Cocktail Corner: Burbank Ranch … in Paso Robles!

Courtesy Burbank Ranch

Courtesy Burbank Ranch

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Yes, you read that headline correctly, and no, my GPS has not gone crazy. The new Burbank Ranch Winery & Bistro is actually north of Santa Barbara in downtown Paso Robles.

The new restaurant is a dream come true for proprietors Fred and Melody Burbank, whose lifelong passion for balanced wines matched with top notch cuisine led them to create the venue, which opened this spring. Their Burbank Ranch Vineyard, located in the Paso Robles AVA, is home to dozens of grape varietals, each chosen to complement the distinctive growing conditions. The Burbanks established the 45-acre Burbank Ranch vineyard in 2008. The vineyard is SIP-certified and planted with 16 varieties, including many of those that the Burbanks have tasted and enjoyed throughout extensive travels in Italy, France, Spain and beyond. Both WSET-certified sommeliers, Fred and Melody chose the El Pomar District for its terroir, which is ideally suited to producing the balanced, food-friendly wines about which they are so passionate. Ranch manager, Ruben Nodal, meticulously guides the vines’ expression of terroir through to the cellar, where respected winemaker, Steve Anglim, captures that expression in balanced, food-friendly wines.

Courtesy Burbank Ranch

Courtesy Burbank Ranch

After years of traveling the world’s most illustrious winegrowing regions, the Burbanks delight making wines to complement food, and the Burbank Ranch Bistro is an extension of that philosophy. Chef Nicholas Nolan—whose background includes stints at Paso Robles’ Artisan Restaurant and Craft in Los Angeles—has worked in kitchens across the world. Chef Nolan brings his passion for local flavors and the finest ingredients to Burbank Ranch’s French bistro cuisine with a California locavore twist.

At Burbank Ranch Bistro, these wines are available in flights or by the glass, and are complemented by Chef Nolan’s cuisine.

In addition the new restaurant, Burbank Ranch Winery also has seven new releases for spring and summer. Here are their tasting notes on each:

2013 “Little Rascal” Arneis (163 cases produced, 13.4% abv) Translated from the PIemontese dialect as “rascal” for its reputation as a tough variety to grow, Arneis grows beautifully in the Paso Robles AVA. The 2013 Burbank Ranch Arneis was harvested early and fermented in stainless steel, producing a dry, full-bodied white wine redolent with bright pear, apple, honeysuckle, mineral and white peach flavors, followed by a structured finish. Pair with hard cheeses like Grana Padano or simple pasta tossed with butter and topped with white truffle shavings.

2013 “Summertime” Grenache Blanc (105 cases produced, 13.7% abv) The 2013 Grenache Blanc’s seductive aroma of orange blossoms is a preamble to flavors of ripe pears and peaches. This refreshing wine boasts a crisp acidity ideal for pairing with food; try the Grenache Blanc with a lunch of scallops or oysters.

Courtesy Burbank Ranch

Courtesy Burbank Ranch

2013 “Picnic Meadow” Grenache Rosé (191 cases produced, 12.9% abv) The Grenache variety ripens late, requiring just the sort of hot, dry summers to fully mature that Paso Robles offers. 2013 produced a brilliantly-colored rosé with aromas and flavors of sweet cherry and strawberry, as well as a luxurious mouthfeel. A classic Mediterranean pairing for rosé is simple roast chicken, but herbed grilled chicken or fish would also fit the bill.

My personal favorite of the new releases was the 2013 “Friends” Syrah Rosé (77 cases produced, 14.2% abv) This sensuous rosé is reminiscent of its Spanish roots with exotic aromas of rose petals and bright cherry and raspberry flavors. Pair with roasted nuts, a classic Spanish tortilla, or fresh albacore salad.

2013 “Summer Dream” Zinfandel Rosé (211 cases produced, 13.5% abv) Zinfandel has found a happy home at the Burbank Ranch. With minimal skin contact during crush and fermentation, the 2013 Zinfandel rosé is vibrant with hints of strawberry, melon and raspberry. Drink alongside a steaming bowl of pad thai or wood-grilled quattro staggioni pizza.

2011 “Wood Pile” Petit Verdot (25 cases, 15.6% abv) When ripe, Petit Verdot grapes are small and black, producing aromas and flavors of violet, leather, spices, blackberry and black cherry. The Burbank Ranch 2011 Petit Verdot ripened exceedingly well, and is an ideal match with grilled meats like barbecued lamb chops, duck breasts or pork spare ribs; or, alternatively, shared around an evening fire.

I also really enjoyed this wine during last week’s late spring heat wave: 2013 “Summer Moon” Sauvignon Blanc (semi-sweet) (93 cases produced, 12.4% abv) With crisp, fresh notes of ripe orange, green apple, honey and melon balanced against enticing sweetness, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is the product of warm days and cool evening breezes from the Pacific Ocean flowing through the Templeton Gap. Perfect alongside a light supper or after-dinner cheeses, this wine is also ideal for late afternoon poolside sipping.

For more information on Burbank Ranch Winery,  visit, or stop by the Burbank Ranch Bistro (at 1240 Park Street, Paso Robles) to sample a selection of wines paired with fresh, locally-sourced cuisine.


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Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on May 23, 2014.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”