The fifth and final stop on our small-scale wine tour of the Paso Robles region was Chronic Cellars. While in Chicago, we discovered Chronic wines at our local, family-owned grocery store, Lincoln Park Market. At first, we got it confused with that wine made by the guy from Tool, and if it hadn’t been good, we never would have picked it up again. But damn…it was good. It was feisty. It became one of our favorite standbys.
So we had to visit Chronic Cellars while we were in Paso Robles. Chronic (west-side!) is one of the newer and younger wineries in the area — 2008 was their first official vintage. It’s refreshing to see an alternative approach to winemaking after all the faux-world (fake old world) spots we’ve seen. The tasting room is funky, all orange with art on the walls and bottles that look like they were created for el dia de los muertos. There’s a red felt pool table, a fireplace, and a couple of deep booths.
The tasting is $5 for 5 pours, but the fee is waived with a bottle purchase. Our familiar old bottle of Purple Paradise (a blend of Zin and Petite Sirah) paled in comparison with the other wines they were pouring. The names are silly: Sofa King Suite, Sofa King Bueno (read it fast). The flavors are serious. Our server was maybe 21, a sweet if awkward skateboarder-type who told us about his dreams of moving to Brazil, watching the World Cup in-person, and never coming back. In the meantime, this was a pretty good gig.
All this might tempt you to take the wines from Chronic Cellars less than seriously, but that would be a big mistake — they’re delicious. You should be able to find the Purple Paradise at your local large wine store — give it a try!