Doug Ayres brought one of the most beautiful new additions to Paso Robles wine country, Allegretto Vineyard Resort. My wife and I had the privilege of staying there once and enjoying the restaurant, Cello, on numerous occasions. It’s a magnificent destination that includes the above mentioned restaurant, a gorgeous courtyard, art, a front patio to watch the sunsets, a pool with cabanas, and so much more. You really should check it out. Until then, let’s learn more from Doug in the Q&A below.
Matt: What led you to want to grow and produce your own wine?
Doug: I’ve enjoyed wines in my travels around the world, meeting the people and enjoying the food and wine pairings. But it was when I came to Paso Robles that I was hit with the wine bug. It was approximately a dozen years ago while staying at a B&B, surrounded by vineyards and enjoying a glass of wine that it occurred to me what a joyful product wine really is. It’s part nature, part art, part passion all coming together in a glass that unites friends and family.
Matt: Who is your winemaker? And what about their style drew you to them?
Doug: Our winemaker is Alan Kinne. I truly appreciate his talent in crafting expressive wines that are harmonious in their balance while allowing the true fruit characteristics and terroir to shine through.
Matt: Why did you decide to plant the varietals you chose?
Doug: I’ve enjoyed the unique aromas and flavors of these varietals while sampling wines around Europe. The terroir in which I’ve planted these grapes is in harmony with the land.
Matt: Are all your wines made from only estate fruit?
Doug: While the majority of wines are from our estate fruit on the Resort’s property, as well as our ranch in Willow Creek, we do source fruit from select vineyard partners within the region for our Chardonnay and Viognier.
Matt: Do you plan to plant more vines or solicit grapes from other vineyards?
Doug: We do anticipate planting more vines on the estate in the future and the varietals are yet to be determined.
Matt: Are the grapes hand harvested and sorted?
Doug: Yes, they are hand harvested and sorted, and de-stemmed.
Matt: Where is the wine made? Is it your own facility?
Doug: We are currently making our wine at CaliPaso, which is a mile and a half away from the Allegretto, where we have our own barrels and tanks, and customized winemaking processes.
Matt: What is your signature varietal?
Doug: Though we enjoy all of our varietals, I would say that our Cabernet Sauvignon is our shining star.
Matt: What varietals are grown in Willow Creek ranch?
Doug: We have seventeen acres of approximately ten year old Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
Matt: What varietals are grown on the Resort estate?
Doug: We have eight acres on the Resort estate with an interesting field blend of Vermentino, a classic Italian varietal; Viognier, a luscious Rhône varietal which we co-ferment in the winemaking process. We have also planted Tannat, a very rare French varietal to California, and a red Bordeaux selection that includes Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
Matt: Do you use oak barrels for aging?
Doug: We use oak, a combination of new and used French oak barrels for our red wines. Our white wines are stainless steel fermented and finished in seasoned oak barrels.
Matt: Where are you originally from and how did you discover Paso Robles?
Doug: I am a fourth generation Southern Californian, my great-grandfather moved here in the early 1900’s. As a child, my family vacationed on the Central Coast, but it wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I traveled to Paso Robles and felt an immediate connection to the land, the people, and the natural elements…the earth was calling me.
Matt: What is it about Paso that made you want to plant vines here?
The wine country landscape reminded me of some amazing regions I’ve traveled to in Europe. I enjoy the fact that it is an uncrowded landscape, its proximity to the ocean and the beauty that surrounds us with the rolling hills and vines. I also appreciated the farm to table mentality of the food culture in the region. It brings together life’s greatest pleasures: wonderful food, great wine, friends and family around the table.
Matt: There are many aspects of the Resort (architecture, landscape, art, restaurant, wine). Which are you most passionate about?
Doug: It’s the union of all these elements to create a symphony wherein each element of the property resonates with the guest.
Matt: Is wine a passion for you?
Doug: It is a passion that is continually evolving. I get excited about the bounty we are given with ideal soil and fruit on the vine nurtured from above that becomes a product that so enjoyable to consume and share with family and friends. This natural process never ceases to astonish me.
Matt: What is your vision for the Allegretto wine?
Doug: To shepherd the grapes and steward the land to create the highest quality wine possible. For me, making wine is an artistic process and I’m honored to be given a wonderful palate of elements to create art in a bottle.
Matt: Is your family involved in the wine business?
Doug: No, at this time it’s my passion and endeavor alone.
Matt: What are your favorite aspects of Paso Robles?
Doug: I really appreciate the welcoming and genuinely friendly people of the region. I also never tire of looking at the countryside, which reminds me of some of my favorite places around the world. I feel privileged to call this region my home.