Epoch Estate Wines in Paso Robles was established in 2004 by Bill and Liz Armstrong. The couple owns a major oil and gas business in Denver and they have long been interested in making Rhone-style wines. To establish Epoch, they purchased two historic Paso Robles vineyard properties. One was once owned by Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish pianist, who fell in love with Paso Robles in the 1920s, bought property, and eventually made wine there. The other property was the York Mountain Vineyard, which was a source of grapes for winemaking starting in the 19th century. The Armstrongs replanted both vineyards and hired celebrity winemaker Justin Smith of Saxum Vineyards as consulting winemaker. They also hired Jordan Fiorentini as the estate winemaker. Epoch currently has 95 acres of vineyards, with nearly 200 more acres slated for replanting. The estate makes red, white and rose Rhone blends. The wines earn ratings in the mid- to high 90s from reviewers including Wine Advocate, which has called Epoch “one of the up and coming estates in Paso Robles” and “an estate that goes from strength to strength.”
Paso Robles AVA is midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and it is considered one of the West Coast’s most exciting winemaking regions. With its hot, sometimes searingly dry and sunny weather, it is especially good country for growing warm climate grapes such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Because many Paso Robles wineries have been successful with blending these grapes into Rhone Valley-style wines, it is known as the Rhone zone of California. The AVA was created in 1983 and there are 32,000 vineyard acres. In late 2014 the AVA was divided into 11 smaller sub-appellations, so starting with 2015 vintages labeling will become more specific on Paso Robles wines, which will now also list sub-appellations. Located in San Luis Obispo County, Paso Robles, the town and its surrounding area, was traditionally a farming and ranching region. But from a few dozen wineries in the early 1990s to more than 200 today, the area is quickly becoming known for wine and risk-taking winemakers.
Think leather and cherries together for Tempranillo wines. This wine looks lighter than it is. It can be medium or full bodied, but its thin-skinned, big grapes, give it a more transparent appearance. It is grown in Spain, Portugal, the U.S. and Australia.