Paso? At Cass Winery + Geneseo Inn, it is more like Pas-WHOA. Many vineyards (deservedly so) call themselves Disneyland for adults. But Cass is summer camp for adults.
Cass Winery was founded by Steve Cass in 2000. At the time, he was freshly retired though not yet even 50. By 2003, the vineyard began to bear fruit. But that was just the beginning. While awaiting the first usable grapes, Cass took a fateful trip to South America with business partner Ted Plemons, the extroverted architect behind the initial vineyard build. To say a rollicking good time was had while exploring South American hospitality and wine would be an understatement. Together, Cass and Plemons decided on a vision for the vineyard during that trip. And their vision was a big one.
As a result, today Paso Robles-based Cass Winery – a Certified California Sustainable Winegrower – not only features a breath-taking tasting room with award-winning estate wines and an indoor-outdoor full-service restaurant, but it is also home to a boutique hotel and private, VIP adventures across its 145 acres.
The eco-friendly Geneseo Inn, which just won the 2022 Liv Hospitality Design Award for Bed & Breakfast Architecture, is surrounded by the chef’s garden and has sweeping views of the epic vineyards as well as nearby rolling hills. Each of its eight ultra-modern suites are made from recycled shipping containers and boast expansive bathrooms, private parking space equipped with electric vehicle chargers, 12-ft. floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor decks. The suites are also lifted eight feet off the ground to maximize the views in every direction and have common areas outdoors with firepits, hammocks and walking paths. Gourmet breakfast is provided each morning of a guest’s stay, and private, multi-course dinners as well as wine-pairing luncheons may be arranged by request for an enhanced fee. For those who need more space, there is also a private residence available on the northwest corner of the property with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a full kitchen and family room space, too.
With several tasting options just steps away, Cass Winery makes it easy to take one’s time and enjoy a little bit of everything. Experiences are hosted at the Cass Café, with the basic tasting starting at just $25. The locale means that glasses, bottles and even basic tastings may be enhanced with a seasonal bounty of mouthwatering pairings. Certainly, this means there are cheese and charcuterie platters, but it goes well beyond that. Just some of the musts on the menu include the Cass Dip, 10-hour-braised top sirloin with horseradish crème and au-jus ($21); lamb lollipops, featuring New Zealand lamb with mint chimichurri ($24); polenta cakes with mushrooms, sautéed spinach and bell pepper coulis ($18); and artichoke pizza with peppercorn brie, mushrooms, black olives, bell peppers and onions ($18).
As for the wines themselves, each of the 12 estate varietals are made in the Rhone style, and Cass has gone the extra step to get ENTAV certified. (As an aside, here is a great overview of what all that entails through the agency of the French government). Of its 12 varietals, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and Malbec especially shine.
And then there is Camp Cass.
Those staying at the Inn have Camp Cass at their fingertips. Similarly located on property, Camp Cass offers fully customizable outdoor adventures that run the gamut from one-off reservations for a party as small as two guests to multi-day experiences for large parties. Just some of the options include archery and ax-throwing classes and skills competitions; olive oil harvesting, pressing and tasting; beekeeping including live hive honey extraction and tasting; photo scavenger hunts; horseback riding; outdoor photography workshops; “Amazing Race”-inspired friendly competitions; and even full-on color wars just like those at all the best youth summer camps.
Certainly, there are culinary and wine experiences as well, including paint-and-sip parties; sommelier-led sensory wine tastings; winemaker-for-a-day programs; hands-on cooking classes; and garden-to-table chef demonstrations. Cass Winery is even able to set up cooking competitions for its guests, pitting them against each other much like they would be on the Food Network’s “Chopped” wherein they have to create dishes using secret ingredients within a certain amount of time until only one chef is left standing.
All pricing is based on group size, accommodation needs, activities booked and culinary requests, and quotes for all-inclusive bundled reservations are available in advance of visiting. Those who wish to simply stay and sip at the winery and hotel, as well as those who wish to take part in Camp Cass with a group without staying overnight are able to do so with advance authorization and reservations.
While planning an in-person visit, here are some best bets to enjoy at home:
2021 Cass Late Harvest Roussanne: At first creamy before a fruit-kissed acid reveals itself, this bottle is a celebration of honey and pineapple roasted just enough to exaggerate its juicy sweetness. $29
2020 Cass Rockin’ One Red: A wine for serious wine lovers that do not take themselves or wine tasting too seriously, enjoy this red blend’s ripe cherry and dark plum notes, which come in waves along with a just touch of wood. $49
2020 Cass Backbone Syrah: Nearly jet black unless held up to the light, this big and bold varietal teases the palate with notes of blueberry and even a touch of soil after a long rain before offering notes of black cherry with just the right amount of pepper. $49
2018 Cass Reserve: A Cabernet with flavors for days. This 93-point winner from Wine Enthusiast starts with spiced notes before opening to reveal flavors of dark fruit and a combination of caramel, oak, and nuts. $150
For more information, visit www.casswines.com.
7350 Linne Rd.
Paso Robles, CA 93446