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When “East meets West”

Over the years, the battle of East vs. West has raged on in many platforms, and as many of you know, this can be a hot topic for discussion relating to the Paso Robles AVA. Even people who have never been to Paso will ask me, “are your vineyards on the East side or the West side?” Or my favorite, “I only like wines from the West side” or vice versa. It’s almost like the French Oak vs. American Oak discussion. Does the average drinker really know the difference or for that matter the enthusiast?

As one of the older wineries in Paso, we have dealt with grapes from all over the county, and from that experience have learned a lot. Our vineyards are scattered all over the East and West sides, giving us a wide array of microclimates to potentiate. Contrary to what many think, it isn’t a black and white discussion when comparing the East and West side. For example, many people think Pinot Noir has no business being grown anywhere but the West Side and for the most part we would agree, but our Blind Faith Pinot, located on the East side has been an award winning wine year after year. When I pour the Blind Faith Pinot, people are often very surprised to learn the wine comes from the East side, because it is a deliciously delicate Pinot Noir with great fruit. Perhaps it’s a fluke but we’ll take it!

Since this discussion has heated up over the years we have decided to have some fun with it by releasing a new wine dubbed “East meets West.” This wine is a blend of Syrah from the East and West sides, showing that the two can get along and even come together in a blissful harmony. This is a big wine in all the right places and is sure to spark a discussion among enthusiasts and hobbyists alike!

You will find East meets West at our Tasting Room in the near future and be sure to spark up a discussion as you let this wonderful wine dance around your taste buds.

Till Next Time,





So Much to be Thankful For!

As usual, we have many things to be thankful for at Castoro Cellars and this year is no exception. With the 2012 harvest officially behind us, we are very grateful to still be doing what we love and for the great growing conditions Mother Nature provided us with this year. As Erik and I have mentioned in previous blogs, the 2012 harvest was one to remember. We brought in great yields from our vineyards and the fruit was bursting with ripe flavors. As farmers we don’t take these years for granted, but cherish them and work as hard as we can to make the most of them. You never know what the next year will bring!

The weather has now begun to cool off and many of the vineyards are losing their leaves as we begin to experience consistent frost. Luckily, the weather over Thanksgiving was phenomenal and we were able to enjoy a beautiful day with friends and family. We started off the day with a “Turkey Trot” in the Whale Rock Vineyard even got to sneak in a few games of basketball before the feast!

In other exciting news, we just finished up a video outlining our commitment to sustainability and organic farming. In the video (link provided below) Niels explains our farming practices, solar projects and overall business sustainability. Our good friend Tyler Franta, who recently graduated from CSU Monterey Bay with a degree in Film Editing, made the video and he did a very nice job.

Watch the video here:

Lastly, our new Reserve labels have arrived and have been bottled on select wines! We are very happy with how they turned out and hope you are too! Keep your eyes peeled for these new labels at the tasting room and in the marketplace in the near future.

Till Next Time,





Are You Stable?

5…4…3…2…1…GRAPES OFF! We are just a few days away from picking the very last grapes of the season and the final batches have been some of the best. Grapes finally came flowing in from our west side Paso CCOF organic Whale rock and Cobble Creek Vineyards. These grapes include small lots of our reserve Zinfandel, Carignane, Charbono, Syrah, Tempranillo and Primitivo varietals. The Cabernet Sauvignon and a very little amount of Zinfandel is all that we have left. Tom says the Carignane and Tempranillo look especially exceptional this year. The Tempranillo should make for a mouthwatering smooth, dry and spice filled wine with hints of black licorice. The Carignane is always an interesting grape coming in very ripe this year, high in sugar content and geared to make a big, tongue awakening masterpiece that will rock your taste buds.

As the vines begin to shed their leaves and turn various shades of orange, yellow and red, the cellar work goes through a slight change as well. There are fewer and fewer grapes to crush and this means less digging and more additions and racking. In my last blog I talked about the intricacies of draining and digging tanks filled with red wine. In this blog I’m going to focus on techniques and additions that are usually only involved in the white wine making process. Sounds kind of boring, but I promise I won’t make you fall asleep, I am not your college chemistry professor with a uni-brow he won’t pluck.

You probably didn’t know that in order to keep white wine from becoming cloudy and murky when exposed to excess heat we actually add dirt. Well, not exactly dirt, but a substance called bentonite. Bentonite is an extremely absorbent substance made up of small positively charged clay particles. When added to hot water and allowed to sit overnight, the substance will turn into a slurry which will then be poured into the wine from the top. As it sinks down the slurry acts as a net attracting all excess negatively charged proteins within the wine like a magnet. These proteins include yeast skins and various other particles that are floating around, and if left untouched excess heat will cause them to denature or puff up just like tiny little eggs. These little puffs like I mentioned before will cause the wine to look cloudy and then the wine cannot be sold. You can still drink it though and it won’t hurt you. Once it passes through the wine, the bentonite will settle at the bottom of the tank and the wine can be racked off the top leaving the color, texture and flavor of the wine completely unaffected.

Now it’s time to get cold, really cold, I mean below freezing in order to cold stabilize the wine. If you have ever freaked out because you thought you found glass coming out of the bottom of a cork that’s because the wine didn’t go through cold stabilization. It wasn’t glass you saw though; it was actually little tartaric crystals that form when tartaric acid in wine is exposed to cold temperatures. First, the tank is cooled down to around 30° F to initiate the crystallization process. To better describe the next step, you can actually do it yourself by placing a Corona or any other bottled beer in the freezer. If it doesn’t move around or get hit by something else while chilling take it out and tap it on the counter. The force of the tap will cause the water in the beer to crystalize slowly throughout the bottle. This is the same basic process we use to remove the tartaric crystals, but instead of tapping the tank, we add already naturally formed crystals in the form of powder called Cream of Tartar. The introduction of this powder starts the chemical reaction and causes the crystals to form, sinking to the bottom or sticking to the sides of the tank. The wine is then racked off the top, while once again the taste, texture and color of the wine are completely unaffected.

It may seem like a lot of science, but the art of wine making is linked hand in hand with the use of science and chemical reactions to reach a final product that will be enjoyed by all. It is impossible to avoid chemistry in the winemaking process whether you are creating alcohol, fining the wine or extracting color and aromas from grapes.

That’s all for now, so until next time, thanks for reading,




Cream of Tartar


A Wine Filled Weekend

One of the perks of my job is getting to travel our beautiful state while promoting our wonderful wines. In the process I get to see a lot of cool places and meet people from all walks of life. Sometimes folks have heard of Castoro and sometimes not, and sometimes I run into people who have been drinking our wine since I was in diapers!

This past weekend I poured two different events and both were very enjoyable. The first event was at the Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey in their exchange, which is basically a store that sells everything. They’ve got iPads, groceries, booze, clothing you name it! I really like pouring here because the people I meet are from all over the world. Most are students, and all are affiliated with the military, navy etc. They’ve got great stories to share and are very eager to learn about wineries in the surrounding area. Another plus to the event is that they can take wine home with them on the spot and many did!

The second event I poured was for the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce for their annual Crush event. This event was a lot of fun as there were 25 wineries and 25 food vendors in attendance along with around 300 people. The food was great and it was a lot of fun to sample the other wines being poured. There were many I have heard of and many I had never heard of so it was fun to broaden my horizons. The food was great as well and the variety was amazing. Highlights included bacon wrapped dates, duck fat French fries, deviled eggs with caviar and truffle sauce, meatballs and even some amazing clam chowder. (I made sure to eat my veggies when I got home, haha)

All in all it was a successful weekend promoting Castoro and I look forward to the next round of tastings, which will be here before I can say Dam Fine Wine!

See you on the road!