Mastantuono Winery

Character in the bottle at Mastantuono
Wine Club News by Bruce Boring

Name: Mastantuono Winery
Location: Templeton, west Paso Robles area, San Luis Obispo county
Established: 1976
Owner: Pasquale Mastantuono
Winemaker: Pasquale Mastantuono
Annual Production: 18,000-21,0000 cases

Our Most Popular Wines Ever

You know wine is made in the vineyards, right? You know it's the fruit, not the winemaker, that really matters. And yet, when you meet Pasquale Mastantuono and then taste his wines, you can't help but think there's a bit of the winemaker in every bottle.

The fact is Pasquale's wines are hands down the most popular wines ever with California Wine Club members. This is our sixth shipment of Mastantuono wines, and based on your past response, it won't be the last! Is it possible for a wine to express a winemaker's character? With Pasquale, anything is possible!

Good Will Uncorked

Like his wines, Pasquale doesn't hold anything back. Fun forward, long-lived, bursting with good will, Pasquale invites visitors to his tasting room as he would visitors to his home. The tour buses and out-of-state visitors just keep rolling in. For some, Mastantuono is always a part of their California wine country tour. "This is a place where we have a lot of fun," Pasquale laughs, pouring a sample of his wine. "Otherwise, what's the point?"

Fun, rather than a fortune, has been foremost for Pasquale since he opened his English hunting-lodge style facility in 1976. "Ours was the fifth winery in San Luis Obispo County," Pasquale recalls. He organized the first Paso Robles wine festival (now one of California's largest) and the vintners' association, shared notes with fellow winemakers and enjoyed all that life had to offer on the Central Coast including fishing, hunting, playing golf, flying and spending time with his wife Karen and two children.

It was quite a change for a fellow who formerly had been furniture maker for Hollywood celebrities like Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others. To wind down from that high stress profession, in the '70s Pasquale started home winemaking and like many others, his personal passion became his new profession.

Following in the Footsteps

Pasquale's winemaking comes naturally to this Italian whose family has been making wine for four generations near Naples, Italy. As a boy, he watched his grandfather buy and crush the grapes and ferment the juice in the family's basement. "We always had wine on our table. It was just part of growing up. Dad would give us fifty-fifty wine/water. He wouldn't give it to us straight. The rule was, you can have wine, but you only drink it here. My brother and I never thought about liquor, unlike other guys in high school who would go nuts with Ripple or Thunderbird. "As a kid, my job before dinner was to go get a pitcher of wine for the table; I drank my share. The barrel had a spigot, and when dad drew out some wine, he put mineral oil on top to keep air off the wine. We always had red wines. Those were great memories."

The Pace Quickens

Pasquale's affection for family winemaking has served him well. For many years, Pasquale and Paso Robles grew slowly, aging like a good wine. But recently, the pace of growth has quickened. "We'll process 300,000 tons of this year for our Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Champagne, Muscat Canelli and Carminello. We've grown more than I wanted to, but with the extra good help I have now, it's doable." That, in addition to longtime associates like assistant winemaker Dennis Mahoney (with Mastantuono nearly 10 years) and tasting room manager Heather Magee (pouring Pasquale's wines for eight years).

To support Mastantuono's increased production, Pasquale recently built a 5,000 sq. ft. barrel storage facility. He also bulldozed an area to accommodate 10 more parking spaces. "But that wasn't enough. The tasting room was also too small so I knocked out some walls and moved them back. Still not enough! We're going to have to put people out on the lawn!" No problem. Wherever they sit, everyone will enjoy Mastantuono wines and a touch of Pasquale in each bottle. It's character uncorked on the westside of Paso Robles, now in its 27th year at Mastantuono!

This story was brought to you by Bruce & Pam Boring of The California Wine Club. For more information visit or call 1-800-777-4443. Read on to see which two wines they selected for CWC members, this two-pack shipment is available for $32.95 plus shipping:

Mastantuono 2001 Carminello

  • Pasquale made only 1,232 cases of this rare wine, and doesn't enter it into competitions.

  • The nose if full of fruit and leads to ripe round cherry and berry flavors. "Silky, but robust," says Pasquale.

  • This wine is from a hybrid grape variety originated at U.C. Davis by Dr. Olmo who, through genetics, put together the grape varieties which are also the three varieties that make the red Bordeaux wines of France: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane and Merlot. "Its real name is Carmine which I changed to Carminello."

  • Fruit comes from a rare block of Carmine in Madera in Tulare County owned by the Lagomarsino family. "This is the last of the Mohicans. That block is gone, ripped out for houses. This may be your last chance to savor my Carminello!"

  • Pasquale makes Carminello as he makes Zin, using the same yeast. It was aged in American oak for 20 months.

  • "It would go with bull meat, if you had it. Beautiful with young lamb or delicate fish. Or all by itself!"

  • Enjoy it now, or years from now."

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • "Customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth sells this Cabernet, so I haven't entered it into competitions."

  • A rich wine, dark red, with a nose of berries and cherry flavors on the palate. The finish is long and pleasing.

  • Fruit comes from 45-year-old vines in Madera, northwest of Fresno. "This sandy soil vineyard has very good drainage, so the vines have to struggle a bit. This is always good for developing deep fruit flavors," says Pasquale.

  • Fruit was crushed, destemmed, and cold soaked on the skins for 30 hours to extract full flavor. The grapes were then pressed and fermented at warm temperatures (85-90F).

  • This Cabernet aged in all American 60-gallon barrels for two years.

  • A terrific wine with beef and wild game, as well as pastas and pizza.

  • Enjoy now or hold up to for 5-7 years. "This is a well-made wine, with good acids and tannins. It will easily hold for several years."