Paso Robles has become one of California’s most exciting wine regions. Ten years ago, there were less than 35 wineries here. Today there are more than 200. And the wines they make are garnering increasing acclaim.
Paso Robles (“Pass of the Oaks” in Spanish), in San Luis Obispo County, is located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which makes it a day trip, or a destination in its own right. Their prices are lower, and the vibe is more laid-back than Napa and Sonoma, and the wines they make are garnering increasing acclaim.
Paso’s (as the locals call it) rolling hillsides were home to fruit orchards, fields of vegetables and cattle ranches long before the first grapes were planted, and that tradition continues today. Currently, there are more than 32,000 acres of grapes planted and still growing. There is an adamant farm to table ethos among local food producers, restaurants, and even winemakers who sell their bottles either out the winery door or directly to area dining establishments. Downtown Paso Robles is home to many restaurants serving locally grown food and locally made wine, and several wineries offer lunches whose ingredients have mainly been sourced within county limits. Look for grass-fed beef, local olive oil, and even Ocean Rose Abalone raised on a unique oceanfront farm in nearby Cayucos.
Paso Robles is proud to be home to several varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Sangiovese, and Nebbiolo grapes. There is literally wine to suit everyone’s tastes.
I’ve been coming to this area for many years and always enjoyed the wine, food, and people. On a recent trip, my daughter-in-law and we set out to my two favorite wineries, Turley, and Summerwood. Justin vineyards were once on the ‘fav’ list but after selling the winery to Figi Water Company, the quality and taste have continued to go downhill. My last visit there was a complete bust. Oh, how I miss the old Justin’s wines. However, thankfully we still have Turley and Summerwood to fill our glasses.
There are a lot of appealing spaces at this west side winery for enjoying a glass or two―and the view―from the spacious tasting room with fireplace to an expansive deck and gazebo outside. Perfect for picnics or to watch a sunset over the vineyard hills.
Their GSM is rich and intense with notes of cranberries, raspberries, and red cherries. A wonderful blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, without sacrificing balance. Of course, you can’t live on wine alone so try their delectable chocolates!
Tasting fee from $5; SummerWood Winery: 2175 Arbor Rd.; summerwoodwine.com; 805/227-1365
Turley Wine Cellars
Their big, bold Zinfandel has a serious cult following, so be prepared to pay up: Bottles often trade at two to three times suggested retail prices. At Turley, you can sample many old-vine zinfandels from all over California, as well as from three local vineyards. The estate and the beautiful tasting room are on the old Pesenti Vineyard, which has zinfandel vines that are more than 85 years old.There 2005 “Hayne Vineyard” Petite Syrah is all head-trained, organic, and dry farmed and was my personal favorite this visit. If you are a Zin fan, you have to try his.
$10 tasting fee
2900 Vineyard Dr., Templeton (6 miles south of Paso Robles); turleywinecellars.com or 805/434-1030.
Paso Robles Inn
Tile-roofed hotel in downtown Paso Robles. In the mid-1800s, the Paso Robles region—known for its mineral hot springs–was a rest stop for travelers of the Camino Real trail who indulged in the area’s therapeutic watering hole. Today, the Paso Robles Inn carries on this tradition with 18 of its guest rooms outfitted with hot spring spas. I have stayed here 4 times and each time was better than the last.
Steakhouse ($$$) and coffee shop ($) too. 98 rooms from $199 1103 Spring Street, Paso Robles pasoroblesinn.com or 800/676-1713.
At SummerWood Winery, a beautiful farmhouse-style inn set among gardens, with one of the best breakfasts in the region, plus gourmet appetizers and wine in the afternoon and homemade dessert and coffee in the evening, all prepared by a professional chef. Fireplaces, 100% Turkish robes, and luxury linens are standard for each room.
They have 9 rooms from $279; two-night weekend minimum; summerwoodwine.com; 805/227-1111.
Allegretto Vineyard Resort
A rustic, Mediterranean-inspired refuge poised along the idyllic east side of Paso Robles, the Allegretto is bathed in 20 acres of sprawling vineyards and orchards, blending the region’s best food and wine experiences with European-style hospitality that invokes joy and harmony. Here, discoveries never end, with spaces that open up to lush gardens, soothing spa treatments that perfect balance and finely crafted cuisine cultivated from local farms and purveyors.
The hallways are full of fascinating art from all over the world. Enjoy yoga in the Abbey, a zero-gravity pedicure chair in the spa and rustic Italian cuisine in the restaurant.
2700 Buena Vista Drive • Paso Robles, California 93446
Getting there: Paso Robles is off U.S. 101, about 3 hours north of Los Angeles and 3 hours south of San Francisco. For more information on wine touring, contact the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (800/549-9463)
Once a laid-back farming community, and now California’s next hot wine country, when you visit Paso, you’ll understand why people never want to leave. You will be awed by the beautiful natural landscape, the delicious wine, the excellent food, the friendliness of the people, and the complete lack of traffic. Cheers!