Every so often, it doesn’t hurt to remember that wine is, ultimately, an agricultural product and that you get grapes by farming them. Fortunately, when Mitch Wyss came in to grow grapes for Halter Ranch Winery owner Hansjorg Wyss, he came in as a farmer. However, one with not much experience growing wine grapes.
“It was a real trial by fire,” said Leslie Wyss, Mitch’s wife. But Mitch is still there and it’s not because of a family connection. He and Hansjorg are not related. Leslie explained that Mitch is of Swiss ancestry and Hansjorg is Swiss.
“It’s not an uncommon name there,” Leslie explained.
She said that they are farming 250 acres, but their production is actually rather small, about 5,000 cases. The wine, itself, is made by winemaker Bill Sheffer. Leslie said that one of the reasons the grapes are so good is the soil, which is rich in limestone, not unlike some of France’s most renowned grape-growing regions in Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley.
“We’re growing Bordeaux varietals and Rhone varietals that are really nice,” Leslie said. “But I think we’ll mostly be Rhone.”
The main Bordeaux varietals, of course, are cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc, with syrah being the best known of the varieties of grapes grown in the Rhone Valley.
Halter Ranch is located on the west side of Paso Robles, on Adelaida Road. You can find their website here.