Smooth Wine Tasting in Downtown Paso
Make a note of the convenient location of the Indigené Cellars tasting room in prime downtown Paso Robles. It’s one of two dozen in the Paso Robles Wine District that facilitates guests to “taste the diversity” of the region’s 40 local varietals.
Raymond Smith, proprietor and wine- maker at Indigené Cellars, explains that “native” is the keyword behind the name in a clear expression of wines native to their environment. He said, “We do terroir-based programs that exhibit how wines differ depending on the intricate soil composition and weather patterns, and especially these factors in tandem. We cultivate wines in this program with the same varietal, same clones, and even similar barrel programs to show these distinct differences.” Smith’s philosophy is a solid one, judging by a collection of gold medals and double gold awards.
Speaking of “native,” Ray Smith hails from Oakland. Visiting friends in Paso Robles while searching for a career in mass communications, a sideways turn led to an entry-level role at a winery where he quickly fell in love with the business. Smith considers himself fortunate that in this job as a mobile bottler, he had the opportunity to taste wines and observe many different winemaking concepts and styles from all over California. Forging strong relationships with growers and producers, he recalled, “This gave me a first-hand experience of how microclimates dictate wine structures and flavor profiles.”
When Smith arrived in Paso back in the late 1980s, the wine scene was nascent. He recalled fewer than 30 wineries at the time, all very hands-on and connected. He found the close- knit community provided unwavering support, drawing him in even closer.
As the first Black winemaker in Paso Robles, Smith has witnessed the phenomenal growth of the industry. Smith pointed out that super small lots of old vine fruit with low tonnage and well- drained soils produce a wide variety of options for crafting superior wine of depth and structure. Indigené Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other wines focus on distinguishing aromas and a balanced fruit-driven palate to create unique noteworthy varietals and elegant blends.
Everybody who knows this city says the wine tasting room is located in one of those “stumble across places” that make downtown Paso Robles so appealing. Indigené Cellars has re-opened their downtown tasting room in its coveted spot just steps off the main plaza in the alley that runs between 12th and 13th streets beside Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ. Tasting for six or fewer (age 21+) is by 24-hour advance appointment, available Thursday through Saturday at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.; on Sunday at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Area safety guidelines such as face masks are required when not sipping. Small pro- duction Indigené Cellars wines are primarily sold direct-to-consumer to ensure integrity and consistency.
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Article By: Laurie Jo Miller Farr // Photos Courtesy of Indigené Cellars