Paso Robles AVA
From a family of winemakers, Justin finds his own distinctive style
Born into a winery family in Monterey County, one would have expected Justin Murphy to follow in his family’s footsteps. Since 1973, his family has been growing wine grapes in the Santa Lucia Highlands on their Paraiso Estate Vineyard. Pioneers of the appellation, Justin’s grandparents were among the first to plant in the area and they also helped establish the region as an official AVA in 1991. Their vineyard was the first in Monterey County to be ‘certified sustainable’ and today, Justin’s parents continue their legacy with a small winery named Alexander Smith by Paraiso.
Surprisingly, Justin Murphy never pictured himself making a career in the wine industry and didn’t plan on joining the family winery business. It wasn’t until a chance job as a cellar rat at San Luis Obispo’s Courtside Cellars that something clicked and Justin found this hidden passion. Maybe it had been there all along! After his time at Courtside, Justin found a position at Sextant Wines in Paso Robles and worked his way up to assistant winemaker.
In 2006, Justin started making wine on his own as a passion side-project - he started with three barrels of Zinfandel. Zinfandel had always been an intriguing varietal to Justin. Living in Paso Robles, it was a competitive market for the varietal, but he was determined to make a wine that could stand up to the rest but be different enough to find his own distinctive style. Irie Wine was born!
The name of his winery, Irie (pronounced i’-ree), is a Rastafarian term that refers to positive feelings or emotions. Feeling ‘Irie’ is to be in the perfect state of mind with no worries or cares - the feeling one can have when sharing wine with family and friends. Justin’s goal is to capture this feeling in every bottle. Irie is also the name of Justin’s beloved companion, his Australian Shepherd.
Today, Irie Wines has grown to include three wines - a Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and a Rosé (of Rhône varietals), all from vineyards in Paso Robles. Justin is also joined by his wife Megan Murphy who oversees all marketing for Irie Wine.