Saxum Vineyards Tour with Justin Smith
Arriving at theSaxum Vineyards & Winery, I was greeted by their adorable dog. Honestly, I’m such a sucker for Golden Retrievers and labs since I grew up with them as a child.
About Saxum Vineyards
For those of you unfamiliar with Saxum Vineyards, listen up and get to know them. Right now, they are the most highly acclaimed Winery in Paso Robles focusing on producing Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre based blends from the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles.
What is their winemaking style? Described best by the Saxum team, ‘We let our rocky calcareous soils, steep hillsides, sunny days, and cooling ocean breezes speak through our wines by keeping our yields low, picking the fruit at the peak of ripeness, and using a minimalist approach in the cellar. We respect our land and farm everything sustainably without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Because our vine’s roots penetrate deep through the fissures in the calcareous soil irrigation is rarely needed”.
Finally, their total annual production is approximately 4000-5000 cases a year, divided between seven different cuvees, Broken Stones, James Berry Vineyard, Bone Rock, Booker Vineyard, Paderewski Vineyard, Heart Stone Vineyard, and Terry Hoage Vineyard.
The Winery Tour
Winemaker Justin welcoming us into their new winery (unfortunately this is not open to the public) but read along and enjoy this guided tour.
I love the vibe of this lounge area. It reminded me of my time in Morocco. I am also obsessed with the Saxum etched into the grey wall (on the right).
Views from the upstairs balcony looking into the lounge
Saxum Vineyards Cave Tour
Entering the caves. Even the caves are beautiful with the various barrels, concrete eggs…
Apparently, Justin and his team have quite a sense of humor. For example, check out the Woody Woodpecker Barrel. Love it!
This cave is quite gorgeous. Firstly, I love all the details in the stonework. There’s the back exterior wall, which has original stone intact, and also a beautiful arch that divides the cave. So, not only is there a larger cave, but also a smaller, more intimate area where Justin stores his wines.
Me and Justin tasting together.
A Tour of the Barrels
Take a look at the cool chalk drawing on the barrel. Most of the barrels had this, back to the great sense of humor and cool style Justin and the Saxum team have. It’s awesome.
Tasting some samples fresh out of the barrel. What a treat! This was my first time ever tasting Saxum and I have to say, a barrel tasting is quite spectacular. I got to see and taste it before being bottled and shared with everyone else. These wines were lovely. As expected with Rhone varietals they are quite heavy with amazing dark fruit, complex flavors, and perfect balance.
After 7 barrel tastings, Justin was still smiling and sharing tons of information, even answering my many questions. Truthfully, I can say he’s the most friendly, approachable winemaker I have ever met. Seriously, for being the most acclaimed winery in Paso Robles, you would think he’d have a bit of an ego; but, he’s the opposite. Instead, he’s nice, chill, down to earth, and happy to share his incredible wines and knowledge with visitors like myself.
Finally, this is Justin’s personal wine storage and it goes back 3-4 deep on both sides of the cave. It’s so cool and really adds to the interesting feel of the cellar. He randomly grabbed a bottle of 2011 Paderewski Vineyard bottle (Shown below) for us to taste together after the barrel tasting. Justin describes this blend as the field blend as it’s a combination of the various vineyards he plants and sources grapes from. I loved the chalk sediment evident on the mouth and the rich dark silky blend.