Editor's Tour: P.S. I Love Paso

Join Editor in Chief, Wendy Van Diver, on her recent visit to Paso Robles, CA. Not only did she have a blast, but she couldn't believe how much wine touring one person could pack into 5 days!

Published: 6/19/2012

I actually began my tour of Paso Robles, California 20 miles south—in the town of San Luis Obispo, where I stopped at Apple Farm Inn for breakfast. After a marvelous repast of California Eggs Benedict, I felt fortified and ready for my first day of wine touring.

From Highway 101, I took Highway 46 West and stopped at the very first winery I came to: Doce Robles Winery. I was greeted by Lindsey Jacobsen and her father, Jim. After a barrel tasting out back (expect great future vintages of Tempranillo and Syrah), I drove on to Stacked Stone Cellars. Owner and Winemaker Donald Thiessen’s homey ranch offers shady picnic spots and a nice-sized stage for summer concerts. From there, I drove to Limerock Orchards’ fabulous tasting house that rests on the corner of its property. Besides dry farmed walnuts, the family-owned business produces a line of walnut oils, walnut pesto, and other products. Two wineries pour in the tasting house as well; so of course, I had to sample! Chateau Margene’s exceptional Bordeaux offerings were followed by a wonderful lineup of Port wines from Roxo Port Cellars poured by co-owner Kim Steele. I checked in at Zenaida Cellars, and after a relaxed tasting, I ascended to my fabulous guest room located right above the tasting room. I watched a brilliant sunset over the vineyards. I could easily have settled in for the evening, but I rallied and headed for downtown Paso Robles. I met local winemaker and food column writer Lisa Pretty at Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar. We shared a fantastic meal—I had the Macadamia nut-crusted halibut and she had the roast pork. Back at Zenaida, I fell asleep to the blissful sound of—absolutely nothing.

Upon learning that I would be touring the area, Jill Tweedie, owner of Breakaway Tours, graciously offered me a driver and van for a day. So the following morning, all I had to do was climb on board! Driver Bruce Young mastered my demanding schedule all day, starting with a steep climb to DAOU Vineyards. This recently completed tasting room in the sky treats visitors to breathtaking views, architecture, and wines. Co-owner and Winemaker Daniel Daou took a break from bottling to greet me. We then headed out Highway 46 East to Vina Robles. This stylish European-inspired winery recently ramped up its tasting room offerings. I was guided through a wine and cheese pairing experience that was a feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. I’m a proverbial fan of Robert Hall Winery (my next stop). Winemaker Don Brady suggested several wines on the tasting room’s generous list of offerings. My next stop Pear Valley Vineyards, was a winery that was new to me. Owner Tom Maas and Winemaker Jared Lee gave me a great tour, including a barrel tasting, and then joined me for the lunch I’d ordered in advance from 15 Degrees C. This popular shop will deliver picnic lunches at wineries all around Paso Robles when you call ahead. From there, Bruce drove me to Penman Springs Vineyard where I was greeted by the utterly huggable Beth McCasland. She and her husband Carl have a sweet tasting room, housed in an old farmhouse, with one of the most delightful gift shops I’ve seen. My last stop with Breakaway Tours was Clautiere Vineyard where I toured the winery’s dress-up room where guests are invited to let their hair down. One would think that by the time I disembarked from my van, I would be ready for bed, but I settled into my beautiful room at Venteux Vineyards’ B&B, took a hot bath in my beautiful claw-foot tub, and felt ready for another tasting. Venteux’s cofounder, Bobbi Stelzle, hosted the tasting in front of the tasting room fireplace. Later, I headed to the home of Marcy and Gary Eberle. Gary, owner of Eberle Winery, is a pioneer in the Paso Robles wine industry and a friend to all. I was touched that he and Marcy thought to invite me for dinner, especially when I learned that tri-tip, baked beans, and plenty of Eberle wine was on the menu.

After a much needed sleep under a fluffy comforter at Venteux, I greeted my photographer, Linda Blue, who had arrived late the night before, and we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at Venteux’s dining room table. Once fortified, we started in Templeton at Pomar Junction, where Matt Merrill and Winemaker Jim Shumate showed me around and talked about plans for the future. I’m always looking for \ fun things to do between tasting rooms and I found one at our next stop: Happy Acres Family Farm. Owner Stephanie Simonin rivals Dr. Doolittle (and she’s cuter) with her gentle menagerie of goats, sheep, alpacas, pigs, chickens, and more. From spring through fall, she offers hands-on barnyard experiences like milking goats and making goat cheese. After a thorough hand washing, I toured Paso Robles Inn, a downtown Paso Robles icon with a historic past and an ideal proximity to Paso’s downtown restaurants. From there, we headed to the Far Out wineries of Westside Paso and Jada Winery & Vineyard. Owner/Assistant Winemaker Josh Messina and Winemaker David Galzigna showed me the impeccable barrel rooms and then guided me through a delightful wine and cheese pairing. Opolo Vineyards was next on my list. The winery’s three-room inn is an ideal destination for a couple or small reunion. I was pleased that the next stop, HammerSky, was my last of the day, and as I approached the beautiful farmhouse, I was especially pleased that we would be staying there. We were warmly greeted by Stewart McLennan who entertained us until it was time for dinner in the century-old farmhouse. There, a beautifully catered dinner, courtesy of Chef Charlie Paladin, was served in the dining room.

I fell asleep in the glow of a full moon which cast light on the vineyards and outbuildings. It was impossible to move quickly the next morning. After a long, chatty breakfast, Linda and I packed up and headed east to Wild Coyote Winery and Bed and Breakfast. Gianni Manucci showed us around the property which includes five delightful casitas. We headed to San Miguel. There, we visited Harris Stage Lines—another great place to visit between tasting rooms. Debby and Tom Harris treated us to a ride in an authentic stage coach. Their giant grill, large stage, and flat lawn are ideal for big events or small picnics. From there, we admired the view at Silverhorse Winery and then headed on to Pretty-Smith Vineyards & Winery. I suppose my visit to Paso Robles ended as it began, over a meal with Lisa Pretty, this time in her appointment-only Pretty Café. Her delectable three course luncheon paired with her equally delicious wines provided the ideal endnote to this pretty wonderful editor’s tour.


As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2012 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.

EDITOR’S TOUR TOP 15

2007 Clautiere Estate BDX

2007 Daou Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Doce Robles Robles Rojos

2009 Jada Hell’s Kitchen

2007 HammerSky Party of Four

2009 Katin Viognier Paso Robles

2008 Opolo Rhapsody

2009 Pear Valley Inspiration

2010 Penman Springs Syrah Rosé

2009 Pomar Junction Estate Pinot Noir

2006 Pretty-Smith Pallette du Rouge

2010 Robert Hall Orange Muscat

2008 Roxo Port Cellars Ruby Traditionale

2007 Stacked Stone Gem

2010 Zenaida Cellars Force de Fleurs