The Farm Winery is one of a growing number of new boutique wineries in the Paso Robles AVA that are producing limited quantities of outstanding hand-crafted wines. The winery is owned and operated by old friends and Stanford Business School alumni Jim Madsen and renowned Argentine winemaker Santiago Achaval. We visited Jim in Paso Robles while preparing our latest report on that region, and we visited Santiago on our last trip to Mendoza, Argentina. Unfortunately, we’ve never had the opportunity to visit them together.
The Farm Winery launched operations in 2009. After a long search, Jim and Santiago ended up negotiating long term-leases of several vineyards located in the westside hills of Paso Robles. These vineyards have mainly calcareous soils at an average altitude of between 1700 and 1900 feet and are exposed to cool ocean winds, resulting in wide diurnal temperature variations that contribute to high quality fruit. The vines are severely thinned and the use of green harvesting has kept yields very low, at around 1.5-2.0 tons per acre. These yields are among the lowest in Paso Robles and are reflected in the wines’ concentration of flavors. The winery crafts wines from Rhone and Bordeaux varieties. Santiago has managed to give all these wines a silky, sensuous mouthfeel and concentrated, fruit-driven flavors.
The Farm Winery’s Bordeaux lineup is predominantly made of Cabernet Sauvignon, including the Cardinal sourced from the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Paso Robles, planted in 1964. In addition, there’s a Malbec and a Petit Verdot blend.
The Farm Winery 2018 Cardinal Paso Robles Adelaida District 94 Sourced from Paso Robles’ oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard (Old Bailey, planted in 1964) with excruciatingly tiny yields (0.5 ton/acre), this is The Farm’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon and has been consistently impressive in our tastings over time. The nose and palate offers dark red berries, cassis, and exotic cooking spice. This is a refined, finely textured wine of excellent purity, extract and freshness. It’s a superbly balanced, fruit driven wine that finishes long and fine. 13.3% alc.
The Farm Winery 2018 LPF Paso Robles Adelaida District 93 This wine, LPF, is named after Keynes’ Liquidity Preference Theory, revealing the business school training of Jim and Santiago. Somewhat reticent on the nose but offering pure scents of black currant and dark red berries. Densely flavored but tight and firmly structured on the palate. Still, there’s incredible fruit purity and a long, extracted finish with pliable tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon 99%, Petit Verdot 1%; 14.8% alc.
The Farm Winery 2018 Old Union Paso Robles Willow Creek District 94 The only Farm Winery Cabernet sourced outside the Adelaida district, Old Union is sourced from the Willow District just to the south with a strong marine influence from the Templeton Gap. Old Union shows high toned dark fruit with an herbal, spicy edge. The cooler terroir is revealed on the palate with red fruit, firm acidity and a leaner, refined character. This is still a youthful wine that ideally should be aged a few years or, at least, decanted prior to serving. All Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.3% alc.
The Farm Winery 2018 The Big Game Paso Robles Adelaida District 93 The Big Game, also sourced from the limestone soils of the Adelaida District, is pure and vibrant. It reveals exceptional purity in the bouquet, the palate, and the finish. The Big Game is also complex with dark red fruit accented by herbal and briar like notes. Firmly structured but with round tannins that make this wine approachable early on. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 66%, Syrah 27%, Malbec 5%, and Petit Verdot 2%; 14.1% alc.
The Farm Winery 2018 Pura Vida Paso Robles Adelaida District 92 Showing a spicy, aromatic dark red fruited nose of huckleberry, blackberry and black plum along with a hint of herbs, Pura Vida is big and soft on entry. It offers very good depth with notes of blue fruit along with a firm structure and a persistent finish. Petit Verdot 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%; 13.8% alc.
The Farm’s Rhone lineup begins with a 100% Grenache called The Dish. Jim and Santiago then begin adding varying amounts of Syrah to other blends, finishing with a 100% Syrah, The Red Zone.
The Farm Winery 2018 The Dish Paso Robles Adelaida District 93 The Dish is pure Grenache grown in some of Paso Robles’ highest altitude vineyards. Light red in color, it shows strawberry and darker berries on the nose. The fruit driven palate reveals perfumed, bright red fruit with hints of spice. Better balanced and more nuanced than what we’ve found in past tastings. Delicious, although we would prefer the addition of just a touch of Syrah; 14.2% alc.
The Farm Winery 2018 Touchy-Feely Paso Robles Adelaida District ($65) 94 Adding a bit of Syrah to Grenache results in a wine with darker fruit, a bit more depth, firm acidity, and better balance, in our opinion. The aromas and flavors evoke dark red berries; delicious on the palate with good grip and very good length. A blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah sourced from the 1800′ high Terra Bella Vineyard in the Adelaida District; 14.5% alc.
The Farm Winery 2018 Primal Scream Paso Robles Adelaida District ($65) 93 Sourced from the 1800′ high Terra Bella Vineyard in the Adelaida District, Primal Scream is a Rhone blend of Syrah and Grenache. It offers brambly red fruit on the nose and excellent fruit intensity complemented by spice and underbrush notes on the palate. Prima Scream shows beautiful purity of flavor and good grip with light toffee-oak influences. Finishes medium long and dry. A blend of Syrah 62% and Grenache 38%; 14.6% alc.
The Farm Winery 2018 The Red Zone Paso Robles Adelaida District ($65) 93 Dark red. Showing somewhat darker red fruit than Primal Scream, this 100% Syrah evokes raspberries and darker berries along with hints of underbrush and toasted vanilla oak. Superbly integrated and concentrated with lingering sweet fruit notes on the finish. Only two barrels made. 14.6% alc.