Take a stroll through Paso Robles Downtown City Park and you will come face to face with a statue of a very stern looking man. With his long hair and knitted brow, he looks a little like Ebenezer Scrooge. Take a second look at the man—and his incredible legacy—and you’ll see something else entirely. The past Polish prime minister, world renowned pianist, and famed guest of the Paso Robles Robles Inn is also known for his great contributions to Paso Robles wine region.
Yes, Ignacy Paderewski’s most famous contribution to the area may be the historic Zinfandel vines he planted at his Rancho San Ignacio and Rancho Santa Helena properties more than a century ago. As Paso Robles gears up for the annual Paderewski Festival this Nov. 5 -8, let’s raise a glass to the accomplished fellow and celebrate just how his favorite wine grape, Zinfandel, has made its bold mark in wine country. It’s hard to imagine the area without Zinfandel, and we can thank Paderewski for that. Could it be? Is old Ignacy cracking a smile?
1. Peachy Canyon 2013 Snow Zinfandel
Deemed by Vinous as “juicy,” “graceful,” and “light on its feet,” this traditional Adelaida District Zinfandel pairs with everything from wood-fired pizza to burgers to veggie lasagna. Zinfandel has long since served as Peachy Canyon’s flagship varietal, and it’s easy to taste why. Their Zins range from elegant and restrained (like this pick) to bold and fruit forward, and each reflects the terroir with unabashed joy. The folks at Peachy have been growing incredible Zin since 1988, so it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing!
2. Opolo Vineyards 2013 Mountain Zin
Few Zins come with a reputation as stellar as Opolo Vineyards’ famed Mountain Zinfandel. A crowd pleasing favorite year after year, the wine always changes with each vintage, yet is always a star standout.
The 2013 vintage saw the return of warmer weather to the Central Coast, making these grapes very happy. Rich raspberry and plum mingle with dried cherry, cocoa, and cedar. Chock full of zesty, ripe fruit, pair this remarkable Zin with Asian pork ribs or feta-stuffed chicken.
3. Rabbit Ridge 2013 Zinfandel
Produced from grapes grown in the coolest areas of Paso Robles, this wine is soft, sound, and not overly jammy (not all Paso Zins can say that!). Cherry, plum, spice, and coconut-tinged oak flavors come together for a medium-bodied Zin sure to please everyone in your crowd.
Rabbit Ridge Winery founder/owner Erich Russell can be found working in the cellar every day, and this attention to detail shines in this wine, particularly. Exceptional with hearty fare, this pick calls out for barbecue, Spanish seafood strew, and Indian spices.
The Willow Creek District is known for producing amazing Zins, and this playful wine is no exception! Full of strawberries, thyme, pepper, and vanilla, this rock star wine is full and rich across the palate and shines with a bright, unforgettable finish.
Pelletiere Estate may be a newcomer to the Paso Robles scene, but with their quaint farmhouse, 360-degree vineyard views, and posh tasting room, Paso Zin has been elevated to new heights. Pair this wine with Raspberry vinaigrette-drizzled arugula and goat cheese salad.
5. Rotta 2010 Zinfandel Port
Rotta winery, known as one of the oldest continually operated wineries in the Paso Robles region, created its first vintage in the 1920s and has been churning out incredible Zinfandel ever since. Dry-farmed in much the way the Ignacy Paderewski would have seen fit, this Zinfandel is a Paso Robles classic with a sweet and sultry twist. Sourced from old vine Zin grown in the historic Giubbini Vineyard, this velvety dessert-style wine is perfect paired with chocolate, blue cheese, and Paso Robles walnuts and almonds.