Established in 1996, Penman Springs Vineyard is 40 acres of beautiful hilltop overlooking the east side of Paso Robles. The property was previously home to two other premium labels, and judging from Penman Springs’ first releases, the tradition of fine wine production is in good hands.
Tom and Sharon Baron planted the first grapevines on the property in 1981, and established Baron Vineyards as part of a joint venture with the Kolb Vineyards across Union Road. A former fireman, Baron continues to produce his “Fire House” Red and White wines, which understandably enjoy a loyal following in fire stations across the country.
In the early 1990s, Gary and Becky Porter joined with Joseph and Shirlene Barton to purchase the vineyard, and renamed it Grey Wolf Cellars and Vineyards. (The Bartons have since moved Grey Wolf Cellars to its current location on Highway 46 West.) Gary decided the future of the property lay in red wine production and decided to graft over the existing Sauvignon Blanc vines to Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. He also created a beautiful one-acre terraced vineyard that has matured to produce rich Merlot fruit.
The property's new life as Penman Springs started in 1996, when Carl and Beth McCasland made farming their future and moved their two high school girls to Paso Robles. For Carl, it was a return to his boyhood dream, albeit via the somewhat circuitous route of San Francisco, Plymouth, Michigan and El Paso, Texas. A serious student and successful businessman, Carl read every available book and article, took every class offered, and began to see a clear vision of the future for Penman Springs Vineyard. He tested soils and leaves, consulted with experts, began to enrich the soils where he determined necessary, developed new wells, refurbished existing trellises, and replanted missing vines.
Carl also looked for ways to expand the vineyards. In addition to expanding upon the existing Merlot vines, he planted a five-acre block of Syrah, and replanted five acres of existing vineyards to Petite Sirah. The McCaslands will realize the first harvest of those varieties in 2000 and 2001, respectively.
After carefully planning the changes in the vineyard, Carl planned the wine making in an equally methodical fashion. He found a small stemmer, crusher and small bladder press, and in the fall of 1998, Carl and Winemaker Larry Roberts began “THE CRUSH” with Penman Springs’ own Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The 1998 vintages currently offered are a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Blanc, and Chardonnay. A dessert Muscat patterned after the great Australian fortified Muscats is scheduled for release in 2001, and future plans include varietal releases of Syrah and Petite Sirah.
The McCaslands invite you to the new tasting room – which opened in time for Wine Festival 2000 — to taste the wines, wander the vineyard, and enroll as a “Pen Pal” wine club member.