Napa and Sonoma may get most of the attention as California’s premier wine travel destinations, but there are several other dynamic regions throughout the Golden State that are well worth a visit. Paso Robles is one of them. Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the historic city of Paso Robles and its surrounding wine country are gaining a reputation as a top spot for oenotourism, also known as wine tourism.
The city’s official name, “El Paso de Robles,” is translated as “The Pass (or Path) of Oaks” for the numerous oak trees that grow in the area. In the spirit of keeping true to its moniker, the city has preserved some of the oldest trees and they are now standing smack in the middle of paved streets with cars passing around them!
Outside of the city, the wine region is home to more than 60 grape varieties and over 200 wineries, many with tasting rooms that welcome visitors. Paso Robles is well-known for its red wines made from Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhône grapes like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, but many other reds, whites and rosés also carry the Paso Robles label.
A great time to visit is in May, during the annual Paso Robles Wine Festival, kicking off its 37th year this May 16th. The festival includes seminars, winemaker dinners, and a “Grand Tasting” in the heart of downtown Paso Robles on Saturday afternoon with over 70 wineries pouring their best wines.
Sounds like fun, right? Check out TravelPaso.com for other great things to do in Paso Robles wine country.
LOOK FOR THESE PASO ROBLES WINES
Barre Estate is a small, boutique winery that was founded in 2007 by native New Orleanians Tealy and Greg Barre who are dedicated to making great wines that enhance the culinary experience. Their handcrafted, estate grown, single vineyard wines are mostly sold online, in their tasting room, and through their wine club.
The 2016 Albariño ($16) is a gorgeous wine — bright, with loads of citrus and stone fruit — peaches and pears. With its lemony freshness, this wine goes well with all types of seafood, as well as a lemony, ricotta-topped pasta.
Tablas Creek Vineyard was founded in 1989 by a collaboration between the Perrin family of Rhône’s famous Château de Beaucastel, and Robert Haas, an importer and the founder of Vineyard Brands. Using vines brought over from the Beaucastel vineyards, the winery’s 120-acre organic estate was established in the heart of the Adelaida District of Paso Robles, about 11 miles from the Pacific Ocean. In 2017 the winery became Demeter-certified Biodynamic, the highest designation of sustainability.
The 2018 Patelin de Tablas Rosé ($20), with its enticing fruit salad aromas, is light, yet textured, on the palate with mouthwatering, slightly saline freshness, and a very long finish. From my tasting notes: “Like biting into a piece of fruit that’s ripe but still a bit tart.”
This wine made me hungry from the first sip and went perfectly with Baked Cod with Corn Mint Salsa.
Villa Creek Cellars was named by The San Francisco Chronicle as one of "The 52 Wineries in California You Need to Visit in 2019.” Founded in 2001, this small, family-owned winery makes exceptional expressions of Paso Robles’ Rhône varieties, sourcing grapes that are certified Demeter Biodynamic, organic, or sustainably farmed. The 2015 Villa Creek Avenger ($55) is a powerful, rich and full-fruited red blend composed of 70% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache.
Niner Wine Estates was started as a second career for Richard and Pam Niner who purchased their first vineyard in 2001, Bootjack Ranch, and spent the next decade building a tasting room and winery, and planting two additional vineyards. In 2013, they retired and their son Andy now runs the winery. Niner Wine Estates grows a wide range of varietals and specializes in small lot bottlings.
The 2014 Cabernet Franc ($40) bursts with big, fruit-forward aromas of blackberry and dark cherry, licorice and earth. Surprisingly, on the palate, it was very dry, almost tangy, with a bracing acidity that balances out all that fruitiness. Try this delicious wine with all of your barbecued meats this summer.
See you in Paso Robles!