Ortman Family Vineyards: 40th Birthday Road Trip

Ortman Family Vineyards
1317 Park Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 (map)

Things looked a little dicey due to work commitments, but in the end we were able to get out of town on my 40th birthday. Our first stop was a town we’d visited on our first vacation together, Paso Robles.

All of the winery tasting rooms we’d visited on that trip – the apparently-defunct Midlife Crisis, the recently-relocated Edward Sellars and the in-limbo Silverstone) are closed now, but downtown Paso is still loaded with great tasting rooms. For our first stop, we chose one that’s only been open for a few months: Ortman Family Vineyards.

Ortman Family Wines tasting room

Ortman Family Wines has a cozy tasting room loaded with works from local artists. They also, thoughtfully, have handbag hooks all around the tasting bar. I don’t think Mike ever notices these things, but I do and I’m very appreciative of them. (I do notice! – M)

Tasting room staffer Holly, who poured for us, was friendly and warm and very complimentary about my landmark birthday. The wines were lovely, but Holly would have made it enjoyable even if they’d been terrible.

Ortman Family Vineyards

2008 Grenache Blanc: Few people make whites out of grenache grapes. This was an unusual, but very enjoyable wine; in fact, its startling taste was part of what made it so enjoyable. It smelled of toffee and butterscotch, and tasted of toffee and minerals, with a satisfyingly balanced sour finish.

2008 Chardonnay: This wine comes from the Etna Valley appellation, adding yet another AVA to our list! It smelled warm and woody. Those warm wood flavors softened the acid edges of this chardonnay.

2008 Pinot Noir: And we continued to rack up the AVAs with this San Luis Obispo County wine! This smelled of butterscotch and fruit. It tasted of fruit and capsaicin, and when I say capsaicin I mean both a hint of the sweet start of a bell pepper as well as a spicy finish usually found in the more aggressive members of the capsicum family. Really enjoyable.

2007 Pinot Noir: This Santa Rita Hills wine was the third appellation of the day — and we’d only tasted four wines! It had a toffee-coated grape smell. The flavor was profoundly grape-y, with a little toffee and a hint of a bitter finish.

2008 Sangiovese: Sangiovese is a particular varietal that Mike is intrigued by. He’s searching for a flavor that he tasted once upon a time at Pomodoro Cucina Italiano years ago (with some other woman, ahem). I don’t know if he found it here, but I sure found this wine to be lovely. I smelled sugar, caramel, a little molé, and pepperoni. When I sipped it, there was fruit on the front and paprika at the finish. And, since this was from the Paso Robles AVA, it was our fourth AVA of the day!

2006 Syrah: Yum. This smelled of chocolate, coffee and toffee. It tasted of sour blackberries, pomegranate and a hint of cranberries.

2007 Cuvee Eddy: It smelled of stewed tomatoes, prunes and oaks. The tomato element was evident in the taste, as well. I eat tomatoes like they’re apples, so I loved this.