Wine & Beer

Clos Solène owner buys Pipestone Vineyards property in far west Paso

Guillaume and Solène Fabre recently acquired the 28-acre former Pipestone Vineyards property, including a winery, tasting room, residence and 8 acres of vines in a secluded valley tucked in the coastal range in far west Paso.
Guillaume and Solène Fabre recently acquired the 28-acre former Pipestone Vineyards property, including a winery, tasting room, residence and 8 acres of vines in a secluded valley tucked in the coastal range in far west Paso.

Clos Solène takes its name from the tucked-away vineyards of proprietors Guillaume and Solène Fabre’s native France. Now the up-and-coming Paso Robles boutique winery has a “clos” of its own.

The Fabres have acquired the 28-acre former Pipestone Vineyards property, including a winery, tasting room, residence and 8 acres of vines in a secluded valley tucked in the coastal range in far west Paso. Terms of the deal, which closed in January, were not disclosed.

Winemaker Guillaume Fabre aims to start by-appointment tastings on the property at 2040 Niderer Road in the Willow Creek district by May or June, after refreshing the space. Clos Solène will continue to pour from its spot in Tin City through the fall, when it will transition to the tasting room for a new label Fabre recently started with his brother.

Over the next few years, the Fabres, who are expecting their third child within a week, plan to expand the vineyard by planting another 10 acres on brushy, undeveloped slopes on either side of the small valley where the home and winery sit. The hilly terrain would be considered daunting to most but is precisely what attracted Fabre to the property.

“People call me crazy, but I love farming and want to plant all these little terraces all over,” Fabre said. “I want to respect what the land is and not make it flat. It’s so much more interesting that way.”

He’s also beginning work to cut back the existing cabernet and Rhone-varietal vines and graft them over to clones he said he believes will thrive in the rocky, calcareous soil and valley microclimate. It will be another year before the vines can produce the high-end, refined red wines Clos Solène has won acclaim for, though Fabre said he hopes to use the grapes to make rosé this fall.

People call me crazy, but I love farming and want to plant all these little terraces all over.

Winemaker Guillaume Fabre

In the meantime, he’ll keep his contracts for the premium fruit he’s been using since starting the label with two barrels a decade ago while working at now-neighbor L’Aventure Winery.

For Fabre, who hails from a sixth-generation French winemaking family, the move is motivated less by expanding the label — he plans to grow to a maximum of 4,000 cases per year from the current 2,500 — and more by the lifestyle of handcrafting fine wine.

“In my past, I’ve always lived on our vineyards,” he said. “My dream is to have the best possible looking vine on every part of the property. That takes effort, and you need to be here, to see it and watch it.”

Fabre started his second label, Benom, two years ago after brother Arnaud Fabre came over from France for a stint at Justin Winery and ended up working at Law Estate Wines and marrying Chloé Asseo, L’Aventure’s sales, marketing and communications director and daughter of proprietors Stephen and Beatrice Asseo.

For the brothers, who made just 250 cases under the Benom label last year, the venture is a way to carry on the family legacy after their father retired and sold the family vineyard in France a few years ago.

“It’s small, just like how Clos Solène started, and it will be good,” Fabre said.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter@sallybuffalo.

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