As a vintner, dentist, and international hunter Michael Gill has attained a stature in his endeavors few people can achieve in a lifetime.
The tasting experience is an event you are unlikely to forget. Walking into Michael Gill Cellar’s tasting room, you will see the sign on the door stating, “Please do not feed or touch the animals.” Initially, one might think the sign relates to the friendly Russian wolfhounds that reign in the tasting room. Then the visitor will realize that the sign is not in deference to the Borzoi but to the myriad of animals from around the world that have garnered Dr. Gill the prestigious Safari Club Top Ten Award. Something shiny will then catch your eye as you turn to the tasting counter to see the numerous awards Michael Gill Cellars wines have won.
The journey of winemaking started in 1998 when the first Syrah was planted on the estate. As time progressed, additional land was cleared allowing for additional varietals to be planted. Now, after two decades of toil, there are ten varietals grown on 15 acres. Dr. Gill has a unique attitude for selecting the varietals to plant. He prefers to focus on some of the newer varietals to the state, if not the country. His Counoise, a Rhone varietal used in the Chateauneuf du Pape, is a constant award winner, being the Best Microwinery Red Wine awarded by the California State Wine Competition in 2016 and receiving 99 points in 2018 State competition.
The Vermentino, a varietal from Sardinia, loves the mixture of the calcareous soil, microclimate, and care Dr. Gill gives the vines. There have been five releases of this varietal, and each has taken a Best of Class award or better. Tempranillo is grown on a steep south-facing slope. The clone is one of the originals from Spain, and is a constant big winner in competitions, winning Best of All Red Wines from Jerry Mead’s NWIWC and earning 99 points.
Additional varieties include Viognier, Primitivo, Tannat, Alicante Bouschet, Negrette, Zinfandel, which are all award winners. The backbone to the estate winery is the initially planted Syrah. Paso Robles has become the Rhone region of North American, and the Syrah that comes from Dr. Gill’s fields is some of the darkest in the region. Layer after layer of fruit with velvet like finishes gives this Syrah its annual Best of Class awards not only in the US, but also by the Berlin International Wine Competition in every year entered.
All the grapes are grown on site is for Michael Gill Cellars wines– no grapes are bought, none are sold. All varietals are dry farmed, decreasing yield but concentrating the fruit flavors. Old world methods are used, and quality, not quantity, is the focus. Case production is from 1,000 to 1,200 cases per year. The operation is a family run winery, where you will likely see Dr. Gill (or his children) behind the counter, or some delightful weekend pourers to make your tasting experience more than memorable.
Michael Gill Cellars is located at 4125 Peachy Canyon Road, Paso Robles, and is open Friday- Sunday 11AM -5 PM. For more information, visit www.gillcellars.com or call 805 239-1668