I'd heard quite a bit of buzz about Shale Oak Winery on the west side of Paso and wanted to experience this innovative, LEED certified facility for myself. What is LEED, you ask? Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
According to buildingsguide.com, LEED is a set of rating systems that promote, identify, and implement green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance.
So what does that really mean?
In the case of Shale Oak, the environment wasn't disturbed to incorporate the buildings; rather, the tasting room and winery facility were built around the landscape. Some of their green highlights include capturing rain water to water plants, flush their toilets, and if they have enough in the holding tank...water the 5-acre vineyard growing hillside. Inside the lofty tasting room, planks of 100-year-old reclaimed wood neatly sheath the high walls while recycled glass spans the countertops. Tasting notes are printed on wildflower sheets, and guests can crumple them in their own gardens and watch them grow.
When visiting this winery, the first thing I noticed were the lofty, symmetrical, colorful windows that resembled a stained glass mosaic, comprising the entire front wall of the tasting room. Outside, the windows' reflections capture the surroundings, while inside provide a vivid view of the oak trees and surrounding fields. The winery celebrates the four seasons of California; Aesculus trees are etched in several of the front windows. As I learned from one of Shale Oak's tasting room attendants, these are the only trees that have four distinct seasons.
Most of the wines are made from estate grown varietals, the majority of which come from their east side vineyard in Paso. The current tasting line-up includes a crisp white blend, as well as several of their 2009 vintages: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Petit Verdot.
Guests can order wines by the glass and sip outside on the patio, or bring a lunch and take advantage of the picnic grounds in these peaceful surroundings. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere is exceptional.
Whether the tasting room is crowded or not, this is one juncture in Paso you don't want to miss.
|Shale Oak Winery: a building of the future.|