From Bordeaux to Paso Robles in Pursuit of a dream


It may strike people as odd that someone who studied in Bordeaux, produced wine for his family’s estate there, and consulted for several other Bordelaise properties, would settle on California’s Paso Robles as the perfect spot to establish his own winery. In fact it may even strike some as crazy. If you ask Stephan Asseo I think he might just tell you it’s adventurous!

Stephan’s L’Aventure Estate is the result of an adventuresome spirit stifled by strict, and arcane, wine making regulations. While this may make you think that Stephan is a modernist winemaker intent on breaking all the rules, the truth is that he searched around the world to find the ideal combination of sun and soil, and in particular, limestone, before settling on these 127 acres in Paso Robles.

What to expect: Paso Robles

Paso Robles is the great wine secret of California’s central coast. Home to some of the state’s most intrepid winemakers, this is a land that excels at producing gutsy, robust reds and rich whites. The climate of Paso, warm days coupled with cool night, and its’ unusually long growing season, give winemakers incredible raw materials to work with, but the holy grail of Paso’s vineyard is the limestone. Almost unique in California, Paso’s limestone rich soils place it squarely in a privileged family. Almost all the great winemaking regions of the world share one thing, limestone rich soils.

Related video
Interview with Stephan Asseo
I recently caught up with Stephan at the recent Montreal Passion Vin and discussed not only his move to Paso Robles, but also the terroir at the L’Aventure estate and the effects of the climate on the various grape varieties used in his wines.
It’s that limestone that unites the majority of the greatest wine regions of the world and Stephan was not about to give up on the notion of terroir. On the contrary, his mission was to develop blends that would highlight the terroir of his lands. The strict regulations governing the use of specific grape varieties in France was too restraining for Stephan, who freely blends the grapes associated with Bordeaux and the Rhone valley.

The vineyards of L’Aventure are located on the Westside of Paso Robles and are include plantings of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and small lots of Grenache, Chardonnay, Mourvedre, Roussane and Viognier. The vines are carefully selected to fit each contour of the vineyard and take full advantage of the various expositions and elevations that the estate’s rolling hills offer.

Stephan used a system of vertical trellising to take full advantage of Paso Robles sun while allowing for excellent flow of air through the vines. This orientation has produced grapes that are rich and full of Californian fruit yet at the same time retains remarkably refreshing acidity that gives the wines of L’Aventure a distinct freshness that is frequently lacking in warm climate wines.

The yields at L’Aventure also play a role in this fine balancing act. Coming in at just 2 tons per acre, these low yields allow the vines, 2500 per acre, to focus all their efforts into producing and ripening only the finest fruit.  The cool nights of fall afford the fruit exceptionally long hang time, allowing for the development of intense aromatics and flavors in the finished wines.

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  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,999

    Thanks, again, for an enlightening interview that communicates Stephan Asseo's passion and sense of adventure to us so well...

    Jan 12, 2010 at 4:43 PM

  • Fantastic post here. Adventure is what it is all about.

    Jan 12, 2010 at 6:12 PM

  • Snooth User: THEDOGE
    308614 20

    Welcome,to America Stephen Asseo,and to California in particular.I am sorry you had to leave your home but may France's loss be Paso Roble's gain!Looking forward to tasting the fruits of your creative labors very,very soon. Adieu,mon ami.

    Jan 12, 2010 at 6:59 PM

  • Snooth User: pcommon
    327897 4

    Tried the Optimus and absolutely adored it...along with my guests. Getting to know the story behind the wine as it is told here only enhances my appreciation of this great producer. Thanks again Snooth for a great website.

    Jan 12, 2010 at 7:48 PM

  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,575

    pcommon - thanks for the nice feedback, with website comments it can so easily go either way. Its nice to get positive feedback as well as the (constructive) criticism.

    Jan 12, 2010 at 8:22 PM

  • Snooth User: NETZER
    339339 0

    I thought fruit was singular. I must be wrong...!

    Jan 12, 2010 at 10:25 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    You are right Netzer, an editing error caused by the removal of the words red and black to adjust for sizing. Thanks for pointing it out, it has been fixed.

    Jan 13, 2010 at 7:22 PM

  • Snooth User: phen
    293083 1

    really? you are worried about spelling etc? this is an information sight...just get the point accross who cares about spelling grammer ...as if knowing so much about wine isn't already looked down upon...do you really need to get that pretentious? wine is fun and should be accessible to all...not some high-brow crap. lighten up...have a glass of wine who cares if you can spell? can you/do you read?

    by the by thank you so much for such a wonderful resource...it has turned the wine list at my restaurant into a much more funner thing...my guest certainly appreciate it.


    Jan 16, 2010 at 10:12 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Hi Phen,

    Thanks for the kind words!

    Wine should be almost all about fun. I love wine, drinking it, talking about, learning about it. I might devote too much time to it, and not enough time to editing!

    Where is your restaurant?

    Jan 21, 2010 at 4:56 PM

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