Hoyt Family Vineyards
From trial-and-error beginnings, to creating award-winning wines, to withstanding a devastating fire, Hoyt Family Vineyards thrives as “the little engine that could.”
“I’ve always liked to cook, experiment with food and blend flavors,” said winemaker Carol Hoyt, who owns Hoyt Family Vineyards with husband Stephen Hoyt. “While visiting Paso Robles, we fell in love with the cool little tasting rooms there and the romance of winemaking.”
For Carol, that “romance” took the form of crushing a hundred pounds of Cabernet grapes in her Malibu kitchen. With a picture of a vineyard stuck to their wall as inspiration, Carol and Stephen nurtured their seedling of an idea into fruition.
“At first, we didn’t know what we were doing,” laughed Carol. “We initially planted Malbec, Merlot and Chardonnay but soon learned that Chardonnay does much better in our area of Malibu, so we planted more vines and grafted the others to Chardonnay. People love this wine. We call it ‘the drink it all day Chardonnay.’”
Aged in new French oak, Hoyt’s Malibu Estate-grown Chardonnay is taken through a maloactic conversion process that lends a creamier, more buttery texture without sacrificing the aromas that Chard fans enjoy.
In 2003, Carol knew she was soon to have her first crop. To gain experience of what to do with all the grapes that she and Stephen planted, that “romance” took the form of crushing a hundred pounds of Cabernet grapes in their Malibu kitchen to make Carol’s first wine.
By 2004, the couple harvested yields from their Malibu Estate. Then came custom crushes that led to working with quality winemakers in Buellton, Santa Maria and Paso Robles.
From Malibu to Paso Robles
Warmer weather grape varieties were added to the palette after the purchase of a vineyard on Paso Robles’ westside. The property is eight miles from the Hoyt’s Park Street tasting room, managed by Carol’s friend, Nancy. Together, they prepare long table dinners during the harvest season.
A popular choice of guests is the 2013 Petite Sirah, a flirty wine that swirls deep like ink on the sides of the glass. Hoyt’s Cabernet-based blend, Dylema, was named after Carol and Stephen’s children, Dylan and Emma. Originally created to pair with the Malibu Chili cookoff, Dylema has won Gold and Silver at the San Francisco Wine Competition.
Hoyt Family Vineyard’s 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé won 99 points and secured Double Gold and Best of Class at the California State Fair. Another Best of Class winner by the San Francisco Wine Chronicle is Hoyt’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a fruit-forward red that is among Carol’s personal favorites. In 2012, Hoyt also won Microwinery of the Year.
“Our tasting room is a place to chillax and talk. There’s no pretense here,” said Carol. “And we have fun. We’ll talk wine, have live music on Friday nights, or enjoy our wine with a little karaoke.”
“The Paso tasting room used to be Corrigan’s Barber Shop,” said Carol. “We removed eight layers of linoleum to reveal beautiful wood flooring underneath. It is a bit crooked, so if things start looking level, you know you’ve had too much to drink.”
Hoyt Family Vineyards Tasting Room is open Thursday–Saturday from 1-8 p.m., and Sunday–Monday. from 1-5 p.m. in Downtown Paso Robles. Visit www.HoytFamilyVineyards.com or call (805) 369-1092.