Wine & Travel

Snooth User: lingprof

Paso Robles Trip & Tips

Posted by lingprof, Oct 1, 2009.

Paso Robles Trip Notes:

I went to Paso Robles over the weekend of the 26th of September. I had intended to be there three days, but something came up and I was only there for Sat and part of Sun, so I ended up getting to just a small selection of places. But I could have been there a week and still not gone everywhere I wanted to go! I will review and/or rate a bunch of individual wines, but here is a summary of wineries for those who are interested in going and would like to hear some details about what Paso is like.

General comments:

The first thing that struck me is how beautiful the scenery is in between the wineries, especially on the West side of the area. Just gorgeous winding roads, trees shading the road, lots of animals and birds. I wasn't expecting how much I enjoyed the driving from one place to another (and we didn't even go all the way to the coast on this trip, which you should definitely do if it's your first time!) I have some photos which I may upload and add later.

Also, everybody in town and at the wineries was so nice! Truly small-town friendly and welcoming. A lot of them told us their personal stories of how they came to live there. I loved that part. One caveat: There are apparently a lot of tarantulas around this time of year, crossing the roads for "mating purposes". I saw this as a negative, and my husband thought it was a positive, but I'm just lettin' ya know….

Food:

Absolutely amazing food. We had breakfast at the same place both days because it was so good: Panolivo. French pastries, omelettes, fresh bread, just great fresh food. If a little artery-clogging. Then we had dinner at Bistro Laurent, which is high end but worth the price! We had the four-course tasting menu with wine, and every course was amazing, including the little extra appetizer that the chef sent out. Amazing haricots verts, lamb, and a caramelized fig tart to die for. My husband was gushing about it to the server, and she actually let him go back in the kitchen to thank the chef, who was very gracious (and good-looking to boot!). We didn't make it to Artisan, which is the place everybody recommends, so next time.

Wineries:

It was hard to choose for such a short time! We went a little high-end but also tried to hit some places that have easily available wines. One that we skipped but highly recommend is Four Vines. I chose to skip it because I had tasted most of their wines at a tasting recently and had to economize on time. (This is the order we did them in, too.) Most of the places have a tasting fee (5 or 10 bucks), but some of them waive it if you buy wine, and at my hotel they gave us 'free tasting' coupons for a bunch of them. Also they are happy to let two people "share" a tasting, and they even suggested it to us, which I did not expect at all, and was nice, since one of us was driving.

Tablas Creek: We went bec. my husband likes whites. Their reds are starting to have a better reputation now, too. I thought everything was just okay, my husband loved the Esprit de Beaucastel. A very warm atmosphere. They have a popular dessert wine. We both agreed that it tasted like wet sugar with not much going for it.

Justin: Definitely a "big winery" atmosphere. Much kitsch for sale, etc. And this is the only place where the people pouring seemed a little insincere and faky. They treat the "Isosceles" like it's holy water, heh heh, I almost laughed. But I cannot lie, the wines kicked ass. Coming from Tablas, it just was quite a contrast. Surprisingly, the one that impressed me the most within its category was the Cab Sauv.

Linne Calodo: A relatively new place, pretty high end. A beautiful, modernist-style tasting room of glass walls nestled in the trees. Very personal attention. The tasting only included four wines, but for two of them, they let us try two different vintages, which was fascinating in and of itself. Some of the best red blends with cute names like "Problem Child". One of my favorite places to taste in terms of the wines and what I learned about them.

Jack Creek: A smaller place, a nice off-the-beaten-path atmosphere. We picked it bec. they specialize in Pinot Noirs, not a big grape around here, but they're in a different microclimate from the rest of the area, being only 7 miles from the ocean. They let you taste the 'regular' and reserve versions back to back, which was very educational. And they served the Syrah with little pieces of dark chocolate which I liked.

Booker: High end, but in our opinion very deservedly so. Mostly Syrah blends, although they had an interesting white blend also. Another of my favorite places to taste. My husband rated this one as his number one favorite in terms of both atmosphere and wines. They had old photos of the area on the walls. Because it is 'boutique' and the wines tend to sell out online, there were many wines I had read about that they didn't have available for tasting. But it was fun to be able to buy some of what they did have, and I got a little thrill knowing you could only get them there.

L'Aventure: This was maybe the most fun tasting I had. The tasting room is smaller than you might expect, given that these wines are pretty well known. It's way off the beaten path down a dirt road, and feels very 'out in the country'. But the other people there that day were very chatty, and we all compared notes. The staff seemed very devoted to Stephan, the winemaker. The tasting fee included a Reidel glass. Since this was toward the end I was, let's say, "over budget" on my wine buying. So I had decided that unless it was true, true love, I was not buying anything. Well, unfortunately it was love. Very expensive love. Oh well, you only live once!

Martin and Weyrich: This place was the only one we went to on the East side, which is a lot less pretty in terms of scenery. But the tasting room is in this cute little cottage, and very welcoming and decorated in a cute, slightly funky style. The wines were pretty good, lots of Italian varietals, and again, they let us taste multiple vintages for several of them. This was also the only place where they give you a long list of wines (I just counted: 15!) and they let you pick the five you want to taste ($5 but we had a coupon so it was free). I tasted only reds, which was nice. And my husband and I shared our picks with each other, so we each could taste ten wines if we wanted to. We really liked their Moscato (which is widely available). The other one I loved was the Cabernet Etrusco.

Overall, I would definitely go back again. It is close (to L.A.), accessible, beautiful, friendly, and fun.


Places I wanted to go but didn't get to:
Four Vines (as mentioned above), Denner, Norman, Eberle, Maloy-O'Neill, Villa Creek, Turley, Summerwood, Adelaida, Chateau Margene.

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Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 1, 2009.

Thanks for the interesting/useful info about Paso Robles. Will be looking forward to any tasting notes you want to put up. Perhaps in this thread? Any locational directions (geographical or URLs) to the eating/tasting places you mention would also be appreciated! You've whetted my appetite over here. ;-)

Off wine for a moment, I also have enjoyed those windy, relatively deserted roads to the west of 101. Years ago my friends and I used to put all sorts of cars through their paces out there, since in those days, at least, CHP didn't patrol much and unlike just a bit further north in the King City area there were no airplanes watching for speeders, either. It was the best place we found in that part of the state outside a racetrack. The only thing that slowed us down was when the tanks were maneuvering at Ft. Hunter Liggett. ;-) Though we then picked up the pace and raced each other to the waterski boats at Lake Nascimiento, for lots of partying, and mostly beer drinking.

Years later I learned more of the intricacies of the roads over toward Cambria and Cayucos, as well. A lovely area, and it's nice to know they're making such good wines these days. So much more for Paso Robles to offer than the cattle ranches, and coffee shops for pitstops on the drive between L.A. and San Fran, which is pretty much all that seemed there in the old days.

Do you ever make visits to wineries in the Ojai/Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez/Santa Maria areas?

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Reply by lingprof, Oct 2, 2009.

Hey there, DMcK. If you do go to paso robles, I don't think you'll need too much in the way of directions. It's not all that much bigger than when you were there. The restaurants were both in "town" which is maybe 12-15 blocks square? So, yeah. The wineries are all on this map:

http://www.pasowine.com/wineries/map.php

We didn't really get 'lost' although there was quite a bit of "oh, wait, you just passed it". ;-)

I have not been to the Santa Ynez valley area, at least not for wine tasting. That's on my list too. I have, however, been to Temecula, which is quite near me. It is up and coming as a tourist destination, and I had a great time there. But that was before I knew anything about wine. Really. Like, nothing. So I had a lot of fun, but couldn't tell you much about the quality of the wines. There was a kick-ass bbq place in town, though.....

Ok, I'm going to try to upload some photos.....

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Reply by lingprof, Oct 2, 2009.

Hmmm.... I can't figure out how to do the photos. They're just on my computer, not on a website. I'll try to get some help on that. In the meantime, I forgot to mention that there is lots of great olive oil and olive oil (pricey) products in Paso too. And I think you can tour an Olive Farm.... we didn't though.

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Reply by VegasOenophile, Oct 3, 2009.

I must admit, Isoceles was a delicious wine when I tasted it. Sounds like you had fun. I will have to remember these notes whenever I get to Paso Robles.

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Reply by lingprof, Oct 4, 2009.

Okay, I'm going to try to upload some photos. Let's see if it works. I'll start with two photos from Justin. (not my favorite tasting ambience, but nice grounds and fabulous wines...)





did it work?

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Reply by lingprof, Oct 4, 2009.

trying again.... forgive my experimentations.... it's really very pretty if I can get the link to work!



??

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Reply by lingprof, Oct 4, 2009.


Okay, I'm going to try just pasting a couple of links for now. (Both at Justin)

http://picasaweb.google.com/carmen....
http://picasaweb.google.com/carmen....

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2009.

Both of those links seem to be the same Carmen.


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Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2009.

And it doesn't seem to want to post to Snooth, either (I tried, twice)

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 5, 2009.

I can't wait to visit Paso. So many up and coming stars and it looks a "little" more laid back than say Napa!

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Reply by lingprof, Oct 5, 2009.

Hey all. As my friend DmcK pointed out, I posted the same link twice. However if you go to that link and click "view all", you can see the entire roster of photos. I actually didn't take that many; I was focused on the wines. But I captioned a few that I thought were particularly representative.

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Reply by Larry A, Mar 8, 2010.

Thank you everyone for all your tips about Paso Robles.  During my last visit to Paso Robles, I follow signs to a new winery that had opened few months ago.  It's name is J&J Cellars.  They had a case sale sign and I have to say that I bought cases of wines I did'nt know were made in the Central Coast.  I had some UNBELIEVABLE blends of Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Who knew?  I also bought some exceptional Tempranillo and Barbera.  The place was cute and had a VERY friendly dog name Patty.  You should definitely check it out if you are in the area.

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Reply by amour, Mar 8, 2010.

You missed EBERLE !!

Shame!

Thanks  for  sharing!

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Reply by PinotAholic, Apr 5, 2010.

You should really try Brochelle. They have a killer Zin & a couple other great reds. Their Rose isn't bad either! They are located in Meritage Tasting Lounge which is right downtown Paso on the square. There are some other descent wineries in their as well as it is a collaborative tasting room. They have some great tapas & atmosphere as well.

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Reply by napagirl68, Apr 6, 2010.

Well after attending the Rhone Rangers tasting in San Francisco, I can see I need a trip to Paso soon!  Paso was well represented at the show, and if you like rhone grapes, you'll won't want to miss these wineries:

1. Anglim- so far, I've loved everything I've tasted of theirs, especially their Mourvedre. 

2. Jada Winery - Hell's kitchen syrah?  need I say more?

3.  Tablas Creek - one of the best producers of rhone varietals in US,  imho.

4.  Calcareous Vineyards- great blends, great syrahs..

Can't speak for Zins of Paso, since I still need to get down there (and I missed ZAP SF this year).  I have had a few tell me they like Peachy Canyon vineyards for zins, but haven't tasted them myself.

I am VERY curious for anyone's input on Paso Tempranillo and Barbera..... 

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Reply by VegasOenophile, Apr 7, 2010.

I have since enjoyed some L'Aventure wines.  I was curious which one you picked up and what was your favorite?

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Reply by chadrich, Apr 7, 2010.

We traveled in Paso about a year ago.  Great expereince.  The atmosphere reminds me a bit of what Napa and Sonoma used to be (ie fewer crowds and traffic, more laid back).  A couple of stand-outs for me:

Adelaida-great zin, a killer nebbiolo, good cab; really nice tasting room experience overall

Turley-arguably "the" zin producer.  They also have a couple of big petite syrahs and an incredibly Charbono.  Their portfolio is extensive and only a small bit of it ever sees retail distribution, so a good opportunity to pick-up some unique stuff that you can't find at home

Edward Cellars-primarily Rhone blends with some zin thrown into many of them.  Very small and intimate tasting room in downtown Paso, just off the square

Napagirl, I don't recall running across much tempranillo or barbera.  Love barbera, so wish I had....

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Reply by PinotAholic, Apr 7, 2010.

If you want the Hell's Kitchen you better jump on that cause I hear they're almost out.

I will update you on the local Temps. I am having a blind tasting of 10 different Tempranillos tomorrow night! I'll post the results on Friday. Barbera is few & far between on the central coast & not that great from that area.

But definitely check out Brochelle Vineyards for their Estate Zin. It's by far my fav from Paso.

 

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Reply by brinko99, Apr 8, 2010.

I too am a big fan of Paso Robles.  The Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve at Castoro Cellars is fantastic.  For zins, be sure to try ZinAlley, big bad Zins...

If you're in town in the morning, don't miss the Paso Robles cheese shop.  Nothing beats a fantastic cheese to sample while you're out tasting wines!

-- Terrence (Terenity.com)

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Reply by MarkAse, Apr 8, 2010.

Paso is definitely one of the best wine regions to visit right now, the price/quality ratio offered both by the wineries and the surrounding towns is quite good.

 

I'd definitely add Terry Hoague, Alta Colina and Denner to any list when visiting Paso.  Alta Colina especially offers some incredible wine, in one of the more intimate tasting rooms around.  Plus, like Terry Hoague it's a family business making about 600 cases, those are the types of wineries I like to support.

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