Through Our Wineglasses

Uncommon Names and Extraordinary Wines


Last Friday afternoon I had a fun Girls Day Out with my friend and her sister.   Ironically we chose three Paso Robles wineries with the most uncommon names in the industry!  We went to Kiamie, Tolo and Kukkula wineries in the Adelaida district of Paso Robles which is pretty “Far Out” there!
Our first stop was at Kiamie Wine Cellars which is on beautiful Adelaida Road in Paso Robles.  Kiamie is on the same property as Tolo Cellars at 9750 Adelaida Road in Paso Robles.  The property has an historic little red farmhouse which houses Tolo Cellars tasting room and Kiamie is located behind it in a quaint little adobe house.  The name Kiamie is a family name of Greg Johnson one of the winery owners.

We were greeted by a couple of  handsome gentleman who happened to be the owners and winemakers Aram and Greg.   My friends brought along a couple of sandwiches and Aram suggested that we sit out at the picnic table and he would pour our wines for us out there.  We had a couple of four-legged visitors who stayed close enough just in case any crumbs fell off of the table.  The property is very rustic and extremely quiet.Kiami Winery Tasting Room

Signs for Tolo Cellars and Kiamie Cellars wineries


Tasting room of Kiamie Wine Cellars


Just beyond us was a pen that kept a goat and a couple of llamas.  There was a dog who was diligently keeping an eye on the goat and llamas.  Aram went inside the pen and the goat began to play with him as though he was a puppy.  He jumped off a little shed, he wagged his stubby little tail, he stood up on his hind legs and playfully butted Aram’s hand with his horns.  It was so fun to watch their interactions.

Goat jumping off box

Standing goat with winemaker

Their wines were delicious and it was very evident that the wines are carefully crafted.  I went home with a 2009 R’Own Style Blend which is a fabulous blend of Syrah, Grenache and a splash of Viognier.   I fell in love with it in the tasting room but I’m pretty sure that something magical happened to it when I brought it home because when I opened it last night it was way better than I remember!  WOW!  Ray is out of town for a coupe of days so he might need to return to the winery to experience it for himself!

After our visit to Kiamie we strolled a few hundred feet over to the historic red house where Tolo Cellars is located and were greeted by the familiar friendly face of the owner and winemaker Josh Gibson.  We’ve been to Tolo Cellars a number of times and Josh is always a wonderful host.  I think what adds to the hospitable atmosphere is that the tasting room is situated in the kitchen of the historic house where you are surrounded by some pretty cool antique kitchen appliances.

Antique heater at entrance of Tolo Cellars tasting roomJosh creates some robust red wines with some pretty interesting names which he says he names after locations in Greece which is also where the name Tolo comes from.  I went home with a bottle of 2009 Asini which is 54% Sangiovese and 46% Zinfandel, a wonderfully balanced blend of two of my favorite varietals.  With such an intimate space for the tasting room its easy to start chatting with your fellow tasters and we met two lovely couples visiting from the Bay Area.  They told us about a great winery that they had just come from named Kukkula.  None of us had been there so we decided to head out there for our final stop.

Kukkula Winery is a relatively short but beautiful drive from Tolo and Kiamie. The tasting room is a stark contrast to the historic property we had just come from.  It was built with some very striking modern architectural features including a Gabion Wall made from rocks sourced from the property.

Tasting room of Kukkula Winery in Paso Robles, CA


Glass of red wine at Kukkula Winery in Paso Robles, CA Gabon Wall at Kukkula Winery



We were greeted by a very  cheerful Nikki in the tasting room who introduced us to the impressive wines and the story behind the winery and the owner and of course the name Kukkula. I sensed a slight east coast accent from Nikki which may go unnoticed by others and it turns out she is from an area familiar to me just outside Philadelphia.


Wine Tasting List at Kukkula Winery

All three of us were utterly astounded by every single wine on the list and we know it was all good because we all loved the 2011 Vaalea which is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussane. I loved how the Roussane gave it just a sweet little kiss. My friend Kellie and I have polar opposite palates for wine and we find it remarkable when we agree on any wines but surprisingly we both loved every wine on the list. We were so surprised that one of us asked if the reason we were liking the wines so much was because it was our third winery we were visiting that day….I don’t think so!

Tune in next blog post as we return to Kukkula Winery and Starr Ranch the very same weekend with my husband Ray and brought along a few others with us!

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