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Niner Wine Estates
The Heart of Paso Robles Wine Country
When you drive along Highway 46 West in Paso Robles it is hard to miss the large heart on the hillside. The perfect shape of a heart is a natural oak-tree filled depression that serves as a landmark on Niner Wine Estates’ 139-acre Heart Hill Vineyard. With the beautiful setting, it is here that the Niners decided to build their state of the art winery and gorgeous stone hospitality center.
Using grapes from both their eastside Bootjack Ranch and westside Heart Hill Vineyard, Niner Wine Estate produces 100% estate wine. The Niners’ vision was to produce the best wine they could from grapes they grew, using the best of traditional winemaking methods and cutting-edge technologies. Making that vision a reality, is winemaker Amanda Cramer. Amanda oversees all winemaking operations and creates balanced, elegant, food-friendly wines.
The hospitality center is open daily, offering visitors a chance to gain a little wine education as they taste through the wine offerings. Varietal wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Rosato, Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah; red blends include a Sangiovese-based blend called Super Paso, a no-rules blend called Twisted Spur and a blend of traditional Bordeaux varieties called Fog Catcher.
Each month, a “Winemaker’s Choice” wine is featured. Amanda selects the wine and a large board in the tasting area displays the details of the wine. From the sensory notes to the best pairing, everything you ever wanted to know about the wine is available. Special case pricing is also offered for the Winemaker’s Choice featured wine. Amanda shared the selection process, “Each month, I sit down with the team, review our current inventory (and our secret stash) and taste through a selection of wines that could be offered to our customers and CLUB 9 members. I try to pick a wine that fits well with the season, but since all the wines are very versatile, the most important thing is that the choice is tasting great right now. Whether it’s our award-winning Cabernet, a library sampling of Fog Catcher or our nearly sold-out Petite Sirah, I want to offer our customers a wicked good wine at an equally good price”.
For the month of December, instead of picking just one wine, Amanda decided to select a vertical offering of Fog Catcher. Fog Catcher is the winery’s flagship wine, a barrel-select blend of estate-grown Bordeaux varietals. The featured vintages are 2004, 2005 and 2006. The three wines make a wonderful collection and a unique holiday gift.
With all of the wines produced to be food friendly, the winery puts a great deal of effort into pairing the wines with food. Members of the wine club, named Club 9, receive a recipe paired with the wines in their shipment. According to Marketing Manager, Alli Addison, the club members are so into the recipes and pairings that they will often send their favorites to the winery. In fact, one CLUB 9 member’s recipe for Smoked Tomato Soup looked so good and made such an excellent pairing with the Sangiovese that the winery decided to feature Jeff Chrispell’s recipe in the November club shipment. As a long-time club member, Jeff not only gets bragging rights to have been the first club member to have his recipe featured, but also gets credit for a pairing competition. Members are asked to submit their recipes to pair with Niner wines and the staff will select their favorite. The best recipe will be included with the February shipment and the winning member will be named Niner Iron Chef for 2012 and will receive a $50 Nine Wine Estates gift card.
CLUB 9 is a rapidly growing club that is a lot of fun, with three shipments per year, complimentary tasting for members and their guests, private tours, exclusive club events and member specials. Club members also receive discounts on classes. Each month the winery offers a class as part of their Cooking Series. Cooking class sizes are kept very small, typically just 14 people, since it is a hands-on experience. During the class attendees not only learn about the food and wine, they also get to work in the large Niner commercial kitchen and enjoy the food they produce (with wine) at the end of the class.
The cooking series offers a number of classes that are not only educational, but also very entertaining. For example on Saturday, December 10th, A Holiday Baking Class with “Just Baked SLO” will help people learn how to decorate sugar cookies, assemble three different types of crusts, poach fruit, caramelize sugar and make a reduction sauce. The menu includes Caramel Apple Cheesecake, Tart Noire and Poached Pear Toaster Pastry, each paired with a Niner wine.
In January, the series continues with Elegant Winter Entertaining with Chef Nanette Smalley. Then in February, an all-time favorite, Farmer’s Market to Table with Chef Maegen Loring, is back. The class will actually head to the Templeton’s Farmer’s Market, select the best local produce available and then head back to the Niner kitchen to participate in a hands-on cooking class. March will feature Spring Brunch 101 with Chef Andre Averseng and in April, Italian Family Cooking with Chef Marco of Café Roma.
The list of events and class schedule continue to grow, including wine sensory seminars and other great educational experiences. Be sure to check the winery website or call the winery for additional information.
Niner Wine Estates is located at 2400 Highway 46 West, Paso Robles. For information about the winery and upcoming events, visit ninerwine.com or call (805) 239-2233.
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