In this issue: 20th Anniversary, Wine Specials, Beef Special, Vacation Rental, Full Moon Wine Dinner, Link to Story by Laird, Event Calendar
Happy 20th Anniversary to Rangeland!
We opened our new tasting room at the corner of Vineyard Dr. and Peachy Canyon Road last January--and what a year it's been! We so appreciate your continued support of our family winery and ranch.
This year is also the 20th anniversary of us purchasing and establishing Adelaida Springs Ranch. We started this Rangeland enterprise--growing grapes, making wine, and raising grass-fed cattle and sheep--as complete beginners, fresh from Silicon Valley. Now, after 20 years of holding the agricultural cougar by the tail, we like to think of ourselves as advanced beginners. We just tasted through our 2018 vintage blending trials with Paul Hinschberger, our winemaker. They are tasting great: nicely fruit forward but nuanced. Last week we worked (dewormed and vaccinated) 140 head of cattle without any wrecks. We confirmed 59 pregnant cows, fat with calves for springtime. Most of these cows were bred by our lead Angus bull, Legend. No big deal in a world dominated by factory farms, but a far piece from our raw beginnings as ranchers and vintners.
With your suppport, we've been able to keep our pristine coastal mountain ranch intact, preserving the priceless scenery and habitat for future generations of wildlife, livestock and human visitors. Check out our photo album, where the landscape, the plants and the animals are the real stars of the show. We'll be celebrating this milestone in style at our Field Day party on April 25--make sure you check the next newsletter for more details and an opportunity to sign up. You won't want to miss this one!
Valentine's Bordeaux Special: $99 for 3 Bottles
We are featuring some very fine wine at a price lovers can love. Through February, we have lowered the price of our delicious 3-pack of Rangeland Bordeaux varietal wines. They are on sale for just $99 before your club discount. The pack includes our 2015 Cabernet, the delicious 2015 Watershed (Bordeaux blend), and our age-worthy 2015 Limestone Reserve. This is a killer deal--be a clever shopper and give your sweetheart something you can both enjoy! Order here. Use $1ship coupon code!
Mistletoe Case Special: $200
Our 2016 Mistletoe is still on special by the case at a fire sale price--just $20 per bottle or $200/case before your club discount, and $1 shipping through the end of February, our little Valentine's gift to you. Order here. Use $1ship coupon code!
Beef Special--33% off Beef Club Boxes!
We have some extra beef club boxes from our 2019 summer harvest--it stays wonderfully fresh in the vacuum packaging--no freezer burn at all. Each 25 lb. box contains 6 lbs. steaks, 6 lbs. roasts, 8 lbs. ground, and 5 lbs. extras, including stew meat, kabob pieces and shanks--plus a free soup bone. Normally priced at $300 before discounts, we're offering each box for $200. Club discounts apply. Supplies are limited, so order now! We can ship anywhere in CA, NV, AZ, OR, and WA for just $1 through the month of February. Order here. Use $1ship coupon code!
Inaugural Full Moon Dinner at the Ranch, Saturday March 7, 5 pm - 8 pm
We have noticed that we really enjoy our wines during the full moon--call us superstitious, call us perspicacious, call us prescient, or call us kwazy. Experience* has inspired us to throw our first Full Moon dinner--we hope to make this a regular thing. Join Lisa and me in our home on the ranch, along with winemaker Paul Hinschberger and Rangeland crew members, for a dinner catered by Thomas Hill Organics featuring our estate-grown beef and lamb, paired with a stellar line up of Rangeland Wines. Seating is limited, so reserve your space now. We look forward to dining, chatting and quaffing with you! $100 per seat before club discount. Purchase tickets here.
* Read about Laird's first epic full-moon wine experience in his blog post: One Bottle of Wine.
Vineyard View Cottage Special
Our Vineyard View Cottage is booking up, but we have a few weekends and many weekdays available this winter. We are offering 3 nights for the price of 2 for bookings through February 28. Price is $400/weekend night (Fri, Sat, Sun), and $350/weekdays. Club discounts apply. Book your stay here.
Calendar of Events Through May 2019
President's Day Weekend, February 15-17
We're serving our famous grass-fed beef and lamb hamburgers on Saturday only, 12-4. Burger, side salad and a Lisa cookie is $15. We also have charcuterie and cheese plates available for purchase all weekend. On Friday and Sunday, you're allowed to bring your own picnic. We charge a $10/pp picnic fee for nontasters--waived with a bottle purchase. For groups larger than 6, please call or email ahead so we can reserve you a table.
Vintage Paso Zinfandel Festival, March 20-22
We'll be releasing our 2017 Zinfandel and tasting a 2018 barrel sample. We're serving our famous grass-fed beef and lamb hamburgers on Saturday only, 12-4. A burger, side salad and a Lisa cookie is $15. We also have charcuterie and cheese plates available for purchase all weekend.
Field Day/ Rangeland 20th Anniversary Party, Saturday April 25, 12-3
We're partying out in the field again, with new wines to share, baby lambs and calves to enjoy, and grass-fed grilled lamb and beef to devour, along with other goodies. Enjoy a beautiful afternoon with music and friends, and help us celebrate 20 years of effort and enjoyment. Mark you calendar. Ticket info to come in the next newsletter.
Wine Festival, May 15-17
We're serving our famous grass-fed beef and lamb burgers on Saturday only, May 16, 12-4. Burger, side salad and a Lisa cookie is $15. We will also have charcuterie and cheese plates available for purchase all weekend.
Memorial Day Weekend, May 23-25
We're serving our famous grass-fed beef and lamb burgers on Saturday only, May 23, 12-4. Burger, side salad and a Lisa cookie is $15. We will also have charcuterie and cheese plates available for purchase all weekend.
When I went off script last fall in our Rangeland newsletter and told stories that go beyond our current winemaking and ranching operations, I was encouraged by a few customers to do more. This is gratifying to me, because I am an unfulfilled writer. When I bought our ranch in 2000, after 20 years of grinding start-up businesses experience, I was a burn-out. I was planning to come down here to Paso Robles from the Bay Area to get away from management, work outdoors, farm a little and write a little. As it turned out, I farmed a lot, started new businesses and wrote very little. I am, by temperament, a doer. I call this my constructive avoidance of art. Nevertheless, having reached the ripe age of 60, I am going to try to write a little. So, with that short prelude, what follows is a true story. Although this is a tale of bourgie (pronounced boo-gee) excess, there is also an element of timeless aspiration and serendipity--the full significance of which only recently dawned on me.
One Bottle of Wine
In the fall of 1996, my wife Lisa and I planned a short getaway from our 3 young children and daily cares, which included operating a small internet startup that, at the time, was losing millions of my investors’ dollars. We set a high goal, to climb Mt. Dana (elevation: 13,061 ft.), near Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park.
On the appointed date, we parked the kids with my sister, who was the ultimate auntie babysitter, rest her soul. With only one night to escape, we had an aggressive plan that would take us from sea level to the crest of the Sierra and on to a special dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley, all in twelve hours. We had, at that time, a little A-frame cabin in the Tuolumne County foothills not far from Yosemite. We purchased that cabin in the 1980s because we couldn’t afford a Bay Area home. The price, including the lot next door (this will take you fellow boomers back and make the millennials weep) was $60,000. The cabin was situated in a modest little resort community called Pine Mountain Lake, which also included an airstrip. I owned a small, single engine airplane (Beechcraft A36), so we hustled to the San Carlos airport and set off for the Sierras. Flight time: approximately 1 hour.
It’s hard to describe the exhilarating sense of escape and adventure that we felt when winging out of the Bay, over the golden hills on our getaways. I loved the rippled topology of the California hills and the geometric green weave of farms in the Central Valley as we headed for the high country. A few years later, I used that airplane to visit Paso Robles, eventually obtaining landing rights at the MacGillivray Ranch airstrip, which is now the home to Halter Ranch. At the time I started flying, older airplanes were affordable. I bought my first airplane (a sturdy Cessna Skylark 175, vintage 1960) for $10,000--which was totaled on my first flight by the previous owner “showing me how to do it.” Lisa and I were in the plane at the time. No one was hurt. But that’s another story, which I promise to tell one day.
When we arrived at Pine Mountain Lake, we put our light gear and dinner clothes in an old beater Subaru wagon we kept there. That was before the “Subaru is for lesbos” stigma. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :) We headed for Yosemite. Funny-tragic side story about airport cars: an earlier version of our airport jalopy was an ancient Honda Civic. We had trouble keeping the battery charged during long absences. Once, after arriving, getting a jump start and driving to our cabin, I left the car running to charge the battery. Wanting to boost the charge rate, I put a rock on the accelerator, left it running high and went in to change a diaper or something. When I looked out the window some minutes later there was a cloud of smoke rising from the engine. I hustled to inspect the damage. The distributor and most of the other plastic components had entirely melted onto the engine. Apparently, it had over-heated and I learned a valuable mechanical lesson. The battery was well charged but the car was totaled. Idiota! But I digress.
Back to the adventure. We drove an hour to the Park and turned left for Tioga Pass, which was still clear of snow. We reached Tuolumne Meadows around midday on a gloriously clear and warm fall day. The Mt. Dana trail requires no feats of mountaineering. You basically just hike a steep roadside trail from 10,000 ft up to the 13,000 peak in just 3 miles. It offers a big reward for such a short hike—if you can get enough oxygen. Having started at sea level that morning, getting enough oxygen turned out to be a challenge for our thirty-something lungs. So, we crept up the mountain, with frequent rests. Our struggles were overseen by bemused marmots, basking and smiling in the sun. Eventually we reached the top to soak in the view (see panorama) while gasping, both literally and figuratively, at the scene.
The Sierra is formed by the crushing forces of the Pacific Plate jamming into North America, subducting downward into the hot earthly mantle and literally bubbling up as a molten granite batholith (check this out), into this great snow-catching mountain range. Remnant glaciers, granite spires and sheared domes pock the view to the south, towards Mt. Whitney. The well-wooded, gradual western slope climbs for 60 miles and more from the Great Central Valley to these peaks, before steeply dropping more than 6,000 feet into the Great Basin in the next few miles. You are sandwiched by Greatness.
The crest of the Sierra Nevada is a sublimely barren and striking place. Natural history unfolds before you in all its bizarre grandeur. Looking eastward, the lunar beauty of Mono Lake and its companion cinder cones lie at the foot of the range. The volcanic living history of the place is highlighted by names like Pumice Valley, Crater Mountain, Obsidian Dome and The Devils Punchbowl. The landscape is dotted with coulees, fumaroles, tuff rings, rhyolite domes, lava plugs and other geologic bric a brac that confirm Mother Nature’s majesty and still youthful menace. The Mono Craters are likely the youngest volcanic mountain range in North America, having formed as recently as 600 years ago.
Boundary Peak (13,146 ft. elevation), the highest point in Nevada, seems right across the valley but is 40 miles distant. Wave after wave of scattered but parallel mountains extend eastward across the desert, and eventually lapping at the feet of the Wasatch, 400 miles away on the far shore of the Basin. The signs of geologic decay also surround you, with shards of rock and great rivers of graveled talus skirting the time-worn peaks, abraded by ice and wind. Are the mountains still rising? Are they decaying? Both. And of what fleeting significance are we and our children in this great physical drama?
Did I say the western Sierra slope was well-wooded? Looking westward from Mt. Dana, the forest begins in the alluvium of Tuolumne Meadows, wrapping the feet of the peaks and collaring the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River around John Muir’s beloved Hetch Hetchy. Eventually this great green carpet of trees emerges from the bare mountains and steep canyons, spreading wide to cover the entire western front of the Sierra, from Tehachapi to Lassen. The terrain is well drained, mostly granitic gravel, mineral rich, southwest facing to catch both abundant sunshine and the precipitation sweeping eastward from largest ocean on the planet. The Sierra is a natural plantation, California’s true gem and one of the great forests of the earth. Trees tower up to 200 feet and are sometimes 10 feet across—not including sequoia gigantea. Ponderosa Pine, sugar pine, white pine, lodgepole, incense cedars, firs and several oak species extend north and south across this slope for 400 contiguous miles. If you are ever really stuck, you should seek these hills and take a walk, remembering Muir, who said “between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”
Back on Mt. Dana, the day is getting late and we have a dinner reservation to get to. We are so hungry, having completely consumed our pitiful ration of gorp, jerky and water, that we don’t even consider missing it. Images of sizzling steaks and buttery potatoes swim in our oxygen-starved imaginations. So down the mountain we go on wobbly knees. We look at our watches anxiously and try to calculate our valley ETA, an hour and a half of driving time away. Racing down Tioga Road, we regret the chance to loiter over the view at Olmstead Point, rest on the warm granite at Tenaya Lake or, better yet, hike out to North Dome (our favorite) and stand before the towering face of Half Dome. But we only have one day and dinner beckons, so we wind our way quietly downward and leftward to the Yosemite Valley.
Arriving at the valley, we drive between the stupendous cliffs and towers that define the sacred space. As our anticipation, hunger and fatigue rise, the scene mesmerizes us: the wending Merced River, sere meadows, soaring pines and impossibly higher cliffs swim in the golden fall light. It is off season, but the vehicles and low bustle of the parking lots is a little jarring after only seeing one other hiker on the mountain.
The Ahwahnee, as the reader may know, is an old school national park hotel, a masterpiece of “parkitecture” style. In the 1990s, it still required men to don a jacket. So I slip out of the car, tug on some khakis over my mountain-begrimed (don’t ask) tight-whites, right der in the parkin lot. I put on the white oxford button down and slip into my trusty old blue blazer, the one with the gold, vaguely nautical buttons. Ah tradition. Now, imagine, at the same time, Lisa stripping in the confines of the Subaru. Off come her pink, overall (hiking ?) shorts (for reals, see photos), sans knickers (for reals, no photos!) and tugging on a dress over her dried sweat and dust caked body. Far from being a gentleman, I was rivetted. What a woman. What a wife! Anyway, on with the story.
The Ahwahnee dining room is grandly large (seats 350) but seemingly organic in design, befitting the surroundings. Mortared stone columns rise to support an open beamed, peaked trestle ceiling more than 30 feet high. The most memorable features of the room are the sugar pine posts, each consisting of a fine tree trunk, naturally stained, about two feet in diameter with barely any taper as they rise all the way to the eaves. You feel as if you may be sitting in a great hall of Tolkien’s imagining, hosted by the kings of men or elves or some such. But this is California, pure California.
Moving on to the dinner, there is a sharp squawk, as the needle scratches our recording and we are forced to consider the cuisine of the Ahwahnee. Having traveled far, ascended the mountains, sped to the valley and donned our best in the parking lot, we are now fucking famished. Nevertheless, I remember almost nothing of the dinner, except the beverage. This may be for the best. For any of you who have ever had a national park concession hamburger that tastes like canned dog food, no explanation is required. I vaguely recollect that dinner included some quite cold, but colorful and quite tasteless mixed vegetables, verily like those from a can. It may have been what they called “succotash” in the twentieth century. I won’t even mention norovirus and current events.
In any case, we were there to celebrate, um, life. So, there must have been some rich, seared meat and it may have been warm. NEVER ORDER FISH IN NATIONAL PARK RESTAURANT. EVER. This sets us up for the beverage, which was to be wine, red wine of course, to pair with our possibly warm but certainly overcooked steak. Yes, I confess it was grain-fed, industrial beef for sure because I hadn’t invented grass-fed beef yet. :)
As I eyed Lisa lecherously (a kind of love) through the dim, mock-candlelight of the great hall, I held in my hands the WINE LIST which, although written in English, was mostly Greek to me. We liked wine but were not aficionados by any means. Because it was an Occasion, my eye wandered down the list into the big leagues, where the prices grow in proportion to the name and the grandiosity of the tasting notes. I was way, way out of my depth but I pressed on, almost without hope of a making a sound choice. Then a couple of words caught my eye and resonated with meaning for me: Ridge Monte Bello. Monte Bello Ridge is a spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is a high, broadly rounded hill that overlooks Cupertino and the entire South Bay Area. There is parkland and open space behind the ridge in the Stevens Creek drainage. As a kid, I had hiked that area with my brother, discovering salamanders, banana slugs and crawdads in the steep, laurel-shaded canyon. You could ride your bike from Palo Alto right up Page Mill Road past the world headquarters of Hewlett Packard and the Stanford Hills, past Foothill Park (a ranch donated to Palo Alto to become a city park that my family visited frequently when I was growing up) up to the Montebello area. I once hiked the ridge itself to the fence line to look through the fence at the vineyards and winery buildings.
Although I knew very little about it at that time, Ridge Vineyards was a fixture in the constellation of great California wineries and that reputation persists to this day. They are famous for cabernets made in a sustainable, natural, terroir-sensitive style and aged in American oak. I did not know it at the time, but Ridge Monte Bello was one of the California cabs that placed highly in a blind tasting in 1976, famously known as the Judgement of Paris (Good book: Judgement of Paris, by George Taber). I knew Ridge for their single vineyard zinfandels, including a Paso Robles, Dusi Ranch zin that they have been making for 50 years. Dusi Ranch Zin was our favorite at the time. So, I chose Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, the most expensive wine I had ever ordered, based on my affinity for the place, the reputation and our familiarity with the brand. I do not recall the vintage and I wish I could remember the price. In any case, the memory is priceless.
Well, suffice to say that the meal, whatever the quality, was consumed with relish and the wine hit us like a giant slab of Yosemite granite, exfoliated from those majestic cliffs. I remember that the wine was not so fruity as their Zin but expressed layers of oaky and herbaceous complexity that kept emerging as we sipped. I was in awe of the whole situation: the wine, the room and the events of the day, but profoundly tired. Our heads were bobbing with exertion from our madcap, slightly silly day of overachievement. So, we retired from the dining room at dusk with our unfinished bottle.
Outside, the evening was Indian Summer calm and warm, although the temperature was dropping as the cool air drained from the spectacular high country around us. We began to revive a little in wonderment at the scene. We moseyed down to the riverside in the gloaming, hand in hand, to take in the view. We stopped on the bridge and listened to the water slip quietly downstream. Then we established ourselves on a beach of the Merced River (river of mercy, indeed), which was low and slow for the season. As we sat and hugged and sipped the remainder of our very fine wine directly from the bottle, the north canyon wall above the hotel began to illuminate. This interrupted our glugging and intimate groping for the moment. We stared in awe as the curtain of light began to steadily descend the wall and to reflect into the valley. Soon it began to cast shadows from the trees and the bridge and the landscape. It occurred to us to look over our shoulders for the source of the light. What we saw caused us to stand up with our mouths open, in a state of pure wonderment. The moon, of course, nearly full (waning gibbous by 1 day), was emerging from the living rock, rising directly over Half Dome.
Did you know that when the moon is full it rises just at sunset and sets at sunrise? I myself only learned that in the last year, but it is wonderfully satisfying and symmetrical natural fact. It had to be known to the native humans who lived in Yosemite successfully for 10,000 years before us, who stood in awe and danced and hunted and cooked in that sublime canyon for what must have seemed like all time.
Before long Yosemite Valley was entirely bathed in moonlight, and the deer walked out to browse in the meadows, under the arching oaks. It was so quiet you could hear the deer hooves crackle the twigs as they emerged from the forest, into the bright night.
We were done for the day in every possible way. We walked back to the car and made the long drive to our cabin, not speaking except to keep each other alert. I had forgotten these events until recently, when I was talking with a Rangeland customer about full moons. Lisa and I have noticed that our wines often taste more vivid, fruity and supple on full moons. We’ll sometimes comment to each other about how expressive they are, next level. We’ve learned to say, oh yah, full moon! I’m looking forward to hosting some tastings and dinners on full moons to see if this tendency holds up under collective scrutiny. Should be fun.
On that fall day in 1996 we were in the moment. We didn’t have a crystal ball to foresee that our struggling internet startup would succeed modestly and make our investors some money. Or that it would provide us some resources to buy a ranch and start a new stage of life in Paso Robles. I want to be careful about drawing too heroic or predestined a picture about what happened for us that day in Yosemite and in the years since. Ranch life for us has not been easy, more like touch and go for 20 years. We are not killing it. Like our life before the ranch, we have spent most of the time failing on our way to occasional success.
Nevertheless, this story has a point, even a moral. That day on a mountain top in Yosemite, that one bottle of Ridge Cabernet in the Valley, they were not an epiphany for Lisa and me. But they were very special. Maybe even a subconscious tipping point towards fine wine and a life spent—at least partially—working out of doors. What better tipping point than the crest of the Sierra Nevada, the Range of Light? That day, that one bottle, they are emblematic of an approach to life that I highly recommend. Put yourself out there. Stay in the moment, when it is offered. Go for it and keep going for it.
In this issue: Thanks, Wine Specials, Beef Specials, Used Barrels, Wreath Event, Holiday Hours
It has been a huge year for Rangeland. We opened the tasting room in January, launched our vacation rental (Vineyard View Cottage) in June, and completed our first harvest in our home winery this fall. We're so thankful for your enthusiastic support. Lisa and I turned 60 this year, and we decided we are in it for the long haul to conserve our beautiful ranch for posterity. So enjoy your Rangeland wines and meats for the holidays, gift them generously, and savor the thought that you are helping preserve the wild, beautiful hills where they grow.
2016 MISTLETOE CASE FIRE SALE--THE PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT
Admit it, you've been good this year. So take advantage of this amazing deal and give yourself a case of 2016 Mistletoe at a fire sale price. At just $200/case (that's before your club discount), you can also take care of everyone on your Christmas list. Mistletoe makes a wonderful gift and is a perfect accompaniment to your holiday meals. $1 shipping (use coupon code $1ship). Order here. To read more about the Chimney Fire that gave the 2016 Mistletoe a smoky hint, read my blog post Legacy of Fire.
BORDEAUX SPECIAL: THREE 2015 CABS FOR $110
We love Cabernet, and we especially love it in the winter, when it pairs so beautifully with rich hearty meals. We're offering a special on our Cabernet-based wines: 2015 Cabernet, 2015 Watershed, and 2015 Limestone Reserve Cab for just $110--save $20 before club discounts and just $1 shipping (use coupon code $1ship). Order here.
ROSÉ SPECIAL: $200 PER CASE
We are down to the last dozen cases of our nicely fruity but entirely dry 2018 Flora Rosé. So if you'd like to have some for the holidays (it pairs nicely with turkey) or your cellar, take advantage of this killer offer: $200 per case before club discounts and just $1 shipping (use coupon code $1ship). Order here, while they last.
BEEF SPECIAL: $1 SHIPPING
Hard-to-shop-for, but important people on your holiday gift list? How about a 10 pound box of grass-fed ground beef ($110), or 20 pounds ($190), or a 25 lb. beef club box of mixed cuts (steaks, roasts, ground and extras, $300)? You're giving the gift of health--delicious, nutrient-rich grass-fed beef--and a gift that will be enjoyed well into 2020. Club discounts apply. $1 shipping (use coupon code $1ship). Place your order here.
USED OAK BARRELS FOR SALE
We have a few retired oak barrels still available. Our used oak barrels are marked down to $50 each before club discounts. Place your order here. Supply is limited. They must be picked up at our winery, adjacent to our tasting room in Paso Robles, by appointment.
WREATH WORKSHOP SATURDAY DECEMBER 7
We have a couple of spots left in this annual workshop, taking place at the tasting room from 10-12. Lisa will guide you through making a fresh wreath with greens from the ranch. Bring garden shears, if you have a favorite pair, but that's all you'll need. Dress warmly, as we may be outside. For $50 you'll leave with a gorgeous wreath you made yourself, and a bottle of Mistletoe. Sign up here.
We are closed Thanksgiving Day, November 28. We'll be open Friday Novebmer 29 through Monday December 2, 11 to 5 as usual.
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY HOURS
We are closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. We'll be open for business the rest of the holiday, our regular hours, 11-5 Thursday - Monday. If you have a group larger than 6, please call or email to make a tasting appointment.
With all the fires in California in recent years, some of you may have forgotten the Chimney Fire, which lasted for several weeks in August of 2016, eventually burning 46,344 acres. The fire started near the southwest shore of Lake Nacimiento, at the base of the Santa Lucia coastal range, burning homes, brush, oak forest and everything else in its path. As it moved slowly southeast toward us during the first few days of the fire, it came within 7 miles of our ranch and vineyard. We watched nervously from our back terrace as the towering pyro cumulus smoke cloud rose to 15,000 feet and more, while fire bombers circled and dove around the inferno like furious wasps. Mornings on our ranch were sometimes shrouded in smoke, with visibility reduced to just a few hundred yards. We started trimming trees and tilling firebreaks around our house. An army of firefighters (more than 4,000), trucks and equipment set up camp at the Paso fair grounds and battled the blaze at all hours. Several days into the fire, we were relieved when the winds shifted and started to drive the fire away from us and into the coast range, eventually threatening Hearst Castle. Many people were not so fortunate: 49 homes were destroyed in the inferno.
Our harvest began the day the fire was fully contained: September 6, 2016. As we fermented, aged and blended the wine, we tasted carefully for hints of smoke taint but found none. After bottling, however, a different story emerged and some of our 2016s, especially the Mistletoe blend, sometimes exhibited a notable smoky aroma and taste. At other times it is mysteriously smoke free—which has us wondering whether it is bottle variation or due to changes in storage or tasting conditions, like barometric pressure, temperature, or even lunar cycles. Whatever the cause of these variations, we are aware that this wine is flawed and not entirely as we intended. Al-though we are still enjoying it ourselves and consider it a good deal better than just “drinkable”, we are offering it at a very drinkable “fire sale” price: $20 per bottle and $200 per case, before club discounts. So Mother Nature’s fiery wrath took our 2016 Mistletoe up the Chimney (Fire), but Santa is coming down the chimney with an affordable case of Mistletoe—just in time for the holidays.
Harvest Wine Weekend: Grass-fed Burgers on Saturday
Harvest is in full swing and the fruit flavors of our new wines are alluring. Looks and tastes like a good vintage. Winemaker Paul Hinschberger is working hard and is a proud father of his new son Walter--born last week. He's also putting the hot in them Huckleberry shorts of his (#HuckleberryShorts).
Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend is October 18 to 20 and we'll surely still have grapes fermenting, so come see us at the tasting room and winery at 6996 Peachy Canyon Rd. We will be open for tasting and free winery quick tours, Thursday to Monday 11 to 5. We'll be serving grass-fed beef hamburgers on Saturday only, October 19, from noon to 4pm.
Fall Wine Club Details
Our fall wine club will begin shipping the week of November 11. You can pick-up starting now. We are excited about the lineup, which includes several delicious new releases.
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon*
- 2015 Watershed (new release)*
- 2014 Limestone Reserve Cabernet (92 points, Vinous)*
- 2016 Mistletoe
- 2016 Petite Sirah (new release)
- 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (new release), or 2016 Zinfandel for reds only*
- *Intro club selections
Also please update your credit card and shipping/pickup information, if necessary, at RangelandWines.com. You can use your email address to retrieve your password to login. Or email us wth any questions.
Beef and Lamb News
We're getting ready to bill our Fall Lamb Club (October 16) and ship it the week of October 21. Please let us know if you have any account or shipping information changes by email.
We have healthy grass-fed lamb and beef available for sale in boxes of ground or assorted cuts. Of course your wine or meat club discounts apply. These would make a great holiday gift for the meat lovers in your life. See our selection and place your order here.
Pickup Party Saturday, November 9
Our fall pickup party, free to all club members plus one guest, will take place at the tasting room and winery on Saturday, November 9, from 12 noon to 2:00 pm. We will feature grass-fed beef chili, lamb skewers, local sausages and Rangeland Wines, as usual. Attendance is limited so, reserve your place now.
Wreath Making Workshop-with Wine!
Lisa has been making Christmas wreaths from ranch greenery since we moved here in 2001 and our Rangleland workshop last year was a hit. Join us for a wreath workshop at the tasting room on Saturday, December 7 from 10am-12pm. You'll learn how to make a wreath, enjoy snacks and beverages, and leave with beautiful handmade fresh wreath AND a bottle of 2016 Mistletoe! If this doesn't get you into the holiday spirit, we can't help you.
Bring a friend (and your favorite garden clippers if you like), and we'll supply the rest. You do not have to be crafty--it's impossible to make an ugly wreath! Cost is $50 each before club discount. Space is limited, so sign up now.
LAIRD'S "PORSCHE CONVERTIBLE" WINE PRESS
As a young man I lusted after the high performance, sleek lines and devil-may-care appeal of a Porsche 911 cabriolet. I still do, even as I realize that my fantasy may never be realized. Now, to be honest, I've never driven a Porsche. But there was a local Porsche dealer where I grew up in Palo Alto and I used to bicycle past it every day as a teenager on my way to the muni golf course. That's where I spent all my time as an employee and golf addict. I was always hot for the Porsche ragtop, even as a callow golf nerd in plaid pants and poly polo shirt.
The closest I came to owning a Porsche was the time, in my twenties, when a millionaire divorcé took me to that very same dealer and offered me one, hoping to permanently ensare my youthful vigor in her amorous web of riches. Strange as it may seem, I was a desirable young thing when I had hair. Despite the beautiful matron's generous offer, I fled. True story brah.
The highest performance car I ever owned was a BMW station wagon, which I lovingly ordered and picked-up from the factory in Munich. It seems like a very long time ago that I enjoyed such heady consumer indulgences. That German junket was a business consulting trip during which I gave a talk on the wonders of online publishing to a fascinated throng of Teutons. Following my lucid presentation, a beautiful German maiden approached me and my Biaritz Blue BMW (it was a looker) and said, right to my face, "I'm so hot for the Internet!" I took that personally, but fled again. Sad thing is, that BMW eventually ended up in a swimming pool on Adelaida Road, after which I dubbed my son an honorary captain in the Bavarian Navy. That's another true story. I'd like to tell you that one in detail, but I digress.
After the BMW in the pool fiasco I realized that I needed a more practical conveyance to fit my new ranching lifestyle so I spent the insurance money on a diesel pickup truck, whose battered remains I own to this day. I still held out hope for the Porsche, but as we slid further down the slippery slope of the wine business, it became clear that we couldn't borrow or rent other people's winery equipment forever. I thought we were doing great when we bought a set of used equipment for about $25,000, Problem is, it was lacking a wine press and all wines need to be pressed off their skins prior to barreling--unless one is making "free run" wine for sissies. Despite my desperate search for a used wine press on the cheap, there was none to be found, so I took the plunge on a new press for about $50,000 in borrowed money. About this time I was at my daughter's soccer game, drooling over a gleaming white Porsche cabrio in the parking lot when its owner walked up with a satisfied smirk on his face. I asked him, "What did this baby set you back?" He told me he got a killer deal on it, slighty used, for about $50,000. I flinched and walked away. Right then I knew, there would always be some other practical wine making object (not to mention tractors) that would come before my hedonistic dreams of the open road in the Porsche. So I named our wine press, a hulking chunk of stainless steel and hydraulic power, the "Porsche Convertible" of winemaking. Apparently you can't always get what you want, but you can, sometimes, end up with a wonderful wife and everything you need to make beautiful wines. And with your help, we'll hopefully we'll sell enough wine to conserve our beautiful ranch for posterity.
HARVEST UNDERWAY IN NEW DIGS
Harvest started last Friday when we received some Sauvignon Blanc to our new winery. Unlike most years, however, we did not pick grapes at our estate vineyard over Labor Day weekend. Mother Nature has a way of reminding us who's in charge. A long wet winter and cool spring, combined with a mild summer, has pushed harvest back a couple of weeks. We'll be picking Merlot and Zinfandel for our 2019 Flora Rose' this week and probably Syrah next week. The Cab will likely follow that soon. Let the games begin!
It's a landmark year for us--the first in our new winery--which is just down the hill from our tasting room, past the old barn. We're pleased to be making wine at the same location we are pouring it so you can get a better feel for what we do and how. Winemaker Paul Hinschberger spent the summer outfitting the winery for action: overseeing some new plumbing and electrical, setting up a small laboratory, and $hopping! for equipment, tanks, barrels and supplies to outfit our new home. Paul is especially proud of his "sexy" Italian concrete fermenation and aging tank. While visiting the tasting room this fall, ask if Paul's available to show you our new home. From now to Halloween is a good time to see wine fermenting and other doings in the winery.
MIXED CASE WINE SPECIAL
Order any 12 bottles of wine, and you'll receive 10% off (in addition to your club discount), for a mixed case of your choosing. And we'll ship it you for just $1! It's a perfect time to stock up for the upcoming holiday season. To order cases, please email me, because we have to manually enter the discount to achieve this special price. This deal cannot be combined with other specials. Offer good through September 30, 2019. For a full list of our current and library wines, go here.
ROSÉ CASE SPECIAL
While the weather is still warm, now is the time stock up on our Rosé. It is a wonderful accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner, fish and poultry in general. It also makes a great, affordable gift. Price is $240 before your club discount with just $1 shipping! Offer good through the September 30. To order, use the coupon code $1SHIP, and go here.
We hope you'll make it to one of our fall events--it's a busy and beautiful time to visit wine country. We look forward to seeing you!
Harvest Festival, Friday October 18 through Sunday, October 20
We'll be open 11-5 for Harvest Festival, which is our favorite...because of the usually wonderful weather and culmination of our farming efforts! On Saturday only, from 12-4, we'll be grilling our famous grass-fed beef burgers at the tasting room and selling lunch plates that include a salad and a Lisa cookie. Because we'll be in the thick of harvest, there may be just-pressed wine or barrel samples to taste, and as always, a stellar lineup of Rangeland wines to savor. We hope to see you.
Rangeland Club Pick Up Party, Saturday November 9, 12 - 2 pm, Save the Date!
Come pick up your wine, beef or lamb boxes and enjoy some treats from the ranch. And some wine of course! We'll be gathering in our new winery, with the scents of harvest all around. As usual, we'll be serving grass-fed beef chili, some delicious lamb dish, as well as charcuterie, healthy sides and some freshly baked cookies. Free to club members, although space is limited. Mark your calendars and be on the lookout for a sign up email in October.
Wreath Workshop, Saturday December 7, 10-12, Save the Date!
Lisa will be leading our second annual wreath workshop--last year's was a sell out! Attendees will learn how to make a wreath (yes, you can do it!) with greens from our ranch, while enjoying a sip of wine or hot cider and some holiday goodies. You'll leave with a lovely fresh handmade wreath AND a bottle of our 2016 Mistletoe. This should really get you in the mood for the holidays! Bring a friend (and your favorite garden clippers if you like) and we'll supply the rest. Have no fear, you do not have to be crafty. Cost is $50, and space is limited, so be on the lookout for an email next month to sign up for this fun morning.
Our charming 3-bedroom vacation rental has quickly booked for the fall, but have one weekend free in November and two in December. And the new year is wide open for anyone wanting a quiet, peaceful place to read, relax, sip wine and ease into 2020. Winter is a lovely time to visit Paso Robles. To view the calendar for availability, go to rangelandwines.lodgify.com.
Rangeland Referrals: Wanted
Most of our customers find us through word of mouth. Your referrals are the lifeblood that keeps our vineyard and ranch going. That helps us conserve this wild and naturally productive landscape. We so appreciate your loyal support and enthusiasm that we're now offering a reward for sending new club members our way: $25 in credit towards Rangeland purchases.
Do you know anyone who may be interested in joining our wine or meat clubs? Anytime a new club member lists you as their "referred by" contact, you will receive a $25 credit applied to your account. Think of them as Ranch Bucks. You can use that credit on RangelandWines.com or in the tasting room for wine, meat, merchandise, events, our vacation rental---anything we do except club shipments. So tell a friend about Rangeland!
Used Rangeland Barrels for Sale
We're getting ready for harvest, and that means our winemaker Paul Hinschberger is up to some serious housekeeping--cleaning and moving equipment, and outfitting for the first season in our "new" winery. Beautiful new French oak barrels have begun arriving, so we now have beautiful old Rangeland barrels for sale. You can do a little DIY woodworking or just place a barrel or two in your garden, a reminder of your favorite Rangeland wines. The used oak barrels are $70 each before club discounts. Place your order here. Supply is limited. They must be picked up at our winery, adjacent to our tasting room in Paso Robles, by appointment.
Book 2 nights, get a 3rd night free, through September 30
Take advantage of our summer special and enjoy a stay at our relaxing Vineyard View Cottage, located at our tasting room property in the heart of Paso Robles westside wine country.
Perfect for a family or small group, our 3 bedroom, 2 bath house offers a spacious open living area, fully equipped kitchen and dining room, gorgeous outdoor views with a private deck, lawn, hot tub and bbq. Comfy bedrooms sleep 6, including a king, a queen and twin beds. Hike the 50 acre property and take in the sweeping views from the top of walnut orchard ridge. Or amble over to the tasting room, just a few steps away, for a complimentary taste of our fine wines.
We also now sell individual portions of estate-grown grass fed beef at the tasting room, making it easier for you settle in, eat well and enjoy the beautiful views and the peaceful quiet. For more info, photos and booking go to rangelandwines.lodgify.com.
Rates: $350* weekday (mon-thurs) / $400* weekend (fri-sun)
*Prices before club discount.
*Holidays = weekend pricing
Beef Club is Coming
We're busy packing 25 pound beef club boxes this month. Our cattle had an outstanding feed year, thanks to abundant (42 in.) rainfall. The meat looks marvelous. Beef club boxes and ground beef boxes will be available for pick up at J&R Meats at 3450 Riverside Ave. in Paso Robles starting on Friday, June 28. You can also pickup at the tasting room by appointment. We have to transfer the meat there due to limited storage. so we need at least a two day's notice. Beef club shipping will begin the week of July 8. If you're a beef club member, please update your credit card and shipping addresses, if necessary, by logging in at RangelandWines.com.
Beef and lamb is also available for sale to wine club members too--your club discount applies. Non-members can purchase our meat at the listed priice. We know you're going to enjoy this vintage. Order here and be sure to login first to have your discount applied. Or email us with your orders and questions.
Steaks for Sale in Tasting Room
We now have individually packaged steaks, ground beef and ground lamb available for purchase in the tasting room for the first time--a small selection of New Yorks, ribeyes, and filets, and our delicious ground beef and ground lamb (in 1 lb. packages.) Next time you're visiting, consider rounding out your Rangeland wine purchase with some meat-- it pairs beautifully!
We have a couple of wine specials that offer more Rangeland at better prices:
- 2018 Flora Rosé Case Special: 12 bottles of our finest Rosé yet for just $240, before club discounts. Order here.
- Bordeaux Special 2014-2015: This 3-bottle special includes our 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Watershed (Bordeaux style blend of Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot) and 2014 Limestone Reserve Cabernet (92 pts) for $110, a $20 savings before club discounts. Order here.
Vacation Rental Available
Our newly available Vineyard View Cottage, at 7210 Vineyard Dr., adjacent to our tasting room, has had several visitors already and it is starting to book up for the rest of the year. If you're seeking a peaceful place to stay in the heart of Paso's westside wine country, look no further. The three bedroom/two bath house has beds for 6, including a master suite and two smaller bedrooms, perfect for 3 couples or a family to enjoy. The cottage has a fully equipped kitchen, and a gas grill and hot tub on the back deck, overlooking the surrounding countryside. A complimentary bottle of Rangeland wines awaits. You can buy some meat from the tasting room and grill it that evening on the BBQ on your back porch. Wine country lifestyle right there! More photos.
Our weekday rates (Sun-Wed) are $350/night, and weekend rates (Thurs-Sat) are $400/night, before your club discount. Two night minimum, and unfortunately, we can't allow pets. We will soon have a booking system online. In the meantime, our intrepid tasting room manager Hayli Macomber will field your email and let you know about availability.
Vineyard and Ranch Report
Our vineyard has been mostly mowed and tilled and it's now setting fruit after a glorious bloom, with shoots topping the stakes already. After a wet winter and spring, we're just running our first irrigation--so we're well down the road toward harvest, which will likely start in September. Our new vineyard manager Adam Campbell-Taylor has been working long hours, supervising work crews and logging some serious time on the tractor, when he's not fishing in our ranch lakes or at the coast!
The long winter has also helped keep our livestock herds healthy too. Both cattle and sheep are enjoying (putting up with) their new offspring and wading through rich grasses. Ranch manager Dane Jensen just brought our sheep back to the ranch--they spent "spring break" at the tasting room property, mowing much of that property.
Wines and the Winery
We just finished bottling the last of the 2017 wines, which exhibit opulent fruit aromas and flavors. We've moved the last barrel out of Denner, where we've been making wine for the past three years, and are currently in the process of equipping our new winery. Winemaker Paul Hinschberger is busy with plumbers, electricians and more. We are really looking forward to making our wine at our new home this fall. It will be fun to share the excitement of processing fruit and winemaking with our visitors, which we have rarely been able to do in the past.
We will be closed July 4.
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