Mar 21, 2008


I have to admit...I'm not the most thorough when it comes to preparation for my tasting room visits. I like to think of it as playing it like I see it--not forcing other peoples' opinions on myself before I experience something for myself. Of course all that is secret code for "I'm lazy" but in the case of L'Aventure the press on this place is hard to avoid. Stephan, the very French winemaker, is the media darling of the Paso Robles wine industry so I was very interested to see the place for myself and I have to say it was an interesting experience.

The religion at L’Aventure is undoubtedly “Stephan”…the religion of “Stephan” reigns supreme throughout all who work at this winery (which to the casual observer seems slightly creepy until you taste the wines!). The wines coming out of Stephan Asseo's facility are like ambrosia to both employees and patrons! And that level of dedication seems necessary when it comes to wines that are priced so high…Many of Stephan Asseo’s estate blends are priced over $65. To many related to the winery, “Stephan” has somehow (to those that are either local or part of his totally booked wine club) entered that world of those who can get away with only one name. Politicians like Fidel or Mao; the infamous like O.J. or Kobe, or the self-proclaimed single-named famed of the world such as Bono or Prince. Even within Paso Robles as a whole most of those related to the wine industry know “Stephan” as either an idea or a man.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Imagine visiting Paso for a casual weekend of wine tasting. You probably won’t stumble across L’Aventure because it’s at the end of a non-descript dirt road. The building is situated in a lull in the vines and only a very small portion of the building is designated to the tasting room. Now I have to admit, I’ve been twice and I’ve had two very different experiences. According to the L’Aventure website ( the tasting room is void of “gimmicks” and exists as an educational tool for those that would like to learn more about the wines of Paso. In theory that’s great, but the first time I went I arrived with my companion just behind a bus, which made my personal wine education take a distant second to the selling of wine to those involved in the area tour. However, the second time I went it was a very intimate, personal situation. So it seems this tasting room really depends on when you're there. I mean, let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with delicious wines, so you will have a worthwhile visit to L’Aventure…but occasionally you can hit this tasting room at a bad time and it could feel less worth your while.

The L'Aventure tasting room is surprisingly small, which adds to the problem of it being over-crowded at times. The bar surfaces where the wine is poured are pretty aesthetically neutral but the decor on the walls looks generally unorganized. There are framed articles covering much of the wall space and then some good visual data about the vineyard but all this appears to placed totally randomly throughout the small space. The pourers were quite knowledgeable and they had some excellent recommendations of other wineries worth stopping by. My general impression of the tasting room is that they can get away with it being totally plain because the wines are excellent and people will make the trip anyway.

**Each of these deliciously staged photos is available on the L'Aventure website ( under the "Press" section. I had to restrain myself from including more...


Anonymous said...

This is a good posting with lots of info. But, there are several typos that need fixing.

Bobby Wino said...

Thanks anonymous...I'm on it