Since opening his winery on the east side of Paso Robles nine years ago, Robert Hall has been on a mission to put Paso Robles and the Central Coast on the world map of great winemaking regions. Just last month, he made another stride toward accomplishing that goal.
After entering 10 wines in the 2010 California State Fair Wine Competition — the oldest and most prestigious wine competition in the country — Robert Hall Winery came away with five “best of class” awards and three gold medals. Those awards qualified Robert Hall to be named the Golden State Winery for 2010, ranking it as the best winery in the state. It is the first time since the competition was established in 1855 that a winery from Paso Robles or the Central Coast has won the coveted “Golden Bear.”
For Hall, though, the award is more a statement about the region than just his winery.
“It’s a big honor,” he explained. “It’s drawn attention to Paso, and that’s good for our whole industry.”
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In fact, while waiting for a tour bus in Amsterdam just after the award was announced, another tourist noticed his Robert Hall hat and asked him if he was with the winery. After learning he was Robert Hall himself, the tourist from the Virgin Islands congratulated him on his Golden State Winery win.
Hall started his winery in 1995 by acquiring 160 acres of land after a short-lived retirement. He built a 50,000-square-foot winery in 2001 and hired winemaker Don Brady to head development.
Brady, and most of the winery’s team, have been on board ever since.
“Don’s the winemaker, and this honor is more for him than anybody else,” Hall said of the Golden State award. “But it’s really for everybody — it’s for the team.”
Brady said the reason the winery won is part Paso Robles and part experience. “We’ve been working at it for 10 years, and we’ve learned as a company what practices work best in the vineyards and how to maximize our resources.” He credited the ground, the water and the climate in Paso Robles for the extraordinary grapes that he uses.
“The diversity that Paso represents — we take advantage of that,” Brady said. “And the wines are going to get better and better.”
Robert Hall wines are now distributed in 48 states and seven countries, and Hall is constantly on the road as one of Paso Robles’ strongest ambassadors. “The award to me, that it’s come to this region, is what really it’s about,” Hall explained. “It draws notice to Paso Robles, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Hall said he researched every wine-growing region in California before deciding to move to the east side of Paso Robles, and he feels stronger about it now than ever.
“I think if I had a chance to do it all over again, knowing everything that I know now, I would locate right here,” Hall said.
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Today’s column is dedicated to Bryan Brady, the son of winemaker Don Brady and his wife, Kasi. Bryan, 21, who worked with his father at Robert Hall Winery, died last Saturday in a tragic accident in Paso Robles. My heartfelt wishes and prayers, along with those from the entire Paso Robles wine community, go out to the Brady and Robert Hall families.
A memorial service for Bryan Brady will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, at Robert Hall Winery.
Robert Hall Winery
3443 Mill Road, Paso Robles, 239-1616
Owner: Robert Hall
Winemaker: Don Brady
Cases produced: 80,000 annually
Tasting room hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Janis Switzer can be reached at 434-5394 or via e-mail at email@example.com.