The Future of Paso Robles
Winemaker Austin Hope and His Treana Label
The Hope family of Paso Robles launched the Treana label in 1996. More than a decade later, son and winemaker Austin Hope is successfully carrying this esteemed, albeit young, brand into the future of Paso Robles winemaking.
Not long ago, it seemed Paso Robles wines were somewhat monolithic, one-dimensional, and, by and large, overripe. Now, wine collectors and wine lovers are falling all over themselves to acquire wines by Saxum, Falcone Family Vineyards, Linne Calado, Treana, and Villa Creek-all darlings of critics and all making exemplary wines that showcase the diversity of this winegrowing region.
Austin Hope makes only two wines for Treana, and they comprise the entire Treana lineup. The Treana red is a delicious, bold, unctuous cabernet, syrah, and merlot blend. Because of Paso’s diurnal temperature swings, the limestone, clay, and gravelly loam-laden soils, and its topography, it is actually quite capable of producing wines as complex and vivid as those coming from Santa Barbara County and the Napa Valley. The Treana red is particularly good and one of my favorites. Like the Falcone Family Vineyard Cabernet, this wine is elegant, finessed, and offers great mouth feel.
The Treana white wine is a Rh’ne blend that has generated quite a bit of buzz on wine blogs. The marsanne and viognier in this lovely wine are sourced from the Mer Soleil Vineyard of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Monterey is generally quite a bit cooler than Paso, and those cool temperatures flatter this wine with bright fruit flavors and a great, crisp acid strand. Think of kumquats, apricots, and orange blossoms. Though this wine is bone-dry, the fruit that is so apparent on the nose and mouth of this wine lend it a natural sweetness that is never cloying or out of balance.
Much of this is due to Hope’s winemaking style. Because he grew up working the vineyard lands of Paso from a young age-vineyards that were farmed by his father and uncle-he knows vines intimately and knows how to farm mindfully and expertly. He is considered to be uncompromising in his expectations of how a vineyard should be farmed, and his wines prove his diligence pays off consistently.
Still in his twenties, Hope is considered one of the bright, young turks on the winemaking scene but, unlike many of them, he has little time for fancy dinners, the limelight, or the glamorous wine country life. When he is not busy in the vineyards or the wine cellar, he is helping his wife, April, raise their two young daughters. If Hope can continue to balance his time between his family, the vineyard, and the cellar, his enological future could be tremendously promising. Ultimately, it will be someone like Hope-a winemaker who has a long-standing relationship with the landscape of Paso Robles-who will take that area to the next level.
• 2003 Treana Red Wine. This proprietary blend, which is composed of syrah, cabernet, and merlot, offers up lush notes of ripe stone fruit, kir, and old roses. Balanced and nicely textured, the Treana red possesses great mouth feel, with elegant, chalky tannins leading into a long, lingering finish. At $52 a bottle, it is competitively priced, when compared to the cabernet sauvignon-based blends from the Napa Valley, and though it could probably be cellared for another five years from the vintage date, it is very approachable in its youth.
• 2003 Treana White Wine. The Mer Soleil Vineyard, located in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County, is widely esteemed for its white wine varieties. The viognier and marsanne that make up this white Rh’ne-inspired blend hail from this coveted vineyard site, and they reflect a maritime-influenced terroir. There is an underpinning on this wine of minerality and limestone that seduces, while the acidity keeps it crisp and clean. The fruit components lean toward the floral and tropical profile, with white flowers like star jasmine and orange blossoms apparent on the nose. I kept this wine at cellar temp, 55 degrees. If you serve this wine any colder, it will only mask its tropical, elegant delicacy. At $25, it’s a steal.