A Visit to Stolo Family Vineyards – Why you should go
Paso Robles is a hot spot for wine country travelers. The downtown is booming with high-end restaurants and boutique shopping. There are enough tasting rooms in and around the famous City Park to spend an entire day. To the immediate west and east are backroads leading to numerous wineries attracting wine enthusiast in droves. So why do we suggest that you drive 30 miles to the coastal town of Cambria to visit the Stolo Family Vineyards? We think Stolo Family Vineyards has a niche that offers a unique wine country experience.
We visited Stolo a week ago, first stopping in Paso Robles for lunch. The temperature read 88 degrees in Paso. When we arrived at the Stolo Family Vineyards tasting room, the temperature was 68 degrees. The temperature is what sets Stolo apart from the inland Paso Robles wineries. The winery is only a couple of miles from the Pacific Ocean. Besides the cool temperatures, a moist breeze from the ocean provides a freshness to the air. On most summer days, the area is drenched in fog until the late morning or early afternoon. This is a cool-climate grape growing region. Stolo vineyards include Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and surprisingly, Syrah. The growing season is very long because of the cool climate. Harvest can last all the way to the first week in November.
The Stolo Family has two estate vineyard locations. The oldest is on the hillside, where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir flourish. This vineyard has an origin date of 1998. The Stolo Family took over what was an old dairy farm in 2002 and soon established their wine business. Later, the Creekside Vineyard was planted. It is located across the road and in the flatlands. Nicole Pope is the winemaker. She studied Chemistry at nearby Cal Poly and traveled to Australia and South Africa to hone her winemaking skills. Nicole also did a stint at Domaine Carneros. The Carneros region is another wine area known for its cool climate and marine factors.
We sampled through all the Stolo wines. We were fortunate to taste with Nicole and general manager Diego Aquirre. Case production is 2000, so the supply is limited. We started with the Sauvignon Blanc. It gave us a clear indication of the Stolo wines. For whatever reason, the soil or the closeness to the ocean, the Sauvignon Blanc is distinctive. It is bright, lush, and with a stony characteristic. All the other wines followed suit, each with subtle attributes demonstrating the terroir of the Stolo Family Vineyards.
Two Chardonnays and two Pinot Noir wines are produced, one from the hillside vineyard and the other from the Creekside Vineyards. The Syrah grown in this climate takes on a whole different flavor profile than its warmer counterpart in Paso Robles. It is spicy, medium bodied, and has that smokey bacon flavor just like the Northern Rhone Syrahs. Fantastic!
The winery is open daily, and one can make a full day out of a visit. Cambria is full of good restaurants and boutique shopping. The Stolo winery has a large picnic area and benches. The folks here are very accommodating, so bring your picnic lunch and relax among the vineyards.
The six wineries in this area have established the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. Besides Stolo, one can visit Harmony Cellars at 3255 Harmony Valley Road. In the town of Cambria, these wineries have tasting rooms: Black Hand Cellars, Moonstone Cellars, and Twin Coyotes. Nearby in Cayucos is the tasting room of Cayucos Cellars. There is a movement afoot among the six wineries to promote this coastal area as its own AVA. Right now, the wineries are in the larger geographic area known as the Central Coast AVA. No doubt the proximity to the Pacific Ocean warrants its own AVA designation.