I was not expecting much from Castillo’s Hillside Shire Winery. One look at their website was enough to dissuade me from hoping their wine would be any good. When you say outright that you never dreamed of owning a winery and fell into the wine business as a fluke, I am not going to trip over myself for a taste of your vintage. Also–and I know this isn’t fair as it has absolutely nothing to do with their wine-making abilities and is purely a pet peeve of mine as a reader–the fact that their website is riddled with grammatical errors and over-used, sappy phrases like “this wonderful thing called life” did not exactly fill me with confidence. If nothing else, they didn’t care enough about presentation to proofread…or hire someone to proofread. The experience was not encouraging.
There were two reasons I decided to stop by (well, three if you include we were nearby and felt like it). One was the name (my husband is a big Lord of the Rings fan), and the other was this:
Even though the house is a private residence and thus inaccessible to gawkers like me, how can you not want to see it? We were even more impressed when we got there and saw the grounds:
I want their pool. I want it so bad.
This place is gorgeous. It perfectly blends fanciful, fairy tale-like gardens with a sense of modernity. Everything is clean, well-kept, and new but also looks like an updated version of Marie Antoinette’s estate at Versailles. Complete with its own pond, footpaths, tiny bridges, and arches, this would be an amazing place to get married!
For comparison, take a gander at Marie Antoinette’s actual estate:
Both beautiful, fanciful places, but the shire has the ever-attractive addition of twenty-first century plumbing.
When we did our tasting, we were both pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine. You can tell the vineyard is new. Something about the flavor just screams at me to wait a couple of years (why yes, flavors do scream time periods at me. What’s it to you?), but we still enjoyed the wines. My favorite was probably the Red Table Wine, almost certainly because of its high percentage of Cabernet Franc, but Daniel preferred the Syrah. Most of the reds were a bit more tannin-filled than I would have liked, but the flavors were good, and I feel the vineyard is brimming with potential. I do so wish I had been able to try the Cab Franc, but really, they probably saved me from buying yet another bottle of wine we do not need.
In its pleasantly surprising fashion, Castillo’s Hillside Shire is totally worth a visit. Mostly, I would go for a nice place to sit and sip wine, but at least you don’t have to bring your own.