Paso Robles Highlights – Part One

The vineyard at Kukkula Winery                  Photo by Christine Humphrey ©2012

When people think of California wines, the region that most often comes to mind is Napa Valley, followed by Sonoma. But the largest and fastest growing area for California wines is the Central Coast, with Paso Robles, Ca. on the northern end. In less than 40 years, the number of wineries has grown from 10 to more than 200, with the bulk of the growth coming in the 10 years or so. New wineries and tasting rooms keep popping up, as does more and more recognition. In 2010, Saxum’s 2007 Rhone (their blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) was named the #1 wine in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of the year. Over 40 grape varietals are grown in the area, including Zinfandel and the 22 Rhone varietals, both white and red. For more about those grapes, visit

  At Caliza

Photo by Christine Humphrey ©2012

Every wine trip I take produces a standout winery. My recent trip to Paso Robles was no exception. During my 2010 visit to Paso, that winery was Caliza, a boutique winery located on the west side, in the Templeton Gap.  Since then, Caliza has really gained recognition through several mentions and accolades in the Wine Spectator. They are known for their Azimuth, their traditional Rhone varietal GSM blend ( Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) and their Syrah. This visit, I preferred their less traditional Cohort, a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Primitivo and Grenache. I also enjoyed their Rousanne/Viognier white Rhone blend. These wines are priced in the $28-$48 range, at this writing.


The standout winery of this trip was Kukkula, a little gem further to the north, above the Adelaida schoolhouse. Not only are their wines excellent and reasonably priced, ($20-$42 at this writing) but their tasting room/ kitchen structure is a modern architectural delight, showcasing owner Kevin Jussila’s Finnish heritage.

 Kukkula Tasting Room

Paula and Kevin Jussila’s home above the Tasting Room.  Photos by Christine Humphrey ©2012

Of the wines tasted at Kukkula, my favorite was their 2009 Aato, an unusual blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Counoise. As Kevin says…”Most of you might not know Counoise, and I’m just getting to know it myself. But I love it! The blend is light colored, aromatic ( almost floral), spicy and takes on an almost Pinot-like profile.”  Their other wine I also enjoyed was the 2009 Sisu, a more traditional blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. 2009 marked the first vintage where the fruit was from their own dry farmed organic vineyard. I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful winery and meet Kevin Jussila, who will most likely be pouring and will show you true Paso Robles hospitality.

Photo by Christine Humphrey ©2012

Watch for Part 2 of Paso Robles Highlights…For more on Paso Robles Wine Country, visit

Until next time…À votre santé !


©2012 by Christine Humphrey


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