and tasting and tasting, there were many solid, well-made wines to recommend. We have created several lists of top local wines into categories. The recommended wines above are in alphabetical order.
Top local sparkling wine recommendations
Bianchi Signature Sparkling – $25
This sparking is a Champagne-style wine made with Methode Charmat fermented in stainless tanks. Its predominately French Columbard grapes give it a pleasant brut dryness creating a unique clean pungent fruitiness. Perfect for your holiday toasts and cheers and everyday sparkling enjoyment.
Castoro Cellars Brut Methode Champenoise – $40
This delightful sparkling wine is crafted with estate-grown grapes using the traditional Méthode Champenoise process. The cuvée, or base wine, for this bubbly, is 100-percent estate-grown chardonnay grapes from the Blind Faith vineyard.
Circle B Brut Naturale – $28
This sparkling spent eight months in French oak. It has a tropical nose with a touch of yeast. It’s crisp with zesty lemon aromas and flavors. It has a clean finish with minerality.
Kula Vineyards Sparkling Rosé – $28
This 100% pinot noir brut sparkling wine is a beautiful coral pink. It offers aromas of strawberries and wildflowers with fruit flavors and a crisp finish. It’s a perfect way to start your holidays with a toast or accompany a dessert.
Paris Valley Road 2019 Sparkling – $36
This bubbly was aged on its lees in tirage for almost 12 months. It’s a blend of grenache blanc, sauvignon gris, verdejo and macabeo. It opens with notes of white peaches and cashews, followed by green apple and citrus zest. It finishes with bright acidity.
Rava Brut Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine – $42
A wonderful holiday treat from Paso Robles’ premier sparkling producers. It offers a stream of tiny bubbles with fresh aromas of nectarine and Meyer lemon with hints of minerality. It’s made from 100% chardonnay grapes. Cheers!
Rava Brut Blanc de Noir Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine – $53
This blanc de noir is made from 100% pinot noir grapes. It is crisp on the pallet and had aromas of kiwi and raspberry with yeasty notes. Flavors of honeydew melon bring it to a creamy finish.
Sculpterra Sparkling Wine – $28
This is the winery’s first-ever sparkling wine. It’s concentrated with bouquets of toasted hazelnut, and a hint of classic stone fruits. The fruit comes from the coastal regions of Central California and is 100-percent French Colombard. The fruit is grown for sparkling wine production and the grapes are picked at the perfect time with proper sugar and acid balance in the berries.
SummerWood Winery 2019 Awa Sparkling Grenache Blanc – $40
This 100% grenache blanc is crafted from SummerWood’s estate grapes. “Awa” means bubbles in Japanese and celebrates the owners’ family roots from Osaka. This bright sparkling wine has notes of honeysuckle, Asian pear, and citrus with a hint of hazelnut and toast. This bright wine greets the palate with flavors of crisp Granny Smith apples, lemon, lime, earth tones, mandarin zest, and grapefruit. Only 182 cases have been produced.
Vina Robles Brut Sparkling Wine – $26
A classic non-vintage bubbly perfect for holiday toasts. It’s a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. This sparkling wine is produced using the traditional Methode Champenoise” style, which undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. It has notes of apple and a toasty finish.
Top local rosé wine recommendations
Circle B Vineyard and Cellars 2020 Grenache Rosé – $20
A pale pink wine from estate fruit has aromas of rose petals, watermelon, Jolly Rancher and papaya. Tropical flavors meld into melon mid-palate and a smooth acid finish.
Dubost 2019 Rosé – $10
This delightful pink is 100% grenache noir from the Starr Ranch vineyard. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged nine months on oak. It has a rich salmon color with a perfect balance of minerality and fruit. At this price, get all you can.
Heart of the Matter 2020 Rosé of Dolcetto – $62
This small-production wine packs a big punch. It delivers rich flavors and aromas of strawberry and cherry cordial with a crisp, acidic finish. Its deep flavors come from whole cluster press, stainless steel fermentation and six months in neutral barrels.
Paris Valley Road Estate Winery 2019 Malbec Rosé – $27
Malbec seems an unlikely candidate for a rosé, but for real color and character, Malbec it is. This rosé is crisp and dry with lovely guava, blossoms, and notes of kiwi aromas. Just a hint of tannin structure, pineapple, and an elegant finish rounds out the mouth and it never loses its light, refreshing nature.
Penman Springs Vineyard 2020 Rosé of Petit Sirah – $20
With bright aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries leading to a velvety, creamy finish of berries and spice, this wine was barrel-aged for eight months in neutral oak. It pairs wonderfully with olives, hard cheeses, pizza, and turkey. Only 71 cases were produced.
Seven Angels 2020 Retirement Rosé – $22
This wine boasts a beautiful hue of ripe apricot with stone fruit and pleasant soft honeysuckle aromas. It has bright flavors reminiscent of an orange push-up and a creaminess on the mid-palate that is balanced by a slight pithiness with a long and dry finish.
Twin Coyote Winery 2019 Tempranillo Rose ‘Bashful’ – $24
This savory, spicy rosé from Twin Coyote’s 2019 tempranillo grapes is refreshing, dry and crisp. It offers berry notes with strawberries, raspberries, and cranberry sauce, and will pair well with goat cheese, salmon, and Asian food.
Vista Del Rey 2019 Dry Zinfandel Rosé – $25
A wonderful rosé offering from local zinfandel fanatic and winemaker Dave King. It’s has a pink hue, bright flavors of strawberry, orange, and spice, and a crisp finish. Highly recommended.
Top local white wine recommendations
Austin Hope Chenin Blanc – $47
This light chenin blanc is a rich expression that begins with lush notes of honey and stone fruit, on the palate those flavors develop with the influence of vanilla bean, apricot and a hint of tropical mango. The finish is lush with a touch of acidity and clean minerality.
Barton Family Wines 2020 Clairette Blanche – $40
This 100% clairette blanche wine has delicate notes of white tea, white pear, and untoasted almond on the nose. Bright and vibrant lemon custard, underripe pineapple, and lime. On the finish, subtle cardamom and ground ginger warm and stimulate the palate. Only 152 cases were produced.
Castoro Cellars 2020 Falanghina – $30
The grapes for this wine originate from southern Italy where it is often served with fresh seafood. Falanghina is very aromatic with white flowers, citrus blossoms, fresh herbs, and wet stones. It’s medium-bodied with a lingering finish of citrus and honey, but not sweet. This lively and pleasant wine, perfect for any holiday meal.
Circle B Vineyard and Cellars 2019 Albarino – $22
This golden straw-colored wine greets the nose with stone fruit aromas followed by light-bodied citrus spice flavors and a clean, fresh finish. It’s a great wine to serve with your holiday appetizers.
Donati Family Vineyard 2020 Family Reserve Chardonnay – $36
Aromas of lemon meringue and butterscotch lead to flavors of coconut creme and lemon zest on the palate. This wine has a crisp medium finish with hints of vanilla ice cream.
Dubost 2019 Alexandrine – $40
This blend of 60% viognier and 40-percent grenache blanc is medium gold in color and delivers tremendous flavors. The aromas include pineapple, lemon, mango, honeysuckle with a hint of oak. It has supple acids and is creamy on the palate. This wine won a double gold medal and was best of class at the 2021 Central Coast Wine Competition. Highly recommended.
Kula Vineyards 2020 Viognier – $26
Produced with hand-harvested grapes from more than 20-year-old vines, this wine exhibits a beautiful white wildflower aroma and fruit-flavored flavors of tangerine, white peach, and apricot. Food pairings include Brie cheese, salmon with creamy sauce, and roasted chicken with herbs. Only 100 cases were produced.
Michael Gill Cellars 2017 Vermentino – $44
An emerald straw color, this wine presents with delicate, nutty aromas of lemon crème brulee and praline with supple vibrant dry, yet fruity, medium body. The finish is sleek, intriguing, medium-length apple, vanilla crème, and spice with silky tannins and moderate oak. The wine won gold medals at the 2018 California State Fair Wine Competition and the 2018 California Central Coast Wine Competition.
Midnight Cellars 2020 Aurora Reserve White – $34
A delicious Rhone-style blend of 43% grenache blanc, 28% viognier, 15% roussanne, and 14% picpoul blanc, this wine offers an array of tropical fruit, vanilla, green apple, and minerals, finished with a rich and creamy finish. It’s a small lot wine, with only 165 cases produced.
Monochrome Barrel Distortion 2020 – $40
Barrel fermented in neutral French oak and stainless steel barrels then aged for nine months, this 94% albarino and 6% gewürztraminer adds a bit more structure than most albarino wine. The 4% of the albarino grapes that were skin-fermented add savory and aromatic notes. This small lot wine, with 102 cases produced.
Monochrome Center Tone 2020 – $42
The combination of 57% grenache gris and 43% picpoul give this wine a unique color, derived from soaking 25% of the fruit overnight to extract color and flavors. It’s a perfect wine for a holiday party toast.
Paris Valley Road Estate Winery 2019 Chardonnay – $29
The absence of oak and secondary fermentation highlights the tropical notes that naturally occur in chardonnay. Rich and ripe stone fruits are no longer subdued by butter and oak to give this chardonnay a much lighter mouthfeel and highlight its bright acidity.
Riverstar Vineyards 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – $18
An estate-grown wine with vibrant tropical aromas, hints of passion fruit, grapefruit, with a bright, mouthwatering finish. A light and lovely pairing with honey chevré or other cheeses.
San Simeon 2020 Viognier – $18.95
This is a bright, luscious wine with ripe peach flavors and tropical notes. The nose reveals bright floral aromas. Mineral notes express the rocky terroir of the vineyard. This structured and well-balanced wine shows a lengthy finish.
Sea Shell Vineyard and Cellars 2020 Viognier – $25
This wine has a nose that is immediately evocative of traditional tangerine and white flower aromas. Soon, more luscious tropical lychee and pineapple notes emerge along with hints of honey. This wine strikes a beautiful balance between classic, old-world texture and grace along with new-world fruit and expression.
Seven Angels Cellars 2017 Viognier – $25
The wine leads with a beautiful light straw color. Honeysuckle and orange blossom are on the nose. It has soft minerality on the palate, with Asian pear and lychee and a lush, viscous mouthfeel. Excellent for pairing with a seafood holiday meal. Only 43 cases were produced.
Seven Angels Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc – $25
Beautiful light straw color. This wine greets with soft butter with a hint of citrus, Asian pear and green apple on the nose. Full-bodied, on the palate, it is plump and rich with juicy pear flavors that lead into lean herbal notes, a touch of cumin and dried green herbs and salty minerals. Pairs well with creamy soft cheeses such as brie, chicken and fish dishes. This wine won a silver medal at the 2021 OC Wine Society.
Sextant Wines 2020 X-Series Estate Verdejo – $28
This is a flavorful wine that delivers excellent ripeness. Notes of fresh pear and green apple are immediately presented alongside layers of wet stone and dried jasmine. A crisp front palate turns smooth with highlights of lemon meringue and fresh orange zest. It’s a refreshing match for raw shellfish, pan-fried fish, or a salad topped with stone fruit and goat cheese.
Shadow Run Moon Shadow – $28
This 100% grenache blanc is a plump, full-bodied white wine with aromas of orange peel, white flowers, and a slight hint of cardamom. It has delightful flavors of pear, honey, and almonds.
Shale Oak Winery SUI 2018 – $36
A blend of 85% grenache blanc and 15% viognier, this wine was fermented and aged in concrete, giving it a wonderfully salacious and round-mouth feel. The nose is ripe stone fruits and juicy fruit gum. The mouth follows suit with a slight salinity and dry finish. Only 153 were produced. Highly recommended.
SummerWood Winery 2019 Diosa Blanc – $45
The 2019 Diosa Blanc wine, a blend of 74% viognier, 16% marsanne, 6% roussanne, and 4% grenache blanc, has bright aromas of apricots, nectarines, and orange zest that give way to flavors of pineapple, lemon, and green apple. The finish displays great acidity and minerality with a hint of honey. Only 109 cases were produced.
Symbiosis Wines 2018 Torrontés – $21
Torrontés is usually identified with Argentina, but the grapes that made this wine come from Silvaspoons Vineyard in the Alta Mesa AVA of Lodi. This wine has a smooth mouthfeel and herbal aromas that also bring pineapple and grapefruit to mind. The finish is green apple clean and a mild peach/apricot underbelly.
Twin Coyotes 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – $24
This light white wine hits you with citrus right from the start. It was fermented in stainless steel with mineral characteristics and a light, crisp acidity.
Victor Hugo Winery Estate Viognier 2019 – $24
Aromas of ripe white peach and jasmine intertwine with hints of almond blossom in the background. Rich, silky mouth feel from fermentation plus six months of passive lees contact in Hungarian oak barrels culminates with a long, rich finish. Ready to drink now or let it improve with proper cellaring over the next 12-25 months.
Vina Robles 2020 Vermentino Huerhuero Vineyard – $23
This balanced food-friendly white wine is medium-bodied, with flavors of pear and honeydew and a soft mineral finish. Planted as a trial, Vina Robles soon discovered that this Italian variety responded extremely well to the terroir of the HueroHuero Vineyard. The grapes were harvested at night to preserve fresh fruit flavors, fermented in stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. and wanted to give it its own showcase.
Vina Robles 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Jardine Vineyard – $28
A wine from late harvest grapes that were left to ripen six weeks longer than usual, has aromas of fresh citrus blossom layered with tropical notes. Rich flavors of apricot and honey are beautifully balanced by natural acidity.
Top local zinfandel and Italian-style wine recommendations
Brecon Estate 2018 Sauret Clone Zinfandel – $49
A bold and premium zin made from a blend of zinfandel and tannat. This wine possesses an overt structure with flavors of jammy red fruit and undertones of pepper and spices. Only 202 cases were produced.
Calipaso Winery 2018 Zinfandel – $38
This delicious wine is jammy, brambly, and easy to drink and pair with a variety of dishes. The zinfandel grape has been grown in the Paso Robles area for over 100 years and 2018 was an excellent vintage, considered one of the finest in years.
Castoro Cellars 2019 Zinfusion – $24
As the name suggests, this popular wine is a blend. This year it has zinfandel, primitivo, and petite sirah. It presents dark raspberry red color, aromas of vanilla, sweet coconut, and fresh red fruits. It delivers flavors of raspberry and sweet vanilla, and black pepper spice with a smooth finish. It’s 14-percent alcohol.
Felten Cellars 2016 Zinfandel – $28
An overall robust wine delivering intense spicy complexity that goes down easy. Jammy aromas of blueberry, blackberry, and a hint of pepper blend to deliver a full-bodied tasting experience. A glass of this wine pairs nicely with a steak, roast, or any chocolate dessert.
Grey 2019 Territory Zinfandel – $50
This big zin blend was crafted with 49% zinfandel, 26% mourvedre, 13% syrah, and 12% petite sirah. It has aromas of red plum, blackberry compote layered with vanilla and cinnamon. On the palate, dried cranberry, spice cake, and ground coffee set the stage for notes of iron, game and pine sap. Only 202 cases were produced. It’s a great choice for your hearty holiday meal.
Kula Vineyards 2019 Zinfandel – $34
Starting with a graceful fruit-forward aroma, delightful flavors of blackberry and plum spread in the mouth, finishing with white pepper and licorice. This wine is a blend 92% zinfandel and 8% petite sirah. Only 100 cases were produced.
Midnight Cellars 2018 Estate Zinfandel – $44
A giant ripe, rich Paso Robles-style zinfandel with fruit exploding out of the glass. Red fruit, dried herbs, and baking spices on the nose alert the taster that something special is in store. The mouthfeel is complex with stone fruit, baking spices, herbs, and a chalkiness that comes straight from the vineyard soil. Firm acidity and perfectly balanced tannins frame this wine and make it perfect for aging and enjoying for dinner.
Opolo 2018 Mountain Zinfandel – $30
This is one of Paso Robles’s iconic zinfandel wines. It’s a decadently jammy and fruit-forward wine. Opens with rich aromas of raspberry, strawberry, and Bing cherry with hints of vanilla and cedar. Flavors of dark plum and cherry are married with silky smooth tannins that lead into a long and satisfying finish.
Riverstar Vineyards 2017 Zinfandel – $30
This estate-grown wine has a lively nose full of cranberry, prune & ripe cherry. It has a lighter-style body with juicy red fruit, white pepper, and refreshing acidity. Only 105 cases were produced.
Seven Angels Cellars 2016 Zinfandel – $34
An award-winning wine boasting a deep red hue with hints of cypress, spicy pine, and smoke on the nose. It delivers flavors of dark fruits and black pepper with a hint of baking spices. It finishes with a silky smooth mouthfeel. This wine won silver medals at the 2021 OC Wine Society and the 2020 Central Coast Wine Competition. Only 245 cases were produced.
Sextant Wines 2019 Holystone Zinfandel – $34
A bold, stylish, and captivating wine with strong notes of dusty cocoa powder and mint. Intriguing hints of fresh strawberries, cherries, and vanilla add to its complexity and smooth and supple tannins deliver a steady and expressive finish.
Symbiosis 2015 Nebbiolo – $30
An Italian variety that is bolder and richer than zinfandel. This Nebbiolo has aromas and flavors of sour cherry, orange peels and rose petals. It has good tannins and slight acidity on the finish. It is a very food-freindly wine.
Victor Hugo Estate Zinfandel 2018 – $26
This delicious zin delivers intense aromas of black cherries with notes of blackberry and semisweet chocolate. It has elegant tannins with vibrant berry flavors complemented by hints of oak and a racy, crisp finish. Delightful now, this concentrated zinfandel will continue to develop in the bottle with proper cellaring for another four to six years.
Vista Del Rey 2019 ‘Tierra Profundo’ Zinfandel – $30
A robust mouthful of dry-farmed zinfandel grapes from long-time local winemaker Dave King. It’s a big, spicy wine with dark berry, plum, and cherry flavors. Drink all by itself or pair with grilled meats, pizzas and pastas. Enjoy a glass while decorating for the holidays.
Top local Rhone-style red wine recommendations
Austin Hope Syrah – $55
On the nose, aromas of spice and dark fruit are displayed. On the palate, it delivers flavors of ripe black cherry, cassis, and hints of smoke that are well integrated and robust. On the finish, youthful gripping tannins are perfectly balanced by the acid and an oak-driven finish.
Brecon Estate 2019 Mourvedre – $68
A delicious mourvedre with a kiss of syrah. This wine has a naturally sweet forest fruit character and is velvety smooth. It has complex smoky and earthy notes. Brecon produced 214 cases.
Castoro Cellars 2019 Grenache – $30
This wine was made in the style of Spanish Garnacha with spicy berry flavors and a soft tannin structure. It pairs well with tapas, grilled meats, and pasta dishes. It earned 91 points from Wine Enthusiast and was one of our favorites.
Circle B Vineyard and Cellars 2018 Grenache – $35
This cherry red wine was aged 26 months in neutral French oak. It is light to medium-bodied with red raspberries and cola flavors.
Dubost 2018 Jacob’s Ladder – $75
This is Dubost’s estate cuvee. It is predominately syrah with malbec, petite verdot, and a touch of grenache. It’s big and bold. Wine Enthusiast magazine gave it 93 points and named it a “Cellar Selection”. We agree.
Dubost 2018 Syrah – $55
A rich syrah with a hint of viognier. “A wine that is definitely different with huge aromatics, a little funk, and a big tasty finish,” is how the winemaker describes it.
Grey 2019 Soul Mate Red – $50
Soul Mate Red is a traditional Rhone-style blend with 45% grenache, 34% syrah, and 23% mourvedre. It has delicious olallieberry, boysenberry, and raspberry aromas and flavors, with subtle undertones of black licorice and notes of vanilla and cardamom.
Loma Seca Vineyards 2019 Mourvedre – $52
The first sip of this medium-bodied wine reveals a bounty of red fruit, with a hint of earthy mushroom and meat lingering in the background. The tannins are mild, and the wine has a nice crisp acidity. Only 45 cases were produced.
Michael Gill Cellars 2019 Counoise –$68
This bright red garnet color wine has a fresh taste with fruity aromas and flavor of raspberry, huckleberry jam, fig, and macadamia nougat with a soft, lively, medium dried cherry and slate finish. It deservedly won a gold medal at the 2021 Orange County Wine Competition.
Michael Gill Cellars 2012 Black Tie Syrah – $78
An elegant and bold red wine with intense boysenberry-driven flavors with nuances of black pepper, cardamon, vanilla cola, and black licorice. From a vineyard that yields only two bottles for every three vines, this wine won a gold medal in the 2015 Taster’s International Wine Competition and took Best of Show in the Southern California Garagiste Festival. It has aged to perfection and is ready to enjoy.
Midnight Cellars 2018 Grenache Moonbeam – $49
A lighter styled, easy drinking, fruit driven wine with flavors of strawberry, cherry, and bramble. It finishes with balanced acidity. This lovely Rhone varietal has found a new home in Paso Robles where the soil composition is primarily calcareous limestone, similar to the Rhone Valley of France. The limestone helps bring out a chalky minerality in the wine. Only 100 cases have been produced.
Nicora 2019 Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah – $70
This delicious syrah leads with aromatics of violet flowers and fresh cut leather, with hints of blueberries, blackberries and mocha. The meaty backbone on this wine shouts cool-climate syrah with its black licorice and fresh acidity. Only 245 cases have been produced. It was one of our favorites.
Sea Shell Vineyard and Cellars 2018 Reserve Syrah – $45
This beautifully balanced, medium-bodied wine has delectable tannins, a deep purple color, and notes of blackberries, ground pepper and smoked meats. This is a wine loaded with charm and verve.
Sea Shell Vineyard and Cellars 2018 Sea Shell Collection – $29
This blend of 50% mourvèdre, 37% grenache, and 13% syrah brought home a gold medal from the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The wine offers moderately intense notes of black cherries, holiday spices, and peppery herbs in its medium-bodied, charming style. Drink it over the coming three to four years.
Sextant Wines 2018 Passage GMS Blend – $48
This blend of 74% syrah, 21% grenache, and 5% mourvèdre has plum, blueberry, fresh honey, and caramel notes that combine with blackberry, cherry, and vanilla. A juicy mid-palate leads to a smooth tannin structure nicely balanced by bright acidity.
Shadow Run 2017 Untamed
A Rhone-style blend of 60% grenache and 40% petite sirah. It’s a rich full-bodied wine with excellent structure. It delivers aromas and flavors of blackberry and dried apricot.
Shadow Run Redheaded Stepchild – $38
A delicious and rich blend of 67% percent syrah and 33% grenache. It brings flavors of baked cherries, blackberry, and plum. A perfect accompaniment with your holiday meal.
SummerWood Winery 2018 SummerWood GSM – $55
This blend of 76% grenache, 17% syrah, 7% mourvèdre is a wonderful grenache blend filled with aromas of blackberries, pomegranate, and hints of roasted coffee beans. The French oak influence is apparent with the vanilla and toasty oak notes. Pronounced flavors of cherries, blackberries, pomegranate and cola mingle and deliver a long finish with great acidity. Only 253 cases were produced.
Vina Robles 2019 Grenache Terra Bella Vineyard – $46
Vina Robles’ first stand-alone release of grenache is medium-bodied with notes of vanilla and flavors of cherry and pomegranate and a soft juicy finish. Aged for 20 months in American and Hungarian oak barrels.
Vina Robles 2018 Terra Bella Syrah – $58
From fruit hand-picked in the early morning hours from the Terra Bella Vineyard, this opaque garnet colored wine has a dark cherry and raspberry aroma with notes of savory and mocha spice. The nose is followed by full-bodied flavors of dark fruit, a dense, layered palate with a rich, creamy finish.
Top local red wine recommendations
Austin Hope 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – $56
This wine is deep ruby in color and has aromas of fresh black currants and cherries with subtle smoky notes and dried spices. On the palate, this luxurious wine shows blackberry, ripe cherry, vanilla bean, and brown butter. It’s full-bodied and rich, balanced by a touch of acidity and polished tannins.
Austin Hope Cabernet Franc – $87
This cab franc is a medium-bodied wine that displays a deep red hue. Its herbaceous and spicy aromas carry through to the palate where flavors of black current and dark fruit add to the weight of the wine. It finishes with fine dusty tannins that leave a velvety texture that lingers.
Brecon Estate 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – $82
This sophisticated blend of 95% Brecon estate cabernet sauvignon and 5% Brecon petit verdot presents a broad spectrum of flavors. Only 129 cases were produced.
Donati Family Vineyard 2018 Family Reserve Petit Verdot – $50
This wine has aromas of violets, blueberry cobbler, and leather strap leading to big boysenberry and blueberry fruit on the palate with a long and lingering finish and notes of coffee and hazelnut.
Dubost 2019 Vingence – $75
A delicious cab-based red blend, aged in small French oak barrels. It’s an elegant full-bodied wine with aromas of blueberries and black cherries. It delivers red fruit flavors with a smooth finish. It was one of our favorites.
Four Sisters Ranch 2017 Opalescence – $36
This blend of 81% estate cabernet sauvignon and 19% estate malbec is fruit-forward with balanced red fruit across the palate. The cabernet is grown in a cooler hillside block near the Estrella River and has a longer growing season with more intense color and flavor. The malbec is hand-picked from the four short rows of vines on top of the terraced hill and adds a soft texture and mouthfeel, as well as some plum and blackberry.
Heart of the Matter 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – $35
A fine, full-bodied, red wine with an elegant garnet color. It opens with juicy black cherries and a hint of cedar box. It delivers delicious red fruit flavors and a velvety tannic finish. It pairs well with red meats like prime rib and filet mignon.
Highlands 41 2019 Black Granite – $15
An affordable red blend that was aged in oak for ten months. It has a bright color and high fruit intensity, with flavors of raspberry, blackberry and plum, with notes of spice and brown sugar. This is an approachable, well-integrated wine with soft tannins and a smooth finish. It earned 90 points from Wine Enthusiast.
Justin Vineyards and Winery 2019 Justification – $60
A blend of 51% cabernet franc and 49% merlot this deep ruby-purple wine is elegant and assertive with notes of black cherries, ripe plums and raspberry preserves balanced by vanilla, star anise, cinnamon, and toasted oak. Nearly full-bodied, ripe blackberries and black currants with elements of cedar and baking spices on entry, leading to notes of savory herbs and hints of dried rose petals.
Kula Vineyards 2019 Fireworks – $38
This red has inky-dark color with dynamic flavors of dark berry, licorice, and black pepper. Decant for an hour or more before enjoying to enhance the flavor. This bold, 100% petite sirah, was aged in French oak barrels for 22 months and is perfect for more aging in your wine cellar for many years.
Line Shack 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – $26
This wine is jammy and fruit-forward in style with flavors of black cherry, currants, and red licorice; and aromas of mocha, leather, violets and vanilla. It has medium tannins and a toasty lingering finish. It’s 85% cabernet sauvignon and 15% petite sirah. It was barrel-aged in 20% new French oak for over nine months. It’s a great value in this category. Pair with braised beef short ribs, roasted duck breast, and Osso Bucco. It won gold medals at the California State Fair and the OC Wine Competition.
Line Shack 2018 Petite Sirah – $22
This wine is ripe and balanced with deep dark color and a flood of plum, dark cherry, blueberry, pomegranate, and aromas of mocha, vanilla and oak spice. It’s 90% petite sirah and 10% syrah. Pair it with hearty red pasta dishes, pizza, and spicy Thai food. It won a gold medal at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.
Loma Seca Vineyards 2019 Petite Sirah – $48
An intense wine that offers a dark fruit nose with a hint of cigar box and cedar that carries through to the first impression on tasting along with white pepper and bramble notes. A medium body and soft tannins are balanced by nice acidity, giving the wine a lift on the palate followed by a long finish. Only 150 cases were produced.
Mitchella Vineyard and Winery 2017 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $32
This estate cabernet sauvignon has a deep violet color, notes of black cherry, and green peppercorn, that finishes with aromas of black licorice and lavender. The plush fruit and earthy spice are supported by well-balanced and rich tannins.
Mystic Hills Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – $30
This wine greets you with cream and cherry and a hint of smoke and cocoa on the nose. A blend of spice and cedar with a floral note is wonderfully balanced. The cream, smoke, and cherry carry onto the palate as well as tart cranberry with medium and steady tannins and acidity.
Mystic Hills Vineyards 2016 Gran Trio – $36
A blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 20% cabernet franc, and 20% merlot. This wine has aromas of dark fruit and fig combined with forest floor and mushroom. Herbaceous notes alongside leather on the nose and flavors of tart raspberry and earth coincide with a finish of creamy vanilla. This is a well-balanced wine with front tannins and bright acidity.
Paris Valley Road Estate Winery 2017 L’Entente – $75
Aromas of sweet baking spices blend well with red-ripe strawberry and fennel. This finessed blend of 55% cabernet sauvignon, 20% petit verdot, 10% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, and 5% malbec, carries a subtle oak treatment to highlight the fruit character of black cherries and plum. It is a medium-bodied wine with rich flavor and tannins that build to the middle and trail off to a smooth, elongated finish.
Penman Springs Vineyard 2018 Petite Sirah – $28
Aromas of earthy figs are followed by flavors of raspberries and blackberries. The finish is smooth and full-bodied. This wine is perfectly paired with lamb, duck or a blue cheese-topped filet.
Penman Springs Vineyard 2018 “Artisan Cuvee” Meritage – $34
A blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 10% petit verdot, this wine has a dark ruby color and complex aromas of currant, oak, plum and earthy mocha. Bright up front palate shows intense berry fruit with a cassis edge opening up to a middle of plum and mocha flavors. Finishes with fine, soft tannin structure and vanilla oak. Gold Medal winner at the 2021 Mid-State Fair Wine Competition.
Penman Springs Vineyard 2017 “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon – $35
This reserve cabernet is a beautiful ruby color with an amazing nose that hints of French oak and blackberries. Kept in the barrel for 24 months and then bottled for minimum six months before release, it is smooth all the way through with a classic cabernet sauvignon finish!
Rava Wines 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – $48
This wine greets with rich aromas of toasted cherry and black currant with hints of black licorice and pepper. Notes of blackberry and dark chocolate on the palate are introduced with soft tannins. The wine’s full-bodied structure finishes with a bold and lavish finish.
Riboli Family 2019 Maddalena Cabernet Sauvignon – $16.95
This affordable cab shows ripe red fruit, including raspberry, plum, and spicy black cherry. Barrel aging contributes notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak spice. The mouth is round with a rich, silky texture that is framed by soft tannins.
Riverstar Vineyards 2016 Affinity – $28
This wine, a blend of 56% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, and 11% zinfandel, has ripe cherry, and a hint of mint and spice on the nose. The body has notes of cherry, currant and mocha, with vanilla and spice on the long finish. The 2016 Affinity was awarded 91 points from the Wine Enthusiast and 90 points from Vinous.
San Simeon 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – $70
On the nose, tasters will encounter the notes of French and American oak barrels with aromas of baking spices and vanilla intermingling with notes of ripe dark fruits. On the palate, there are flavors of blackberry and ripe plum, followed by touches of cocoa. It earned 90 points from Wine Enthusiast.
Sea Shell Cellars 2018 Low Tide Cabernet Sauvignon – $36
This wine exudes an aroma of bright, vibrant fruit upon pouring into the glass. Candied raspberries, cassis and a hint of roasted coffee beans and tart cherries slowly give way to notes of blackberries, vanilla bean, and baking spice, finishing with a pleasant medium-bodied tannin.
Seven Angels Cellars 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – $42
This wine opens with notes of gentle floral and soft leather with hints of violet and dark currents on the nose. Well-balanced flavors of woodsy black currant and warm vanilla tease the palate. It’s a full-bodied wine that pairs perfectly with a grilled ribeye. It won a silver medal at the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Sextant Wines 2019 Kamal Cabernet Sauvignon – $54
This wine, composed of 82% cabernet sauvignon, 12% merlot, and 6% petite verdot is complex without complication, featuring range and depth beginning with upfront aromas of ripe strawberry, potpourri, cedar, and lavender. A riot of dark fruits follows led by acai berry and black plums and traces of wet granite and minerality – all lifted by bright acid. The well-structured crushed-velvet tannins give way to a long finish.
Shale Oak Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015 Mercurey – $100
This is an archetypal Paso Robles cab, described by the winemaker as a “beast of cabernet.” It’s 100% cab and was aged for four years on new French Oak. It is big and rich with incredibly smooth tannin and only 92 cases were produced.
Tackitt Family Vineyards 2018 Petit Sirah – $40
With its bold and irresistible perfume of whiskey, buttercream, and roses, this wine shouts to be savored. It has a rich texture and body, along with flavors of cocoa and currant – satisfying from the first swirl to the last sip. This wine received a silver medal in the Sunset Magazine Competition.
Tackitt Family Vineyards 2018 Rendezvous – $38
This Bordeaux blend greets the nose with unexpected nuances of licorice and candied ginger. Flavors of oaky vanilla and dark cherry lead to a savory finish with a touch of leather. This wine’s beautiful lingering finish is balanced with good acidity and tannins.
Twin Coyotes Winery 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – $38
This cabernet sauvignon is savory and full-bodied, with smoky, spicy flavors, and aromas of cedar and spice. It is a well-balanced wine that pairs well with steak, burgers, flavorful and heartier red pasta sauces, lamb, portabella mushrooms, and gouda or aged cheddar cheese.
Victor Hugo Winery 2018 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $28
This bold wine has aromas of plum, black cherry and dark chocolate with wisps of allspice, complimented by a background of subtle oak. Rich flavors with layers of tannins and oak give it an elegant finish. It’s ready to pour now and will continue to improve with cellaring for the next four to eight years.
Top local dessert wine recommendations
Brecon 2017 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer – $44
This 100% newly released gewurztraminer has ginger, madras, and cloves with intense floral aromatics to treasure. Lychee, pineapple, and nutty almond overtones add complexity. Only 97 cases were produced.
Glunz Family Winery Vin Glogg – $14
This dessert wine is the ultimate winter warmer. It is a blend of half dry red wine and half port blended together with spices of cinnamon, cardamom, and orange peel. Serve the Vin Glogg warm.
Glunz Family Winery Mission Angelica – $38
This Mission Angelica wine was aged in oak through the winery’s solera for an average of 25 years. It is loaded with butterscotch and maple syrup flavors and balances out with a touch of acidity. It earned 93 points from Wine Enthusiast. 250 cases produced.
Kula Vineyards 2019 Port-style Dessert Wine – $38
This sticky wine was crafted with petite sirah grapes harvested late in the season to concentrate flavors and sweetness. It was then aged in French oak barrels for 22 months. It has a deep, dark color with aromas of chocolate and caramel. The wine is rich with flavors of fig, plum and raspberry. Try it with your favorite dark chocolate for dessert.
Four Sisters Ranch 2017 Semi-Sweet Orange Muscat – $18
Estate grown, this wine has notes of orange blossom and honey with a finish that lingers making you want another sip or enjoy before dinner with fruit, cheese, and nuts. Chill to taste.
Midnight Cellars NV Gemini Port – $42
A dark wine from a blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot, petite sirah and fortified California brandy. It starts with sweet aromas of caramel, raisins, baked cobbler and cinnamon leading into a mouth-feel chock full of ripe, sweet berries and spice. The finish lasts forever and tapers with a creamy texture and a warm brandy heat.
Paso Port Wine Company Noel Port – $48
A delightful port-style dessert wine. Noel pairs nicely with pumpkin pie or that special rum cake at Christmas time or just sitting around the fireplace on a cold evening with friends and family after a beautiful holiday celebration.
Riverstar Vineyards 2014 Twilight – $18
This dessert wine made with fortified zinfandel has sweet raspberry and strawberry aromas with light-bodied berry flavor with a hint of coconut. Pairs with a chocolate mousse like a dream.
Twin Coyote Windy Stowaway Captain’s Reserve Dessert Wine – $38
Stow this port-style wine away for an evening in front of the fireplace. Blended with late-harvest merlot and three traditional port grapes: touriga nacional, tinta cao, and souzão and fortified with brandy, this wine goes well with chocolate or salty blue cheese.
Vista Del Rey 2018 Barbera Dessert Wine – $30
Winemaker Dave King took a little barbera and made a dessert wine in a port style. The result is a superb and sticky dessert wine. It tastes like dark berries, dark chocolate, and spices. It is 19-percent alcohol and comes in a 375ml bottle.