Brian Benson Cellars-

In the past, we have done spotlights on winemakers, wine products, and wineries, but this time around we decided to do a Spotlight on a particular area- Tin City. As you may, or may not know, we at Wine Problems have the luxury (and oh-so grateful for it!) of being able to frequent the wine region of Paso Robles on a pretty regular basis. For one, living in Los Angeles, it’s a manageable drive for a weekend getaway; about three hours each way. For two, we have amazing friends with a kick-ass guest house... we really lucked out with that one!

Even with all of our trips, making a dent in visiting all of the Paso wineries has truly been a difficult chore! I mean, when you have a favorite winery (or ten), it’s really hard to not visit them to see what they are pouring and see what’s new?! It’s like going back home and having to decide which friends to visit because you want to see them all, and you know it’s near impossible even with the best time management. But we kept hearing over and over, “Have you been to Tin City yet? You HAVE to go!” Well, we finally took their advice and took an extra day on our recent trip for a three-day weekend and dedicated one full day to Tin City. Um, ya….we had a BLAST!

What and where is Tin City?

Officially called Marquita Crossing, this collection of boutique tasting rooms off the 101 and Ramada Road gets it nickname from the number of tin buildings that make up the industrial complex. The concept for this area originated around four years ago, when local wine producers decided to take advantage of the cheaper warehouse spaces, instead of paying much steeper rent in some of the more popular wine regions. Tin City is home to around 20 tasting rooms (and growing), as well as a guitar shop, and a distillery, but if beer is more in your wheelhouse, you can always grab a pilsner at Barrelhouse Brewing Co., or a hard cider at Tin City Cider.

back. Kinda like the opposite of a mullet (sorry mullet people)!  As for Bret, totally cool guy, and I

should thank Brian?!


Hard cider anyone?!? Because Tin City has that too!! After the day of wine tasting, it was quite refreshing! It’s a big space, and it was pretty packed, however we managed to get the bartender’s attention fairly quickly and he gave us the run-down. The most common order is a cider flight, so you don’t have to commit to just one. Which was great, because I’m not really one to order hard ciders, so I really didn’t know what I would like? Also, the ciders have a

On top of that, though, the wines were all really great. We left with nearly a case, if that gives you any indication of how great these wines were. Plus they were very reasonably priced!! We have

What we tasted:

2015 Elizabeth’s Cuvée 
(Rousanne  and Grenache)
2014 Coral Ruth’s Cuvée
(Syrah and Grenache)

2014 Sarah’s Cuvée (Syrah and Mouvèdre)
2014 Tessa’s Cuvée (Syrah, Cabernet, Petit Verdot)

What we bought:

2015 Elizabeth’s Cuvée

2014 Sarah’s Cuvée  (Nicole’s #flightfavorite)
2014 Tessa’s Cuvée (Michael’s #flightfavorite)

higher alcohol percentage at 7.5%, which is much more than a "normal" beer. With that said, we got a flight to share, consisting of their five most popular ciders, and then we went and found a table outside. We also grabbed some food from the food truck that was conveniently parked just a few feet away. Score!

The ciders were interesting, as they are barrel aged and treated similarly to wine making. The one I liked the best was actually fermented with Chardonnay - shocking, right?!  We enjoyed our flight and late afternoon snack, and all in all, it was a cool experience. Definitely a nice option if someone isn’t that into wine, or if you’re looking for a break from wine tasting. We’re glad we

2010 Nebbiolo  Luna Matta Vineyard  #blindpurchase

Our first stop, which was recommended by pretty much everyone we talked to about Tin City, was Jacob Toft. And our wine host was... Jacob himself! Super nice guy who has made quite a name for himself in Paso. He doesn’t own a vineyard, nor does he have any desire to. And, in my opinion, I would agree with his logic.

He currently leases blocks of some of the most sought after vineyards in Paso. He gets to oversee the farming and harvesting,

What we bought:

2016 Il Campo Bianco
2015 il Campo Rosso
2016 Barbera
2014 Sangiovese
2015 Aglianico French Camp Vineyard
2013 Gemellaia
2014 Nebbiolo Luna Matta Vineyard

Now that the tourist pitch is out of the way, what is it really?? It’s like Disneyland for grown-ups! Ok, that might be a little dramatic, but it’s so much fun! You can go from winery to winery; grab some food at the food truck (they have one every day in the summer); check out the aforementioned brewery; and the cider company. We’ve been told that a sheep creamery (yes, sheep) and a new restaurant are in the works too! There is so

much to do, and one of the best things is that


highly unique with tons of floral notes, gorgeous fruit, and silky tannins. Truly some beautiful wines! It’s definitely a must stop in Tin City for us. #wellbeback

What we tasted:

2016 Fragment
(Unfiltered 100% Sauvignon Blanc)
2016 Amphora
(100% Sauvignon Blanc)
2014 Suitor
(91% Cabernet; 5% Petit Verdot; 4% Syrah)
2015 Sackcloth & Ashes
(38% Cab Sav; 22% Cab Franc; 16% Malbec; 12% Merlot; 12% Petit Verdot)
2014 Death and Resurrection Tempranillo
(80% Tempranillo; 20% Grenache) 
2014 Death and Resurrection Sangiovese

What we tasted:

2015 Il Campo Rosso Sangiovese Blend
2016 Il Campo Bianco
(50% Pinot Grigio; 50% Falanghina)
2016 Fiano Paso Robles
2015 Ramato, Bassi Ranch Vineyard, San Luis Obispo
(100% Pinot Grigio)
2016 Barbera, Paso Robles
2014 Sangiovese, Paso Robles
2015 Aglianico French Camp Vineyard, Paso Robles
2014 Nebbiolo Luna Matta Vineyard, Paso Robles
2013 Gemellaia; Paso Robles
(50% Merlot;  40% Sangiovese; 10% Petit Verdot)
2014 Aglianico, Luna Matta Vineyard,  Paso Robles

Brian and Stephanie Terrizzi are the husband and wife team behind these fine Italian varietals coming out of Paso Robles.

In addition to making some outstanding Giornata wines, they also have a second label Broadside, which is strictly their Paso Cabernet Sauvignon. All this and they are also busy raising twin daughters. Whew! Yet they seem to have it all figured out, at least from what we could gather on our visit.

would say he and his wines add something very special to Tin City.


Okay, where to start with Desparada except to say, AH-MAZING! What is it with these female winemakers in Paso?!?! #KillingIt  Just a quick fyi, the tasting room is in their barrel room, so bring a jacket or sweater. In fact, they actually do give out blankets upon request, because it’s pretty chilly in there. Our wine host was Riley and she was truly fantastic! They were prepping for their pick-up party, which was the following day, so it was a little hectic around the tasting room. Once we started with the wine tasting, and as attentive as Riley was, we hardly noticed anything other than the wine! LOL.

checked it out.

Well Brian wasn't there to thank,

What we tasted:

2013 Kandy Red
(Grenache Zin)
2013 Grenache/Syrah
2013 Rapid Roy
(Primitivo, Syrah, and Mourvèdre)
2013 Neapolitan Pussycat
(Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre)
2013 Syrah

What we bought:

2013 Grenache/Syrah 
2013 Rapid Roy

Giornata is another tasting room in Tin City that we thoroughly enjoyed. The funny thing about this visit was everywhere that we went prior to, and mentioned that we were going to Giornata, everyone had the same comment: “Tell Steph hi!” After spending a good amount of time with Steph (aka Stephanie Terrizzi), we completely understand her popularity! Super down to earth and really fun... just a cool person to drink wine and chat with. Which is exactly what we did!

The wines were definitely impressive, which wasn’t surprising after hearing his background. What was a little surprising was his accolade for painting and drawing. He makes all of his own labels, which are a little on the dark side, but very imaginative! The tasting room was crazy cool with all kinds of paintings (done by Brian), and car stuff (he's big into hot rods)! Then, there is this gigantic window that opens to the back, which brings in so much natural light and a cool breeze.

I believe they are planning on building a back porch out there…hmm, maybe we’ll need to go back and check on that? Wouldn’t want to give our readers incorrect information. #MoreResearch


us the history of Brian and his start in wine.

so he has control over his fruit, vs. just buying grapes from a farmer or winery. Why buy a whole vineyard if you can cherry... errr, grape pick from a wide variety of the best vineyards? Plus he and his wife love to travel, and check out wines from other regions of the world. In fact, they were just gearing up for a trip to South America when we saw him.

The owner/winemaker is Vailia, and she is highly respected in Paso. As she should be. She’s trying all kinds of new winemaking techniques to create true inspiration in a bottle. The labels are works of art. Everything about her wine reflects this feminine flare of finesse and creativity. With each wine, we kept looking at each other like, “is this for real?” There wasn't a wine in the bunch that we didn't love! We were huge fans of the


We met Bret and chatted with him for a bit. He came to Tin City mainly because of the cost of square footage, as the difference in rent for a space in Santa Barbara vs. a place in Paso is pretty significant. With his current facility, he does everything from crushing to blending, right in the back. This is actually pretty typical of the wineries in Tin City, as most are a full service facility with the tasting room in the front, and the business in the

you can walk from place to place! Now don't be fooled, just because these aren't big ol’ fancy, and/or elaborate wineries, doesn't mean that their wines aren't top notch! Some of them are as good, if not better, than some of the "big names!"  We tried to fit in as much as possible so that we could do this Spotlight justice! Hopefully you'll get as excited about Tin City as we now are!

Most of the activity is on Limestone Way, but there are also several tasting rooms that you'll want to check out, off of Marquita Ave. Winemakers range from newbies, to some who have been around the block. Wines range from the Paso GSMs, to Italian varietals, and there’s even a guy there doing Santa Barbara wines! We can’t stress enough how much fun this new local “Hot Spot,

Tin City Cider Co.-

His dad is actually a pretty big wine staple in Paso, Norm Benson of Dark Star Cellars. Brian worked at his dad’s winery learning the ins and outs of the wine business and became the fulltime assistant winemaker there in 2000. Shortly thereafter, he decided to try it on his own and actually made some of his first vintages right there at his dad’s winery. But he soon outgrew that space and moved his operation over to Denner Vineyards. Since then, he has completely become self-sufficient with his own full winemaking facility in Tin City. We got to check this out first hand, and he has quite the set-up!!  His production is about 1500 cases, and like Jacob, Brian sources all of his fruit.

Their tasting room is slightly off the beaten path from the heart of Tin City, and they are A-OK with that. In fact, we almost drove right past it, as it’s in an industrial complex with a single glass door. Technically, we could have walked to the tasting room, but if you end up buying a case of wine like us, you may want to bring the car. Lol. This visit was definitely one of our highlights on this Paso

Not a bad problem to have... wait, maybe it is... for us at least!

the big wineries. That way you get the best of both worlds.

If you are going to Tin City, just keep in mind that these wine tasting rooms aren’t anything like the big expansive wineries, with picturesque views, and/or wine caves, up in the hills of Paso. This is an industrial area filled with amazing wines and people, and we can’t talk them up enough! Chances are, you'll get a good amount of face time here with owners and winemakers; something that rarely happens at the bigger wineries.  In our opinion, the ideal way to enjoy Paso wine tasting is to mix in one day hitting the Tin City tasting rooms, and spend your other day(s) visiting

longest living wines in my cellar.

Vailia, like most winemakers in Tin City, doesn’t own a vineyard, but sources fruit from MANY vineyards within the central coast including McGinley, White Hawk, Presquille, Happy Canyon, Paderewski, Catapult, Jada, and Chelle Mountain… just to name a few!  Each of her wines that we have been fortunate enough to taste (including a bottle of 2014 Sangiovese that floored us!!!) are


Jacob Toft-

Welcome to our FEATURED SPOTLIGHT. Every month or so, we will be spotlighting at least one person, place, or thing. It could be a winemaker; it might be a tasting room or wine bar; it may be a particular wine; or it might even be a new wine gadget or accessory, that piqued our interest.

is! If you haven’t heard of Tin City yet, trust us, you will.

Another highly recommended winery, via the other wineries in Tin City we had visited, was Levo. The same description kept coming up when they talked about Levo- which basically was “new young guy in town doing his own thing with Santa Barbara fruit and making some seriously good quality wine.” Santa Barbara wines in Paso?!? Intriguing…

Below are just a few of our recommendations- we plan to have more for you in the near future, as we plan on revisiting there soon and often!

It’s a really cool tasting room with high ceilings and a tasting bar with standing room for at least a dozen people. Raleigh was the wine host and really knew her stuff!! We tasted a wide array of wines, prominently blends that usually had some percentage of Viognier. I totally dig that, as Viognier is one of my favorite varietals. Sometimes he used a small percentage of the Viognier just to add some floral notes to the nose of the wine. And by “he,” I mean Bret; a self-taught winemaker with a passion and a flare for making wine.


but his lovely and charismatic wife, Christina, was, and she gave

With all that said, since he is leasing from some of the top vineyards (like L'Aventure, and Saxum's James Berry Vineyard), not only are the wines big and full of undeniably superior fruit, but they will set you back about $60/bottle. He sells out every release, (and QUICKLY), and admittedly has a hard time keeping wine stocked for the tasting

After chatting with Jacob for a bit, we walked a whole 12 feet to our next wine tasting room, Brian Benson Cellars. Whew, were we tired... and thirsty! Thank God they had wine, or maybe we

Tin City

What we tasted:

Goldie (fermented with Chardonnay)
Stepladder Gose

What we bought:


some new Tuesday Night Wines to add to our list.

Death & Resurrection series, which from their website is explained as follows: The Death and Resurrection series is reserved for those rare wines that must be buried for long periods of time before they reach their full promise. The wines in this series are the most extraordinary and


room. In fact, for 3 months he had to close the tasting room because he had NO MORE WINE!

What we bought: #decisionsdecisions

2016 Fragment
2014 Suitor
2015 Sackcloth & Ashes
2013 Death and Resurrection Sangiovese 
2014 Death and Resurrection Tempranillo

What we tasted:

2016 Flying Colors
(86% Grenache; 7% Viognier; 7% Grenache Blanc)
2016 White Noise
(45% Grenache Blanc; 31% Roussanne; 24% Viognier)
2014 Grenache
(90% Grenache; 7% Petite Sirah; 2% Syrah; 1% Viognier)
2014 Syrah
2014 The “Spot”
(100% Syrah), which is a bottle dedicated to a particular place or point showcasing his favorite barrel from a specific vintage.
2014 "Into The Static" Petite Sirah
(85% Petite Sirah; 10% Grenache; 3% Syrah; 2% Viognier) 

What we bought:

2014 "Into The Static" Petite Sirah
2016 White Noise