This was an inaugural trip to Paso Robles, and I was looking forward to getting away for some R&R, taste some wine and visit a friend’s vineyard.
This wine country is known for making Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rhône varietals which include Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne. There are over 200 wineries located here. What helps to make this wine delicious and well balanced is the maritime influence, Templeton Gap and Salinas Valley fog, steep hillsides, and cool nights.
At the time of this writing, most places have been closed to tastings, and hopefully wineries will open up as things improve with the pandemic. As this trip was during the pandemic, right before another shutdown, most places required a reservation. If you are planning on going to Paso Robles, you might need to book a couple of weeks out for the bigger wineries. Most tastings were allowing 1.5 hour per visit when I went, so you might need to plan your destinations. This may change again as our situation improves. You also might find it helpful having a map in case you lose your internet signal for directions, like I did!
I stayed at a lovely Airbnb in town. This was a great quiet location close to downtown and very central, with it’s own separate entry.
I typically plan two to three wineries a day, with a lunch at a winery. I ended up at Daou by surprise as I got lost, and they fit me in for a tasting. I highly recommend going there as the views are amazing, superior customer service, and it’s the highest elevation location in the area. Stay tuned for another detailed post on them!
My next destination was Calcareous as they served lunch. This winery also has stunning views. You can see evidence of the limestone chalky based soil as you drive up the road.
I enjoyed the 2019 Lily Blanc with a nice balance of acidity and sweetness, reminding me of stone fruit and pineapple. It’s got great body to it, making it a good choice for red wine drinkers. I also enjoyed the Malbec and Grenache based Rosé, the 2018 Devil’s Canyon Syrah – nice and peppery!!
My last winery of the day was Zenaida. Another gorgeous setting. They had a tent set up for the tastings. This winery has many fabulous wines, and it was hard to choose what to take home with me. My favourite was the 2017 Wanderlust. The 2017 Wanderlust is a Rhône blend with 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre. This wine is a deep garnet colour with vibrant dark berry fruit flavour and very smooth.
On another day, I headed to Lone Madrone. Winemaker Neil Collins, is the recipient of the Paso Robles Wine Industry person of the year in 2019. No wonder – he is also the Winemaker for Tablas Creek and makes Bristols Ciders. The wines here are made by ‘dry farming’ (no irrigation), and uses native yeast and malolactic bacteria, to keep things in synch with the land. I enjoyed the Bollo – the Barolo styled wine – lovely cherry colour, taste of sour cherry with clean soft tannins and a long finish. I’d pair this with a creamy pasta. The 2016 Syrah, crystal clear garnet colour, savory with black pepper, the neutral oak brings out the flavour. I also enjoyed the Tannat, and came home with the 2014 The Dodd, 41% Tannat, 26% Petit Verdot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Zinfandel. These grapes came from Skip Dodd’s place, after 5 years of convincing Neil to use his grapes!
I also enjoyed my time at Bon Niche Cellars, where Melani Harding is the Winemaker. Had a great experience of doing a little vineyard work, and tasting some of her efforts. She has some great wines, including her Malbec and Syrah! More to come on this winery later!
I also highly recommend Central Coast Trailrides where I took advantage of the Sunset Ride. As a seasoned horse woman, I appreciated the care taken to both horse and rider.