The Farm Winery: Achaval Ferrer's New Venture in Paso Robles

The Farm WineryThe Farm Winery is one of a growing number of new boutique wineries in the Paso Robles AVA that are producing small quantities of outstanding hand-crafted wines. Located in the Westside hills of Paso Robles, The Farm Winery is owned and operated by old friends and Stanford Business School alumni Jim Madsen, originally from San Diego and renowned Argentine winemaker Santiago Achaval.

Santiago Achaval is known through out the world for crafting some of the very finest Malbecs in Argentina today. His eponymous winery, Achaval Ferrer, is located in Lujan de Cuyo (Mendoza), where Santiago produces old vines and single vineyard Malbecs from meticulously managed low-yielding vineyards. His wines exhibit ripe and complex flavors that are in great demand and gaining cult status among knowledgeable consumers. Knowing Santiago from our work in Argentina over the years, we are delighted that his winemaking knowledge and experience are now being used in Paso Robles.

Jim and Azmina Madsen and Santiago and Mercedes Achaval launched operations of The Farm Winery in 2009. After a long search, they ended up negotiating long term-leases of several vineyards situated in the westside hills of Paso Robles Adelaida Spring Ranch and Old Bailey Vineyard for Cabernet Sauvignon, Terra Bella Vineyard on Adelaida Road for Syrah, and La Aventure Vineyard for a 1/2 acre of Petite Sirah. These vineyards are mainly situated on calcerous soils at an average altitude of between 1700 and 1900 feet. and are exposed to cool ocean winds and diurnal climate variation ideally suited for grape growing. The vines are severely thinned and the employment of green harvesting has kept yields very low, at around 1.5 tons per acre. These yields are among the lowest in Paso and are reflected in the wines.

The Farm Winery recently released its first trilogy of wines: Cardinal, a single vineyard hillside Cabernet Sauvignon from old vines, The Big Game, a Bordeaux/Rhone blend, and Touchy-Feely, a Grenache-Syrah-based blend.

Stylistically these are big flavored, and refined wines, ripe and mouth filling. They reveal purity of fruit, excellent acidity and balance, and firm tannins. The Grenache Syrah blend is clearly more feminine than the other wines and is equal to some of the Grenache-based blends we have tasted from Paso. In fact all the wines in the trio are drinkable now but will be even better after an additional year in the cellar. If you drink them now, be sure to decant them or give them plenty of aeration before serving.

Partners Madsen and FerrerSantiago Achaval and Jim Madsen

Combining rigorous vineyard management and low yields (mainly the work of Jim Madsen) with world class winemaking by Achaval Ferrer (the wines are currently made at Thacher Winery) The Farm Winery is already off to an excellent start and has a bright future. As we noted in our recently released Report 33: The Wines of Paso Robles, "Paso Robles is on the cusp of the national and world recognition that will solidify its status among the premier wine growing regions of the country." Indeed, all the elements appear to be in place at The Farm Winery for great success in the near future.


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