Favorites in Paso Robles and York Mountain

Paso Robles Wine Country

The Hills of Paso Robles Wine Country

Paso Robles Wine Country, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, 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 32,000 residents and other communities here include San Miguel, Templeton and Atascadero.

We are very fond of the Paso Robles Wine Country and were lucky enough to have friends who lived here 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, and 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 Wines – 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 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

Cass Vineyard and Winery – On the eastern side of Paso Robles, this winery crafts wine from 100% estate-grown grapes. Cass is an extremely environmentally friendly winery with a focus of creating a fully sustainable estate environment. You can either pay for a tasting flight here, or receive free wine tastings with the purchase of an entrée from their café menu.  Options include Crab Cakes, Smoked Chicken Salad, or a Tri-Tip Sandwich.  Our favorites here include Viognier, Marsanne, Oasis Rosé (of Grenache and Syrah) and their Mourvèdre.  7350 Linne Road, Paso Robles  (805) 227-2888

Clesi Wines – Led by owner/winemaker Christopher Ferrara, this small winery focuses on wines made from Italian varietals.    After starting in San Luis Obispo, their tasting room is now in Templeton.  Clesi is a family name, from ancestors who migrated from Sicily, and the winery’s logo is a modernized version of the trinacria symbol on the Sicilian flag.  We particularly enjoy the Barbera, Dolcetto, Sangiovese and Aglianico here.  1873 Templeton Road, Templeton  (805-748-2779)

Daou Vineyards – This 212-acre premium vineyard estate is located in the Adelaida Mountains on the site of the former Hoffman Mountain Ranch.  Daou Vineyards features a beautiful Colonial style winery with attractive views from its patio and terrace.  There are almost 100 acres under vine here, all SIP Certified. Our favorite wines here include the Grenache Blanc, Celestus (Syrah), and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  2777 Hidden Mountain Road, Paso Robles  (805) 226-5460 

Denner Vineyards – Planted in 1999, Denner Vineyards has 156 acres (with 108 planted under vine) pressed up against the Santa Lucia ridge, offering diversity of elevation, aspect, and soil.  The gravity-flow winery itself was built to contour into the hillside.  Our favorite wines here are the Theresa (Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, Vermentino) and their Rosé.  5414 Vineyard Avenue, Paso Robles  (805-239-4289)

Derby Wine Estates – Ray and Pam Derby own three diverse vineyards (Derby, Derbyshire, and Laura’s) and were originally intending to just be grape growers and sellers.  They now make wine which showcases the viticultural extremes of each of their vineyards (although they still sell over 90% of their fruit).  Their winery is the tallest building in Paso Robles (which used to be the home of the Paso Robles Almond Growers Association).  Our favorite wines here are the Fifteen 10 (Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc), Rosé (of Mourvèdre), Project España Red (Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignane, Graciano) and Implico (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc).  525 Riverside Avenue, Paso Robles (805) 238-6300

Halter Ranch Vineyard – On the west side of Paso Robles, this winery creates wines from beautiful vineyards on their historic 900 acre ranch. Halter Ranch makes Bordeaux and Rhone wines from 100% estate-grown grapes, sustainably farmed on limestone soils.  The new winery facility is a gravity-flow winery with many environmentally friendly features.  Some of our favorites include Côtes de Paso Blanc, Ancestor (Bordeaux blend) and Cabernet Sauvignon. 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 was founded in 1981 by Justin Baldwin when he planted the 160 acre property to the major Bordeaux varietals. A broad range of wines are made here, with our favorites being Justification (Cabernet Franc), Isosceles (Meritage), and the Cabernet Sauvignons. There are also a quaint Bed & Breakfast (Just INN) and gourmet restaurant (The Restaurant at Justin) on site.  Justin also has a tasting room in downtown Paso Robles.  11680 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles (805) 238-6932, and 811 12th Street, Paso Robles  (805) 591-3225

L’Aventure Winery – Stephan Asseo, owner and winemaker, produces some flat-out delicious Rhone-style varietals. In the spirit of sustainable agriculture, L’Aventure runs on solar power.  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]

Oso Libre – Oso Libre means “Free Bear” in Spanish and there is a 90-acre working ranch here with 16 acres planted to vines (which are all SIP –Sustainability In Practice – Certified).   The wind and sun supply over 100% of the energy needs at the winery thanks to the Wind Energy Conversion Facility and 77 solar panels.  Our favorites here have been the Volado (Viognier), Carnal (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), and Primoroso (a non-vintage Winemaker’s blend of red varietals)7383 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles  (805) 238-3378 

Proulx Wines – This family operation has been carefully nurtured by its owners, Genoa and Kevin Riley, since the beginning.  Proulx is Kevin’s maternal family name and the winery’s roots lie in Genoa’s family vineyard. Today, they produce about 1500 cases per year of high-quality, approachable wines that are ready to drink at an early age.  We tend to prefer their Rosés, particularly the Grenache Rosé and the Resistance Rosé.   5424 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles  (805) 226-2800

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.  Our favorite red wine blends include “Côtes de Tablas,” “Esprit de Tablas,” “En Gobelet” and “Panoplie”. The whites here are also excellent, including the “Esprit de Tablas Blanc,” Grenache Blanc, Vermentino and the rarely seen Picpoul Blanc. 9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles (805) 237-1231

TH Estate Wines – This small organically farmed winery focuses on Rhone varietals and they usually sell out quickly. 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.  We are also huge fans of the Decroux Pinot Noirs made here. 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. You can also frequently 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

Brown Butter Cookie Company – Although the company is based in Cayucos, co-owners and sisters Christa and Traci Hozie opened this storefront in downtown Paso Robles in 2013, offering plenty of samples of decadent shortbread-like cookies.  Their original Brown Butter Sea Salt cookie is the most popular.  But, there are also other flavors available (of which we prefer the Cocoa and Citrus). Seasonal flavors include the awesome Bourbon (with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Paprika and Clove) and Spice (Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, Nutmeg) versions.  801 12th Street, Paso Robles (805) 239-5894 and 98 North Ocean Avenue, Cayucos  (805) 995-2076 (and there is also a 3rd location at 1003 Osos Street in San Luis Obispo now)

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.  822 13th Street, Paso Robles (805) 238-1268

Il Cortile – A fine dining Italian Restaurant in downtown Paso Robles, Il Cortile also has patio dining (and heat lamps when necessary).  Their seasonal menus are created with the freshest ingredients sourced locally wherever possible.  We can heartily recommend the homemade pasta dishes here including Ravioli Asparagi and Tortellini Parma Cotto.  The stunning “Sformato” made with sweet corn and goat cheese is a must-order as well.  Outstanding food, wonderful service.  608 12th Street, Paso Robles  (805) 226-0300

McPhee’s Grill – In downtown Templeton, chef Ian McPhee is in charge of this excellent steakhouse restaurant well-known for its 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 locals love to go to for an evening out, this is it. 416 South Main Street, Templeton (805) 434-3204

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

Thomas Hill Organics – This Bistro & Wine Lounge is dedicated to serving creative fresh food and highlighting wines from the Central Coast.  They source an array of fresh ingredients from nearby farmers, bakers, and other food purveyors to concoct bold, imaginative dishes.  While we usually prefer their lunch menu choices, they also have a Brunch menu for Sundays with tempting items such as Pumpkin Bread French Toast, Smoked Salmon Omelette, and a Cambozola Cheese Sandwich.  1313 Park Street, Paso Robles  (805-226-5888)


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 wine country guide book, and map, are superb.


Di Raimondos on UrbanspoonPapi's on UrbanspoonMcPhee's Grill on Urbanspoon



Favorites in Paso Robles and York Mountain — 1 Comment

  1. Loved the article on Paso wines. It’s one of our favorite wine country places. The helpful information on some new wineries have been added to our list to visit on our next trip. I work for a small winery in Winters, CA. The wines remind me of that Paso flavor we miss when we can not make a trip to Central Cali. Try Turkovich Family Wines! Tasting is complimentary until 5:00 p.m. daily.

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