Located along California’s Central Coast is Paso Robles, where you will
discover the Halter Ranch Vineyard. Dating back to the 1800's, the beautiful
property of 1,000 acres with 240 acres currently under vine was once part of
a 3,600-acre ranch owned by Paso Robles pioneer, Edwin Smith. Smith, a farm
produce and livestock dealer and mining investor, acquired the property in
west Paso Robles in 1881. When Smith’s business empire floundered in the
early 1900's, the estate was later broken up and nearly half the land was
purchased by new farmers in 1943.
Over 50 years later the ranch began growing its first grapevines in 1996. Four years later in 2000, Hansjörg Wyss, purchased 1,000 acres of the original ranch. Wyss, a Swiss-born entrepreneur and philanthropist, is committed to enlightened environmental stewardship, and this dedication has earned the Halter Ranch California’s prestigious SIP Certification for Sustainability in Practice.
After Wyss purchased the land he then enlarged the vineyard from 40 to 240 acres, which now produces of 100% estate-grown grapes, specializing in Bordeaux and Rhône-style varieties. He also renovated Smith’s Victorian farmhouse, and the history of the Halter Ranch Vineyard has grown into a thriving winery produces exceptional wines ever since.
The location of the Halter Ranch Vineyard is ideal for growing grapes, which benefit from the cool fog and winter rainfall along the Pacific Ocean. This climate allows the grapes to ripen slowly and retain good acidity. The winemaking approach represents a synthesis of old world practices and innovative techniques, beginning with the manual harvest of fully mature grapes by vineyard block. Harvesting by block enables Halter Ranch to ferment in small lots, for greater quality control. The wines are aged in French oak barrels, clarified naturally, and bottled without filtration to preserve maximum flavor and character.
In 2011 Kevin Sass, winemaker, and Skylar Stuck, general manager, began a new era at Halter Ranch, which also includes the addition of 20,000 sq. ft. of underground caves, and their new, state-of-the-art winery. When you visit the Halter Ranch Vineyard you'll discover that there are twenty grape types growing on the ranch, which are separated into 57 vineyard blocks, delineated primarily by soil types. Its proprietary blend, “Ancestor,” is typically a Bordeaux-style Estate Reserve, which can develop beautifully in the bottle for a decade or more.
These old world techniques produced wines that capture the essence of history and pride taken to create a memorable vintage like the 2008 Côtes de Paso Red, which I enjoyed with my wife, Melody. The aroma is inviting and the earthy, bold wine went perfectly with tender steak and fresh garden salad we prepared. Whether serving Halter Ranch wines with you favorite meal or toasting to a union or romantic occasion you'll find each wine offers a memorable taste that can only be crafted in Paso Robles!
By Leroy Worley
To discover more about the Halter Ranch Vineyard in Paso Robles, California visit www.halterranchvineyard.com.