A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY

Greetings from Central California Wine Country. Today we will pay a visit to my favorite winery: Justin Vineyards and Winery.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

As you may know I recently celebrated my birthday in Paso Robles Wine Country. Located in San Luis Obispo County on the central coast of California, this prolific wine region is now home to hundreds of wineries, where over 40 different wine grapes are cultivated. Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles Wine Country with its beautiful rolling hills studded with majestic old oak trees, is a prime grape-growing area. I found picture-perfect scenery around every corner.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin #Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

While I am certainly no wine expert, I have been to more than a few wineries in my time, having visited many in Napa Valley California, in Chile and Argentina, and in Spain and France. Of all the wineries I have ever toured, I believe Justin will go down as one of my most memorable.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin #Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

In 1981 investment banker Justin Baldwin purchased 160 acres west of Paso Robles that had once been rangeland for cattle and founded his namesake winery, Justin Vineyards & Winery. He started by planting just under half of his acreage with Bordeaux-style vines and pledged to eventually produce wines comparable to the fine wines he had enjoyed in Bordeaux, France. At the time there were only nine wineries operating in the area, all of which helped to establish the Paso Robles “appellation”, a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine are grown.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Paso Robles’ distinctive microclimate has dramatic day-night temperature swings.  Hot daytime temperatures allow the grapes to develop intense flavor, while the cool nights give great structure and balance to the grapes.  Paso Robles is located 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Its soil is rich in fossilized limestone from eons of marine deposits, making the soil ideally suited to growing grapes that make for big, Bordeaux-style red wines. The limestone “stresses” the vines, producing grapes that fully express their varietal character.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Two of the friends that accompanied us for our weekend in Paso Robles are members of the Justin Wine Society. Their memberships afforded us priority access to a members-only wine lounge and a free winery tour. We started our tour here in this gazebo where we learned about Justin Winery’s organic farming practices.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

True to his word, Justin Baldwin debuted his first wine in 1987, four years after he planted his first vines. It was a Bordeaux-style blend that he called “Isosceles”, meaning “triangle”, which is a reference to the 3 wines used in his blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

By 1996 Baldwin had constructed a state-of-the-art winery.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

A year later, in 1997, his 1994 Isosceles was named the world’s best blended red Bordeaux-style wine at the London International Wine and Spirits Competition. This unprecedented accomplishment quite literally put Justin and Paso Robles on the international wine map.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Not only was the wine we enjoyed here absolutely delicious, the 18,000 square feet of caves that we toured during our visit to the winery complex were a sight to behold.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Over 5,000 barrels of wine are housed in these caves, which are dramatically illuminated down long, narrow corridors that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see. Located in some areas as much as 120 feet below ground, the caves provide the perfect climate in which to nurture some of the best wines I’ve ever tasted.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Our very knowledgeable tour guide explained that the majority of the oak wine barrels used by Justin are imported from France and cost about $1,500 each. With over 15,000 barrels in use, millions of dollars have been invested in these barrels, which have a lifespan of only about 5 years.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

At the deepest part of the caves lies the Isosceles Library. Guarded by locked iron gates, we felt privileged to be invited inside.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The Isosceles Library holds the winery’s liquid history.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Niches in the walls feature maturing bottles of the estate’s finest vintages.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Covered in years of dust, we were asked not to touch these bottles of liquid gold.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Very small releases of their premier wines are offered on occasion, exclusively to Isosceles Reserve Club members.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

You too can visit Justin Vineyards & Winery. Reservations are necessary and can be made by calling 805-238-6932. They also have a Bed and Breakfast Inn on site, as well as a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. Click here to visit their website.

A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comA VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY | #Justin Vineyard & #Winery | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

So there you have it: A VISIT TO MY FAVORITE WINERY

Thanks for dropping in!  Do please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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Comments

  • Justin was the very first wine club we ever joined and has always been one of our favorites. Love the new tasting room with the outdoor patio. We prefer it over the members lounge.

  • We saw but didn’t get to enjoy the lovely patio. We will certainly do that on our next visit, which I hope will be very soon.