Paix Sur Terre: Fear and Loathing in Winemaking– A Cosmic Mourvedre Adventure

By Published On: August 14, 2023

Credit: Dexterity Media

The transition from a finance background to winemaking casts an intriguing light on Ryan Pease’s journey. His foray into owning a winery was no mere passion project; it was a calculated move, underpinned by financial and business acumen.   Recognizing the inherent value of the product, coupled with the upward trajectory of the Paso Robles wine region and insights garnered from Paso Robles finest wine industry talents, Ryan embarked on an unconventional path.

He charted a course that deftly balances risk with reward.  Leasing a tasting room with a future purchase option, securing vineyard acreage through extended contracts, and positioning the business as a predominantly direct-to-consumer enterprise were pivotal strategies in the build out of Paix Sur Terre Winery. The model not only paves the way for eventual estate ownership, but also enables nimble adaptations in response to variables such as climate shifts, inspiration, or evolving agricultural practices.  The brilliance of this approach lies in the autonomy– untethered from external investors or bank loans–enabling a voyage of expansion, resilience and inventive spirit.

The genesis of “Paix Sur Terre” finds its roots in a profound journey. Ryan and Nicole’s explorations across Europe in 2005 and 2007 ignited a shift in their outlook.  These sojourns drew them towards a slower-paced existence, inspired by the charm of quaint European towns where life’s pleasures are savored at a leisurely pace. One particular moment etched itself as pivotal: by the Rhone River in Arles, France, they relished Domaine Tempier wine beneath the Bastille Day fireworks, basking in the same spot Van Gogh immortalized in “Starry Night.” This experience kindled a desire for that sensation to endure, prompting Ryan to make a full go at the wine business. He started by interning at Linne Calodo in 2007 culminating with the establishment of Paix Sur Terre three years later. Ryan crafts wines that resonate with his own palate, unswayed by fleeting trends or market demands. He creates what he loves to drink– a principle that remains unwavering.

Credit: Dexterity Media

Renowned for their mineral-driven and terroir-specific character, Ryan’s wines captivate through a detailed approach to grape sourcing and winemaking.   The selection process is an embodiment of intuition and reverence– Ryan only engages with sites that evoke goosebumps and a spiritual aura, places that bludgeon him with a palpable sense of place.  Once such a site is established, he seeks to translate the essence directly into the wine, intervening little, if at all.  

The methodology for creating these wines is straightforward yet profound: identify exceptional plots adorned with superior grape clones, tend to them organically, harvest grapes in their prime, possessing nerve, vivacity, and a crunch in acidity and skin.  The subsequent steps involve employing neutral vessels, shorter elevage periods and minimal filtration for clarity. The result? Nothing short of liquid organic grape goodness– a testament to the land’s authentic expression.

Fueled by an unwavering goal of producing 100% single-vineyard Mourvedre, a fortunate confluence emerged in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, bestowing an abundance of excellent fruit options.   Key sites such as Glenrose, Alta Colina, and Denner were seized upon, marking a pivotal turn.  In the quest for the perfect Paso Robles Mourvedre, Ryan’s journey’s saw him experimenting with small proportions of whole clusters.  However to capture the essence of Mourvedre’s captivating feral funk and achieving the stylistic resonance he aimed for-akin to Bandol wines- the pivotal decision was made in 2013 to transition to 100% whole cluster fermentation.  This shift heralded a remarkable transformation, gifting the wines with aromatic and flavor dimensions reminiscent of Bandol’s finest expressions.  

Among these, the Glenrose Vineyard stands as an embodiment of fascination, having been planted in 1998 to the Tablas Creek clone. It’s a synthesis of factors that led Ryan to name it “The Other One.”  The name is two fold: Mourvedre often plays second fiddle in a GSM blend, sacrificing itself for the greater synergy of Syrah and Grenache; furthermore a nod to the pinnacle “The Other One” track by the Grateful Dead, emblematic of Mourvedre’s spiritual psychedelic potency.

Credit: Dexterity Media

Paix Sur Terre also makes an Ugni Blanc, a rarity in limited use until now, and has taken center stage as an exceptional creation.  The intricate beauty of this wine is poised for revelation.  With a significant increase in acreage in Paso Robles,  the upcoming harvest marks a new phase.  The decision to expand Ugni Blanc plantings, tripling its footprint, was spurred by a fateful encounter with Neil Collins of Tablas Creek and Lone Madrone.  The revelation of a small Ugni Blanc plot nestled in Kiler Canyon Rd– unveiled an unexplored treasure in Paso Robles.  Chalky tension and nerve infuse every drop, earning it the moniker “Paso Robles Muscadet,” an impeccable companion to oysters. 

Skeptics have argued that Rhone varieties have had their day in Paso Robles and that Cabernet Sauvignon is the future of the region.  Although Cabernet Sauvignon may seem to hold sway due to its extensive marketing budgets, the reality is that the region’s predominant planting of Cabernet is undergoing a change.  On the horizon, Paso Robles’ viticultural trajectory will shift, and the west side of the region will increasingly embrace Rhone plantings.  The strategic shift stems from an astute understanding of the climate’s evolving dynamics.  The trials of 2020 and 2022 starkly demonstrated that Cabernet, sensitive to the rising temperatures and prolonged droughts, faced monumental challenges.  Those difficult vintages proved that the larger berry grapes– Mourvedre, Grenache, Picpoul, Counoise, and Cinsault –thrived under such conditions, while Cabernet faltered, even when shielded by shade cloth. The region’s future is an intricate tango between climate, grape varietals, and their suitability. Paso Robles’ destiny lies in its adaptability.   

Drawn from an eclectic array of influences, Ryan’s wellspring of creativity finds fertile ground in various corners.  Among them, luminaries like the Peyraud and Perrin families, literary trail blazers Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, music maestro Jerry Garcia, wine visionary Kermit Lynch and fellow industry stalwarts like Matt Trevisan. Their collective impact resonates profoundly, shaping the ethos of Paix Sur Terre- a manifestation of Ryan and Nicole’s peace on earth aspirations. 

The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided for inclusion in the story.  As always, the top priority is to provide the readers with informative reporting.


Wine Recommendations

2021 “Been Away Too Long”- splendid 100% Mourvèdre, evoking the essence of Bandol, unfurls before us. Intense notes of dark berries, plum, and black cherry entwine gracefully, adorned by delicate suggestions of leather, spice, and earthiness. This structured wine’s culmination is a protracted and lingering finish.

2022 “Days Between”- 100% Counoise, this summery light and earthy red delights with its graceful acidity. The palate unfolds a tapestry of red fruits woven together with intricate notes of spices and a tantalizing hint of pepper.

2022 Vermentino- presents an aromatic bouquet, beckoning with scents of lemon, lime, grapefruit, peach, and a subtle nuance of honey. Its vibrant acidity gracefully carries across the palate, culminating in a conclusion graced by a mineral-infused finish.

About the Author: Joe Campbell

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Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : .