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My New Favorite Paso Robles Winery: Halter Ranch Vineyards

My New Favorite Paso Robles Winery: Halter Ranch Vineyards

Paso Robles Sign I have gone through my cycles of favorite California wine regions from Santa Ynez to Napa. Although like a sultry ex-girlfriend, I always find myself back together with Paso Robles wines. During a recent Winemaker’s dinner at The Winery Restaurant , I had the opportunity to taste one of my new favorite Paso wineries, Halter Ranch Vineyards. During this tasting and dinner, I was able to chat with their winemaker, Kevin Sass about the winery, their wines and what to expect from Halter Ranch Vineyards in the future.

paos visitors guide with Halter

Halter Ranch is located on the west side of Paso Robles, which allows the cool ocean breeze to cool down the vineyards at night

Halter Ranch Tasting bottle and map

Why was I so impressed with Halter Ranch Vineyards? Their wines were high quality, complex flavor and had a smooth finish.  Halter Ranch is one of those wineries that is destined to blow up and become a cult wine in a couple years. To me there are two specific elements that go into a great wine: superior wine growing region and the winemaker. Halter Ranch is blessed to have excellence in both of these aspects.

Hater Ranch Tasting Vineyards

Halter Ranch Vineyards uses 100% of their own grapes

Halter Ranch’s Wine Growing Region

Halter Ranch is located in the western side of Paso Robles, so it enjoys a cool evening breeze that flows over the Santa Lucia Mountains and cools down the vineyards. This evening cool-down results in a rounder, fruitier wine. The soil of this region is high in limestone, which is a common element in the world’s superior wineries.  Halter Ranch Vineyards is located on what is perhaps one of California’s best wine growing regions.

halter Ranch wine blocks

Halter Ranch’s Vineyard Blocks. They produce wine in the French Style, so you might recognize the Rhone and Bordeaux cloned grapes.


About the Winemaker and the Wine Making Process

Halter Ranch Vineyards Kevin Saas winemaker and Tom HolmbergIf any of my readers are oenophiles, then you might recognize the name Kevin Sass. He was the winemaker at Justin Winery, one of the best California wineries.  Kevin brings the same high quality standards to Halter Ranch’s wine production. Starting at the vine, Kevin oversees their growth, harvest and winemaking process.

Hater Ranch Tasting brew room

Halter Ranch’s state of the art wine making facility

Halter uses a gentle process for processing grapes and fermenting, thus ensuring better quality and flavors. For example, they use a de-stemming techniques that prevents the grapes from bursting and crushing, resulting in less tannin being introduced into the wine.  Halter Ranch uses only 100% estate grown grapes and allowing them to  control every aspect of the wine making process, from vine to bottle.

Where can you find the wine?

Currently their wines are only being offered at restaurants. In Orange County there are several restaurants that carry their wine, including The Winery Restaurant in Tustin.

Wines I Tasted

Hater Ranch Cotes de PasoCotes de Paso, Blanc 2011 – This is Halter Ranch Winery’s version of the classic Southern Rhone valley style white blend, but with a Paso twist. This white wine had a pretty complex bouquet of flavors. I tasted stone fruit, floral notes and a long lasting mineral flavor. This was a delicious white wine that is perfect for seafood.

During the tasting dinner, this wine was paired with Chef Goetz’s yellow fin tuna and crab meat napoleon. The Napoleon was served with avocado, micro-arugula and caviar crème fraiche.  The wine’s light bouquet of the wine matched nicely with the delicate seafood. The mineral flavors helped to cut through the richness of the avocado and crème fraiche.

Halter Ranch Tasting fish

The Cotes De Paso was paired with The Winery Restaurant’s yellow fin tuna and crab meat napoleon


Halter Ranch RoseHalter Ranch Rose, 2012 – Like many people, I am aghast when a winery pulls out a Rose and insists that theirs is different. Halter Ranch actually pulled off a great Rose, that was dry on the palate and had a c;ean finish. I liked the aromas of watermelon notes. This would be a perfect wine for sitting in the hot tub on a warm summer day.


This wine was paired with roasted organic heirloom beets, quinoa and maple leaf duck confit. I liked how the rose accompanied the sweet and vinegary flavor of the beets and it’s dry sweetness added some strawberry notes to the oily duck protein.


Halter Ranch Tasting Duck

The Halter Ranch Rose was paired with The Winery Restaurant’s Heirloom beet and duck confit salad

Hater Ranch SyrahHalter Ranch Syrah, 2010 – This Syrah had great up front tastes of berries and a little plum. It also had some after tastes of floral, crème and  chocolate, butter and cherries on the back end. This is a smooth wines with soft tannins and a round flavor. I had three refills of this wine, strictly for investigational purposes 😉


This wine was paired with Syrah braised pork belly and manila clams, served with cannellini beans, wild mushroom and English pea ragout. The best part of this pairing was how the big berry flavors complimented the fatty flavor of the belly and the chewy texture of the clams. This is a very versatile wine for pairing.


Halter Ranch Tasting Pork belly and clams

Halter Ranch’s Syrah was paired with The Winery Restaurant’s Braised Pork Belly and Manila Clams

Hater Ranch AncestorHalter Ranch Ancestor, 2010– This is Halter Ranch’s reserve Bordeaux Blend; the wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, and malbec, aged in a blend of high-quality barrels. When Kevin announced this wine being poured, the table got excited; after my first taste, I understood why. The wine had a wonderful blend of blackberries, spices and a very subtle nose of oak. The wine slipped off my tongue and left me wanting more. This was my favorite wine of the evening.

This wine was paired with Paso Prime Beef Skirt Steak, red wine rosemary potato gnocchi, summer organic baby vegetables,  and a roasted shallots and Cabernet reduction. The wine accentuated the natural beef flavor and paired nicely with the gnocchi and vegetables. This wine would pair with any red meat dish or hearty pasta dish.

Halter Ranch Tasting beef and asparagus

Halter Ranch’s Ancestor was paired with The Winery Restaurant’s Paso beef skirt steak and red wine gnocchi

Hater Ranch Vin De PailleVin De Paille, 2009 –The name of this wine literally translates to  “straw wine.” After the Marsanne and Granache grapes are picked, they are dried out on straw for 40 days to concentrate the flavor and then pressed. The result is a sweet wine that is sweet enough to have more than one glass. The aromas of the Vin De Paile is orange, honey and caramels.  The flavor of the wine is accents of mango, crème, peach and honey. This was a sweet, although light enough to drink a full glass, perhaps two J

The Vin De Paille was paired with an assortment of pastries. At this point my stomach was about to burst. According to my tablemates, the Vin De Paille was perfect with each of the deserts from the fruit to the chocolate.

Halter Ranch Tasting Desserts 2

The dessert tray, too bad I was too full to enjoy ;(

My Final Thoughts

Halter Ranch Tasting bottle and mapKeep and eye out for Halter Ranch Vineyards, in my opinion they will be one of the better California wines in a couple years. Right now you can only find this wine in select restaurants thoughout the country due to the fact that Halter Ranch has decided to slowly ramp up their production. Even though Halter Ranch has the capability to reach mass retail distribution, they have decided to slowly amp up production and distribution, so that they can continue to make the perfect wine. Passion over profits is music to my taste buds.

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. I just got hungry and thirsty!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed learning about the different wines especially the Vin de Paille where the grapes are dried on straw. Very interesting.

  3. Yum, looks really delish. I visited the winery or one of them in Santa Barbara or near it can’t remember it was like 13 years ago. It was beautiful and nice to go there to visit. Love the way you have displayed the pictures and showed us some great highlights of this winery

  4. Deanna Heiliger

    This is all so interesting and impressive to me. So much goes into making a bottle of wine, and there are so many variations! The wine and the food look and sound fabulous!

  5. Love all the information you shared. So many choices!!

  6. Thanks for sharing. I’ve only visited wineries up in Napa.. This is one I need to check out..

  7. Now I have to have a glass of wine!!!

  8. That was great information on wine.

  9. Great and informative article & pics too!

  10. hello love food and wine blog its also my interest so i really loved reading your post!

  11. Love food and wine blogs that’s also my interest so thanks for sharing!

  12. I love Paso Robles wines. I hope you are right about Halter Vineyards!

  13. This is a great article and the pictures…I need to go eat!

  14. Looks so good and I’m sure taste even better

  15. Great article! Wine tastes do come down to what people really like. I love trying new wines.

  16. I was at the winery of Beringer in Napa Valley many years ago and fell in love

  17. Daniele Holmberg

    I have to agree with you! I very much enjoyed the wines from Halter Ranch and of course the amazing food from The Winery! I think the Syrah was my favorite:) We need to take a trip to Paso soon:)

  18. Man, that place is so gorgeous… and the dessert tray? Oh gosh that was a work of art!

  19. As a wine enthusiast, my travels have taken me to a wide variety of vineyards and wine areas of France and Italy, and of course to the wonderful gardens of the wineries and surrounding places. Such spectacular fountains, planters and statuary! Citrus and olive trees in beautiful planters, stone statuary in the midst of bubbling fountains, elaborate terra cotta creations…. Imagine my pleasure, then, when I walked into Authentic Provence in West Palm Beach, Florida. In a beautiful environment of running water and good smells, the owners have sourced one of the finest collections of European garden antiques that I have seen in the USA: statues, fountains, planters (note especially the classic Caisse de Versailles, and Anduze pottery), terra cotta shields, stone animals, copper pots, garden spouts, etc. They also have beautiful stone fireplaces, re-purposed tiles, and many other specialty items. They are available online at http://authenticprovence.com, and can arrange shipping anywhere in the US. Well worth a visit!

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