The same keen eye for potential and attention to detail that Tom Hinkle has honed over the years as a professional baseball scout has made his Rio Seco Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles—co-owned with wife Carol—a major league success.
Acquiring 64 acres in 1996 was the Hinkles’ opening play in the world of wine, and by the next year they had more than 30 acres of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon planted. Veteran Winemaker John Munch acted as the Hinkles’ consultant for the first three years, and their roster of varietals expanded to include Roussanne, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, and Viognier.
Rio Seco adheres to a simple but highly successful game plan that eschews the addition of chemicals to the wine or use of anything but neutral oak for barrel fermentation and aging in order to showcase the grape’s natural talent for taste. The lineup of exceptional expressions include the 2003 MVP Reserve—a bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc—the 2003 Grand Slam that pairs Cabernet Sauvignon with Australian Syrah, and estate wines such as the award-winning 2001 Syrah and 2001 and 2004 Zinfandels.
While the tasting room is open daily, a road trip there for “Friday Night Fun” gives visitors a chance to step up to the plate and enjoy live music, Tom’s barbeque, and complimentary tastings.
For loyal fans, membership in Club Rio assures that either three or twelve bottles sent twice a year arrive safe at home. And those with a soft spot for hardball can join the Diamond Club, where purchase proceeds help defray medical expenses for ailing baseball scouts and their families.
Like the national pastime itself, the beauty of winemaking comes from a mastery of the fundamentals and the shared passion of those involved. With Rio Seco Vineyard & Winery, Tom and Carol Hinkle hit it out of the park.