Paso Robles (pronounced “ro-bulls” instead of “ro-blase”) is located in central California, just 30 miles north of San Louis Obispo. There are many things to do in Paso Robles, especially wine tastings. There are over 200 wineries in the area that are mostly family owned. It’s a great place to escape from one of California’s major metropolitan cities such as San Francisco or Los Angeles. It’s an easy 3-4 hour drive from either city.
“Paso”, as the locals call it, is known for it’s diversity of wine types and innovation in winemaking. According to Wine Folly, the key styles that make Paso famous are:
- Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends
- Rhone blends, including Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Viognier
- Cal-Italians, including Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera
- Innovative Blends, which include non-traditional wine blends
While there are a ton of places to visit, here’s are some quick highlights from our visit in March 2017.
1. Wine Tasting:
Whether you’re a wino or just a casual admirer, visiting a winery is a great way to get away from the big city and spend the day tasting and learning more about wine. During our last visit, we visited three wineries:
Each winery has their own feel and vibe, though all were extremely relaxing!
2. Olive Oil Tasting:
While the majority of visitors to Paso tend to focus on wineries, there are also olive oil farms in the area that produce incredible oils. One of my favorites is Kiler Ridge, which has a very educational olive oil tasting. They basically walk you through the tasting of their popular oils, and explain why most commercially available oils in the supermarket are mislabeled and unregulated. In fact, when I visited their farm a few years ago, I was so impressed by the tasting that I joined their club and receive their shipments twice a year.
3. Downtown Paso Robles:
Paso has a great downtown area filled with restaurants, cafés, and art galleries. Also, they host festivals all the time, so check in advance of your trip if one is happening during your visit. You can find details at the official Downtown Paso Robles website.
While there are major hotel chains in the area, I highly recommend staying on a vineyard. The prices range and seem to be higher for many of the established wineries.
During our last visit, we stayed at a house that we booked via Airbnb. The house was incredible and had a fire pit and BBQ in the back. It was located on a working vineyard, so the views were spectacular.
Tips for visiting Paso Robles
1. Make appointments before visiting:
Some wineries do not require an appointment, but it’s always safer to call in advance to verify. Sometimes wineries will also host private parties which may affect their normal tasting schedule.
2. Pack food and snacks when visiting wineries:
Wineries are generally supportive of people bringing their own food. Just make sure to purchase some wine and enjoy the peace and calm of being at a vineyard or winery.
3. Join a winery to get discounts:
Most wineries will waive any tasting fees if you join their club. They will also provide discounts on their wines. If you find a winery that you like, considering joining by purchasing a membership. Some wineries also organize member-only events to get a more intimate look at the process and wine produced.
4. Ride-sharing services can be spotty:
Uber and Lyft are available, but the supply is generally low. Also, phone reception can be hit or miss, especially when you’re at some of the distant wineries. There are designated drivers that you can hire to help you get from one winery to another. We highly suggest you have a designated driver, especially if you plan to do multiple wine tastings!
5. Bring your purchased wine to dinner:
Most restaurants in Paso allow you to bring your own wines to the restaurant. This is a great way to enjoy the wines you just bought on your last visit. In fact, you can even search for restaurants that offer a free corkage on OpenTable.
6. Avoid leaving wine in a hot car:
I recommend packing a cooler with you in case you want to store your wine in the car while traveling to different wineries. Of course, make sure to bring them inside when you get back to your hotel or house. Additionally, see our video/post on how to pack wine and beer when traveling.
7. Check out Templeton:
Though most people concentrate their time exploring Paso, don’t be afraid to venture south to Templeton. Templeton has a lot of great vineyards and farms and is generally cheaper than Paso. Don’t rule it out a place to stay or explore during your visit.
Have you been to Paso Robles? If so, please share your experience and recommendations in the comment section below.