With a name like Castoro, you’d think this Paso Robles, California winery would have deep roots in Italian soil. After all, many Italians settled in the region, planting home vineyards so they could make the family wine. But not so with Castoro. While the winery offers numerous unusual grapes including Italian varietals like Falanghina and Primitivo, and the name Castoro is indeed Italianmeaning Beaver, it references the nickname of the owner Niels Udsen– not an Italian family name!
Niels aka Beaver grew up in Ventura CA and visited his father’s home country of Denmark where he met his future wife Bimmer when they were children. After Niels studied agriculture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo , Niels and Bimmer began Castoro in 1983, where they’ve been at the forefront of sustainability for 30 years. Over 1,400 acres of estate vineyards are certified organic by CCOF and all vineyards are SIP Certified. Vineyards benefit from the cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean seeping through the Templeton Gap. The Whale Rock Vineyard, with its mix of rare limestone, plus clay, and river rock, is well-known, and lends its name to their annual music festival.
Beaver and Bimmer and big music loveers and supporters; in addiotn to the Whale Rock Festival, they support Live Oak Music Festival and music education in their community. Weekends feature music on a small stage above the vineyards, where people picnic on the grass, bringing their own chairs and blankets to sit on, cooling off under the misters, and taking in the grand view of the vineyards.
Castoro produces 30-40k cases a year of organic wine in bottles and cans. Winemaker Tom Myers guides Castoro toward their accessible, affordable, playful style designed to go with daily dining and to be “Dam Fine Wine” that’s also organic with limited sulfites. He became head winemaker in 1990, and Jamie Malesza came on as Assistant Winemaker in 2012.
- 2019 Castoro Cellars Falanghina
- 2019 Castoro Cellars Primitivo
Italian Inspired Menu
- Jeremy Parzen’s Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmesan)
- Green Salad
- Bolognese with fresh pasta
2019 Castoro Cellars Falanghina
purchased with an industry discount
Castoro made only 425 cases of this 78% Falanghina 22% Albariño blend. There’s not a lot of Falaghina in the world– so amazing to have some growing in Paso Robles.
Color: Daffodil, golden yellow, chamomile.
Aroma: Fennel, fennel pollen, daisy, chamomile, apricot, cardamon.
Palate: Glycerol, nice mouth feel, fresh and refreshing, lemon, minerals, saline, eureka lemon, smooth yet tart at the same time.
Pairing: Following Jeremy’s suggestion, we found he was so right! Even though the wine is falanghina form the central coast, it’s a really great pairing with eggplant Parmesan. The falanghina brightens up, cuts through, and cleanses your palate when paired with this rich dish.
2019 Castoro Cellars Primitivo
purchased with an industry discount
A blend of 80% Primitivo, 15% Petite Sirah, 5% Zinfandel,
Color: Super dense and dark, you cannot see through to the bottom of the glass, plum with a fuschia rim.
Aroma: Lots of fruit, plum, bramble berry, blueberry, baking spice, violets, fresh roses and dried roses, potpourri, lavender.
Palate: Big and bold, lots of fruit, a bit of stemminess, cherry pipe tobacco, tannins, but not overly tannic, very nice tannins not overwhelming like a primitivo can be.
Pairing: While the Falanghina was a perfect mate for the eggplant Parmesan, in comparison it is not the perfect pairing for this Primitivo. The dish made the wine too sweet and flabby, and the meal too sweet and gummy. Fortunately, we also had a bolognese sauce over pasta this evening that went so much better with this wine. it needed the rich meaty red sauce to make it shine. The fatty richness of the pancetta with the sautéed meat over the pasta is superb with this wine.
Pair this wine with pizza, bolognese, burgers, and you’ll be very happy!
Also worth checking out:
- 2018 Charbono 2018 (SRP $30). Only 76 acres exist in California from this almost extinct grape with 6 at Castoro offering flavors of smokey grape with a black pepper finish that reveals more complexity as it opens.
Look for my reviews in the 2022 Slow Wine Guide for these Paso Robles Wineries:
- AmByth (read about my visit here)
- Castoro (read about Castoro and other Paso Robles white wines here and their zinfandel here)
- MAHA (read about my visit here)
If you’re curious about other Italian grapes grown in Paso Robles: Sangiovese from Paso Robles? Certo! A Ranchita Canyon Vineyard Vertical Paired with Spiced Lamb Stew.
And for more unusual Italian grapes grown biodynamically, here’s Italian grapes from biodynamic Montinore where they are growing Teroldego and Lagrein which we paired with an instant pot stew..
You’re invited to join the Wine Pairing Weekend writers this month to discover more possibilities with Paso Robles wines by checking out our 8am Pacific Saturday Nov. 13 2021 #WinePW twitter chat and by clicking on the links below:
- 2013 Lone Madrone Nebbiolo + Heirloom Bean Gratin with Tomatoes and Sausage by Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- Hatch Chili with Turkey and Paso Wine by David at Cooking Chat
- Exploring the Pasobilities that Paso Robles Has to Offer by Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass
- Italian Varieties in Paso Robles by Susannah at Avvinare
- Justification for Short Ribs with a Chili Wine Glaze by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Organic Castoro Cellars: Italian Roots in Paso Robles? and Working with the Earth at Biodynamic MAHA here on Wine Predator
- Paso Robles – The Variety Will Astound You! by Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Roasted Vegetables Shine with Single Varietals from Paso Robles by Cam at Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Tomato Cauliflower Soup with Dirt Diva Red Blend from Paso Robles by Terri at A Good Life
- What’s So Special About Paso Robles? by Cindy at Grape Experiences
Chat discussion questions:
- 8:00Welcome everyone to the #PasoWine #WinePW chat. Thank you to @teuwencomm for supplying samples as we discuss @PasoRoblesWine. Introduce yourself! Where are you tweeting from?
- 8:05 What @PasoRoblesWine did you choose for today’s pairing? Tell us about the winery. #WinePW
- 8:10 Is this the first @PasoRoblesWine you have had? What are your thoughts on it? #WinePW
- 8:15 One of many things that makes @PasoRoblesWine so wonderful is its location. 3 hours north of LA & 3 hours south of SF. What is your favorite thing about Paso? #winePW
- 8:20 What meal did you choose to pair with your @PasoRoblesWine? Share a pic of your meal! #WinePW
- 8:30 Give us a link to your #winePW post. Let’s see those amazing @PasoRoblesWine food pairing suggestions.
- 8:35 Have you visited @PasoRoblesWine? Paso has 11 nestled AVAs. Do you have a favorite? Tell us why? #WinePW
- 8:40 Why did you choose your pairing for your @PasoRoblesWine? Reasons? How was the wine and food pairing? #WinePW
- 8:45 Let’s dive into the @PasoRoblesWine itself. Share your tasting notes. Did you love the wine? Why/why not? #winePW
- 8:50 While in @PasoRoblesWine you see a lot of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Zin, Syrah, & Chardonnay. But did you know they offer so much more? Have you had other varieties from Paso? #WinePW
- 8:55 Does anyone have any other comments about their @PasoRoblesWine, food or pairing? #winePW
- 9:00 That’s a wrap! Thank you to @PasoRoblesWine and @teuwencomm. Join us next month as the #WinePW crew Greek Island Hopping hosted by @asiantestkitchn
And if you read this in time and you can get to Paso Robles, check out the Garagiste Festival, which launched in November 2011, and returns to its birthplace of Paso Robles to celebrate its 10th anniversary with three days of events, including the tasting of wines from over 50 small production wineries from California; an exclusive seminar with Tablas Creek Vineyard’s Jason Haas on the past and future of Paso Robles wines, the popular Keep It Rockin’ After Party, and a special event at Atascadero’s Pavilion on the Lake that recognizes 10 of the Paso OGs (Original Garagistes), along with ‘Rare and Reserve’ pourings from 2021 festival winemakers.
Most other wine events focus on a single region or certain varietal (Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Rhones, etc.), but not The Garagiste Festival which features wines from all over California: Paso Robles, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Sierra Foothills, and more. Our case limit is around 1500 per vintage so this is hands-on, high-quality winemaking. This year’s event features these wines and wineries:.
The Garagiste Festival is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization dedicated to the education and support of future professionals in the wine industry through The Garagiste Festival Scholarships at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo. Tickets are on sale now at https://www.my805tix.com/e/10th-annual-paso-garagiste-wine-festival.
Of course Castoro is much too large these days to pour at this event, but this is a great chance to get in on the ground floor of the next amazing winery!
So cool that Castoro features Italian varieties! Would love to try that Falanghina. I’ve always wanted to go to the Gargiste Festival. Maybe next year!
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Well, next year you should go the Garagiste– I’ve been a few times and LOVE it!! Love meeting the smaller producers and tasting their wines. And next time you’re in Paso, definitely check out Castoro’s Falaghina.
I was just drinking Giornata and thinking how I need to check out more Italian varieties from California. Thanks for the link back and so glad you’re enjoying the recipe! Hope we get to taste together some day. Un abbraccio
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Love Castoro Cellars, a DAM fine wine. It was the first winery I ever visited in Paso many many moons ago.
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Really solid wines, people place! I love that they are so affordable and accessible. And certified organic!!