The Laws of Paso Robles

This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.

I am talking about Law Estate Wines from Paso Robles, not about legal laws, despite what the title might suggest.

The winery is owned by Don and Susie Law. Both geologists who live in Denver, they first fell in love with wine on a trip to Spain in 1976. From there, a passion for Rhone-inspired blends developed. They spent two years looking for the perfect site to plant a vineyard when they were directed to Paso Robles.

The Laws found a piece of property on the west side of Paso Robles above Peachy Canyon Road in the Adelaida AVA. After analyzing 42 soil pits, they discovered limestone and low vigor soils, coupled with elevations of 1,600 and 1,900 feet and a consistent cool breeze. They purchased this ideal piece of land in 2007.

The grapes are planted in high density, small-lot blocks and face north-west and south-east. Today, they have 57 acres planted to primarily grenache and syrah, but also have cabernet sauvignon, mourvedre, carignan, petite sirah, petit verdot, tempranillo, clairette blanche, marsanne and roussanne.

Winemaker Scott Hawley has been part of the Law Estate Wines team since the first plantings in 2008. Focused on Rhone-inspired blends, Hawley believes that wine is an expression of a place. From hand-picking to hand-sorting to fermenting in the small batches, Hawley is able to help the grapes achieve their pure expression.

Focused on Rhone-inspired wines, the name for each wine holds significance. There is Beguiling made with 85 percent grenache and 15 percent syrah;  Intrepid that is 100 percent syrah, “Audacious” consisting of 39 percent grenache, 36 percent syrah and 25 percent cabernet sauvignon and Sagacious, a blend of 37 percent grenache, 34 percent mourvedre and 29 percent syrah. It is a dark purple color with aromas of dark red fruit, rose petals, cedar and a hint herbaceou; it dances on the tongue.

As Don and Susie Law live in Colorado, they are active skiers and cyclists. They named one wine First Tracks as they are the first out on the slopes each season. The wine is a blend of 40 percent petit verdot, 32 percent syrah and 28 percent cabernet sauvignon. It is a dark, inky purple wine with notes of violets, blueberry and chocolate. Another wine is Beyond Category, a cycling term that aptly describes this “out of the box” blend of 50 percent syrah, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent grenache and 15 percent petite syrah.

To round out the line-up of wines, there is the 100 percent mourvedre “Prima”. This wine has a big nose of blackberry, blueberry, granite and a jammy sweetness. But on the palate, it is all about texture as it fills the mouth. And my favorite wine of the line-up is The Nines, a 100 percent grenache wine from two small blocks of head-trained Spanish garnacha from the highest peak on the vineyard. This wine has notes of bright red fruit, vanilla, lavender, rose and licorice and on the palate, is balanced and sexy with fine tannins.

The Winery

With sustainability in mind, the winery is environmentally friendly. The clean, contemporary design has every line in the architecture of the winery pointing towards the vineyard. With the winery’s legal sounding name, it is only ironic that the winery was designed by San Francisco based BAR Architects.

The next time you feel like taking the law into your own hands, grab a bottle of Law Estate Wines.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.