Visiting Wineries: Half the Fun is Getting There

Oak wine barrels at the Robert Mondavi vineyar...
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Guest post from Kevin Vandever

My wife and I along with friends, Peter and Renee, were visiting Paso Robles, CA for some wine tasting about 4 years ago and we decided to start our Saturday's tasting tour at Hansen's Winery. Bruce Hansen and his wife Sheila run Hansen's and are very nice people so we all hit it off pretty quickly. The fun started in the tasting room with their outstanding Cabs, Zins, and one of the best Viogniers I have ever tasted, but soon expanded to placed beyond. Bruce seemed to feed off our enthusiasm for his wine so he invited Peter and me to check out his operation. He gave us a tour of his facility, let us push the "cake" (the grape skins) back into the juice, and even allowed us to play mad scientists with him as we blended various samples from the barrel room. That was especially fun and we came up with some great blends. While Peter and I were experimenting in the barrel room, Sheila was giving the ladies a tour of the rest of the property, which included feeding and walking her horses. We all were having such a great time, but were getting hungry so they invited us to stay for a late afternoon lunch. We had been shopping earlier that day and had picked up stuff for sandwiches so we set up a picnic table, broke out our food, and enjoyed some Hansen wine for lunch. In total, we spent around 7 hours at Hansen's and left just in time to visit another winery or two before joining them at their favorite restaurant for dinner that evening. We have become good friends with the Hansen's and no trip to Paso is complete without visiting their place. We sometimes stay in their guest house. Whatever the case, we have learned to make Hansen's our last stop if we care at all about sampling anyone else's wine

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