Fruits of Labor

Peachy Canyon Winery
Paso Robles, California

It is only fitting that the Peachy Canyon Winery tasting room is housed in an historic nineteenth-century schoolhouse along Highway 46 West in Paso Robles. Its founding vintners, Nancy and Doug Beckett, both spent many years as teachers. But for the past 20 plus years, their focus has been on making exquisite handcrafted wines.

At the start, the Becketts made their wines in a small winery adjacent to their home. But as demand grew, so did their need for space. So in 1999, they purchased a 20-year-old winery on Nacimiento Lake Drive and moved their tasting room to the quaint schoolhouse location. Today, the business continues to grow-with production of more than 80,000 cases annually distributed to 49 states, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. This success is thanks in large part to sons Josh and Jake, who work as head winemaker and general sales manager, respectively.

Peachy Canyon fervently subscribes to the philosophy that great wine begins in the vineyards. The estate grapes grow in more than one hundred acres in four separate and diverse vineyard locations: Snow Vineyard in warm West Paso, Old School House Vineyard in the coolest region of Templeton Gap, Mustang Springs Ranch with 55-year-old Zinfandel vines, and Mustard Creek Vineyard, which wraps around the winery. The vineyards are farmed using sustainable practices including the use of the winery's by-products as compost material, the planting of barley as a cover crop, hand- and spot-spraying for weed control, strategic watering practices, and judicious insect control.

These painstaking practices pay off in the cellar, where Josh focuses on bringing out the grapes' maximum flavor. The fruit is evident in each vintage, and by releasing the wines at the peak of their youth, he feels he gives the consumer the option of enjoying a young wine at its most vibrant state, or setting it back for several years until it has mellowed. His theory is appreciated by wine lovers of all levels. Most recent accolades include a Gold for Peachy Canyon's 2006 Incredible Red Zinfandel, and a Best in Class for the 2006 Ms. Behave Malbec in the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Known primarily for its world famous Zinfandels, the Peachy Canyon portfolio includes a surprisingly diverse variety of handcrafted wines produced in small batches. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Viognier, and Sangiovese are just a few of the offerings. Wine tourers delight in visiting the historic Old Bethel School House. The brightly lit interior features a long tasting bar with friendly folks behind it, an intriguing selection of gifts, and a refrigerator with various snacks that can be enjoyed at a picnic table outside, overlooking the rolling vineyards. There's even an old-fashioned gazebo on the grounds, reminding guests of a simpler time. Those who wish they could linger longer can inquire about Peachy Canyon's guest cottage, nestled among ten acres of vineyard. It boasts a full kitchen and room to comfortably sleep six guests.

For the Beckett family, winemaking is a labor of love. Wine enthusiasts who have the chance to visit and those who join The Old School House Wine Club will enjoy the fruits of the labor that goes into making Peachy Canyon wines.

What to Buy:
'06 Cirque du Vin Black currants, sage, leather, cherries, lightly toasted oak $17
'06 Especial Zinfandel Mild sweet vanilla, light spices, blackberry $40
'06 Snow Zinfandel Jammy, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries $36
'06 Westside Zinfandel Minty cloves, minerality, spice, hint of sweet chocolate $19

Contact:
866.335.1918; Fax: 805.237.2248
www.peachycanyon.com
1480 N. Bethel Rd.
Templeton, CA 93465
Tasting Room Open Daily 11-5

Getting There:
From Hwy 101, take Hwy 46W toward Cambria (one and one-half miles) to Bethel Rd. Winery is on the left.

This story originally appeared on Touring and Tasting