If you happened to run into Laird Foshay in town in Paso Robles, you’d quickly figure him for a local cowboy–the requisite boots and hat, perfectly placed (as an exiled Texan, I can speak to the subject of cowboy hats; more finesse is involved than you might imagine).
But you’d be wrong–to an extent. Foshay, whose first career was in tech publishing, is a Nova Scotia native who grew up in Palo Alto. His startup INVESTools was one of the early web-based investment newsletters; he sold that and in 2000 purchased some of the sweetest west side Paso land you’re likely to encounter, Adelaida Springs Ranch, and moved the family to the burgeoning wine region.
Foshay and his wife Lisa now raise cattle and sheep on the ranch (all grass-fed), and have 40 of those 1,500 acres planted to wine grapes. This former Silicon Valley entrepreneur now spends his days as a bona fide rancher, a lot of that on horseback.
Just 12 miles from the ocean and at over 1,700 feet elevation, those 40 acres of grapevines thrive in the rich limestone soil and the cooler coastal air of the Adelaida District sub-AVA. The Foshays initially planted 20 acres of vines in 2002, all to Bordeaux varietals, and have since doubled that and added Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and several Rhone varietals.
Living in such a geologically and agriculturally rich location means that Foshay and winemaker Paul Hinschberger opt to take a mostly non-interventionist approach to their winemaking, preferring to let the wines show the beauty of that terroir to the greatest possible extent–a wise choice, clearly indicated in the quality of the wines.
Rangeland does not have a public tasting room–yet (more on that in a moment)–but is happy to set up a private tasting for you. When you go (and, oh, you should go!), you’ll drive deep into the west Paso hills, through the ranch gate and arrive at their stunning ranch house–where you’ll most likely be greeted by Arrow, the ranch border collie. And a green tennis ball. You know what to do.
Once inside, you’ll enjoy a flight of their wines in a casual setting with breathtaking views to the west. Their wines are a solid lineup, from the rosé (a blend of Zinfandel, Mouverdre, and Cabernet Sauvignon) to a GSM through a couple of red blends, Cabernet, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. The latter two were easy favorites of mine–big, as you might expect for those varietals, but with a surprising amount of restraint. The Petite was especially impressive.
The first time I visited, back in February, they were hosting a vertical tasting of their cabs, capped off with a rustic lunch of a beef pie made from their own grassfed beef. And that’s where you’re going to find yourself faced with a tough decision–the Foshays offer not just a wine club, as you’d expect, but they also offer a beef club and lamb club. Join any of their clubs, and you’ll enjoy an across-the-board 20% discount on wines and meat. I dare you to resist. We’re beef club members, incidentally (yeah, I couldn’t resist that).
Try to make it up for a private tasting and ranch tour–and then look forward to their upcoming expansion. I was delighted when Laird pulled out the map and plans for their future tasting room and winery; while the intimacy of enjoying a tasting in their beautiful home is a special experience, the new facility they have planned will be impressive in its own right–and with those same sweeping views. I’m excited by what they have planned, and look forward to following up as soon as the new tasting room is completed and opened.
Rangeland Wines (on Adelaida Springs Ranch) is located at 10425 Klau Mine Rd. in Paso Robles. Use the contact form on their website to scheduling a tasting, or call 805-674-9232.