The second stop on our small-scale wine tour of the Paso Robles region was Wild Horse Winery. Founded in 1981, Wild Horse was just the seventh winery established in the Paso region (read more about Paso Robles) — this was even before the region was officially designated as an AVA. Wild Horse is located to the east of the 101, like J. Lohr. They source from a wide range of vineyards from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, from a total of 16 appellations in all.
You might recognize the Wild Horse label — their standard line of wines is sold at Trader Joe’s (cheaper than at the winery, as our server endearingly informed us). Like most wineries, they also have a higher-end line of wines that you can only find at the winery. They work with a wide variety of grapes, but their specialty is Pinot Noir — they have a range (an increasingly expensive range) of vintage, single vineyard Pinots available at the winery. The styles ranged from traditional French to new world/California style Pinot Noir, and they all avoided being weak or wimpy. They were tempting, but way out of our price range. Wild Horse hasn’t updated the info section of their website since, maybe, 2008, so I can’t link to the info on these wines. Which reminds me — hey, Wild Horse…need some website help? We know two people!
We thought that the tasting at Wild Horse was free, but it ended up being $5 for 5 samples (not refunded with a bottle purchase). The tasting room was the smallest we’d seen — just space for six cozy tasters. Luckily, we were the only ones there. Great and great. We got there about a half hour after the tasting room opened, apparently just in front of our server. She said, “Oh, you’re the ones from Illinois, right? I was driving right behind you.” So I guess she saw our crazy wrong turn/turnaround — this is when we realized that the official Paso Robles map was going to serve as more of an artful reference than a wayfinding guide.
We picked up a bottle of the Blaufrankisch for its weird deliciousness — it’s the Austrian name for a German grape (called Lemberger in German — you can see why they didn’t pick this name) that tasted similar to a Cabernet Franc — not as intense as a Cabernet Sauvignon but still interesting and complex.
Try a bottle of Wild Horse if you’re puzzling over wines someday at T. Joe’s, and let us know what you think in the comments!