The Central Coast, an agricultural wine grape growing region nestled in the western hills between Los Angeles and San Francisco, has in recent years been recognized as a world-class wine region. Because of its close proximity to two major population centers, the area has become a popular weekend getaway destination for millions of tourists.
With more than 400 wineries to choose from, the options here are almost endless. Sextant Winery, however, with two different locations, is easily one of the most well known.
The original tasting room, which first opened in San Luis Obispo in 2007, permanently relocated onto the historic Edna Valley wine trail in 2009 and since then has been distinguished as one of the oldest Edna Valley AVA vineyards to date. The second location, The Estate, opened in 2010 and is located in Paso Robles westbound on Highway 46. Together, the two locations have worked tirelessly to help put the Central Coast on the map.
Founded by Craig and Nancy Stoller nearly 10 years ago, Sextant Winery first began when the pair planted their own clones of various French, Portuguese and Spanish wine grape selections.
“The purpose of that vineyard was to show winegrowers (in the region) the potential for good wines from the clones,” Craig Stoller said.
Driven by a forward-thinking pioneer spirit, Stoller was — and still is today — wholeheartedly devoted to truly displaying the world's capacity of grape expression by simply taking full advantage of the geographical region and its renowned climate.
Today, while they do produce several varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from their cool climate vineyard in Old Edna, Sextant specializes mainly in flagships like their Zinfandels, Rhone blends and Syrahs, along with
Sextant Winery first began when the pair planted their own clones of various French, Portuguese and Spanish wine grape selections.
their classic more approachable Cabernet Sauvignons as well, said Sextant winemaker Michael Fay.
“My general winemaking philosophy is to (continuously) propagate vineyards and maintain an array of styles,” Fay said.
The Central Coast, known for its sense of camaraderie, is less competition-focused and more community-based, Fay said. Wineries here all share the same goal of accurately representing the area’s potential.
Through balanced and approachable sustainability methods, Central Coast wineries — Sextant included — have been able to do just that.
“It’s all about working with what you have,” Fay said. “I believe in little to no manipulation and simply nurturing the land. (We try) to take a balanced approach to wholly growing the right grapes in the right place.”
The Estate production facility, which features an extremely open and visible tasting room, lets guests see what goes on behind the scenes. While converting a mere interest into a full-blown passion is easier said than done, that is exactly what Sextant hopes to do.
“People want to see the (actual) work,” Fay said. “It makes them feel included and more connected."
By taking his passion to where it is today, Stoller — through Sextant Wines — has been able to almost completely transform the winemaking character of California’s Central Coast, and he looks forward to continuing to do so.
Sextant Wines Estate Winery and Hospitality Center, 2324 W. Highway 46 in Paso Robles, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Edna Valley Tasting Room and Hospitality Center, 1653 Old Price Canyon Road in San Luis Obispo, is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 805-542-0133 for more information.