Justin Winery

I was wondering people’s thoughts. I used to be a big fan of their collection but it seems to me their quality has fallen. They are making a few more wines than before (Obtuse, Malbec, reserve cab, Rose, and a right bank wine) and I assume the new owners are trying to monetize the label. I don’t think they are going the route of Inglenook but there seems to be more misses than hits. It could also be for me that Dau and Austin Hope have become better in comparison.

I moved on from Justin years ago. Something changed and it wasn’t good.

I cancelled my membership this fall after 6-7 years of membership. Went to a Justin wine dinner with a celebrity chef at the Bellagio years ago and joined right after as my wife and I were enamored with the wines. Was Isosceles only, but previously had been in the club where I got a smattering of their wines. I haven’t found that their quality in Isosceles has fallen (it certainly may have, I’ll have to do a vertical with all my bottles haha), more that my tastes moved on as I’ve gotten more and more into collecting and I didn’t enjoy their wines nearly as much as I once did. I did however find that the lower-end bottlings seemed to get a lot more generic and worse.

There just doesn’t seem to be anything unique about the winery anymore to my tastes and there are so many things I like much more at a lower price. I’d also rather buy from smaller, family owned operations if I can help it. Isosceles usually can be found in Costcos around here for the same (or close) price as the member discount, so there wasn’t much of an incentive for me to stay on the list.

I remember a few years ago Justin Winery clear cutting hundreds of old oak trees. Not received well by Paso Robles community. That left a bad taste in my mouth.

I believe that was after the winery was sold in 2010 to the Fuji water guy and yes, that was bad karma

It’s interesting to note that they do seem to have changed a bit and not for the better in the last few years.

The same change just took place in the Daou 2018 versus the 2017.

The 17 was pretty nice.
The 18 is not nearly so.
Seems more fruity and sweet.
was able to switch some a8’s for 17’s and popped one pver the weekend.
Thoroughly enjoyed the 17.

There seems to be a trend here with these lower end wines.
Not sure if it involves increasing production at the expense of using grapes that aren’t of the same quality from prior years or what.

Haven’t bought since 07 Iso reserve

I always thought their quality through the mid 00’s was good. I was especially a fan of their regular CS bottling for what was always around $25-$30 back when I was a buyer in the mid to late 00’s. Haven’t had any of their wine in years but my perception is there are plenty of other CS producers of better QPR out there, especially if you look to WA state these days. I’m not sure I ever thought their higher-end bottlings were worth the price of admission.

Caveat - first post but had to respond since Justin has held such fond memories for me. I used to visit the tasting room in Paso when I was a kid with my father (before I could legally drink/taste wine). They’d ply me with grape sorbet made from their grapes while my dad tasted wine. I tried to get into them when I was of legal age but I never found their higher-end wines worth the price of admission and they seemed to fade from popularity in the mid 00’s.

I tried a 98 Isoseles (library release) a few years back and it was fantastic, like wow factor. So I tried sourcing several more bottles through different auctions and they were mostly all duds. That really deflated my interest in hunting their older wines. Unfortunately, the premiums on Justin’s library wines are hard to Justify. I think the 98 at the time was $400 a bottle.

We have acquaintances who were grape growers for Justin selling the cab for their basic cab. A very serviceable cab at a lower-end price. Isosceles Reserve Cab in certain years was fantastic, but that was the exception and not the norm. I may be an outlier but I have rarely been a fan of Cabernet from Paso. In moderate weather years it may be good, but I have always thought their Cabernet had too many bell pepper notes and often were too “hot” on the alcohol. Paso is a great region for Rhone and Zin. And, I recall Justin making some decent lower-priced syrah blends to supplement the Isosceles line. I don’t think it is a change in ownership that affected the wine. I think it is more trained palates!

Hi Bruce

Good assessment.

The 2017 Daou is pretty good if you can find it.
I swapped some 18’s for the 17’s and am glad I did.
The 17 is what made me like the brand.
Then grabbed a bunch of 18 and was not impressed.

My friend a year and a half ago was at a business dinner in N Jersey and they had an Austin Hope CS from Paso.
When he got back the next day he was gushing about it.
I almost grabbed a deal on Vivino for a 6 pack at 39.95 but the tax killed the deal for me.
I want to try that one.
Seems like everyone likes that.

Get what you pay for.

So I will admit I am still in Justin club. Generally pleased with their Merlot, Justification, Iscoceles, and some of the Reserves. That said, I have been really disappointed with Right Angle and Savant. I’d imagine my tastes are changing and the others may start fading for me too.

So here is a question. Justin was one of the first wineries I really joined and their club does run between $20-60. Since I have joined Carlisle, Herman Story, Bedrock, and Turtle Rock.

If I were to drop Justin, what would be a good addition that fits roughly that price range/blended average? Id lean towards something like Dirty and Rowdy or Ridge based on these forums, but worried I am already heavy on sonoma zin based blends and big paso wines. Open to suggestions!

For what it’s worth, I have bought a few of the de Negoce offerings as well and waiting for bottle shock on those before I’d consider replacing Justin $$$ with more de Negoce =)

I met a guy that was on the winemaking team at Justin back in the “heyday”. he has his own winery now. He said lots of the cab fruit for the better bottlings came from Halter Ranch and then as Halter Ranch moved into making more estate wines the fruit went away.

Justin, IMHO, continues to make wines that appeal to many different palettes. If your preference is old world Bordeaux, they probably won’t appeal to you specifically.

Have the wines ‘changed’ over the years? Most likely - as we’ve had such disparate vintages over the past 7 or 8 years and their sourcing may have changed as well due to growth and other factors like Brig points out above.

Folks in general seem to ‘look down’ at wineries that get purchased by others and grow bigger - and sometimes it’s justified. Not sure it is in this case.

And yep, they caused quite a stir when they took down plenty of oaks to make room for vineyards and a reservoir - the funny thing is that this was probably done by so many others up there back in the day and was overlooked because it was not done by a mega-corp like Fuji . . .


Dirty and Rowdy is more Mourvèdre based wines and doesn’t overlap much with the others.

If I were you, I would buy wide on places like Winebid and see what you really enjoy. I found a lot of good values in Southern Rhône wine that replaced many of the bombastic CA wines I used to pay $30- $60 a bottle. I now enjoy Gigondas, Chateauneuf de Pape and other Southern Rhône’s for half that, most with some age on them to boot.

They got bought by corporate america.
Now its home of the Blueberry Milkshake.

Maybe this is what many of us have experienced. Justin is/was the gateway to higher-end, or at least more boutiquey, producers? Not sure there’s anything wrong with that.

Agreed. Definitely not mad about it. And I do think they have a phenomenal tasting experience in Paso.

I’ve also become picky with Paso cabs/reds over time as my palate has shifted towards the old world, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed a few Halter Ranch bottlings last year, including their cab. Maybe give them a whirl if you’re looking for something similar from the same area.

We have always enjoyed Halter Ranch.
I remember when the tasting room was an old white farm house just off the road.
Last time they had the new tasting room open which you drive up into the vineyards to get to.
WOW amazing views it feels like you are in the middle of the vineyards.