Serving up high-quality wine in the SIP-certified tasting room
—On an unassuming road just off Highway 46 lies Shale Oak Winery. With its multicolored stained-glass windows and slanted roof, it looks like a church. However, instead of serving up sermons they serve up high-quality wine in their SIP-certified tasting room.
At Shale Oak Winery, they’ve taken sustainability in practice a step further by designing their entire facility to be Gold LEED Certified. LEED stands for leadership, energy, and environmental design. According to LEED, “The LEED plaque on a building is a mark of quality and achievement in green building.”
Owner Al Good dreamed of a vineyard, winery, and tasting room with very little impact on the environment. His dream became a reality. Everyone at Shale Oak is committed to the vision of sustainability. Lead Winemaker, Curtis Hascall, has been with the winery from the beginning and is equally committed to Good’s vision. “From the beginning, one of our goals was to get that Gold Certification; so, we worked with Studio 2G Architecture down in San Luis Obispo. They helped guide us in that direction. We opened the production facility and did our first harvest in 2010, and then the tasting room opened in 2011.”
Despite the beautiful stained glass, the tasting room was not designed to look like a church but instead to reclaim water. Both the tasting room and production facility have pitched roofs so rainwater will go down the slope of the roof. It then passes through drip chains and is filtered through the rocks. It then goes to the reclamation pond/water feature just outside the tasting room. The pond then flows into a pipe that flows directly to the catch basin that pumps the water to 5 hundred-thousand-gallon tanks. The roofs are pitched so perfectly that water beads up during a heavy fog, and, of course, that is also collected.
“My favorite part is the water collection because that’s such a big issue around here, and to capture all that clean water is really beneficial for our vineyards and for our landscape. It’s cleaner water than the well water around here. It’s not the cheapest thing to set up. It’s not economically the best, but it’s important.”
What else makes the buildings and property so special? The whole property is set up so all rainwater will flow in the direction of the catch basin. The wood you see as you walk up to the front door is reclaimed wood from a train trestle from Vandenberg Space Force Base. The counters are recycled crushed glass. The cabinets are bamboo. The bathrooms smell like sulfur because they use reclaimed groundwater. The buildings are all solar, and they’re smart. Many of the windows have motors on them, and if the temperature outside drops below the temperature inside they automatically open and fans pull the cool air inside. The building also senses when someone has left, and automatically turns the heater off. The fireplace burns denatured alcohol which only emits water vapor. Their motto is “sustainability to the forefront,” and it’s evident throughout the property.
The same attention to detail they put in the buildings has gone into the winemaking. According to Hascall, “Our varietals are the best of Paso. We have Rhône’s. We have Bordeaux. We have Zinfandel. We have a good mix of everything that I feel grows really well in the area. Everything is from Paso Robles. Everything is done in small lots. Nothing is more than a couple hundred cases produced. So, we’re able to pay a lot of attention to detail and focus on the wine quality.”
They have many Best-in-Class awards, but Hascall’s favorite is Sunset Magazine’s Double Gold, Best in Class award for their 2019 Syrah which is the perfect embodiment of a westside Paso Robles Syrah.
There’s nothing pretentious at Shale Oak Winery. The vibe is cool and funky and both family and dog friendly. Hascall states, “We want people to relax and enjoy the wine because that’s what it’s all about. Enjoying the wine.”
Shale Oak Winery is located just off Highway 46 at 3235 Oakdale Road, Paso Robles. The tasting room is open from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday. For reservations or more information visit shaleoakwinery.com or call (805) 239-4800