Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Paso Robles is the perfect jumping off point to explore all that California’s Central Coast region has to offer. With vineyards and wineries aplenty, an utterly charming downtown and good food galore, it made our 2014 Imbibe 75 list of featured destinations, and with celebrations planned throughout the year to toast the town’s 125th anniversary, there’s no better time to get a taste. A rustic respite to the mega metropolises of the great Golden State, and perfect for a weekend getaway when you’ve got wine on the mind, it’s time to pack your bags—Paso Robles awaits.
Wineries to Visit:
Producing wines from the dry limestone-rich soils of Paso Robles’ west side, winemaker Neil Collins lets the terroir and grapes do the talking, relying on native yeasts and natural malolactic bacteria during fermentations. The tasting room itself is a converted horse barn that sits amid the dusty vineyards, and if you ask nicely the staff will also pour a taste of the Bristols Cider—an up-and-coming side project of Collins’.
5800 Adelaida Rd., Paso Robles, CA; 805-238-0845; lonemadrone.com
Just across the road from Lone Madrone, Adelaida’s expansive visitors’ area includes a picturesque patio—perfect for swirling and sipping some of the oldest Pinot Noir in the region (as well as Zinfandel and Rhone-style reds, of course), meticulously crafted by winemaker Jeremy Weintraub. And be sure to ask what funky ferments Weintraub has in the works—his partially co-fermented rosé is a beauty.
5805 Adelaida Rd., Paso Robles, CA; 800-676-1232; adelaida.com
Justin Vineyards & Winery
One of the most widely recognized wineries of the region, a trip to Justin is a must, if only to catch a glimpse of the recently renovated grounds. Sip through the estate’s renowned Bourdeaux-style blends Justification and Isocoles in the white-washed tasting room, dine in at the newly revamped restaurant with vineyards in view, or stay the night at one of three on-site suites.
11680 Chimney Rock Rd., Paso Robles, CA; 805-238-6932; justinwine.com
Nestled into one of its own organic vineyards, the tasting room at Castoro is as inviting and approachable as are the wines themselves. With sustainability a priority to owners Neils and Bimmer Uden, more than 350 acres of vineyards are farmed organically. Even the outdoor summer concert series runs off-the-grid thanks to a mobile solar generator.
1315 N. Bethel Rd., Templeton, CA; 805-238-0725; castorocellars.com
Just west of Highway 101, Zenaida Cellars sits on 35 acres, 22 of which owner and winemaker Eric Ogorsolka began planting with grapevines more than two decades ago. The tasting room offers a sampling of the wines made in the property’s original homestead-turned-winery, while two separate guests lofts offer welcoming accommodations for those wanting to stay the night.
1150 Highway 46 West, Paso Robles; 866-936-5638; zenaidacellars.com
The 90-acre Oso Libre estate takes sustainability to an entirely new level, employing free-range chickens and Babydoll sheep for vineyard maintenance and wind and solar power for 100% of the property’s energy needs. Located on the winery-dotted Vineyard Drive, it’s a convenient stop to taste through a mix of single-varietal offerings and blends.
7383 Vineyard Dr., Paso Robles, CA; 805-238-3378; osolibre.com
Wild Horse (pictured)
Wild Horse was among of the first to establish winemaking roots in the region—its inaugural vines were planted in 1981. Today, its modernized winery includes a tasting room that pours flights from its ever-expanding portfolio of wines from winemaker Chrissy Whittmann. Just be sure to save some time (and perhaps an apple from your picnic) for the winery’s unofficial mascot, Floyd the llama.
1437 Wild Horse Winery Ct., Templeton, CA; 805-788-6300; wildhorsewinery.com
Still Waters Vineyards
There’s a reason why this sprawling estate is a top local spot for couples wanting to get hitched—set amid the rolling hillsides of Paso’s east side, the Still Waters estate is as charming as can be. Pack a picnic and head to the tasting room for sips of its entirely estate-grown vino, all while overlooking the vineyards where each bottle got its start.
2750 Old Grove Rd., Paso Robles, CA; 805-237-9231; stillwatersvineyards.com
In the mood for something sweeter? Head to PasoPort, where lauded winemaker Steve Glossner blends Paso-grown traditional Portuguese varietals into dessert-friendly Port-style wines. Glossner also recently installed a copper still, and plans to start playing around with spirits soon.
95 Booker Rd., Templeton, CA; 805-239-2229; pasoportwine.com
Paso Under Ground
Though not technically a winery, this urban tasting room is home to four different vintners—Aaron, Clos Solene, Edmond August and Turtle Rock Vineyards. Housed in the back half of a downtown boutique, it’s a great one-stop shop to taste some of the most diverse wines of the region.
1140 Pine St., Paso Robles, CA; 805-237-0799; pasounderground.com
Where to eat:
A French-flavored bistro with a killer wine list to boot, Bistro Laurent is a downtown institution for locals and travelers alike. Opt for the five-course tasting menu from chef Laurent Grangien and settle in for what’s arguably one of the finest meals in town.
1202 Pine St., Paso Robles, CA; 805-226-8191; bistrolaurent.com
La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant
Lauded area chef Santos MacDonal adds a little Latin flair to the city’s downtown at La Cosecha, the restaurant he recently opened with his wife, former television and film producer, Carole MacDonal. Reaching to his Honduran roots for inspiration, MacDonal dishes out plate after plate of traditional empanadas, Iberico jam and manchego queso fundido, while Paso wines, local draft brews and house cocktails like the Peruvian Fizzare with pisco, Aperol and citrus help to wash it all down.
835 12th St., Paso Robles, CA; 805-237-0019; lacosechabr.com
Villa Creek Restaurant
A locavore in the true sense of the word, chef Tom Fundaro funnels farm-fresh ingredients from owners Cris and JoAnn Cherry’s local 60-acre ranch into his California cuisine—think persimmon-packed salad, mushroom eschabeche and wine-braised short ribs—while the wine list strikes an equally inspired chord with options ranging from Old World delights to Paso-produced bottles.
1144 Pine St., Paso Robles, CA; 805-238-3000; villacreek.com
Thomas Hill Organics
Fresh produce from the restaurant’s own organic farm takes center stage in dishes from French-born chef, Julia Simon, while a well-appointed selection of both local and international wines are under the charge of sommelier Serena Harkey at this beloved downtown restaurant.
1313 Park St., Paso Robles, CA; 805-226-5888; thomashillorganics.com
Artisan is the downtown Paso restaurant that could hold its own in any culinary capital thanks to its inspired, locally driven menu from brothers Chris and Michael Kobayashi. But the kitchen isn’t the only place these two get their hands dirty—much of the produce grows in their own garden at an organic farm just a few miles away. Settle in for seasonal plates like grilled Monterey Bay calamari, duck ravioli and rabbit with pretzel spatzle alongside local draft brews, craft cocktails and bottle after bottle of Cali-made wine.
843 12th St., Paso Robles, CA; 805-237-8084; artisanpasorobles.com
Where to sleep:
SummerWood Winery & Inn
This recently renovated nine-bedroom guest house leaves no detail unattended, from locally made, culinary-inspired shampoos to plush bedding to a hosted happy hour with wines from its neighboring estate winery and snacks from in-house executive chef, Kelly Wangard. A full breakfast featuring a number of farm-fresh plates is just the thing to prep the palate for a day of wine tasting ahead—located just off Highway 46, it’s within a stone’s throw to countless wineries and tasting rooms in the area.
2130 Arbor Rd., Paso Robles, CA; 805-227-1111; summerwoodwine.com
Paso Robles Inn
A bathtub on the balcony? This charming inn is the only one in town to offer thermal-water-fed hot springs tubs in more than a dozen of its guest rooms. Situated just across from the city park, it’s within walking distance to many of the great restaurants and tasting rooms downtown.
1103 Spring St., Paso Robles, CA; 805-238-2660; pasoroblesinn.com
Need a driver? Better call Coy Barnes. Founder and president of The Wine Wrangler, Barnes runs a fleet of vehicles that can customize trips throughout Paso Robles wine country and beyond. Having lived in the area for several decades now, Barnes is full of all sorts of fun insider info, making him the perfect (sober) guide to coordinate your ride.