Paso Robles is known for its wine and is quickly becoming known for the amazing female winemakers and winery owners taking over the region. On a recent trip to Paso, we focused on women in wine, staying at a woman-owned winery and tasting at the wineries of 4 amazing women.
Our weekend began with a stay at the beautiful Pelletiere Estate, owned and operated by Janis Denner. Janis was an incredible hostess and the accommodations in the cottage were perfect. Read the full story about Waking up in a Vineyard here.
Our Saturday schedule began with a visit to the Pelletiere tasting room to sample their beautiful Italian style wines. The Pelletiere Estate winemaker, Amy Butler, is a master at her craft with an impressive resume that includes Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Schramsberg in Napa Valley before heading to Paso to perfect her skills with Rhone varietals. The estate wines she produces with Janis are true to their Italian heritage distinctive, elegant and well balanced. Although the winery is a small operation their production of wines is impressive and includes Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Lagrien and Montepulciano. This dynamic woman duo are an inspiration!
Janis and Amy have also partnered to produce a beautiful Chardonnay under the label Dorothy Jean Wines (the middle name of Janis and Amy respectively). They took the theme of “women in wine” one-step further by featuring the work of artist Erin Hanson on the label. Her art and the wine are a reflection of the sense of place and beauty of the land.
In addition to producing wine under the Pelletiere and the Dorothy Jean Wines labels, Amy produces her own wines, Ranchero Cellars. Her tasting room is located in Paso Underground in downtown Paso, a shared space with 3 other winemakers. Amy shared with us that she has a love affair with Carignan and it is evident in her wines as the predominant grape. Carignan, used as a stand-alone or in one of her blends, is rich, dark fruit with soft tannins. Amy’s passion for what she does was evident throughout the tasting, not only as described her process but also in each of the wines we tried.
Also located in Paso Underground we visited Hubba Wines and winemaker Riley Hubbard. Riley’s background is fascinating, her journey began at L’Aventure Winery working every aspect of the winery. From there she went to Australia, France, and Italy
to expand her knowledge and experience before heading back to Paso. She worked as an assistant winemaker at Law Estate Wines as well as Desparada Wines under Vailia From, the next female winemaker on our list. Riley’s red wine blends using Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Syrah are all unique and highlight the characteristics of each varietal. Her excitement and passion for what she does are infectious and also shows in her wines.
and spirits producers. The Desparada tasting room was seductive with dark walls, gilded décor, and a large, polished table. We had a lovely, guided tasting featuring two whites, two red blends, and the star of the show their Cabernet Sauvignon called Dressmaker. Desparada is an all women-run operation including the owner and winemaker, Vailia From. Vailia has worked every aspect of the wine business and traveled extensively to learn her craft. Her wines are unique in that some are aged in amphoras which give them a silky, smooth finish. The Desparada wines, with eye-catching labels and unique names, were truly a treat.
Our Paso visit also included a stop at J. Dusi, a beautiful winery with a rich history in Paso Robles. The Dusi family came to the US from Italy in the 1920s and introduced some of the first Zinfandel grapes to the region. The family legacy includes planting and maintaining some of the most sought after vineyards in the area. Owner and winemaker Janell Dusi has taken her experience in the vineyard, paired it with the knowledge she gained in the winemaking process from her grandfather to pursue her passion for making wine. We tasted through a selection of red blends that included varietals such as Carignane, Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and of course Zinfandel. All big, fruit-forward wines that were true to the varietal as well as the Italian style of winemaking.
Show your support to #womeninwine by visiting one (or all) of these amazing wineries next time you are in Paso Robles!
Pelletiere Estate – 2015 Sangiovese
Ranchero Cellars – The Teathered Beast
Hubba Wines – 2017 The Eskimo
Desparada – Dress Maker
J. Dusi – 2016 Escandalosa