It’s rare to find a winery inspired by the 64 arts of the ancient Indian Sanskrit text, Chausath Kalas. It’s even rarer to find one in downtown Paso Robles.
Located in a garden-variety strip mall near the corner of 13th and Pine Streets, you can’t imagine the unique and magical wine-tasting experience you’ll encounter when you cross the threshold of LXV’s tasting room. One of our favorite tasting rooms, visiting LXV will leave you longing for more.
The Tasting Room
The tasting room has three different spaces: the main lounge, the cellar room, and the outdoor patio. Each place offers guests a unique wine-tasting atmosphere. LXV relies on a team of wine educators with advanced wine certifications.
Guests sit for tasting at large, thick-cut wooden tables that show dramatic grains. The inside rooms are decorated with striking, colorful wall hangings reflective of Indian artistry and culture. A roof shelters the outside patio bench seating and tables with shades and potted plants around the perimeter to provide privacy. Comfort goes hand-in-hand here with hospitality.
Tasting room hours are 11:00 am – 6:00 pm Sun – Thurs, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm Fri-Sat. A wine-tasting flight costs $25 per person. The wine-tasting flight and flavor pairing (highly recommended) cost $40 per person.
Events at the tasting room and in the vineyards are over the top. Owners Neeta and Kunal Mittal prepare the food for the events using their recipes. Having attended one of these special dinners in the past, we can attest to the delicious flavors in every dish.
Wine Tasting Experience
When you enter the tasting room, you’ll feel the warmth and magic begin to surround you. As Kunal and Neeta explain, elegant wines are paired with in-house curated flavors and served with heartfelt hospitality. A trifecta of wine, flavors, and hospitality, the winetasting experience at LXV is extraordinarily compelling and unique.
Neeta says, “When someone comes to taste at LXV, we take that very seriously. We take our guests on a deep dive to understand the wine.” They introduce flavors using spice-coated cubes of neutral cheese that enable guests to compare and contrast the nuances in the wines. Guests can deconstruct wine with exotic flavors from all over the world.
The presentation is designed to be an inclusive dialogue and make the guests integral to the wine/flavor pairings. Participants in an LXV tasting get education on the characteristics of the wine, terroir, and the winemaker’s intent and a guided, interactive, fun, and informative experience with flavors.
Guests first taste the wine, then the spice-covered cubes of neutral cheese, and then the wines again. As guests go through the process, they identify different flavors and characteristics with each iteration. Each wine is paired with a different spice combination. Neeta says it helps open up the taste buds and elevate the wine-tasting experience.
Examples of combinations include pairing the Jewel, a Sangiovese/Petite Verdot blend, with the LXV Sirocco Spice blend, which includes sumac, dry mango powder, nutritional yeast, white pepper, and other spices.
The Cabernet Franc Rosé is paired with the LXV Perfumed Garden, a blend of hibiscus, lavender, coriander, cumin, black pepper, Persian lime, black garlic, and other spices.
Wines of LXV
Crafted by astute winemaker Jeff Strekas, the winemaking style is rooted in an Old-World, terroir-driven philosophy expressed through contemporary blends that showcase the uniqueness of the Paso Robles AVA. Every release LXV produces is a small-lot, handcrafted luxury wine.
For Neeta and Kunal, only the best grapes that reflect the terroir can be used for winemaking. “Winemaking is science, but grape growing is artistry,” says Kunal. Their winemaker, Jeff Strekas, aligns nicely with this philosophy as the vineyards come first. He employs an insightful, minimalist approach to make wine blends close to the Bordeaux style yet that are well-balanced, if not ethereal.
Cabernet Franc from the G2 (North) and Armaa.N vineyards is the wine for which LXV wants to be known. It may even be their flagship wine. However, in some years, the LXV Meso Cabernet Sauvignon shines as the flagship wine because it’s uniquely the best. Made with grapes from estate vineyards, it might be spectacular on a different level than the Cabernet Franc.
Neeta and Kunal named the wine “Meso” because the wines made under “meso” pay homage to a specific site – a vineyard or an appellation. The Meso pays homage to the legacy of a terroir. It’s not made yearly and is only available in a limited number of cases, making it much more precious.
With flavors of red and black currants, the Meso is full-bodied, well-structured, and rich in tannins. Made from grapes grown in Block 8S from the Gateway Vineyard in the Willow Creek District, the 2019
LXV Meso Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $125 a bottle.
Typically, LXV wines are made in a style the co-owners like or find unusual. For instance, in the 2021 vintage, they made a White Sangiovese (Blanc de Sangiovese) inspired by their travels to Tuscany.
In the 2022 vintage, they converted a barrel of the White Sangiovese into sparkling wine. Similarly, a white Cabernet Franc is in the works and will also be made into a sparkling wine.
Aromas of citrus, sweet cherries, and clove integrate beautifully with flavors of stone fruit, and citrus zest. The 2022 LXV Blanc de Sangiovese is made from grapes grown in the Whitehawk Vineyard in the Santa Barbara AVA. It’s aged five months in neutral French oak and sells for $65 a bottle.
We found LXV’s wines elegant and mesmerizing. They exude a vinous opulence in aromas and texture while still possessing concentrated, powerful, and complex flavors. LXV produces about 4500 cases of wine per year.
The LXV Story
The LXV story began when Neeta and Kunal were dating. Neeta says, “We met in the Bay area, and Napa became our thing as a couple. We’re both from India and were not privy to wine in our home country. But we were both very much into flavors, which led to our interest in wine.”
Neeta comes from a family that is a confluence of Northern and Southern Indian roots. Kunal’s dad was a diplomat, and he traveled around the world with him. Neeta says,” Something about exploring flavors and cultures brought us together as a couple.” She says that food, wine, culture, language, and music come alive at the dining table.
And that became their thing to do. While dating and after marriage, they traveled the world together.
Neeta says they often found themselves in wine regions in Europe and South America. Bordeaux had a fascination for both of them. Kunal loves the wines from the right bank of Bordeaux. Nitta loves the left bank. Soon, they started thinking about starting a winery when they unexpectedly discovered Paso Robles.
Kunal says, “We were flying to Oceano for lunch when we ran into turbulence. I’m a pilot but wasn’t licensed to fly in bad weather, so we were diverted to the Paso Robles airport. At that time, Enterprise car rental would loan a car to any pilot, so we took the offer and headed to Cass Winery for lunch.”
That’s when they discovered the Paso Robles wine region and the future home of LXV Wine. Neeta says, “There’s something about Paso that reminds me of India. There’s an intimacy between people and the earth, a community fabric, and a welcome feeling.”
Finding a Mentor and Vineyards
To get started, they took a chance and called Ron Denner, one of Paso Robles’ pioneers in the wine industry. Denner took that call and soon became a mentor to the Mittals. And over ten years later, he is still a mentor to them. Kunal says, “Denner helped us get four steps ahead, not make the same mistakes as others. He even connected us with our first winemaker, Amy Butler.”
Denner advised them to purchase property in what is now known as the Willow Creek appellation, an area with some of the finest terroir in Paso. That is where their Armaa.N estate vineyard, G2 (North), and Denner are located. Neeta says you had to be an industry insider to know the significance of Willow Creek.
The Meaning of LXV
The name of the winery reflects the Roman numerals for 65. Neeta says, “The entire Indian culture is built on the 64 sutras or 64 traditional arts of ancient India. They include art, film, music, dance, architecture, needlework, and more. And for us, our story, our journey is the 65th sutra, hence LXV.” Kunal says, “It gives us an opportunity to stay connected to our roots.”
A Lasting Impression
As we discovered in our discussions, the one feature of the LXV experience you can take away is the ongoing narrative Neeta and Kunal have incorporated into their rare, culturally-based wine experience.
Leading with their hearts, they tell guests their love story about wine. They share their understanding of how good wine should be made and what joy can be found in the Indian-inspired art of pairing wines with globally curated flavors.
What LXV has here will successfully carry them into the next chapter of their journey and their continued fascination with making Bordeaux-style wines.
If You Go:
Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, along California’s Central Coast, getting to Paso Robles is easy. Most people drive to Paso Robles; however, there is a regional airport in nearby San Luis Obispo. Alaska, United, and American Airlines fly to the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. And for train lovers, Amtrak makes a stop in Paso Robles.
Whether you’re taking the train from Southern California or Northern California, it’s a great way to see the California Coast.