Justin Winery has always been so well known in Paso Robles, but it took my husband and I a few years to discover how fantastic their wine really is. If you've ever been to Justin, you know that it is a pretty far drive, and if you take Vineyard Rd. you pass quite a few amazing wineries on the way. So, naturally, my husband and I would make a stop or two on the way and by the time we reached Justin Winery, our palette was shot and we never were able to truly appreciate the quality of their wine. What a shame! Justin wine is amazing and visiting this winery should be an all day event in itself.
A few weeks ago the local wine radio station Krush 92.5 announced a contest to win lunch, tour and tasting for 4 at Justin. What a prize and I won! It was my stoke of luck and very much needed, for when they called me to announce that I'd won, I was having a very bad day and it was just the pick me up I needed. My double luck was that my 30th bday was around the corner and I was planning on going on my birthday weekend with none other than my favorite big sister Bekki!
So our weekend finally arrived and once the kids were happily playing at Grandma's and Grandpa's house we snuck off with my B-day music mix blaring in the car. November is my favorite time to go wine tasting because the vines are turning colors but the weather is still nice. The drive to Justin was so beautiful and as we got there we soaked up the scenery. We were seated for lunch outside on the patio with a warm heater going and the fountain trickling. The wine and food pairings were amazing. Jason, my sister's husband and I started with the wine and cheese pairing first. Do you want Charcuterie with the cheese?” Our waitress asked. I looked at her blankly...what is that? Silly me, not as sophisticated as I'd like to be, I guess. My sister ordered the scallops and being a newly wed and a new mother she's been very starry eyed lately. “These scallops remind me of the day I fell in love with you when we had dinner at Artisan” my sister says to her husband. Ahhh. So sweet. I remember the days when she would declare her hate for all men. Thank you Jason! Our lunch was so lovely. I tried their pork stew and my husband had their Burger and we were all happily enjoying our lunches, stealing tastes of what each other ordered, taking pictures of the food, and sipping the wine. Before we knew it, hours had passed and it was time to join our wine tour.
One of the bad things about living in a small town is that you often bump into people you know that one time you venture out of the house in PJ’s and no makeup. Well this time, my sister bumped into someone she knew and it was absolutely awesome. Our day just became better when we met for our tour and discovered my sister was good friends with Vince, our tour guide. And to put icing on the cake, the tour consisted of only the four of us. Learning about the Justin vineyard, the micro climates in Paso Robles, how awesome innovations can define great wine from good wine, the way you can just blow a hole into the earth, slab up some concrete, and voila' you've got a wine cellar. After the tour I was almost begging to become part of the Justin Wine-making team. Well, why not? I could make wine with my 10+ years working in laboratories. They could just pay me in wine. It would be one of those jobs with awesome perks.
One of the most fascinating things about the caves is that there is an area called the Justin Library. Secret recipe books on how to make all of the best varietals of Justin wine? You may think... but no, it's even better! 600 bottles of Justin Isosceles representing each year starting at the year 2000. A history of their own wine making. I think it is absolutely genius. And I have to admit, there is something awe inspiring about seeing dusty bottles of wine which represent the past, present, and future of great wine. I now have a new-found respect for the Justin Wine Making team.
When leaving the library, there are rows and rows of barrels lining the hallways. I must confess, I am a girl who generally follows the rules to the tee. My poor 5 year old daughter follows my footsteps pretty closely in that as well. It makes parenting very easy with her, but sometimes I want to tell her to just be crazy and break the rules for one day. Well, this time I just couldn't resist. When our tour guide, Vince showed us the barrels of Reserve Isosceles and told us the price tag on each barrel (~$50k each) I just had to touch them. I know....living on the edge of danger! Ha ha. Well, it was fun.
To end our trip we got the pleasure of tasting the reserve Justin wines in the Members only lounge, by the fireplace! Wow. What a way to end the day. We cozied up on the couch, enjoyed their wines, and chatted the afternoon away. We ended up spending the entire day at Justin and none of us wanted to leave when they were finally cleaning up and ready to kick us out. My favorite wine for the day? Well, I'd have to say I loved the Reserve Tempranillo as well as the sneak peak of a Merlot from a half-barrel ...it was delish! Thank you Justin for such an amazing memory!