Located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this dynamic Central Coast wine region continues to boom as both a wine producer and a destination for savvy wine tourists. So what’s the latest in Paso Robles?
New Tasting Rooms
Four years after it released its first vintage, Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery opened its new tasting room doors. The beginnings of Villa San-Juliette was featured on the reality show Corkscrewed: The Wrath of Grapes starring its owners—childhood friends and co-producers of American Idol—Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick. If you visit soon, you’ll be one of the first to sample the wines in this beautiful San Miguel setting. The climb to Daou Vineyards is steep and winding, but you’ll consider it well worth the effort when you take in the glorious views from the new tasting room. Vines on the Marycrest is a modern masterpiece by architect Vitus Matare in a rustic creek side setting. Besides award-winning wines, prepare to enjoy vintage art, pottery, and esoteric creek side musical performances.
Tasting room openings occur often in downtown Paso Robles, and visitors enjoy their proximity to gourmet restaurants and fine lodging like Paso Robles Inn and Hotel Cheval. Parrish Family Vineyard is one of the newer ones, complete with a beautiful outdoor patio. A west side Paso Robles winery, Brochelle Vineyards has opened its elegant new tasting room, within easy access to downtown, in an industrial space not far from La Quinta Inn & Suites. Sextant Wines has opened a second tasting room location, its Estate Winery and Hospitality Center, along West Highway 46. Hand-carved teak and Peruvian walnut doors lead to the tasting bar, and the balcony affords views of the cellars and bottling facility. Designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient, Kukkula’s new winery and tasting room building is partially dug into the hillside and features rust colored insulated panels and gabion rock cages. Located in a remote spot in the furthest north section of the Paso Robles AVA, Bon Niche Cellars has found a very good place, indeed. If you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind driving on partially unpaved roads, call ahead for an appointment and directions. In Paso Robles, even the old is new. Cellar360 has opened a fabulous new tasting room—offering wine pairings, catered picnic lunches, and weekly wine specials—in the building that once served as the tasting room for Meridian. And Thacher Winery is housed in the KR (Kentucky Ranch) barn, a well-known, almost 100-year-old Paso Robles landmark.
Halter Ranch has recently restored its nineteenth century barn and installed a fantastic new jaw-dropping winery facility that you simply must see. Tours take about 45 minutes and require an appointment in advance. Niner Wine Estates has a spectacular hospitality center featuring a full demonstration kitchen for local chef dinners, culinary classes, winemaker dinners, wine club pick-up parties, and much more.
You’ll find wineries in nearly every corner of the Paso Robles A V A. Some are banding together to promote themselves as mini-wine trails offering a full day of fun. Located about 15 minutes from downtown Paso Robles, The Creston Wine Trail offers olive oil tasting at Olivas de Oro; wine tasting at August Ridge, B&E Vineyard, Chateau Margene, Shadow Run, and Stanger Vineyards; plus a little guest house or two, two restaurants, and a country store offering deli items. The Pleasant Valley Wine Trail sits just east of Paso Robles in San Miguel. The 12-mile route leads you to the tasting rooms of: Graveyard Vineyards, J&J Cellars, Locatelli, Ranchita Canyon Vineyard, RiverStar Vineyards, Silver Horse, Tackitt Family Vineyards, Tassajara, and Villa San-Juliette Vineyard. Beyond tasting rooms, First Crush offers wine education through hands-on experience. Before you hit the trail, sign up online for a blending seminar, complete berry-to-bottle winemaking experience, cheese pairing lecture and more. Also newly established, Inner Circle Wine Trail is a select group of small lot wineries, all located within one-quarter mile of each other. The circle includes: Windward Vineyard, Edward Sellers, Zenaida Cellars, Ecluse Wines, Terry Hoage Vineyards, Fratelli, Perata, Summerwood Winery, Austin Hope, and L’Aventure.
New Blends & Ports
Westside Paso Robles is producing some beautiful dry-farmed grapes comparable to those grown in Europe. Several area wineries have added a Port wine to their portfolios and at least two are dedicated entirely to the production of Port wines. Look for Portuguese Port style releases from Roxo Port Cellars, and PasoPort Wine Company. And, under the enthusiastic direction of Victor Popp, General Manager of La Quinta Inn & Suites Paso Robles, the hotel’s staff has crafted and recently released the 2010 Innviting, a proprietor’s blend of 20 percent Primitivo and 80 percent Petite Sirah.
New Bed & Breakfasts
Burbank Ranch includes 83 undulating vineyard acres planted to more than 15 different grape varieties. Its new bed and breakfast sits on the top of a hill, overlooking the vineyards and beyond. The Comus House at Denner Vineyards offers four uniquely appointed ensuite guest rooms in a sunny, spacious, Zen-style home, with a magnificent wall of cathedral windows in the living room, and an expansive outdoor porch.
New Trip Planner
The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance has a nifty new trip planning tool on its website (pasowine.com) that takes all the guesswork out of planning your wine touring day. Even if you’re not familiar with the local wineries, you can create a successful itinerary. You can choose your course based on the varietals you’d like to taste, proximity to your hotel, and more. Each time you select a stop, a pin pops up on your own personal map. The sidebar includes the winery’s address, phone number, and a link to its website. You can create a PDF of your tour, or send a link of it to a friend.