Paso Robles locals have a love/hate relationship with Justin Vineyards & Winery. Some Paso locals swear at Justin while some locals swear by this vintner perched in the foothills west of Paso Robles.
Justin is a longtime member of this community, employing hundreds of people and donating freely to the community. Yet the winery’s gone through difficult patches with a divorce forcing a divestment, putting the winery in the hands of Wonderful Company. You may know them for their Cutie tangerines, almonds and Fiji Bottled Water.
They clear cut a forest of oak trees in 2016 (Oak trees are a sacred cow here in Paso Robles…as in Pass of the Oaks) but were caught and penalized. The Feds are currently investigating Justin and Wonderful Company for sexual discrimination.Their wine & customer service quality has had some ups and downs with changing personnel. The winery also instituted a tiered pricing program raising the price on all their wines. The entry level club shipment of 6 bottles will set you back $300+.
We are on our third iteration of membership and were ready to again quit for two reasons: 1) the pickup party cost $130 for attending and picking up our $300 wine club purchase (most winery pick up parties are complimentary.) 2) Every time we speak with a representative on the telephone, they act like you’ve interrupted them. They rarely even let you finish your sentence before giving you an answer. And the answer is usually ‘No’ we can’t do that. Irritating.
But at the moment, you can’t quarrel with their wine. It’s all good. So we decided to give them one last opportunity to keep us as customers.
We booked a tasting of four in their Estate Barrel Room for club members. Time for them to prove themselves with some quality customer service.
They saved the day with a gracious wine host and excellent wine. We’re still on board the wine club for now.
Robbie the wine host was attentive, accommodating and knowledgeable. He was also understaffed, working by himself juggling 6 groups of tasters spread throughout the barrel room. He shared a number of Justin’s Bordeaux style wines. Here we go:
Landmark Winery Pinot Grigio (a sister winery) $27 ✰+/✰-
2021 Rose (Syrah based) $20 ✰
2020 Right Angle (a smoky blend of Cabernet, Melbec, Petite Sirah & Petit Verdot) $50 ✰+
2019 Isosceles (Cabernet, Cabernet Franc & Merlot) $85 star ✰+
2019 Savant ( an ‘Aussie’ style blend of Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon) $55 ✰+/✰+ +
2017 Justification (Cabernet Franc & Merlot) $78 ✰+
2019 Reserve Cabernet (100% Cabernet) $65 ✰+
2017 Isosceles Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot) $720 for six bottles in a commemorative box ✰+ +
2015 Platinum Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (heavy toast barrels & medium toast barrels blend) $175 ✰+ +
All these prices are retail. You can find Justification & Isosceles and some of their lower end Cabernet’s in retail stores. We’ve even seen some of their wines at Costco. But as you can see, these are not your usual $30 bottles of wine.
The wines are a cut above and Justin charges a premium for that taste. Tasting fees are $49. Make sure you have a full tank of gas when you run out to the estate (there is a tasting room downtown however for a shorter drive.)
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.