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Italian Wine on the Dry Side Cooled by the Templeton Gap

Full disclosure here, we’re not big fans of dry Italian varietals. But if you like dry Italian wine you’ll love Bella Luna Estate Winery in Templeton (South of Paso Robles.) We had a hard time falling in love with all their wines but you may find them irresistible.

The winery was born in friendship between Kevin Healey and Sherman Smoot in 1998. Mr. Smoot recently perished in a plane crash preparing to compete in the Reno Air Races. So there were some emotion wafting through the employees and their presentations.

It’s a beautiful facility with gorgeous patio and gracious hosts.

So here is our tasting:

2021 Bella Bianca (Tocai Friulano & Arneis) $30  ✰

2021 Piccolo Rosso (Cab, Nebbiolo, Cab Franc, Barbera) $28 ✰

2018 Riserva (Sangiovese & Cabernet) $58 ✰

2018 Barbera (Adeliada District of Paso) $48 ✰

2019 Fighter Pilot Red (pure Zinfandel from Bailey Ranch) $44 ✰+

2020 Rotor Head Red (Cabernet & Merlot) $44  ✰+

If you enjoy your wine dry, this is the place for you.


Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Bakersfield.

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.