During our recent visit to Paso Robles, we met with Cris Cherry, owner and winemaker of Villa Creek and MAHA and tasted his wines at lunch. His wines were one of the highlights of our trip. Off the radar to most wine drinkers, this is a must-try Red. Comprised of 33% Syrah, 26% Petite Sirah, 18% Mourvèdre, 16% Carignan, and 7% Grenache, aromas and flavors of blackberries, and vanilla fill the glass with full-bodied concentration and a texture framed by fine, ripe tannins. Cris vinified the grapes with native yeast and fermented in concrete with a variety of pump overs and punch downs depending on desired extraction for 20-36 days. He then basket pressed into a selection of 100% French oak, 30% new French oak and aged for 22 months. In 2000, Cris and his wife, JoAnn, used to ride bikes by the old MAHA Ranch, gawking at the steep, south-facing limestone slopes. When a friend and local surveyor mentioned the owners were looking to sell a 60-acre portion of their 300-acre ranch, they jumped at the chance to purchase one of the last remarkable, west side grapevine parcels. Since 2001 they had been making wine under their Villa Creek label, with grapes purchased from west Paso Robles’ most esteemed vineyards. Their hunt for ideal growing grounds had them looking for similar credentials – limestone soil, ocean-influence, and high elevation. MAHA’s steep, calcareous slopes, furnished with an old, unproductive walnut orchard, fulfilled these wishes. They moved on to the property in 2004, built the winery in 2006 to house their small winemaking operation, and set out preparing the land for grapes. In 2012, they planted their first block of Grenache.