Desi Cowboy Winemakers do Som Ras in Paso Robles – Best American Indian Magazine | San Jose California
Two or maybe three hours from Silicon Valley, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, lies hidden Napa, the wine country of Paso Robles.
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Here, Nigel Pratt, CTO of a major Bay Area tech company, and his wife Madhvi own NIYO wines with their partner, real estate professional Yogesh Khare. “Our 100% Cabernet Sauvignon comes from dry-grown grapes in California’s central coast – Paso Robles – Willow Creek district,” says Nigel.
Of the Paso’s 11 appellations, Willow Creek is close to the ocean and the temperature difference between day and night can be 30 to 40 degrees. The cold marine layer gives the wines of this region great liveliness. The grapes stay longer on the vine by concentrating their acidity.
Acidity is the backbone of a wine. It is what carries the wine from the front to the back of the mouth. Acidity gives wine its aging capacity, stability and color. If the grapes ripen quickly, the sugar builds up but loses flavor. The Mediterranean climates in Italy and France have this advantage – the flavors intensify as the grapes slowly ripen. A heat wave and California grapes are loaded with sugar. We hunt the cool-climate vineyards of the Willow Creek District, says Neeta Mittal of LXV wines.
“Paso is known as the land of cowboys and wine. Cowboy winemakers produce small quantities of wine and have a dedicated clientele. Their lots sell out very quickly,” says Debbie of Thomas Hill Organics CoffeeDowntown Paso’s finest organic cafe, renowned for the quality and variety of wines it serves.
“Our wines are made on a family owned and operated estate, with limited production, artisan wines that have been fermented using indigenous yeasts. This natural process allows the authentic character, depth and terroir of each varietal to shine through,” says Yogesh, the Yo in NOTme.
Like the little winegrowers, NOTiyo also manufactures less than 100 barrels per year. The limited-edition Dry-Farmed version is exclusive to club members. Additionally, NIYO has the license to distribute Paso wines to a grocery store near you.
Paso grows over 40 different varieties and is home to over 40,000 acres of vineyards with over 200 wineries. It is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhône varieties.
The secret of wine is the balance between alcohol, acid and tannin, says Maggie Cameron of Dell’s Pizza, which carries a fine collection of liqueurs.
Paso is making a name for itself in taxis,” says Neeta Mittal of LXV wines, since it offers a plate of wine-colored cheese cubes. Neeta and Kunal Mittal own a 14-acre vineyard and feature an intoxicating wine selection. Their 2500 cases are sold directly to the consumer.
The cheese cube gets its red color from the spice blend of hibiscus, lavender, green chili, Persian lime, coriander, cumin, black garlic and other spices that paint it. Neeta encourages you to bite into the cube while sipping “the secret” of 2019,
The blend of wine and flavors is essential, says Neeta. It is not the cheese or the proteins as it is mistakenly believed, which dictates the agreement of the wine with the dish, but the top note of the dish whether it is a spice or an herb. .
Sam Sharma, Food and Beverage Manager of Pebble Beach Resorts, believes that the grease that coats the tongue after a bite of meat also has a role to play because wine cuts the grease. “More acidic wines for more oily foods,” he said.
“LXV represents the 65th dimension of the 64 dimensions of the Vedas where the deities reside,” says Neeta Mittal. The 65th sutra is you,” says the provider of what is “named as the top ten wine experiences in the United States,” per United States Today. In their tasting room adorned with rolling cushions and inky blue walls, tasters are transported to the land of the Vedas. Tasters roll small cubes of cheese brushed with spices while swirling Bordeaux wines.
Bordeaux includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlots and Petit Verdot. Malbec is the fifth Bordeaux grape variety. In Europe, says Allegretto Vineyard Wine Guide, “Malbec grapes are planted around Cabernet Sauvignon grapes as the Malbec ripens first and the birds swarm. The birds never return to the same field. Farmers thus save their gold, Cabernet Sauvignon, from birds by sacrificing the Merlot grape variety. But here in Paso, we harvest and bottle Merlot,” he says.
Paso’s Indian experience ranges from wine to weddings and palaces to Allegretto, a wine resort which carries enough Indian art to be paired with the palaces of Rajasthan. A life-size statue of Ganesh stands watching visitors as they enter the station.
At the end of the hallway, an 18th-century Buddha statue from Rajasthan towers over visitors as they walk through ornate teak doors purchased in India by owner Douglas Ayres.
Vintage Indian doors open into meeting rooms with royal purple walls painted with gold patterns. A white marble Ganesh gives the hotel’s art tour guide a high five.
Scattered around the station and the garden are artifacts from India.
In the garden, a sound labyrinth matches the dull sound of your footsteps and whistles a wind instrument that accompanies it. As a symbol of life’s journey, it leads along a single meander to a central point.
As the wine tour leader climbs the hill of the vineyard, the group sees at the ridge, a Buddha flanked by amethyst boulders under the tree.
Spiritual energy is focused to make your stay heavenly and the wine in so flat. Som ras is nuanced and seductive.
“Atithi Devo Bhava – we welcome you!” said LXV.
Paso, where the Indian is playing cowboy, waves.
Ritu Marwah is a Silicon Valley-based writer. Winner of the Taste of Silicon Valley contest, she is a foodie for all things wine, food and travel. Whether for work or play, she never tires of exploring California’s wine country. Ritu’s other work: Kamasutra Wine, BBNC Indian Cooking Encounter with Ritu Marwah.
Images: Ritu Marwah