Our visit to Paso Robles continued on from Caliza Winery. When our son, Brian, and his wife Julie, learned of our plan to visit the area, he told us that if we only had time for one winery, that winery should be ZinAlley. With a recommendation like that, we made sure to fit ZinAlley into our itinerary. We were not disappointed!
ZinAlley can be summed up in one word: eclectic. From the moment we parked our car by the “Hippies Use The Back Door” sign to the three-wheeled electric cart bearing the ZinAlley logo, we knew that we were in for a unique experience. The tasting room had objects of art and clever posters interspersed with the tools of wine making trade.
As we entered (by the back door, of course) we were immediately greeted by owner/winemaker Frank Nerelli, who offered us a starter pour of his first Zinfandel, a 2013 vintage. It was obvious from the first sip that Frank really knew his way around a Zin! Fruit and spice without the heavy hand sometimes found in 100% Zinfandels. Balanced fruit and a pleasant finish, this was a great start to our tasting.
Frank told us that he takes the time to treat his vines with respect and lets the grapes speak for themselves. The vines are “dry farmed” which means that there is no man-made irrigation. The vines are severely pruned every year and are not trained to wire trellises. These stresses create wines with complexity and character.
We also tasted his 2012 vintage of ZinAlley Zinfandel. Equally delicious with a personality of its own. We were so impressed that we chose to take a bottle of the 2012 home for later. Next up was their 2011 Nerelli Generation 4, which is so named because it is the product of the fourth generation of Nerelli wine makers, Bryson. A Syrah/Zin blend, this wine proves that the next generation of wines from ZinAlley are in very good hands.
Our final taste was their 2011 ZinAlley Zinfandel Port. Lush, but not jammy, this Port let the fruit tell the story without being buried in the fortifying alcohol. One of the best Zin Ports in my experience!
Although we were pressed for time, we were certainly grateful that Julie and Brian had inserted ZinAlley into our tour list. We will absolutely pass his recommendation along to friends when they visit Paso Robles. If you are looking for a winery, and wine, with personality, you MUST add a visit to ZinAlley to your tour!
Cheers to Frank and ZinAlley!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?
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