The name Hearst and Winery are synonymous these days due to the popularity of Hearst Ranch Winery and its products. The most famous Hearst, William Radolph Hearst, was an American media mogul with a penchant for politics and fine wines. W. R. Hearst was an avid collector who kept an impressive collection of European spirits and wines in the Hearst Castle Cellar.
Hearst Ranch Winery was established in 2010. The winery was a brainchild of Steve Hearst, W. R. Hearst’s grandson and Vice President and General Manager of the Hearst Western Properties, and Jim Saunders, owner of The Saunders’ Vineyards. They met when Mr. Saunders went on a tour of the Hearst Ranch. Jim already owned the Saunders’ Vineyards which he and his wife had purchased in 1994. Such was The Saunders’ desire to be involved in the wine business that they immediately began testing the soil for its viability to grow wine grapes.
Mr. Hearst, on the other hand, had the love for wine ingrained in him by witnessing firsthand his grandfather’s passionate wine collecting habit.
The wine made by the Hearst Ranch winery comes from the grapes grown on Saunders’ Vineyard; a sprawling 65-acre vineyard located in Paso Robles, AVA (American Vinicultural Area). The vineyard is characterized by a unique clay, loam composition. It produces 5 varieties of grapes. When the grapes are ready for harvesting, they are handpicked and tested for sugar, acidity and a host of other factors before being sent to the winery. At the winery, the grapes are prepared then crushed before they are sent to the fermentation tanks.
Hearst Ranch Winery conducts an extended fermentation process in stainless steel tanks. It involves cold soaking the grapes for 4 to 5 days to bring out the color and tannins before adding yeast and sufficient oxygen to convert the sugary pulp into alcohol.
After the fermentation process, the wine is stored in oak barrels for 24 months to mature. Then it is packaged and allowed to sit for several months (prevent bottle shock) before being sent to the customers.
The Hearst Castle Winery has two tasting rooms where thousands of visitors flock every year to sample the famous wines they produce. The first and more famous one is located in San Simeon at Sebastian’s Deli which is located off the Coastal Highway 1, just beneath Hearst Castle.
Sebastian’s in San Simeon’s Hours: Open daily: 11am-5pm
The second tasting room is found in Paso Robles at the winery. The two tasting rooms are open to the general public for those who want to learn more about Hearst Castle Winery as well as do a wine tasting of their own.
Paso Robles’ Hours: Open daily: 11am-5pm.
Hearst Castle Winery produces over a dozen wines that include Malbec, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bourdeaux-Style Blend, Cabernet Frac, Tempranillo, Rose, Red Blend, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Red Rhône-Style Blend, White Rhône-Style Blend, Zinfandel, and Dessert.
The winery has received accolades that have given it global recognition and a gilded reputation amongst the elite wine producers. They include the Sakura Japan Gold Medal won by Pergola Petite Sirah (2011), a winning 93 point tally for the Pergola Petite Sirah (2013) courtesy of “Wine Enthusiast”, a 92 point tally for the Zinfandel Carpoforo by “Wine Enthusiast”, among many others.