Summary: Rōtta Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Paso Robles. The winery’s history goes back to the year 1908. Today Rōtta Winery is a member of the CAB Collective.
We approached Rotta Winery with a sense of anticipation. After all, this is one of the oldest established wineries in Paso Robles. Upon our arrival we noticed older buildings one with a whitewashed brick wall entitled “Rotta Winery Established 1908.” We soon passed an old water cistern labeled with, “CEMENT WATER CISTERN. Built in 1945 to hold rainwater collected from the roof of the old winery and used for bottle washing and drinking. Extends 13 feet below ground. Holds 50,000 gallons of water.”
History of the Property
In 1891, an immigrant from France planted the the first vineyards on the property. In 1905 Joe Rotta from Italy purchased the property from the original owner. This included the winery. Years later Joe’s brother Clement Rotta purchased the property. To survive Prohibition, Clement produced sacramental wines and grape juice. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Rōtta winery began running as a traditional winery again. Thirty years later, Rōtta Winery was producing jug wines.
In 2001, Clement’s grandson, Mike Giubbini sought to increase the winery profile. However a devastating earthquake in 2003 demolished the winery buildings. This led to the construction of a new modern-style winery in 2006. Today, Sebastian Budeguer is setting a new direction for Rōtta Winery while keeping its long history in mind.
Visitors’ Tasting Room
Another building closer to a hill of sloping vineyards includes the tasting room adjacent to a patio area. The patio has several seating areas including picnic tables. Nearby are the rolling hills of head pruned grapevines.
Inside, the small tasting room is adjacent to the winemaking area. Through a window behind the tasting counter, visitors will see the winery’s stacked oak barrels. Opposite the tasting counter are shelves of old wine bottles. We also noticed filled jug wines that Rōtta Winery produced many years ago. One jug was labeled Medium Zinfandel; the other jug was California Sweet Muscat. Empty wine bottles were also on the shelves. These old bottles were donated to the winery by people who just happened to find them. Unfortunately, no dates were known for these old bottles.
We met winemaker Ben Mayo in the tasting room and he talked about how he had been asked by the owner of Rōtta winery to “reinvent” this aging winery. He undertook the task of improving the wines after the winery and vineyards went through a period of neglect. Ben mentioned that he had finished making improvements to the winery and would be leaving for another Paso Robles winery. Ben had been working with another winemaker at Rōtta who is soon to be the new Rōtta winemaker.
Ben talked about the Paso Robles Willow Creek District. This district has cool breezes in the afternoon. There are 20 acres of onsite vineyards.The vineyards are dry farmed. The diurnal temperature change in the vineyards is generally 30 degrees. All onsite grapevines are head pruned. They include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel. One the east side the vineyards include Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The soil is chalky loam.
Rōtta sells some grapes to other wineries, and the winery also sources grapes from local vineyards.
Later when Terry asked if he could walk to the vineyards, Ben replied yes but make noise since there are rattlesnakes in the vineyard and the noise would scare the rattlesnakes off.
Current production at Rōtta Winery is 2,500 cases. The focus of the winery production is red wines.
Cabernet Franc Paso Robles 2014 was a dark ruby color. The wine offered notes of plum. There were medium to bold tannins and the wine was full-bodied. The finish was spicy.
Malbec Paso Robles 2014 was a translucent ruby color. There were juicy black and red fruit notes. The wine had medium/bold tannins with a full body. Baking spices, fruit and a mineral hint were on the finish.
Metric Paso Robles 2013 was a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was a translucent ruby color with notes of blackberries and a hint of chalk. The wine had bold tannins and a full body. The finish was fruity and chalky.
Time Capsule Paso Robles 2013 was a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc. The wine was a translucent dark red color. The wine was very fruity with notes of berries and red and black raspberries. The wine had medium/bold tannins with a medium body.
Rōtta Winery offers three wine clubs: Club Rōtta, The Full Monty and After Hours Club.
If you are interested in the history of winemaking in Paso Robles, Rōtta Winery may be just the winery you want to visit.
250 Winery Road
Templeton, California, 93465
GPS: N35º 33.346’ W120º 44.892’
Article written May 2016
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