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Six new faces on the Paso Robles wine scene 


Photo by Andrew Macpherson/ WINE ENTHUSIAST MAGAZINE

Wine Enthusiast Magazine profiles up and coming Paso Robles winemakers

Six New Faces of the Paso Robles Region

These winemakers are remaking their chosen region into a California powerhouse

No region in California has come so far, so fast, as Paso Robles. Four years ago, I called it, “a case study of a region that’s reinventing itself, looking for relevance, willing to take risks.”

In many respects, Paso Robles has now become the most exciting appellation in California. A young generation of winemakers—often having Napa Valley roots—is moving there, lured by a sense of freedom they didn’t find elsewhere.

The Paso Robles renaissance did not spring up overnight. An early generation, typified by wineries like Eberle and Wild Horse, sparked a small boom in the 1990s and early 2000s, when producers like L’Aventure, Linne Calodo, Saxum and Tablas Creek attracted acclaim. They were pioneers in a region long dominated by commodity wines.

The world took notice, and investor money followed. And, as Brown points out, “winemaking talent follows the money.” The tipping point arrived between 2007 and 2010, when most of these wineries started up.

Guillaume Fabre
Owner/winemaker, Clos Solène
This 34-year-old, born to a winemaking family in France’s Languedoc, came to Paso Robles in 2004. “I wanted to see what was going on with newer wine regions,” he says. “And it’s never easy working for your family.”

Aaron Jackson
Owner/winemaker, Aaron Wines
Jackson made his first Petite Sirah at the tender age of 22. “I was one of the youngest winemakers in the country!” he says.

Amy Butler
Owner/winemaker, Ranchero Cellars
Despite a promising career taking root in Napa, Butler longed for something more, something she would find in Paso Robles. At first, Napa interested her, but the wealth and flamboyance eventually weighed her down.

Matt Villard
Owner/winemaker, MCV Wines
Villard’s path to his own winery sounds like the libretto from some grand opera. A degree in comparative literature with a minor in philosophy led improbably to an internship at Quintessa. That led to a job at Justin, a failed application to be a Gallo enologist, and a blown-out knee, which effectively sidelined the 31-year-old’s lab days.

Brian Brown
Winemaker, ONX
At ONX, Brown crafts several fancifully named blends—Moxie and Red Crush, for example—from wildly unrelated grape varieties, like Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. There’s also a Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier dubbed Field Day. “You’d never see these blends outside Paso,” says Brown, 34.

Nicholas R. Elliot
Owner/winemaker, Nicora
Elliott, 31, could have remained in the Central Valley town of Coalinga and been a general contractor, like his father and grandfather before him. “But I wanted to get away, to be my own person,” he says.

Read the full story at Wine Enthusiast Magazine

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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.