Mar 24, 2008

Tobin James

When I think of wine tasting I think of rolling hills and vines and beautiful sunny people and dogs and bottles of wine. I do not think of a saloon. Or pizza. Or a raucous crowd. This said, I was a little surprised by the decor of the Tobin James tasting room. I was also surprised by the size of the space. And I was especially surprised by the dozens of loud people having a raging good time.

Tobin James is actually one of the older wine establishments in Paso. Toby knew Gary Eberle before Eberle wines existed and he's been a staple in the wine community ever since.

When you walk in to Tobin James you'll see the antique bar top straight ahead (apparently brought in from Missouri). Upon entering, on one side you'll be flanked by an island surrounded by tasters and on the other side you'll pass multiple racks of Tommy Bahamas short-sleeved button-up shirts. It's quite a scene!

After fighting my way through the crowd, I sidled up to the bar and was promptly greeted by a very friendly man behind the bar. The pouring service was efficient but not rushed and the everyone stationed around the island was having a grand ol' time. At one point I was offered a fresh piece of pizza--I have no idea where it came from or who gave it to me but it was delicious.

I've always heard legend of the Tobin James tasting room and the winery's rabid 17,000 person wine club, the "James Gang". Before going myself I didn't think it sounded relaxing or enjoyable at all. And it's not relaxing! But it's actually completely enjoyable. It's a place where they're doing their own thing their own way: Tobin James wines are much more affordable than many other options in Paso and they're not bad. And Tobin James is catering to a different crowd...bus loads of people come in and are not only welcomed, but the tasting room is actually set up to accommodate larger groups effectively. I feel like this is a place that's hooking new wine drinkers and making it a fun experience rather than a pretentious experience. This tasting room won't be the place to bring a wine collector but for any regular wine-drinking person this is a fun stop that offers a different kind of wine experience.

*Photos from Tobin James website:*

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