Setting up a tour of the Paso Robles AVA with The Wine Wrangler opens up a world of choices for tasting the region’s panoply of varietal wines.
On my personalized tour with Coy Barnes who operates The Wine Wrangler with finesse, a visit to Cass Vineyards & Winery placed high on my wish list. Cass being one of the only area wineries where wine and food pairings are available on weekdays, I’m delighted that Coy made it happen.
A love of wine goes hand-in-hand with my foodie cravings, so a sandwich or picnic lunch is generally not my first choice to enhance a day of wine tasting. When Coy mentioned that Cass has a Winery Café on the premises, a stopover added an important element to our itinerary of tastings, spanning the morning to late-afternoon.
A goal of mine, to become familiar with Paso Robles byways presented a challenge, with some 200 wineries spread across the AVA. Visiting Cass proved satisfying on many levels. The Cass kitchen is presided over by Chef Jacob Lovejoy, and after sampling the delectable crab cakes and smoked chicken salad the Café is rightly known for, I knew I’d want to return here on my next trip to Paso.
We tasted wonderful wines paired with a Cheese Course, another enticing offering when visiting Cass. It’s a chance to taste the winery’s Truffled Fresh Goat Cheese produced by their Paso Robles Cheese Co. I savored the Cass 2010 Rousanne, a crisp, fresh wine boasting a lovely balance between flavorful floral and fruit notes – served with Central Coast Creamery’s Holey Cow cheese. Impossible to imagine a wine more perfectly matched to a sunny summer day on the Cass patio, where visitors relaxing at the surrounding tables were clearly feeling no rush or desire to leave.
Rosé wines are always in on-hand in my own kitchen throughout the summer months, where many a Rosé from Paso Robles grapes accompanies a meal. My tasting at Cass proved gratifying in this respect, when a luscious 2010 Oasis Rosé arrived in consort with Bravo Farms Western Sage Cheddar – a memorably zingy combination! The savory cheddar played off the delicate yet lively wine, its enticing aroma and creamy melding of strawberry and melon notes a delicious counterpoint to the cheese.
Paired with their own Truffled Goat Cheese, the Cass 2009 Grenache boasts a ‘wow’ factor. The wine’s excellent backbone, upfront rich cherry, and jammy yet acid finish left me wanting more.
There really wasn’t enough time in our day to taste all the wines I’d hoped to, or to relish the wine & cheese pairings at a slow pace. Next trip to Paso, I’ll plan a leisurely visit to this tranquil vineyard setting.