High-end wine tasting in rural Paso Robles

June 2, 2021

Dell Franklin

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


Relatives have been visiting me lately and they spend entire days wine tasting out in the Paso Robles hinterlands. My nephew was here for a month and spent a lot of time with his Los Angeles girlfriend—they both live there—and when they weren’t hikin,g they went wine tasting. My sister and brother in-law were up here for a day and a half and spent most of a day wine tasting.

My nephew—who’s zooming his business at a monthly rental—said, “I know right away when I take my first taste whether the wine’s any good or not.”

His cute lady nodded in agreement.

My sister, in-laws, nephews, even friends visiting, always try to drag me along on wine tasting excursions. I always refuse. I went once a long time ago and was inconsolably miserable.

I went out to dinner with my sister, brother in-law, nephew and his girlfriend the other night at a highly reputed gourmet restaurant. I have to admit the wine was smooth and excellent, though I hardly ever drink wine. It’s too sugary and gives me a headache.

Since I realize old retired people with an excess of money have formed sophisticated tastes for wine and research the hundreds of vineyards up here on computers and have become connoisseurs, I stay prepared for them when they arrive at the crumbling abode I live in by keeping a chilled bottle of French imported Rose in my fridge. It cost $5.99. A really good brand of Rose was on sale for $8.99, but I’m not spending that much money on wine when I have friends and relatives who bring over $50 bottles of wine.

My nephew, brother in-law and sister showed up for dinner on my deck after wine tasting. My nephew said, “At the first place, I took one sip of wine and it was terrible.” He made a face indicating repulsion.

My brother in-law said, “But the vineyard was beautiful.”

My sister added her appreciation of the vineyard’s magnificent ambiance.

They were sitting on my deck with our dogs and sipping really good wine they’d recently purchased. The view was splendid at late afternoon.

“They actually wanted one hundred dollars a bottle for that wine and it stunk!” said my nephew.

“I have an excellent bottle of Rose in my fridge,” I said. “I haven’t opened it yet. It’s imported from France. That must mean something.”

They all glanced at each other. My nephew, who is very affluent, a tech-wizard, slick, vegetarian, confident, wears skinny jeans and funny-looking boots, said, with conviction, “The best wine is actually from around here and it’s cheaper than the Napa valley, which is over-run, over-rated, and over-priced.”

My sister and brother in-law nodded as they sipped.

We were ordering Mexican food to go and prepared to eat it on the deck. Since I don’t have any tables, this would pose difficulty with guests balancing take-out plates on laps and knees.

I was sipping straight vodka. My brother in-law was sipping a Cabernet from a bottle with a very exotic name and my sister was sipping Chardonnay from a bottle with a very creative label. They seemed pretty content. The nephew had brought over his own vodka and was sipping it, though my vodka is of a higher quality because I draw the line with vodka, which I guess makes me a poor man’s vodka snob.

My sister and brother in law’s young dumb Golden Retriever mix was chewing up my old Lab’s toys and had already destroyed the wooden doorstop I’ve had for twenty plus years. I don’t normally become attached emotionally to doorstops and this one was rather torn up anyway, but still, it worked, and now this prized doorstop was reduced to splinters.

We sipped and talked. All was pleasant. There is no acrimony in our family. We are all fairly civilized, especially my sister, though she did not fail to notice and comment, that the small pillow I was using for a footrest was spilling out foamy white styro-foam tufts like the tufts from my dog’s torn up toys, which she dutifully retrieved.

A trifle miffed because I had insisted on sitting her on the newest, most comfortable and stable of my collection of deck chairs, I informed her the pillow still had some mileage in it and I’d replace it in due time from the local thrift shop where a good used one wouldn’t cost more than a dollar on half-price day.

Soon my nephew—the most supple of us—went for the chow.

When he returned, I was shocked when he opened up the Rose.

Did I want any? With Mexican food? Of course not. I don’t even drink wine to sleep. I believe in being a prepared host, though, and also have a $5.99 Cab in my cupboard that they don’t know about. It’s been there a few years.

I noticed also that my sister and nephew eschewed wine glasses and instead poured the Rose in short, chilled glasses I reserve for my vodka. Evidently, my Rose did not merit wine glasses and was worthy only of simple, crude, Dollar Store glasses.

So be it. I can take it. I was not pleased, no, but I did dare to ask how they liked the Rose.

“Pretty good,” my nephew said.

“There’s beer in the fridge,” I said. “Mexican beer.”

No comment from anybody. As we ate, I noticed they were barely drinking my Rose. I asked my sister if it was any good.

“It’s pretty good,” she said.

I knew she wouldn’t complain. She is a sensitive person to others and doesn’t carp. I guess the Chard was gone and because she doesn’t drink red she settled for pink, but I’m sure she would have been much more pleased with the $8.99 on sale French imported Rose I refused to buy at Trader Joe’s.

I’m not paying over $5.99 for any wine. I draw the line.

Anyway, since I’d broken down and treated for the chow and also supplied the Rose, I felt pretty good about my hosting performance and sense of generosity, though, being a pauper, I could never afford the kind of meal I’d dined on the night before.

Well, we finished up. Toward the end of the meal my 14-year-old Chocolate Lab Wilbur had had enough and viciously attacked the dummy Golden, who squealed and whined and hid behind my sister, tail between his legs.

It was cold and windy on my deck and although everybody enjoyed the majestic view, they were pretty rundown from wine tasting in the hills of Paso Robles. I noticed neither my sister or nephew had finished their Rose. I was not happy and expect guests to partake thoroughly in my offerings, even if they are inferior to what they’re used to.

I believe in good manners, but I guess they figured I was used to such abuse.

I am.

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George Garrigues

This is really funny. Thanks.


The buzzed driving “safe space” granted in the winery areas is pretty classic to watch driving out to Running Deer or other heavily wino’d regions lol


Well I guess I’m a wine snob. I like my club memberships, the pick up parties, quarterly deliveries of pricey vino. Any weekend I can find a winery with either live music, a food truck or some sort of entertainment. When the pandemic first hit I had to tighten my belt and was buying boxed white wine from Albertsons. Perfectly drinkable, but glad I tossed my last box. Dell, I bet you can tell the difference between rot gut Vodka and top shelf : )

Camus Redux

Did any of that wine have a “flinty” flavor to it? I like a good “flinty” wine now and then – velvety, but flinty.


Dell and the art of relative relationships.


I read an article about some top wine experts. They were served a red wine and asked to describe it. Every one of them used typical red wine adjectives and descriptions etc. It was white wine, dyed red.

It’s all hob snobbery and bs.

kevin rise

A guy down in LA fooled billionaires by mixing wines of moderate price and selling/labeling as vintage etc , was caught, prosecuted, but yet respected by many for exposing BS economics, name sake, and money tossed around willy nilly. Our local vineyards charge top dollar for alot of BS non local products if you ask me.