In California’s Central Coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Paso Robles Wine Country has over 200 wineries with about 26,000 vineyard acres producing more than 40 different varieties. Among the many wine varietals grown there is a broad spectrum of Rhone varietals. The growing season here is full of warm days and cool evenings resulting in vibrantly ripened fruit. The city of Paso Robles has about 30,000 residents and the other communities here include San Miguel, Templeton, Atascadero, and Santa Margarita.
We are very fond of the Paso Robles Wine Country and have spent a lot of time here because we were lucky enough to have friends who lived in Paso Robles for a number of years. Keep reading to learn about our favorite destinations.
Favorite Wineries in Paso Robles and York Mountain
Asuncion Ridge Vineyards – This small winery’s tasting room is right across the street from the park in downtown Paso Robles. The specialty here is Pinot Noir, although they also make several red wine blends as well. Our favorites are the Pinot Noir and Lascivious (a Mourvedre/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend). Owner/winemaker Philip Krumal also owns a luxury inn on a ridge at 2000 feet that we’ve heard great things about. 725 12th Street, Paso Robles (805) 237-1425
Bella Luna Estate Winery –Friends and founders Kevin Healey and Sherman Smoot make less than 2000 cases of wine per year, but what they make is downright tasty. Our favorites here are their Sangiovese and Fighter Pilot Zinfandel, both of which are prone to selling out. Great wines here from vines that are dry farmed. 1850 Templeton Road, Templeton (805) 434-5477
Booker Vineyard – The name Booker comes from Claude and Dick Booker, two orphan brothers who eventually owned over 1200 acres on Paso Robles’ west side and left their estate to charity upon their deaths. In 2001, Eric and Lisa Jensen purchased 72 acres of the original property, intending to grow grapes for some of the premium wineries in the area. Eventually, they decided to start their own label and the first bottling of Booker wines was in 2005. The Cabernet Sauvignon here is our favorite. 2640 Anderson Road, Paso Robles (805) 237-7367
Clayhouse Wines – The Clayhouse label and brand celebrate a historic home at the estate vineyard on Highway 46 East of Paso Robles. That 150-year-old adobe structure, the Clayhouse, has been restored and is gorgeous. The estate grows over 1000 acres of grapes, but sells a vast majority of them. The wines they do make can be tried at a cute little storefront on 13th street in downtown Paso Robles with friendly and helpful staff. We really liked their estate Malbec, Tannat, Grenache Blanc and the Show Pony Petite Sirah. 849 13th Street, Paso Robles (805) 238-7055
Halter Ranch Vineyard – On the west side of Paso Robles, on Adelaida Road, you can find this winery creating wines from beautiful vineyards on their historic 900 acre ranch. Halter Ranch makes several different varietals at reasonable prices, and we like several of their wines, but we usually find ourselves buying their white wines and their Rosés. 8910 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles
Jack Creek Cellars – From when they first bought the front 75 acres of JRK Ranch (now Kruse Vineyards and Jack Creek Cellars), Doug and Sabrina Kruse have focused on producing great wines and providing a casual, friendly environment for wine-tasting. If you are looking for a more full-bodied Pinot Noir, come here. The Chardonnay is also among our favorites. 5265 Jack Creek Road, Templeton (805) 226-8283
Justin Vineyards and Winery – Out on the far west side of Paso Robles, the property here was founded in 1981 by Justin Baldwin when he planted the 160 acre property to the major Bordeaux varietals and created an Estate vineyard. A broad range of wines are made here, with our favorites being Justification (Cabernet Franc), Isosceles (Meritage), and the Cabernet Sauvignons. If you are interested, there is a quaint Bed & Breakfast (Just INN) and also a gourmet restaurant (The Restaurant at Justin) on site. 11680 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles (805) 238-6932
L’Aventure Winery – Stephan Asseo, owner and winemaker, began making wine in 1982 and produces some flat-out delicious Rhone-style varietals. In the spirit of sustainable agriculture, L’Aventure winery runs on solar power and in the spirit of maximizing quality, the vines are planted in a high density plantation scheme of 2,100 vines per acre. The Rosé and Optimus (a Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot blend) are two of our favorites here. 2815 Live Oak Road, Paso Robles (805) 227-1588, x204 [reservation required]
Linne Calodo Cellars – We’ve bought a lot of wine over the years here. Matt Trevisan, the owner and winemaker here keeps things interesting by focusing on blends of Zinfandel, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah, frequently coming up with a blend he likes and then giving it a creative name (Problem Child, Sticks and Stones, Nemisis, Slacker, etc.). The winery started back in 1998, and over time the quality of the wines (and Matt’s reputation) grew until appointments are now required for tasting. So, just plan ahead a little. 3030 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles (805) 227-0797
Tablas Creek Vineyard – Tablas Creek is the result of efforts of Robert Haas and the Perrin family (owners of Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf du Pape). They purchased a 120-acre parcel in west Paso Robles and named it Tablas Creek Vineyard, after the small creek running through the property. Then, they imported vines from the French estate to California. Tablas Creek built thier own grafting and greenhouse facilities to propagate and graft their cuttings, producing the grapevines used to plant the estate vineyard. Red wines make up about 2/3 of the production here, and our favorites include the blends sold under the names “Côtes de Tablas,” “Esprit de Beaucastel” and “Panoplie”. The whites here are also excellent, including the “Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc,” Grenache Blanc, Vermentino and the rarely seen Picpoul Blanc. 9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles (805) 237-1231
Terry Hoage Vineyards – This small organically farmed winery focuses on Rhone varietals and they usually sell out quickly of what they make so if you like it, buy it. Former football player Terry Hoage and his wife Jennifer purchased a 26-acre vineyard in 2002 and began their label. They make their wines without racking, fining or filtering in 100% French oak. His Grenache Blanc (“The Gap”) and Grenaches (“The 46,” “Skins” and “The Pick”) are particularly wonderful. 870 Arbor Road, Paso Robles (805) 238-2083
Windward Vineyard – If you like burgundian-style Pinot Noir, then you need to come here to try the wines. Owners/operators Marc Goldberg and Maggie D’Ambrosia specialize in 100% Estate-grown Pinot Noir and that is the only wine made here. Windward wines are popular and well-received. Since 1995 (when the 1993 vintage was released) Windward has sold out each year. 1380 Live Oak Road, Paso Robles (805) 239-2565
ZinAlley Winery – This small family-owned and operated winery was once part of the old Pesenti Estate. Frank Nerelli and his wife Connie bought the property in the early 1970s and their excellent Zinfandel and Zinfandel Port come from dry farmed, head pruned vines. Both wines are worth the effort to schedule an appointment, and you can usually taste (and buy) the wines made by Bryson Frank Nerelli (Frank and Connie’s son) here as well. 3730 West Highway 46, Templeton (805) 238-0959 [reservation required]
Favorite Food Stops in Paso Robles and York Mountain
Amsterdam Coffee House – Opened in 2009, this may be the best place for coffee in Paso Robles. One block north of the park downtown, you can enjoy your drinks either inside or outside and the service is excellent. 725 13th Street, Paso Robles (805) 239-7779
Artisan Restaurant – American Bistro restaurant with great food in downtown Paso Robles owned by brothers Chris and Michael Kobayashi. The atmosphere feels and looks like a wine country restaurant. The seasonal menu is focused on local, organic ingredients frequently obtained from this morning’s farmer’s market. 1401 Park Street #105, Paso Robles (805) 237-8084
Di Raimondo’s Italian Market and Cheese Shop – If you want some really good cheese while you’re in Paso Robles, this is the place to come. Great selection of cheeses and charcuterie offered by knowledgeable staff in a building they share with the Two Little Birds Bakery. 822 13th Street, Paso Robles (805) 238-1268
The Loading Chute – Straightforward, traditional and well-prepared food served cordially out in Creston (east of Templeton and southeast of Paso Robles) in an old-timer western atmosphere . Popular with locals for a dinner of steak or prime rib, “the Chute” is also a great place for Sunday breakfast. 6350 Webster Road, Creston (805) 237-1259
McPhee’s Grill – In downtown Templeton, chef Ian McPhee is in charge of this excellent steakhouse restaurant that is popular and well-known for their large portions. You can select oak-grilled beef (top sirloin, filet mignon, ribeye) or a wide range of other food as well (including a great burger). If you are looking for the restaurant that people who live in the area love to go to for an evening out, this is it. 416 South Main Street, Templeton (805) 434-3204
Panolivo Family Bistro – French Family cooking experience combined with Californian ingredients and flavors make this one of our favorite places for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. They also do dinner, but we come here for sit-down breakfasts and lunches because the choices are varied, the service is good, and the food is very well made. They also have a great selection of bakery items, if you just want a pastry-and-coffee breakfast to start your day. Great place, great people. 1344 Park Street, Paso Robles (805) 239-3366
Papi’s – Looking for a great taqueria? This wonderful place in downtown Paso Robles offers everything you would expect, including super burritos that will remind you of the Mission in San Francisco. Small, hole-in-the-wall atmosphere with reasonably priced, excellent Mexican food. 840 13th Street, Paso Robles (805) 239-3720
Villa Creek Restaurant – Villa Creek is a pretty restaurant with a great bar serving excellent “early Californian” food. Chef Tom Fundaro makes delicious rustic dishes from local, organically or sustainably farmed ingredients. Fish, beef, pasta, pork belly – you can find it all here. Full bar, open until 10 pm each night. 1144 Pine Street, Paso Robles (805) 238-3000
Other Helpful Links
Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance – A cooperative marketing alliance made up of Paso Robles Wine Country wineries, vineyards and related businesses. Their annual wine events include the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival (March), Paso Robles Wine Festival (May), and Harvest Wine Weekend (December). Their wine country guide book, and map, are superb.
Hospice du Rhone® (HdR) – Non-profit business league with the specific purpose of improving the business conditions of the grape growers and wine producers of Rhône variety wines and grapes throughout the world. Each year, they produce a three-day event in late Spring which is the world’s largest international celebration of Rhone variety wines. April 26-28, 2012 marks the 20th anniversary for this event.