Off the beaten path, but surely not to be missed, is a region of vine heaven. Aloft in rolling hills and mountains, with a daily flow of chill that introduces itself around 3:00 p.m., Paso Robles is ripe for great wines and wine makers, farmers and quaint towns, each gently hugging the area.
Not the easiest road traveled as far as getting there, Paso Robles is some 200 miles from LA and San Francisco which in some ways makes it all the more charming and time worthy of relaxing with the areas natural pace. Approximately two hours from Santa Barbara, plan to spend 3 days on the coast and then have a beautiful drive to the Paso Robles region where you naturally slow down, chill a bit more and drink very, very good wine. California’s central coast is a charming area which is home to world class wines and stunning views. Yes, over 200 wineries to sip, shop and enjoy.
Paso Robles’ cool, hip local shops and casual tastings reminds one of Napa Valley in the late 1970’s. But, make no mistake, Paso Robles’ pristine wine, vines, soil and olive trees have been dwelling healthily since the 1800’s.
High quality Bordeaux and Rhone Varietal, Zinfandels, newer creative blends and crisp summer-sipping Roses are aplenty is the region. In fact, Paso Robles is a federally designated American Viticultral Area (AVA), encompassing over 612,000 acres.
However, what gives the region a special “coolness” are the colorful landowners, wine makers and day crushers – yes, the people. You also probably won’t find traffic jams with limos and lines of people at giant tasting centers. Paso Robles has a magnificent balance of very good wines, and unlike more popular California wine counties without long line. Don’t let that trick you into thinking that these wineries of the Central Coast are not as high quality. We tasted many wines that offered complex notes, crisp whites and sparkling roses at stunning newly renovated or expanded wine facilities hosting thousands of barrels and stunning glass walls to sip as you look over the hillsides. As a connoisseur of red wine, the Paso Robles cabernets will not let you down and as many wineries are small, join the wine clubs for the best value of the best wines.
Upon touring Paso Robles, there are an abundance of delectable wineries and distilleries to enjoy, so plan your trip accordingly. Again, Uncorked WineTours can assist in the planning of several tastings of varied proportions. For instance, some of the finest wines we sipped were during a hayride around the graciously flowered landscape at Castoro Cellars. Organically rooted, this beautiful estate offers everything from holiday concerts to a full disc golf course, manicured among the vines. (Note to self: conduct practice with frisbees before attempting,) True stewards of the earth, practicing sustainability throughout, the Udsen family’s mantra of wellness is quite apparent. Available for yoga classes and music concerts, as well.
Our suggestion is to map out a few chosen wineries and then spend a day with Uncorked Wine Tours, while sitting back and relaxing, as Katie Hayward and her team drive you to unique spots, with stunning tasting rooms for sips and toasts.
A Paso Robles’ journey
Start at Tin City and stroll around the quaint, repurposed buildings. And, make sure you stop at the Tin City Cider Company.
Tin City Lunch: this former industrial park-nursery is now home to over 15 wineries, a brewery, pasta factory, distillery, pasta shop, ice creamery and more. For a picnic, ,pick up various cheeses and meats, and crackers at Etto Pastaficio, local artisan pasta makers and of course the first of your wine purchases.
Next head over to
Vina Robles Winery: go online and check if there are concerts scheduled, as well as other special events that advanced tickets may be warranted. Join the wine clubs and not only receive brilliant wines with scores on a vintage as high as 96, but additional perks, as well.
Consider Niner Wines: book far in advance for lunch or select, intimate, private dinners for 20 – enjoying all the while, the heart shaped tree forest, in the midst of impeccable casual elegance. Of course, award-winning cuisine and wines paired with each course.
Next up, Harmony Cellars
Harmony Malbec and Rose are clear winners from first sip. If you are fortunate to be there on July 6th, the Paella party tickets are on sale and no doubt the wines will be plenty. One of the pleasures of these small wine communities is that at any one visit there may be three or four other wine makers, chefs or owners supporting each other by visiting or participating in each other’s events.
Make this a leisurely day at this stunning vineyard high upon the Paso hills. Lunch is a luxurious experience, thanks to an environment of fireplaces, beautifully crafted dining areas, a breathtaking vista, and, an award-winning Mediterranean menu. DAOU winery is nothing short of a mecca, so plan several hours to enjoy the grounds and food and wine pairings.
Perhaps, horseback riding amongst the vineyards is on your bucket list. Well, take those pretty shoes off and pull up some boots. Its time to go horseback riding and wine tasting at Halter Ranch Vineyard. Such a beautiful setting, with a contemporary and inviting tasting center, sit on the deck and sip soft beautiful wines, while gazing at the vestige of the train encircling the property, awaiting your ride.
San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) or start in San Francisco and drive the coast (about 2 ½ hours)
Stay at the infamous Madonna Inn in San Louis Obispo or right downtown at the quaint Paso Robles Inn.
Special thanks to Paso Robles EVA Wine Country Alliance
And our wonderful hosts:
Soren Christensen-Hearst Ranch Winery
Jim Gerakaris-JUSTIN Winery and Winery
Gary Eberle, Chris Eberle, Tim McDonald-Eberle Winery
Steve Peck- J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
Neil Collins- Tablas Creek Vineyards
Molly Lonbord-Halter Ranch Vineyard
Niels and Max Uden -Castoro Cellars
Amanda Wittstrom Higgins, Ancient Peaks Winery
Victoria Schmitt-Volatus Wine
Andy Niner -Niner Estates
Daniel Callan-Thatcher Winery
Meegan Huff-Cass Winery
Kim Mulliagan-Harmony Cellars
Drew Nenow-Onx Wines
Andrew Jones- Field Recordings
Brian and Stephy Terrizzi- Etto Pastaficio and Giornata Wines
Catherine Jaeger-Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery
Jordan Fiorentini-Epoch Estate Wines
Joe Barton- Grey Wolf Cellars
Anthony Young-Denner Vineyards
Katherien Daou and Maueve Pasquales DAOU Vineyards & Winery
Transportation to wineries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Best way to order: Become a member and receive the best and highest rated wines.
Where to dine:
ETTO Pastificio-Tin City (not a restaurant but daily pasta specials for purchase and cheese and wines make the perfect picnic food.
Grazing at most vineyards with small tasting menus like Charcuterie and Cheese platters served at tasting centers
Thomas Hill Organic (Downtown Paso Robles)
Brown Butter Cookie Company (Downtown Paso Robles)
Niner Wine Estates with reservation on certain dates
DAOU Estates (need reservations lunch or dinner or grazing)
Just a flavor of the local events you might want to incorporate:
2nd Annual Harmony Wine & Beer Festival
Saturday, August 3rd from 1-4:30PM
Grab a glass & taste your way through this town!
More Info & Ticket Link HERE
Eberle’s Haunted Caves (October 25-27)
Join us for a spooky weekend at Eberle Winery. We transform our 16,000 square feet of caves into a Haunted Cave filled with surprises and scares around every corner. Enjoy an evening at the winery with a glass of wine and an exhilarating trip into the infamous Haunted Caves. $5pp – All proceeds from ticket sales are donated to the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation to assist in their efforts to provide cost free classes and involvement opportunities in the arts to local Paso Robles youth.
Pop-Up Experiences, they find new ways for you to experience the mountain. Recent pop-up happenings have included “Yoga & Brunch,” as well as a “Taste The Terroir” guided hike around the vineyard and Fleur & Floral, a unique floral arranging workshop and tasting.
Annual summer DAOU Gala is a time to make history together. Truly, these galas are unlike anything you have experienced in Paso Robles and beyond. Last year, our theme was Bond 007. This year, it was the disco era and Studio 54. Exotic wildlife, aerialists, actors, musicians, amazing cuisine.
Member Sunset Parties provide the perfect after-hours escape to DAOU Mountain. Our panoramic views are always breathtaking—but all the more so amid the electrifying colors of sunset. Of course, wine and light bites complete the picture.