Far Out Wineries brochure, 2006.
The Far Out Wineries of Paso Robles were touted as “off the beaten path” and “worth the drive.” They consisted of a group of winemakers who were located in remote areas west of Paso Robles where tourists and wine lovers were unlikely to visit. Justin Baldwin and Doug Beckett, both experienced businessmen with experience in marketing, decided to form a small group and label themselves the Far Out Wineries. Each prepared their tasting rooms for guests, created a brochure and map of the area in the Santa Lucia Mountains.
The name of the group, Far Out, was a phrase from the old hippy culture meaning good, okay, cool, awesome, and fun. The winemakers described themselves as follows: “We are far out, but not that far away. We were once chefs, photographers, investment bankers, far out hippies, actors, international financiers, studio drummers, wine importers, engineers, developers, and (alas) even an attorney; but we are all winemakers with a mutually shared passion for the wide spectrum of flavors arising from vineyards planted in the gnarly limestone hills west of Paso Robles. Take the far out trail and experience broad diversity and unique wines plump with intense character.” The information below is based on the Far Out Wineries Brochure printed in 2006.
Robert Nadeau and his wife, Patrice, purchased land at 3860 Peachy Canyon Road to plant and dry-farm vineyards of Zinfandel and an acre of Grenache Noir and Petite Sirah at an elevation of nearly 2000 feet. The vineyard is planted “above the morning fog” and received twice as much rainfall as Paso Robles. They renovated a tiny barn to become their well-equipped, micro-winery in which they produced hand-crafted wines in small lots. They described their tasting room as their laboratory and invited guests to enjoy their wines sitting among pyrex beakers and periodic tables. The Nadeau Family Vintners sold their wines directly to the public through the tasting room and to their wine club members, The Critical Masses. The winery closed in 2019 but the vineyards are in production.
Norman Vineyards was founded in 1971 at 7450 Vineyard Drive, the first vineyard to be planted on the road winding between Highway 46 West and Adelaida Road. Mel Casteel, the famous Zinfandel grower, laid out the vineyard among the oak trees. In 1992 Art Norman and his wife Lei, opened their own winery and tasting room, producing 1,000 cases in the first year. Zinfandel-the Monster became a bestseller. By 2006, the Normans were producing 25,000 cases with varietals of Zinfandel, Syrah, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Barbera. The vineyard and winery were sold in 2012 after the death of Art Norman and have new owners and a new name.
Pipestone Vineyards was founded by Jeff Pipes and Florence Wong in 1997 at 2040 Niderer Road to plant vineyards that would be managed organically and sustainably on their farm of 28 acres. Their vineyard was the only one built according to the Chinese principles of feng shui. Florence, a native of Hong Kong and a student of feng shui, worked with her master to design the orientation of the vineyard for positive energy to flow among the vines. This practice (feng shui literally meaning wind and water) reinforced their philosophy of being stewards of the land. Jeff was an environmental engineer before pursuing his winemaking dream. The tasting room was located next to the vineyard and Jeff and Florence, with their daughters Grace and Gwen, encouraged visitors to visit the farm animals and taste their wines. Pipestone Vineyards was sold in 2017 to new owners, Guillaume and Solène Fabre who have renamed their business Clos Solène Winery.
Poalillo Vineyards was one of California’s smallest wineries. It was owned by photographer Charles Poalillo and his wife, Joyce. Charlie started making wines in Southern California in 1969. He purchased his first vineyard in 1973 and released his first vintage in 1991. He often said, “the winery may be small but the wines are big.” The wines were served outside on the redwood deck where visitors were welcome to picnic and enjoy the views of the vineyard located at 1888 Willow Creek Road. The Poalillo Vineyards label is now owned by their daughter Susan and her singer-songwriter husband Dave Garretson at a new location. Charles died on June 11, 2015.
This concludes the story of the Far Out Wineries of Paso Robles, certainly off the beaten path but worth the drive…