We recently found ourselves out in the boondocks of Paso Robles wine country at a very unique spot called Starr Ranch. This is the home of both Starr Ranch and Crooked Road wines, made by the superb duo, Judy Starr and Ryan Ralston. Now, what makes this operation unique is that the ranch was started as a source for grapes, farming their vineyards fruit to other labels; the fruit was so good that they wanted to make their own wines to showcase what their vineyards were capable of doing in the bottle. Crooked Road was the first label, called that to reflect both the actual road that leads out to the property (yes, it’s crooked and beautiful) as well as a metaphor for the paths we all take in life.
The Starr Ranch label developed as an effort to get the vineyard name on the bottles! So, Judy does a lot out in the vineyard, while Ryan does a lot of the winemaking…but they both work together to get a great product into the bottle and out to the wine drinkers that appreciate handcrafted, approachable, and reasonably priced wines.
One of the very interesting things about this place is how there’s a personalized approach to both the winemaking and the wine pouring; the tasting room is literally the barrel room, the winemaking facility, and the home of several of those involved with the production. Starr Ranch is 300 acres, and happens to also have over 350 fruit trees! Ryan uses the apples and pears to make cider, as well as for making sure everybody around gets their recommended allocation of the fruit group every day.
Hey, what about the wines, you say? Yeah, good stuff! We tasted a great Rhone white blend, a creamy, rich Chardonnay, some incredible red blends, a kick-ass Grenache, and others…each unique and tasty in their own right.
Check out our chat with Ryan, a really cool dude to hang out and sip wine with…
And don’t miss this bonus footage of Ryan showing Hoot how he makes pear cider from the estate fruit…