Ages ago we had tasted some of the Bella Luna wines at a tasting at Vino 100 here in Vegas. Their Fighter Pilot Red as well as the guy pouring Kevin Healy were both memorable.
On our last trip to Paso Robles we were driving the east side early in the morning for some great photos in the rolling hills and decided to stop by. The winery is located in Templeton off of Templeton Road. We drove up to the tasting room. This looks like a 2 car garage with an apartment above. The tasting room is downstairs and upstairs is the winery loft apartment. Members of their 6 or 12 bottle clubs get one or two nights free stay here. You will typically find one of the owners Kevin Healey or Sherman Smoot pouring. This morning it was Sherm.
When we arrived at around 10 there was already a quartet of people in the tasting room. These were wine club members and they were tasting through their next shipment. Before we jumped into tasting Sherm asked if we had left our car windows open. Evidently the vineyard cat loves to nap in cars and more than a few guests have gotten a ways down the road and had a little cat head pop up in the back seat! We had a chuckle, assured him our windows were closed and set about tasting.
Their Estate Vineyard is Carly’s Vineyard, named for Sherm’s daughter. This 5 acre estate gets cool moist evening breezes from the Templeton Gap. The 5 acres also has 4 different soil types. “Rock Pile” is alluvial river bottom soil with lots of rocks and this section produced the most intense fruit. There is an area of clay loam that holds the most moisture, and then sandy loam on their southeast hill, where the Cabernet seems to grow best. In the bottom you find loamy soil, the Cab likes this too and does well because in the bottom they get later frost protection. They dry farm organically and head train both their Sangiovese and cabernet.
They are working on being greener, having recently added solar panels to generate power for the winery.
This is a family affair with Sherm, Kevin and Sherm’s son, Jimmy working as the winemakers and Kevin’s Daughter Nicole their Enologist and Viticulturist.
Their wines are meant to go with food in the fine Italian tradition. We tasted through the 2012 Estate Dry Rose, the 2009 Estate Riserva which is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese blend, the 2010 Estate Sangiovese, the 2011 “Fighter Pilot Red” Zinfandel, the 2009 Lot One Barbera and the 2009 Tempestuous Tempranillo. The Fighter Pilot Red, that I remembered tasting before was still beautiful in this vintage. As the wines are in the Italian Style and are meant to go with food, they tend to lean toward acidic. This is the place to come for a wine dinner or pairing, these are beautiful food wines.