Cass Winery - Flying Nymph banner

Cass Winery - Flying Nymph

Paso Robles AVA

Fruit produced in the vineyards is impeccable by any standards

A boutique, family-owned winery nestled on the eastern side of Paso Robles in the Geneseo District sub-AVA, Cass Winery has been producing 100% estate grown Rhone and Bordeaux varietal wines since 2000. Along the way, the Cass family has been honored with prestigious accolades locally, nationally, and internationally, including being named Winery of the Year three times by the Central Coast Wine Competition (in 2015, 2018, and most recently in 2020). In addition to producing world-class, award-winning wines, it has been the Cass family's vision to elevate the Paso Robles wine country experience while maintaining a strong connection to the land and continuing a pursuit of excellence in everything they do.

The 145-acre Cass Winery estate was purchased by Steve and Alice Cass in 1999. At the time, Steve was ending a 20-year career working for the brokerage firm Charles Schwab and looking for something to fill his retirement years. The couple was also looking to purchase a second home and they were drawn to the Paso Robles region on California's Central Coast. They had traveled to Paso a few times before and loved how different it was with wide open spaces, the Mediterranean climate, and close-knit community, and they had also heard it was quite the burgeoning wine country - a great place to start a vineyard. After visiting a few properties for sale in Paso Robles, Steve and Alice Cass fell in love with one pastureland that would become the Cass Winery estate. They purchased the land in 1999 and planted it to twelve grape varieties the following year.

In 2002, Steve Cass took a golfing/wine tasting trip to Stellenbosch, South Africa with Ted Plemons, the man that built the new Cass residence and barn on the property. During the trip they fell in love with the South African wine style and the ambiance of the tasting rooms there, and decided to team up as business partners to start Cass Winery. The first vintage began in 2003 and the winery opened its doors in May of 2005.

One of the aspects of Cass Winery that makes it unique is fact that the entire 145-acre estate vineyard is planted to ENTAV certified grapevines. ENTAV is an agency of the French government that is responsible for certification of winegrape clones for the wine industry in France. Vines that have been through this process constitute 90% of all new plantings in France because they are free of debilitating viruses, mature evenly, and can be matched to soils best suited to their development. Cass Vineyard was among the first vineyards in California to be planted entirely in ENTAV certified grape clones. The French grapevines paired with the ideal Mediterranean microclimate and diverse alluvial soils has resulted in an exceptionally expressive site that produces fruit and wines of incredible quality vintage after vintage.

We hope you enjoy the latest fantastic achievement from Cass Winery. Cheers!

Map of the area

The Art of Fine Wine

Picture of The Art of Fine Wine

California Vineyard

This watercolor painting was done by Donna Bellas, depicting rolling vineyard hills covered in wine grapes.

About the Vineyard

Picture of About the Vineyard

All the fruit for Cass winery’s Flying Nymph wines come from its 146 planted acres in Paso Robles. The vineyards produce extremely high quality fruit due to the influences of the nearby Templeton Gap. Local heat in the form of hot air rises and produces a vacuum that eventually becomes colder at night producing a near perfect growing climate.

Paso Robles’ growing area is divided into east/west factions with great local rivalry amongst its vintners. At the beginning of Paso Robles’ rise in popularity during the 1990’s, most of the better wines were made on the city’s western side.

Today, the east is king and nearly all of the 30 – 40 wineries built in the Paso Robles area since 1995 have been located on the city’s eastern locales. Fruit from the area is in high demand for its ability to make lesser wines more palatable.

Lood Kotze - Winemaker

Picture of Lood Kotze - Winemaker

Winemaker Lood Kotze is 30; a South African who studied enology at Capetown's famed University of Stellenbosch. He worked for several different wineries in both South Africa and Australia before coming to the United States.

Prior to his arrival, he passed an innovative psychological test (eight other candidates also took the test) to become Cass Winery's first assistant winemaker back in 1995. A mere two years later, Kotze assumed the winemaker's job and hasn't looked back since. He brings a unique approach to winemaking and also to vineyard management, which he also controls at Cass.

His philosophy is called minimal intervention. Simply put, Kotze believes the more work that goes into the vineyard, the easier his job in the winery. He prefers a classical approach, leaving as much of the growing aspects as possible up to Mother Nature herself. The results of his work are outstanding, numerous medals and extremely high competition scores.

Steve Cass - Owner

Picture of Steve Cass - Owner

It was most interesting to hear owner Steve Cass refer to himself most candidly as a wine-non aficionado, something of a rarity among winery owners in California. He was quick to explain himself for fear of being misunderstood.

‘I grew up in a business that was part affiliated with the stock market,” he began. ‘I worked for this company in Chicago first and then transferred to San Francisco. After twenty years, I felt it was time to find something else to do and I started looking around.

‘Alice and I came to Paso Robles and it was love at first sight. We only wanted a second home, but the prospects and beauty of the wine business were too much to overlook. I had always enjoyed wine, so the transition was easy for me. I then set about finding a number of people who were passionate about wine to make as good a finished product as possible.” Cass also admits to having learned a great deal about the business since his entry in 2001.

‘The wine business is absolutely fascinating to be around. I actually got into it thanks to a fortuitous trip to South Africa I took with one of my friends. While in the Paarl Region of South Africa, I was introduced to a great gentleman named Charles Back, the owner of Fairview Wines, whose family had produced wines for nearly eighty years. He also had a brand named Goats do Roam, a huge second label that was a trademark in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

‘We became great friends and I wound up making additional trips back to see him. At one point we became partners in Cass Winery and the rest is history,” he declared. The South African influence is immediately apparent, both in the choice of grape varietals and the splendid young winemaker Lood Kotze. Was he prepared for the excellent competition marks and high ratings by the wine industry’s press’ ‘Not really,” Cass added. ‘We set our standards extremely high, but when others feel the same way we do about our wines, well, that’s something special. It gives us even higher standards to set for ourselves. We are extremely conscious to making our vineyards work well for us. Since all of our wines (including Flying Nymph) are estate grown, we spend a great deal of time and effort working in the fields. Our winemaker believes in that philosophy, and it all makes sense to me.” Cass pointed out 2005’s completion of the winery and tasting room as major accomplishments for his business. He believes that the new buildings make his operation whole, where the process of grape growing and winemaking begins and ends. Some 10,000 square feet cover the winery and stucco barn that serves as the tasting facility and storage area.

The future seems bright for Steve Cass and his Cass/Flying Nymph wines. He looks to the latter for expansion that he states ‘could run many more thousands,” if the public likes what it sees and tastes. Steve Cass is a remarkable man with a quick and confident sense of humor. He enjoys his second life in business and probably cares more for the passionate side of wine that he chooses to admit. He has surrounded himself with a number of top professionals and is content to let them make most of the truly important calls.

With his family firmly ensconced in a place many would call among the world’s most beautiful, it is nice to see someone whose success has made him even more believable.