Nestled halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles amongst hills and coastline sits Paso Robles, California. Depending on which side of a hill you stand determines what kind of climate you’ll be in. You might hit an afternoon breeze coming through the pass or you might feel the warm sunshine on your face. Whatever the weather, Paso brings an oasis of wine country with many varietals, beautiful tasting rooms, and magnificent views wherever you are.
The wines are as varying as you could want and the vineyards you visit to try them are just the same. For example, Halter Ranch gives you a chance to try a beautiful Rose, a Grenache Blanc, or a Syrah on their 2,000-acre ranch on the west side of Paso Robles. They have a cooler climate than many other places in Paso. Halter Ranch is a nice place to do a leisurely morning tasting and watch the sun continue to rise from behind the mountains.
If adventure is more your speed, Margarita Adventures at Ancient Peaks Winery offers a zip line over their vineyards. The zip line gives guests an excellent opportunity to see the landscape at Ancient Peaks and have a guided tour overhead before doing a tasting of their wines. Vina Robles Winery offers much more than just views and fantastic wine. With a blend of old and new worlds, the grapes are carefully blended to showcase the terroir of the region. In addition to the wine, Vina Robles has an amphitheater where guests can see acts like Trevor Noah, The Doobie Brothers, or Chicago in an intimate setting.
DAOU Vineyards feels like a very exclusive place with immaculate rose bushes, a field of lavender, and a bell tower. Run by two brothers, the winery’s mission is to fulfill Bordeaux varieties in Paso. Everything about DAOU feels luxurious from the tiles in the tasting room to the wooden Adirondack chairs overlooking the vineyards.
Hope Family Wines feels very much like you’re being invited in to hang out with a cool uncle. Austin Hope now runs five unique labels, and his vineyards are in the Templeton Gap making it the coolest microclimate in Paso. This allows him to grow grapes like those grown in the Rhone Valley. The tasting room is laid back and makes you want to hang out for hours tasting and talking with your friends.
The food is not something lacking amongst all the wine in Paso. Thomas Hill Organics uses locally grown vegetables, regionally sourced meats, and baked goods by local bakers to make amazing food. JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery is also a good choice for lunch followed by an afternoon of tasting. Open for lunch Thursday through Saturday, you can try their seasonal menu and accompany it with a wine pairing if you so choose. You can overlook the vineyards as you eat. Even more special, you can walk by the garden and see where many of the herbs and vegetables grown from your meal came from. Dinner at Justin is by reservation only, Tuesday through Saturday.
Above all else, my favorite thing about Paso is the people. Everywhere you go, locals are excited to tell you about their favorite places to eat or a nice spot to grab wine on that day. More than that, the growers, winemakers, and proprietors truly want people visiting Robles to have an exceptional experience in the area. “We are all in it together,” Jordan Lonbord from Tablas Creek Vineyard said.
Because of the varying soils in Robles, vineyards often share grapes with one another. Sharing grapes and appreciating each other’s wines is a way of life in Robles. At the end of the day, they all want each other to be successful so more people visit this beautiful part of California. “The more times someone does it the right way and does it beautifully out here, the more people it brings to pas which benefits all of us,” said Jason Joyce of Calcareous Vineyards.
Everyone I met from farmers to winemakers, people pouring in the tasting room to owners of the wineries went above and beyond to make me feel at home and to see why they love Paso so much. They truly want people to understand and see for themselves what makes Paso such a special place and to show how truly lovely the people there are. In fact, my plane was delayed half a day and Nancy, the owner of Sextant Wines, picked me up and gave me my own tour of the town, ending with a visit to her farm to meet her new baby lambs. Above all else, the kindness and true care of the people in Paso made me want to book my next trip out there. Of course, I’ll bring an extra bag to carry home all my wine.
Many wines from Paso Robles can be bought in Texas at Whole Foods, Spec’s, or HEB. Paso Robles is holding a Grand Tasting Tour in Austin on June 6 and San Antonio on June 7. Paso Robles will also be at the Houston Wine and Food Week June 8 through 10.