Food & Drink

Paso Robles wines impress at S.F. Chronicle Wine Competition

Jason Joyce, winemaker at Calcareous Winery in Paso Robles, "punches down" grape skins into fermenting juice Tuesday, Nov. 5. The three-ton vats of zinfandel must be punched down twice a day during early fermentation.
Jason Joyce, winemaker at Calcareous Winery in Paso Robles, "punches down" grape skins into fermenting juice Tuesday, Nov. 5. The three-ton vats of zinfandel must be punched down twice a day during early fermentation. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The accolades keep coming for Paso Robles wine.

In addition to being named the top wine region by Wine Enthusiast last year, and recently being recognized as one of The Guardian’s top places to visit in 2014, the region also won big at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition this year, with several wines from the area receiving top awards.

The competition is one of the largest and most respected wine competitions in the United States, with more than 1,500 wineries from 25 states participating in the annual event.

Out of this year’s record-breaking 5,825 entries, 80 Paso Robles wines won top spots. Among them: 59 gold medals, 14 double gold medals (a unanimous gold, voted by a panel of five judges), six Best of Class wins and one overall red category winner.

Calcareous Vineyard’s 2010 Syrah tied with La Cienega Valley-based 3 Steves Winery for the top red wine in the competition — surprising Calcareous winemaker Jason Joyce.

“We’ve done decently in the past,” Joyce said. “But to actually win — that’s exciting for us.”

Calcareous Vineyards is a 442-acre estate that opened in Paso Robles in 2000, according to a news release. It consists of three vineyards that produce Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy varietals simultaneously. It has never previously won a top spot at the San Francisco competition.

Joyce attributed most of the winning syrah’s success to the location where it was made.

“As far as Syrah goes, it’s one we do spectacularly here in Paso,” he said. “The wines really have to stand out and that’s what we have here.”

Joyce, who has worked at Calcareous as head winemaker since 2010, said he will keep on trying to impress with his creations.

“Whenever this happens, it puts a little bit of pressure on us to keep going and improving,” he said. “And we’re going to keep doing that at Calcareous.”

Though no other Paso Robles wines won a sweepstakes — or overall award — six local wines did take home Best of Class wins. These wineries (and the winning wines) are Adelaida Cellars (2012 Finder), LXV Wine (2012 Summer Satine), Niner Wine Estates (2009 Fog Catcher and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon), Sculpterra Winery (2010 Marquette) and Thacher Winery (2011 Petite Sirah).

For a complete list of 2014 medal winners, go to www.winejudging.com. A public tasting of all the winning wines is scheduled from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Feb. 15 at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

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