A talk with Tin City winemakers in Paso Robles
Tin City, the bustling, urban-style tasting district in Paso Robles, continues to add more wineries, including the area’s first dedicated to only white wines.
Monochrome Wines debuted recently in a former pool supply store shared with two other labels, Kaleidos and Turtle Rock Vineyards. Another new label, Benom Wines, has moved into the spot formerly occupied by Clos Solène, while Al Lago Wines opened in another new spot.
The industrial complex off Ramada Drive already hosts more than a dozen winetasting spots, a brewery, cider house and distillery and an ice cream shop, with a restaurant on the way.
Benom, open Friday to Sunday at 3070 Limestone Way, is a joint venture from brothers Arnaud and Guillaume Fabre. Guillaume Fabre ran Clos Solène from the space before purchasing vineyard property and moving operations last year.
The new label combines the brothers’ French winemaking heritage with the bold cabernet sauvignon of Paso Robles, on its own and in an unorthodox blend with grenache and tempranillo; white and rosé offerings will be released soon.
Guillaume Fabre is also winemaker for Al Lago Wines, producing cab, sangiovese, syrah and pinot noir from a vineyard south of Ventura. Al Lago, at 480-B Marquita Ave., is open Friday to Sunday.
Monochrome, Kaleidos and Turtle Rock share a central tasting space at 3705-A Blue Rock Lane, where each also has a private tasting room.
Both Kaleidos and Turtle Rock are small-batch producers of Rhône-varietal blends with roots on Willow Creek Road. Kaleidos, open Friday to Sunday and by appointment, moved from its space on Willow Creek near Vineyard Drive, where owner Steve Martell has been planting vines.
Turtle Rock, open Thursday to Sunday, moved from the Paso Underground collective. Winemaker/owner Don Burns took over family vineyards on Willow Creek and also produces zinfandel under the family Westberg Cellars label.
A former aerospace engineer, Dave McGee launched Monochrome with the goal of offering more white wines in a region better known for its reds. McGee is sourcing fruit from up and down the Central Coast, where he can bring it in the morning it’s harvested.
“There’s so much diversity of climate within a three-hour drive,” he said.
Working with Desparada assistant winemaker Riley Hubbard, McGee also brings diversity to the winemaking process, using small-size barrels to create several versions of each wine before blending them together.
“We ferment warm, we ferment cool, some with the lees, some clean, some skin-fermented, some in amphora, stainless steel, oak,” McGee said. “It’s amazing how much difference you see when it’s the same grape and the same vineyard.”
There are single varietal offerings of chardonnay, albariño and sauvignon blanc, but also unusual blends, such as marsanne with sauvignon blanc in one case and chardonnay in another.
“When you’re not hung up on varietal purity or expressing a single terroir, it opens you up to do whatever works, McGee said.
The first vintage of 495 cases seems to have worked, McGee said, with critic scores in the 90s for all six bottlings.
“We’re making a statement,” he said. “White wines can be more complex and interesting.”
Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at email@example.com.