HOME > Chowhound > California >

Discussion

Paso Robles Wineries to avoid

  • 160
  • Share

Hi - Headed up to Paso Robles in a couple of weeks for winetasting and an anniversary celebration. So many postings have listed favorite wineries to visit, and I have pages of notes which ones have been recommended. I want to know which ones to avoid, and your reasons. Just so you know I love good wine, hate the mediocre. I don't care if they have fancy tasting rooms - been to plenty of those with boring wine. I love the Hunt winery.... looking for more recommendations please. Thanks!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Arciero/EOS. Fancy winery, wine not so good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snackish

      The wine was mediocre, but the EOS people were very, very nice and accomodating.

    2. General rule of thumb is that you want wine from grapes grown on the west side of 101, not the east side. Don't confuse tasting room with which side the grapes are grown on, though. Garretson, for instance, makes great wine but it's tasting room is on the east side.

      9 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        I don't think that is a fair piece of advice. What about Eberle, or Chumeia, even Bianchi. All use east side fruit & produce fabulous Paso Robles wines...

        1. re: missyumyum

          Don't forget Garrettson, and Robert Hall, just picked up some of his Grenache and the Rhone du Robles is a great value.

          1. re: PolarBear

            For the record Garrettson ceased operations a year or so ago. They did make some nice Rhone-style wines.

          2. re: missyumyum

            Agreed. Geography is not to blame for enological generalizations. There are many fine wines on either side of Paso, east or west. One must understand the west side has a greater coastal influence, so they can grow a more delicate grape (pinot noir), and the east side is warmer so lends itself to growers of a hardier variety (syrah, zinfandel).

            1. re: FoodyinLA

              well ..... I would contend thta the best syrahs also come from the west side and perhaps the Templeton Gap region. Both areas that receive a fairly large coastal influence. I also think that there are particular valleys within the west side that have better access to those coastal influence and they are better off for it.

              Of course you can also get too much. When you get way out on the west side, there are actually a couple of vineyards whose yields can drop to almost nothing because they don't actually have enough sun and heat to fully ripen!! It shocks people to realize that but it is true.

              I kind of hate to just hear Paso talked about in an east vs west perspective. The Templeton Gap as far east as Creston can produce some excellent wines. Graves, way out in Creston has a small little vineyard that has grown some excellent grapes. Falcone, (haven't been there yet) are located somewhere out in the Gap as well and they make a terrific syrah.

              Of course, I have yet to try anything out on the north east side of Paso that I think has that level of quality. I find the syrahs up that way to be very plummy and lacking in definition.

          3. re: SteveTimko

            As a matter of record I"d like to point out that Garretson has closed.

            1. re: SteveTimko

              Sadly, Garretson did not make it through the downturn. Garretson is all gone...

              1. re: tward

                He was out long before the downturn.

              2. re: SteveTimko

                Many wineries are growing grapes on both East/West but they are joined to bottle. Depends on where they lease land. As they are having water problems and permits to grow more and more grapes are getting hard to get.

              3. I would 2nd arciero and add jankris, i have never been a big fan. However, tasting room likes and dislikes can be very subjective. I really enjoy toby james' zins, but that room can get quite crazy espically late in the day. so if I want to taste his wines, I try to hit his room early on in the day. Turley's wine are nice, but every time I have been there they seem to have a bit of a 'tude and I am not sure their wines match their price point. The biggest turnoff up in paso is the crowds. If we see a tour bus in the parking lot, we go some place else. The bridal shower wine tasting parties also make for a very unpleasant experience. This is much more common down in santa ynez than up in paso. That is why I rally like the far out wineries on the westside because the crowds are so much less, and I can find somthing I like at almost any of those wineries.

                3 Replies
                1. re: littlestevie

                  Funny you should mention the attitude at Turley. The pouring staff were friendly enough. The winemaker-- less so-- curt and dismissive of anything even mildly negative about the wines (they served me a cloudy one).

                  As for the Turley wines: I did not find any there that had the presence to justify their pricing. But, obviously, there are people who will disagree with this assessment given that they regularly seem to sell out of their wines. Better for you and me, littlestevie, that leaves other wines from better producers for us to drink. ;-)

                  Go to Denner, Lone Madrone, Adelaida and Justin, instead

                  1. re: The Sybarite

                    Adelaida is improving quality in some areas from what I was able to tell during a visit a few months ago. Interesting that you didn't like the value (quality vs. price) at Turley, but still include Justin in your recommended list. Justin has done a great job building their 'brand' and they've got a fancy place where they work hard to instill a sense of exclusivity, I'll say that.

                    Sadly, given the heavy discounting going on in the wine world, it's hard to find much in Paso's better wines that represents a solid value. I'm finding fabulous wines in a dizzying array of styles from around the world (in particular European regions) with much better value than I'm finding in most of California, especially the 'big name' wineries and regions.

                    I would still encourage people to go to Paso Robles and taste for themselves. There are a number of wineries making increasingly good and even interesting wines.

                    1. re: tward

                      It's a fair point you make re Justin-- Still, I felt their wines had more presence and were more interesting than the Turley wines, even if price/value ratios are also a bit off. The skinny on Justin: worth visiting and tasting for sure-- worth buying, perhaps not. For the record, of the 4 wineries that I recommended, this is the only one I did not buy from, even though I enjoyed the tasting room experience.

                      As for Adelaida, December was my first visit there and so I don't have an earlier reference point. It does seem that they have respect for the land, the fruit and their customers. Those are factors that are going to win me over when it translates into wines that speak of the place.

                      If you want to speak of value-oriented as well as interesting wines, my money these days is on Portugal, Spain, Chile & Argentina. Some good values from smaller producers in Italy as well. Still variety is the spice o'life, and there are a few Paso bottles in my cellar...

                2. Go to Mastantuono and try their Zin and Champagne (sparkling wine, whatever). Not the raspberry Champagne, but the regular. I brought home 2 bottles of the Zin and I wish I had brought more Champagne.

                  I used to really like Justin, but didn't try anything worth bringing home when we went last fall.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: leanneabe

                    I was disappointed with Justin when I went last fall also. They don't let you taste any of the good stuff. I even paid for the tour.

                    1. re: leanneabe

                      Mastantuono is no more. Retiring; others will take over the tasting room in the near future.

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        As in, new wine producers or is it just a new owner taking over the operations? I'm so sad!

                        1. re: leanneabe

                          Mastantuono is being taken over by the Donati's from up near Hollister. They will rename it using the Donati family name.

                          1. re: FresnoFacts

                            Donati's was just hanging the sign when we went in. Good wine - give them a try.

                      2. re: leanneabe

                        Mastantuono was recently sold & is closed for re-model. They had a huge close out sale on all of their wine...

                        1. re: leanneabe

                          Mastantuono USED to be great.. we used to be members.. but then the winemaker, I'm forgetting his name, retired and I don't know WHO was making the wine, but it wasn't very good... then yeah, they sold it. Haven't been there since the Donati's took over. :)

                        2. Avoid Rabbit Ridge... they are sort of gimmicky, with their tasting room attendants sometimes dressed up to look like Playboy Bunnies and I personally didn't taste any wine worth buying.

                          1. I'd call Brad at Varietals Wine Merchants, he's pretty up on Central California Wineries.

                            http://www.varietalswine.com/

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mikec

                              Thanks for the rec Mike!
                              This is Brad!!

                              I do get people who call me just to pick my brain about Paso and Santa Barbara. I'm always happy to help.

                            2. Since I am in the area a lot I have tons of opinions on the topic. But just mention a few things. Tablas Creek definitely has some fine wine and one of the best tours in the area if you call and set it up ahead. They take you out in the vineyard, into the cellar, and go through the whole process. Worth a visit if you really want a feel for the whole experience.

                              I also just was at Linne Calodo and Lone Madrone Saturday and had a great time at both.

                              Places I would avoid:
                              Eagle Castle (who wants Paso to turn into Disneyland?)
                              Tobin (fun for the party atmosphere, it's where I send the weekend warriors but not for people I know actually like wine).
                              Casa Del Caballos (very nice people and pretty horses but not so much on the wine).

                              Any other specifics you wonder about shout out.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: BeachGrub

                                I would give props as well to lone madrone, it was a pleasnt surprise. They also did a beautiful job of restoring the old barn that burned down. If my memory serves me correctly, lone madrone is the winemaker from tablas creek private label. Or is it the other winery that they share space with?

                                1. re: littlestevie

                                  Neil Collins, who is the winemaker at Tablas, is winemaker and one of the partners of Lone Madrone. It has been his side project label for many years. I also really like what they did with the building. Last I was in there when it was Bonny Doon, there was so much kitche junk I couldn't stand it.

                                  Lone Madrone Syrah and Mourvedre were tasting really nice. I didn't dig the rose, Tablas' is much better IMO. The Barolo he is doing is also really interesting but was $65 and I preferred the other two reds.

                                  He also does a Picpoul like Tablas' but they were out of it. New vintage next month. I am curious about what his private spin on that grape will be.

                                  1. re: BeachGrub

                                    Lone Madrones' tasting facility started as the Sycamore Herb Farm that was built in the 80's. The new barn was to serve as a gift shop and sales area for the herb farm that the Shomlers built. They were one of the first farms to sell their organically grown herbs to many area restaurants. This was WAY before any of the currently chic restaurants appeared in Paso Robles. In later years, they leased barn space to Bonny Doon for use as a tasting room..

                                    Bruce Shomler terraced and planted the hillside behind the barn with grapes with the intention of starting his own label.

                                    About three years ago, the barn burned down, pretty much to the foundation. Bonny Doon moved a tent, then a trailer onto the site, then they closed down. The Shomlers rebuilt the barn and it is now open as a tasting room for Lone Madrone Winery.

                                    The herb farm languishes now that the vines are producing.

                                    For a full storyof the founders and the Farm, see: http://www.santamariatimes.com/articl...

                                    1. re: BeachGrub

                                      [I think the "Barolo" you mention is the Nebbiolo.]

                                2. Silver Stone should NOT be avoided...they have opened up a small tasting room near the plaza in downtown: 827 Thirteenth Street PR, so while wandering downtown, perhaps lunching at Mathew's or Artisan, drop in for the friendly chat and wines of Dan and Debbie Kleck.

                                  And Templeton is nearby, Wild Horse Winery has many interesting selections and some unusual varietals.

                                  Both wineries create wines well balanced for food.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: jimtak

                                    I have to disagree on Wild Horse. I think it went downhill rapidly after it was sold a few years back. My understanding is that they dropped a lot of the wines to concentrate on what the new owners called the Big Four (or was it the Big Three?).

                                    1. re: SteveTimko

                                      I've been to Turley's many times, and I've never had a bad experience there. Yes, their Zin is expensive, but it sure is tasty!
                                      Chumeia also puts out a fantastic Zin. Their other wines ain't bad either! Their winemaker Lee Nesbitt is frequently their pouring wine, and is extremely nice to chat with.
                                      Zin Alley is another favorite of mine.

                                      1. re: SteveTimko

                                        The Four Horses

                                      2. re: jimtak

                                        Is Silver Stone still open? I remember in December there was some question as to whether the tasting room was going to stay in the same spot, move, or just shut down altogether. (They are, hands down, my favorite Paso wine! We bought their very last case of the '04 Zin.)

                                      3. Least favorite:
                                        Eagle Castle
                                        EOS
                                        Jan Kris
                                        Rabbit Ridge
                                        Wild Horse
                                        York Mountain

                                        Favorite:
                                        Chumeia
                                        Clautiere
                                        Denner
                                        Dover Canyon
                                        Garretson
                                        Hug
                                        Robert Hall
                                        Tolosa

                                        Addictions
                                        Linne Calodo
                                        Tablas Creek
                                        Cris Cherry's wines (have to go to Villa Creek for meal)
                                        Zin Alley (especially the port zin)

                                        Haven't tried it yet, but Four Vines was very highly recommended to me recently - they've opened a tasting room next to Cider Creek on 46W near Vineyard - Zin Alley is right there too.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: cambriahound

                                          Nice lists. Too bad Wild Horse has gone downhill. When is Linne Calodo open? Last couple of times I was in the area, it wasn't pouring.

                                          ed

                                          1. re: Ed Dibble

                                            Ed, their website says 11 AM to 5 PM Fri - Sun. You know they have a new entrance off Vineyard Dr. immediately off Hwy 46?

                                            http://www.linnecalodo.com/contactus.php

                                            1. re: Ed Dibble

                                              Since there is pretty high demand and low production, they sometimes run out of wine during the year so it is worth calling to check if you are making a special trip. The new entrance on Vineyard makes it pretty easy to stop by. Last week they were pouring Problem Child, Leona's, and Sticks and Stones (all Zin+GSM blends in different proportions and all very good) plus the Sweet Leona's desert wine. Sounded like some new stuff would be released next month.

                                              1. re: BeachGrub

                                                Yeah, had to break down and join their club last fall in order to have a shot at getting any of the next release of Cherry Red. Really looking fwd to trying the Sticks and Stones, first I recall seeing that didn't have any Zin in it (62% Grenache, 24% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah).

                                            2. re: cambriahound

                                              I just got back from a trip (I live in San Diego) that visited the Solvang and Paso Robles Wineries. I was at the Zaca Mesa Winery, and they suggested trying Four Vines. I'm glad that I took their advice. They have excellent wines (especially the Maverick Zin), and their prices are very reasonable.

                                              1. re: steve753

                                                I got to try the Four Vines wines at Rhone Rangers recently and I liked them. They were also giving out temporary tattoos of the symbols on the labels of the different bottles.

                                              2. re: cambriahound

                                                I second Tolosa! Great tasting room, great wines, great staff!

                                              3. Havn't been to any of the wineries yet but have a really good wine from Adelaida called Recess Red. Its hard to find right now, might be worth a visit to adelaida.

                                                1. We went to Peachy Canyon and were unimpressed with every wine that we tasted. We will never go back.

                                                  Then we went to Linne Calodo and tasted ONLY great wine. We bought a bottle of Problem Child and talked with the owner Matt Trevisan for a while (great guy... and an obvious passion and dedication to his wine).

                                                  Next day we went to Justin and Tablas. Wonderful wine at both vineyards and went broke from buying so many bottles.

                                                  We at at Artisan in Paso Robles and would recommend to others. Food was not mind-blowing (like Bouchon in Santa Barbara) but it was good to very good.

                                                  15 Replies
                                                  1. re: justified

                                                    Thanks everyone for your recommendations. As someone else said, we don't all have the same taste in wine. We prefer reds, the thicker the better!! After visiting about 25 of the Paso wineries so far, and with purple teeth, I proclaim my favorites!

                                                    HUNT (Everything they make) There is a reason they are referred to the next "cult" winery.
                                                    Fratelli Peralta - Still love thier wines - a dry farmed, family, italian style winery.
                                                    Justin - Isoscoles
                                                    Opolo
                                                    Norman - Monster Red Zinfandael and great prices!!
                                                    Dover
                                                    Tablas Creek
                                                    Bianchi

                                                    I feel overrated wineries were Linne Calodo and Turley - good wine, but overpriced and not especially friendly. I don't know why anyone would want to try Tobin James for wine, not really my taste. But then again, I can imagine the young people really go for it with the free video games and party atmosphere.

                                                    We will have to go up for another visit (or several) to try the rest of the wineries on the list. 'Till next trip....

                                                    1. re: beachmom

                                                      "I feel overrated wineries were Linne Calodo and Turley - good wine, but overpriced and not especially friendly"

                                                      Granted, LC wines aren't cheap, very small production, but I find them some of the most interesting and creative blends around, also have never found Matt Trevisan anything but gracious, friendly and willing to discuss his passion. Agree about Turley, not the same since Helen left. General opinion in our group of tasters is that Isoceles' price and quality have gone in opposite directions (not in the good way) and visiting there is OK for the nice surroundings and lunch or to pick up one of the "at the winery only" bottles (which they don't pour), but I'd much rather go elsewhere than try to wade through the three deep crowd for what they offer at the tasting bar.

                                                      1. re: beachmom

                                                        Hubby and I always enjoy our stop at Fratelli Perata. Carol is always willing to crack a bottle open, even if it is not on the pour list. Their cabs are dynamite and the Sangiovese is loaded with flavor. And their wines can cellar for forever. Hubby and I have bottles of 1995 Cab Reserve that hasn't reached its peak yet (we've tasted bottles along the way). And you can't beat their prices.

                                                        I agree with Polar Bear that Justin has soared in price and I don't feel the quality has kept up with that pricing. The wine bar is always crowded and the staff doesn't seem particuarly interested in talking/pouring.

                                                        Hubby and I were also not impressed with Turley. We when left, we were asking what the fuss was about.

                                                        1. re: glazebrookgirl

                                                          Helen Turley is now producing under the Marcassin label, would love to get my hands on some.

                                                          1. re: glazebrookgirl

                                                            I agree with your recommendation of Fratelli Perata -- my husband and I stopped there randomly, and it still ranks among our all-time best experience at a winery. We wish there were more of them still like that -- small, carefully crafted organizations, without the huge commercial tasting room. He did the library tasting; I did the regular. They had some home-cured salumi out to nibble. We wound up taking home eight or nine bottles, and they were having trouble getting us rung up on the cash register, and seemed completely nonplussed and gratified at the crowd of people tasting that day. They came off as a small band of Berkeley hippies who were so into the wine that they couldn't care less about the more tedious details of actually, you know, collecting money.

                                                            1. re: themis

                                                              That is a very good analogy of Gene and Carol, we've known them for years and they are very non-money driven people. Bob and Jo Ann Dunning (Dunnng Vineyards) are another down-to-earth sorta hippyish couple.

                                                          2. re: beachmom

                                                            I agree with you on Turley - just don't like their attitudes but have alway been greeted warmly at Linne Calodo. Since you like the big chewy zin styles, etc., the next time up this way you may want to try Nadeau Family Vineyards and Zin Alley. By the way, in case readers of this thread weren't aware - Justin Vineyards lost a whole bunch of wine in a holding warehouse fire (the warehouse owner is up on something like 16 counts of embezzlement and possible arson). Justin lost millions of $$ and had very little wine to sell - could be the reason that the prices are out of whack and volume protection is going on.

                                                            1. re: cambriahound

                                                              Unfortunately I think Justin's problems started before the fire loss. Seem to recall the fellow that was storing all of that valuable wine, and selling it under the table, was just recently indicted on arson charges on top of embezzlement.

                                                              1. re: PolarBear

                                                                You may be right PolarBear - wasn't sure of the timing - for some reason, thought the fire was upwards of 12 months ago and those charges against the warehouse guy were just being completed.

                                                                1. re: PolarBear

                                                                  Polar Bear, I will be taking my husband to Paso next weekend and wanted to get a current must taste list as the thread I have been reading is 3+ years. Also, what do you think of Bella Luna?

                                                                  1. re: lkaymcc

                                                                    First off, are there specific wines you are interested in, i.e. Zin, Syrah, etc, and is there a price range that you would like to stay within?

                                                                    I'm partial to the westside growers (Hwy 46 west of 101) with preferences to the Rhone varietals (red as well as white). Having said that I've spent some time and money lately at Barrel 27 just off Union Rd east of 101, partial to their Rock and a Hard Place Grenache and the High on the Hog white blend. Have been told that Hug Cellars next door is worth a stop.

                                                                    High end gems for me include Denner, L'Aventure, Jack Creek, Jacob Toft, Sextant, and Tablas Creek.

                                                                    There are several tasting rooms on and just off the park in PR, one offers nine different vintners with small plates of pairings. Also, I wouldn't miss Edward Sellers just north of the park, on Park, iirc. There have been some recent threads, sorry but I don't have time to search them out at the moment.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Syrah - Now Petite Syrah
                                                                    205 Fifth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

                                                                    1. re: PolarBear

                                                                      Edward Sellers is no longer downtown. They have now moved to a tasting room on 46 West, about 2 miles on the left side of the road if you are heading West from 101.

                                                                      Also I did not care that much for Bella Luna. If I remember correctly they do a lot of Italian varietals which were a bit acidic for my taste. If I wanted California Barbera, Sangiovese, etc and I would head to Amador County.

                                                                      1. re: Scott M

                                                                        Thanks for the update, Scott. Neglected to mention that I haven't tried Bella Luna, and now won't waste my time. Did a search a couple of years back for Italian varietals on the central coast and came up empty.

                                                                        CSU Fresno has put out some damn good Barbera in the past. Finally found some decent Nebbiolo in the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc a month or so ago, did a post on the places. Also there's a Sangiovese worth ferreting out, Panietta or something like that, again memory failing and no time to search. Thanks again.

                                                                        1. re: PolarBear

                                                                          Hunt Cellars, in Paso, has done several Italians over the years. It now looks like they do a Barbera and a couple of Tuscan blends.

                                                                2. re: cambriahound

                                                                  Glad to see someone mention Nadeau Family Vineyards! Really off the beaten track when we went there a few year ago, but the most powerful rhone style reds I'd ever had. I still compare others to their blends.

                                                            2. Least Favorite:
                                                              JanKris
                                                              Tobin
                                                              EOS
                                                              Eberle

                                                              Favorites:
                                                              Garretson
                                                              Turley
                                                              Linne
                                                              Denner
                                                              Saxum
                                                              Villa Creek

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: nbgaucho

                                                                I'm surprised no one has mentioned Zenaida Winery in Paso. It's one of our most favorites! Check it out.

                                                              2. Read Wine Enthusiates(spelling)Magazine page 96 about Hunt Vineyards....I love their wine....David is an unblievable wine maker....he has it all in his nose and taste buds..make up for being blind.

                                                                Also visit Eberle....Gary's wine should not be missed also.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Loradio

                                                                  I highly recommend Silver Horse, Lone Madrone, Linne Calodo & Turley. Really enjoy Opolo's Rhapsody and Montagna Mare. Eberle still makes some great wines; he recently had a club member only blend called Latin Quarter that rocked.

                                                                2. Opolo is always excellent--loved their Roussane (sp?), and I don't really like whites. We also liked L'Aventure and Tablas Creek.

                                                                  We used to like Nadeau--he's WAY out of the way and only open 2 days/week--he was a bit rude when we drove up (gate open) and didn't know he was closed...doubt I'd make the "trek" again.

                                                                  P.S. The jam at Apple Creek is very good--esp black raspberry :).

                                                                  1. Note that OP was quite a while ago, hopefully she will report back!!

                                                                    Fans of really big, heavily extracted, barely filtered reds should Not avoid Caparone Winery northwest of PR. Dave Caparone is one of the pioneers of growing Italian varieties in the US. IIRC his tasting room is my kind of place - it's the same building as aging and most production activities for this small family operated winery.
                                                                    Be advised - most of his wines must be cellared a few years before they can be appreciated.

                                                                    1. My favorite wineries are (in order)
                                                                      Chumeia - just insane Zins from this apparently fantastic Danti Dusi vineyard, the Oddysean just sold out, but OMG, SO GOOD!, great cabs too.
                                                                      Penman Springs (which I don't see mentioned anywhere...awesome wines - and they serve great snacks every weekend- nice family atmosphere, delicious, reasonably priced wine)
                                                                      Zin Alley - expensive $40+ per bottle, but like the best wine and port I've ever tasted in my life...seriously.
                                                                      Rotta - again, very reasonably priced and just good, delicious wines across the board. They're still building a new tasting room.

                                                                      Don't bother going to, let's see...
                                                                      Laura's Vineyard.. really lame.. not at all up to Paso standard... not to be mean..
                                                                      Clautiere... I really didn't care for their wines... it's fun to put on the wigs, sure, but you know when you go to a winery and all the wines taste the same.. that's them. Just very boring and one-dimensional in my opinion. Sorry
                                                                      Frankly, I can't even say NOT to go anywhere else.. go to the places that are still FREE to taste of course (or a very small fee).. little by little Paso is "upgrading" and places are charging more and more for tastings... but you can still find LOTSSSS of places that don't. Paso has the best wines in California as far as I'm concerned.....Napa's ok.. I prefer Sonoma, Lodi has some great wineries...Temecula mostly sucks. You just can't go that far astray going to ANY winery in Paso... ENJOY :)

                                                                      1. Try Cass or Still Waters they(Cass) serve food and are part of the back roads wineries mostly rohne types. But on the other hand i am going up to Carmel so if anyone has favorites let me know

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: magnummaddness

                                                                          Give Laura's Vineyard another try. The last time I went there (last October), they were in transition from one winmaker to another. They had the previous winemaker's stock which wasn't very good (c'mon, why would a Paso winery carry White Zin??), but their Petit Syrah was quite tasty and at a very reasonable price.
                                                                          Another winery that was really good was Calcerious. It's one of the "far out" wineries, but it's really worth the trip. They have great wines, and a terrific view. Another winery that's pretty good is Victor Hugo in Templeton.
                                                                          I thought Zenaida and Midnight Cellars were pretty lame.

                                                                          1. re: steve753

                                                                            I'm in Paso this weekend, and I've tries three new wineries today.
                                                                            (1) Fratelli Peralta - Excellent across the board. Very good value.
                                                                            (2) L'Adventure - Excellent French style wines. I highly recommend trying this one. Robert Parker gave them a high rating.
                                                                            (3) Windward - If you like Pino, this is the place to go. A bit pricy, but you will love their wines.

                                                                        2. We like Nadeau--represents the classic Paso wines.

                                                                          Some of the new ones (and expensive to boot) think *way too highly* of themselves, and the quality is not warranted in the big prices IMO.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                            Yes! Nadeau is a true gem. For those who love high extraction wines, they are truly pioneers in this area. I also second this recent recommendation for L'Adventure, but I'm sorry when I hear about a Parker rating, I usually run the other way. I have heard too many very sad stories about the way that man has treated winemakers around here.
                                                                            But that's a whole other topic we could get into.

                                                                            This weekend I visited 1) Whalebone- it turns out they are friends of an old friend of mine. The tasting room is beautiful and the wine was very good, I liked the '04 Bob Wine 76% cab, but they don't list it as a varietal. 2) Denner- lovely tasting room with picnic grounds. I would compare it to a Sonoma wine experience. Good tempranillo, $5 tasting fee which they did NOT apply toward our purchase. 3) Dover Cyn we had to go and try the carmenere, my husband is South American and its a popular varietal down there right now.

                                                                            1. re: paso_gurl_100

                                                                              You *are* a "paso gurl"!

                                                                              I was disappointed with L'Aventure the last time we were there. For me there is a quality/price ratio. Their wines were good (but need to be cellared), but were 2-3x the price of Nadeau (drinkable now). More annoying was their *attitude*. Lord help us if this becomes pervasive in my beloved Paso Robles.

                                                                              P.S. Just drank the 2005 Mourvedre--nice!

                                                                          2. Three more to add to the list of 'don't bother'.

                                                                            Harmony Cellars, Donati Family and Bianchi

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Donati Family Vineyard
                                                                            2720 Oakview Rd, Templeton, CA

                                                                            Bianchi Vineyards
                                                                            3380 Branch Rd, Paso Robles, CA

                                                                            Harmony Cellars
                                                                            3255 Harmony Valley Rd, Harmony, CA

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: dockhl

                                                                              I am curious as to why you don't like Bianchi. I have found them to be very pleasent and curtious. The wines are decent, maybe not the best but very drinkable. since they are a bit off the main highway, they are not as crowded as say Tobin, also it is a very pretty winery. I will go back and taste again. Now I would skip Harmony, I only went there when the pasta place was there, but that was a loong time ago and maybe the wines are better now.

                                                                              1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                'Cause the OP requested this:
                                                                                "Just so you know I love good wine, hate the mediocre. I don't care if they have fancy tasting rooms - been to plenty of those with boring wine"

                                                                                I thought the Bianchi tasting room/attendants was fine. Very pleasant. However, they had a huge and undistinguished tasting list. If you are going to spend the time and aren't looking for the ambience, rather good wines, why waste your time on something that *you* have characterized as 'not the best' ?

                                                                                1. re: dockhl

                                                                                  I guess I don't have as a refined palate as you. I can usually find something I like at most wineries. I like to support the wineries that are not so corporate. I guess I cross off wineries that have a 'tude about their wines that may not be warrented and wineries that are crazy crowded. My current favorite winery is probably Tablas, so every other winery in Psao is not as good as Tablas to me, but I do enjoy lots of others. Some I like more than others, and it always fun to try new places

                                                                                  1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                    I agree completely. I certainly don't think my palate is more 'refined'...I just like different things. For example, Tablas is NOT one of my favorites. I think it is overhyped and I maybe don't like the old world style of wine so much. I think the things that you get in the Justin tasting room are not so good, although I've had very good Justin wine. I think Lone Madrone has mostly excellent wines and a nice tasting room. I like Linne Calado wines but think they are over priced. I think Four Vines has very good wines at a reasonable price, and the tasting room (altho it can get crowded) is usually fun. I think that if you ever get to have some of Justin Smith's Saxum wines, you should thank your lucky stars ;-)

                                                                              2. re: dockhl

                                                                                It's funny you say Harmony Cellarsto me, I think they are a great value for good wine. I always get the "Aria" ( a Meritage blend) and it is amazing! Plus it is under $40 which is even better! They have a great buttery Chard that is a favorite too. I highly reccomend them as an out of the way winery.

                                                                              3. if you're just going for a weekend I'd recommend checking out some of the smaller, family-run producers rather than the big well-known wineries on the east side of 101.

                                                                                Avoid: EOS, Clautiere, J Lohr, Robert Hall on the east side.
                                                                                Avoid: Castoro Cellars, Eagle Castle on west side.

                                                                                A fun route that's less busy is the north west corner of Paso: Adelaida Rd. to Vineyard Dr. to Peachy Canyon Rd...most of the wineries along these roads area small and beautiful. Plus there are some great wines: Villicana, Halter Ranch, Minassian-Young, and Nadeau in particular

                                                                                Also, check out www.pasodirt.blogspot.com. It's a blog about tasting rooms in Paso...some interesting, superficial reviews!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: clarksanjose

                                                                                  Lone Madrone wines were good, but they didn't thrill me. I suggest trying Minassian-Young. The wines are very tasty and reasonably priced. Calcareous is also very good. They have a Pinot Noir that will knock your socks off.

                                                                                2. In addition to Nadeau, Garretson is also very good.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                    Garretson wine is so acidic that I cannot drink it.

                                                                                    1. re: Loradio

                                                                                      Wow, odd. My spouse is very sensitive to acidity (severe acid reflux) and does not have that problem.

                                                                                  2. I would avoid Linne Calodo. They charged $10 for two very small pours of OK wine and were very snooty. Their wine is not as good as they think it is and, in any case, at $5 per pour, they could afford to be gracious and provide more than 1/2 ounce.

                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: SFDude

                                                                                      I totally disagree. Linne Calodo makes some of the best blends around. We were very happy to wait the year to get into their club.

                                                                                      1. re: SFDude

                                                                                        Don't know what you got against Matt but his wines are pretty darned good for the region. I mean, if you didn't like those styles of wine and took a swipe at the whole region, I might be able to understand. He is not my favorite in the area but I think he is making some good wines.

                                                                                        As far as getting charged for tastes. Two points, first they have a right to make a living and are IN FACT required to charge something to pour. Those who don't are breaking the law. Second point, if you have any background in wine at all, can use references, express knowledge, buy a bottle of wine, etc., most people will wave the tasting fee.

                                                                                        1. re: Wino

                                                                                          I think you have been misinformed about tasting fees. Charging for tasting is not illegal and has never been illegal. Charging for a tasting is a decision wineries need to make based upon many factors. While charging for tasting is not illegal, charging for a glass (full) of wine is...go figure!?

                                                                                          You're right about not being charged if you are knowledgeable and somehow endear yourself to the tasting room attendant. Visiting the small wineries where you are interacting with the owners offers the best odds of not being charged to taste (even if there is a tasting fee.) Often, employees staffing the tasting rooms don't have the flexibility an owner has deciding wether or not to charge for a tasting.

                                                                                          See you in Paso!

                                                                                          1. re: Paso Winemaker

                                                                                            You got my point backwards!! I meant that NOT charging for a tasting was illegal. It's fairly common but I think whenever a commercial wine and beer license allows for tasting, it has to be paid for!

                                                                                            1. re: Wino

                                                                                              No - free tastings have always been legal at bonded wineries in California. Back in the day, none of the wineries charged - or at least none that I went to. Even in places like Sonoma, I cannot recall paying a tasting charge as late as the mid 80s.

                                                                                              But as more and more people began looking at wineries as free drink sites, sometimes driving to 10-15 wineries a day, just drinking and not buying, more and more wineries began charging. Now wineries offering free tasting have become rare. But, at least in California, they have always been legal.

                                                                                              ed

                                                                                              1. re: Wino

                                                                                                No, I don't think I have your point backward, in fact I understood your posting very well. I'm afraid that you are misinformed. Free winetasting is not illegal, nor has it ever been illegal *at a bonded winery*. Charging at all is new (say, in the last 10 years.)

                                                                                                HOWEVER: A commercial liquor licensee (wineries don't have a commercial liquor license) like a wine bar, restaurant, liquor store, etc. may not give any alcoholic beverage away, nor may they offer any FREE incentive to sell (IE: free shipping), however they may adjust their pricing (eg: have a "sale") as they wish. I think that's what is confusing you.

                                                                                                See you in Paso!

                                                                                                1. re: Paso Winemaker

                                                                                                  Many different restaurants have given me free bottles of wine and free glasses of wine, often. They're still in business and have never been fined for ABC violations, as far as I know.

                                                                                                  1. re: BN1

                                                                                                    That means they trust you!!

                                                                                                  2. re: Paso Winemaker

                                                                                                    OK, I figured it was because the ABC is such a over empowered bunch of rule makers when it comes to wine and beer. I know that anyone with a type 20 & 42 has to charge! I just figured a bonded winery had to charge something too.

                                                                                                    Frankly I don't have a problem with wineries charging for tastings. I do think, as Ed pointed out, that too many people can get into the partying aspect and love the idea of others footing the bill.

                                                                                                    So do I know you or not?? ;)

                                                                                                    1. re: Wino

                                                                                                      Similarly, back in the day, one often got tastes of 10 or 12 wines at a single winery - for free. But because of abuse, most wineries these days only pour a limited number of wines on any given day (like 5) or they have a customer select only 4 or 5 from a longer list.

                                                                                                      1. re: Ed Dibble

                                                                                                        The first winery to charge a tasting in this area was Justin. They charged $2 and I had to scrape my jaw up off the floor when they told me. Everything just kinda' went downhill for Justin in my mind from then on. I do remember that Martin Bros. (now Martin & Weyrich) coined the term Hwy 46 Happy Hour, because the same people would come in week after week for free unlimited tastings and they were open until 6:00 while everyone else closed at 5-5:30. As a consumer, I am all for paying a tasting fee of any amount, if there are more than 3 wines to taste and as long as it is applied toward a wine purchase. If you are not visiting wineries with the intention to buy (even if it's just one bottle), then I don't really see the point of tasting. As a tasting room attendant ( I volunteer occasionally), if someone doesn't want to pay for tasting, because they really just want to try one wine or something, I will give them a free pour. After a while, you can kinda pick out the moochers in the crowd. They really ruin it for honest tasters and take the fun out of wine tasting.

                                                                                                        1. re: paso_gurl_100

                                                                                                          Yep, you can tell if someone is actually really interested in wine as art or craft vs it just being a vehicle for their insobriety!!

                                                                                                          1. re: Wino

                                                                                                            I know this is an old thread, but I just had to submit my humble vote for Eberle. It is a short drive from Fresno to Paso. I have always been well treated at their tasting room, and recently picked up some of their exceptional 2001 reserve cab... and they poured generously before my purchase.

                                                                                                            1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                                                                              I just came back from vacation and loved, loved, loved Eberle. It was recommended by the locals in Cambria and one of the employees took us on a tour of their underground caves. They have it all set up down there for private tastings and will soon begin doing small weddings down there as well.

                                                                                                              1. re: LisaSD

                                                                                                                This is for all the fans of Zin Alley.They are starting a new wine club. You can get the details at their web site www.zinalley.com. Their tasting room will eventually close.

                                                                                              2. re: Wino

                                                                                                Linne Calodo wines have received some very good reviews but by the same token some people find the wines to be in the overblown, not subtle style.

                                                                                              3. re: SFDude

                                                                                                Was in Paso over the July 4th weekend and have to agree about Linne. The wine was priced pretty high and not all that impressive. The tasting only included 4 wines.

                                                                                              4. My recos:
                                                                                                1). Lone Madrone
                                                                                                2). Tablas Creek
                                                                                                3). Halter Ranch
                                                                                                4). Turley
                                                                                                5). Justin

                                                                                                1. An interesting post! I was most surprised about the rumors about Justin from Justin Winery! Since we belong to the wine club...I'm really surprised and curious! anyway we LOVE Justin Isosolicies when we can get it..older vintages are better yet. We recently had a half case of 2005 delivered to our local wine shop (they can't deliver to private homes in Montana - dumb) and were the envy to the entire staff. We're headed back there next week.....wonder what vintages were destroyed in the fire?? Are the legal charges true?

                                                                                                  ANYWAY - back to the topic of the post - I think that it depends on what you'all want from your wine tasting trip - are you hunting for some good wine to purchase and take home? Then go for taste. But if you're like us and are just vacationing and looking for some FUN in your-tasting trip, then go for the WHOLE EXPERIENCE. The way we look at it, we can always get a good glass of wine at home or in a fine restaurant, but when can you chat with someone about HOW the wine is made, tour through the facilities, see the vineyards, and enjoy a lovely setting. That's why we like to go. For the EXPERIENCE. (and yes, part of that is how you're treated while there).

                                                                                                  That said, the Vino Robles facility on the east side just off Hwy 46 is beautiful! I didn't love their wines, but loves the gorgeous setting.

                                                                                                  I love a good tour. Who else shows you around in PR?? (If you're ever up in Napa, go to Jarvis's tour - so amazing. call ahead for reservations.)

                                                                                                  1. You guys are all full of....grape skins. All the serious vineyards in and around Paso make both good and poor wines. Very few vineyards grow ALL their own grapes, for all the varietals they may produce in a single vintage. The fact is a winemaker usually specializes in one or two varietals, and depends on recipes and trial and errors for everything else. AND, this is always dependent on the quality of the annual growth production. Small quantity and boutique wineries are always subject to these variables. Only the big guys producing tens of thousands of cases annually have large enough quantities to blend out the negatives and ameliorate the entire lot. A very few wineries (Linne Calodo) produce a tiny quantity but charge high enough prices to allow them to maintain quality no matter what.

                                                                                                    1. Just make sure you all hit Four Vines. This is by far the rising star of Paso. Their wines are off the chart! Rockin Zin and BIG FAT REDS like Anarchy, Peasant and Loco!!!!
                                                                                                      Christian Tietje is the winemaker and his tasting room is getting bigger due to their success.

                                                                                                      Ones to avoid....Sylvester, Hunt, and Tobin James. Weak wine should be used to cook with but not to drink.

                                                                                                      1. ok, im a huge zin fan, and am taking my first tour on tues. in paso.
                                                                                                        i fiend on paradux,black chicken, tobin blue moon, frank family zin.
                                                                                                        i know we're talkin what to avoid but i get 5-6 wineries to see and im looking for juicy zins that are affordable.
                                                                                                        what are the absolute must imbibes?

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: john skoglund

                                                                                                          I have been a bit less interested in Zin lately and most have been discussed above but:

                                                                                                          The big guns are obviously:
                                                                                                          Turley (though I pick and choose with them)
                                                                                                          Rotta (haven't been since they opened the new(old) winery
                                                                                                          Linne does some wicked Zin blends (problem child is a favorite).
                                                                                                          Four Vines (they do a Dante Dusi Zin that is nice)

                                                                                                          A couple of possibly less known:
                                                                                                          Nadeau (for the big bombing style at a very good price)
                                                                                                          J Dusi (Janell Dusi is doing her own wine from the Dante Vineyard and it is quite good in a less huge style than the Turley or Four Vine versions. You can get it a 15c)

                                                                                                          In keeping with the thread I would avoid:
                                                                                                          Calcareous - want to like but just dont
                                                                                                          Norman (not the same as when the boss was around)

                                                                                                          I will leave the rest to others.

                                                                                                        2. Was just up in Paso this past weekend and tried to hit a few new spots (at least new to us).

                                                                                                          New for us this trip:
                                                                                                          Thacher - great place, really good wines and very scenic (down in a valley) - I would put this on my highly recommend list (it's fairly new so I don't think that many people know about it). Run by a husband (winemaker) & wife ("everything else") who were working the tasting room, they've very friendly and have 3 cute kids. We ended up joining their club because it was such a solid tasting... specifically liked the '06 Zin.

                                                                                                          Halter Ranch - I thought they were okay. My wife liked them more. I think she was mostly buying into their sustainable practices. Cool victorian house on the property.

                                                                                                          Pear Valley - just opened early March, they have a nice tasting room and some good wines. I wasn't blown away by them, but it was a positive experience - and they're new so I'd definitely give them another shot.

                                                                                                          Other favorites:
                                                                                                          Cass - great people running this place and high quality wine - also a great setting with a large porch and picnic tables under the trees. They serve food here, so it's a nice spot for lunch while you're out tasting.
                                                                                                          Linne Calodo - it's on the pricier side but whenever I open a bottle I remember why (we skipped the tasting room this time, was tough...)
                                                                                                          Wild Coyote - bought a great port and a late harvest syrah on a couple different trips - if you're a dessert wine fan this has always been the place that impressed me most.
                                                                                                          Whalebone - fan of the Bob Wine

                                                                                                          If you've been to Paso a few times and are looking for some different places, we stopped into a unique winery called Falcon Nest - the tasting room leaves a lot to be desired, but very quality wines. The guy is a former chef who ran a few restaurants in LA - I hear he's a great cook (from another winery owner and another couple in the tasting room who were repeat guests) - hopefully can eat there next time.

                                                                                                          Eberle is probably my favorite in terms of the big places along 46 - they've got some good wines (tastings were free last time I was there), are generally lower in cost so they're a nice place to stock up and have a cool tour through their facility and into their caves where they store the wine.

                                                                                                          EOS, Robert Hall, Meridian, Firestone - they're fine. Not that exciting. I think your time and money is better spent at the smaller shops.

                                                                                                          Justin - not a fan of this place. Other people like it, but I felt like it was too... frilly? I don't know, not my style. Also the girls working the tasting room just seemed like hourly employees instead of really caring or being invested in what they're serving you. Which, to me, is why you go to a place like Paso. You can taste anywhere - but finding people who really care and are close to the process - that's the fun... oh, and the wine - that's also fun.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Thacher Winery
                                                                                                          8355 Vineyard Dr, Paso Robles, CA

                                                                                                          Cass Winery
                                                                                                          7350 Linne Rd, Paso Robles, CA

                                                                                                          1. I'm in the process of planning an overnight trip to Paso for my partner's birthday in a month. I'd like to actually keep to the various tasting rooms in the downtown area proper, rather than drive here there and yon to the wineries themselves.

                                                                                                            The places I've been considering are: Midlife Crisis, Arroyo Robles, Vihuela Winery, Orchid Hill, and Ortman Family Vineyards

                                                                                                            Any thoughts on them? Or suggestions that I've missed?

                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: DarkRose

                                                                                                              Try Edward Cellars--excellent.

                                                                                                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                I am in Paso Robles again :-) I went to 11 wineries that I have never visited before. Here is what I found:

                                                                                                                Firestone **
                                                                                                                If this winery had been in another part of California, it would have done better. The wines wenern't bad, but nothing stood out.
                                                                                                                Rio Seco **** A small winery with very good wines with extremely reasonable prices. Be sure to ask about the movie made there and the bullet holes.
                                                                                                                Pear Valley **** A new winery, very friendly staff. The wines were very good.
                                                                                                                Malloy ONeill **** Good wines, a bit pricey.
                                                                                                                Clautierre * The server was very friendly, but the wines were very astringent. Avoid this one.
                                                                                                                EOS **** Very knowledgeable staff, beautiful facility. Overall good wines. Better than you would expect from this fancy tasting room.
                                                                                                                Justin ***** Extremely good wines, but pricey. It reminds me more of a Napa winery in their pricing structure than what one would expect in Paso Robles.
                                                                                                                Tables Creek *** This is the winery that you would be the most disappointed in after hearing all of their accolades. You kind of wonder what's going wrong with them. Most of the wines needed aging at least two or three years longer than they were.
                                                                                                                Whalebone ** Friendly server, but there was nothing special about their wines.
                                                                                                                Rotta *** The wines were good. If you were looking for something drinkable in the $15 to $20 range, Rotta would be a good choice. If you were looking for something spectacular, this is not your place.

                                                                                                                Denner ***** When the people at Turley refer you to Denner, you take their recommendation seriously, and for good reason. This really is the winery that you want to go to for spectacular. For wines of this extreme quality, the pricing is lower than you would expect.

                                                                                                                1. re: steve753

                                                                                                                  Before we left Paso, we did try a few more:

                                                                                                                  Carmody McKnight **1/2 They have a beautiful facility, and have great artwork. Their Pinot Noir is terrific! Unfortunately, their other wines are nothing special.

                                                                                                                  Adelaida Cellars **** The server was very knowledgeable about their wines, and the industry as well. The wines were really good, and priced reasonably.

                                                                                                                  Halter Ranch *** Very tasty wines, and they are really low priced. They have a beautiful old farmhouse on the property.

                                                                                                                  Jada Cellars **** Very tasty wines, but pricey. They serve cheese (which is very good) with all their wines.

                                                                                                                  1. re: steve753

                                                                                                                    alright....
                                                                                                                    stayed in cambria and did our wine tour thru the wine wrangler.
                                                                                                                    started at whalebone, great place for tasting and as a fan of paradux, i thought the bob wine was insane, and very affordable for $30.00.
                                                                                                                    then to opollo, decent wines, but i thought the revserve zin blew everything else away.
                                                                                                                    then to rotta.
                                                                                                                    awsome.
                                                                                                                    cheap and fun and delicious.
                                                                                                                    zine rose for 10 bucks and their desert wines stood out, the zin port for $22.00 was as good as tobin james' liquid love and you get twice as much for 4 bucks more.
                                                                                                                    i bought a case of their zins but the tannins are a bit prickly, not sure if this is from youth or thats as good as its going to be.
                                                                                                                    then to 4 vines, not what i'd hoped for but hip and fun.
                                                                                                                    then to zin alley, blood zins...
                                                                                                                    delicous wine but at $44.00 a bottle, id rather have the opollo reserve zin.
                                                                                                                    thanks for all the leads...

                                                                                                                    1. re: john skoglund

                                                                                                                      Spent the July 4th holiday in Paso and did get the Tobin James dessert wine, not the Zin Port. Loved the design of the bottle as well, sort of something to collect. Also went to Derby Vineyards afterwards and loved their Mosaic blend (a summer Rose), also Vines on the Marycrest has a rose blend called Summertime that is wonderful. Looking forward to all of our selections. Also liked Hunt Cellars and Sculpterra and the sculpture garden is something to see.

                                                                                                                    2. re: steve753

                                                                                                                      Wow. Just have to say that as someone who works kind-of in the biz, Tables Creek is the best winery tour/visit I have ever been on.

                                                                                                              2. Just got back from a couple of days of tasting in Paso, and since this seems to be the biggest listing of tasting notes and favorites, I thought I would report. Wineries are in order of the amount of money I spent at each:

                                                                                                                Caparone - it was nice to see that they are still doing well. They're reduced output to 3,000 cases, but the quality and aging potential are still there. Really liked the nebbiolo, agliatico, and the cab this time. Prices ($14 a bottle and 1/2 and full case discounts) are exceptionally fair.

                                                                                                                Tablas Creek - Best whites I tasted. Vermentino was good, but the Roussane was my favorite (liked it better than the blend). The red rhone blend, however, was outstanding.

                                                                                                                Rotta - I haven't opened a bottle yet, but I liked the well balanced and flavorful reds. Nice folks at the tasting room also.

                                                                                                                Linne Calado - Still making exceptional and powerful reds. At the end of our visit to Paso we decided that LC's wines were the best we had tasted (Problem Child in particular) so we went back to the winery to purchase. Expensive, but oh so good.

                                                                                                                Sylvester - the paninis are good there and we liked a tawny port that will be Christmas gifts. Generally not impressive.

                                                                                                                Chumeia - we went there based on all the recs here on the board. The woman running the tasting room was knowledgeable and friendly, but a lot of the wines were mediocre. Turns out, the winery is in Madera, and a lot of their grapes are central valley. The viognier still makes me shudder when I think about it.

                                                                                                                Turley - this time, the people pouring at Turley were very friendly (unlike previous visits) but we really didn't taste anything that justified the price - but that may just reflect the fact that this was the last place we visited, so maybe we were suffering burn-out. If you like zins, it is definitely worth visiting.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Ed Dibble

                                                                                                                  Ed - did you visit Denner?

                                                                                                                  1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                                                                    No, just the ones listed. The first afternoon, I just wanted to try new places. Unfortunately, among them were Chumiea - and the pourer there mentioned Sylvester.

                                                                                                                    On the second day, I just wanted to hit old favs. Since I was with a lady friend, I also didn't want to imbibe too much, and I am not good about using the spit bucket.

                                                                                                                    People in Paso were saying that there are more than 230 wineries now. I can't believe that number will be sustained for long. No place we went was truly busy, and we were the only people in some of them, including Linne Calado, Caparone, and Chumeia. Even at Turley, most of the time there was only one other couple there.

                                                                                                                2. We went through Paso at the end of June. Edward Cellars and Tablas Creek wines are great. Turley had some good wines this time. We also like Denner, Booker, and Calcareous had some great values, and we like some of the Nadeau wines.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                    That would be Edward Sellers, tasting room on Park, just north of the town square.

                                                                                                                    1. re: PolarBear

                                                                                                                      I'm back in Paso again. I tried three wineries that I've never been to before:

                                                                                                                      Vista De Rey ***** You have to WANT to go there. The gravel road leading up to the winery is in terrible shape. This is a true mom and pop operation. They are only open on weekends. They have three different Zins to try, and all were very good. They have a Barbera that is unbelievably good. They also have a Barbera dessert wine. The tasting room has little in the way of ambiance, but with wines this good, who cares?

                                                                                                                      Jack Creek Winery ***** If you like Pinot Noir, this is your winery. They have three regular and three reserves to taste. They are less expensive than Windward, and a bit better quality. Their Syrah is also excellent. Only open on weekends.

                                                                                                                      Thatcher Winery ***** I love Zinfadel wine, and Thatcher has three to taste. All three are quality wines. They also have three excellent Syrahs, and they are set up as a flight. It was interesting to taste the differences. Only open on weekends.

                                                                                                                      1. re: steve753

                                                                                                                        I thought we were talking about wineries to avoid...................???

                                                                                                                  2. Update:

                                                                                                                    We've always enjoyed Nadeau (He was the winemaker for Norman for years). I've loved his fruit-forward wines, so we signed up for Nadeau's wine club a few years back.

                                                                                                                    The wines of late have not been fantastic, but we got our most recent shipment and the wines were utterly disappointing; the white was marginal, but the Zin was nearly undrinkable (vinegary & flavorless--the kind you pour down the drain when taking a risk at the 99 cent store.)

                                                                                                                    When I complained via e-mail to Patrice (the wife of the owner who handles the wine club), she said that perhaps it was corked. She said she took us off their list. So much for customer service! (...we were more loyal to them, than then they were to us.)

                                                                                                                    Tonight we opened the second (of three) of their zin--was as bad as 'bottle one'. What a let down, both with the wines and the response from the owner's wife.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                      We tried Nadeau about a year ago and were not impressed. (We're not the biggest Zin fans, but I just remember thinking that the wines they were pouring were not very good.) Maybe they had a bad vintage or maybe they lost access to a previous fruit source? I don't know much about them.

                                                                                                                    2. I live here in Paso. I love wine. My friends love wine. These are the wineries I never take my friends to, only the people I don't want to come back to visit:

                                                                                                                      Lone Madrone
                                                                                                                      Sculptera
                                                                                                                      Dark Star
                                                                                                                      Meridian
                                                                                                                      Justin
                                                                                                                      Summerwood
                                                                                                                      Halter Ranch
                                                                                                                      EOS
                                                                                                                      Arroyo Robles
                                                                                                                      Still Water - Nice people though

                                                                                                                      This is where I take my friends who I want to return and visit me again:

                                                                                                                      Chateau Margene -new tasting room just opened up on Westside
                                                                                                                      Jada
                                                                                                                      Tablas Creek
                                                                                                                      Pipestone
                                                                                                                      August Ridge
                                                                                                                      Cerro Prieto

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: wineygirl

                                                                                                                        That is interesting that you don't like Lone Madrone but you like Tablas Creek. It was, at least the last time I was there, that Tablas Creek's winemaker was the person behind Lone Madrone. Is it the wines you don't like or the people at the tasting room? I am a Tablas wine club member and I love their wines, but I am not a huge fan of their tasting room.

                                                                                                                        1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                                                          The Tablas Creek wines are a different style than the Lone Madrone wines. With Lone Madrone he seems to be trying to emulate Saxum or Linne Calodo.

                                                                                                                          1. re: SteveTimko

                                                                                                                            Boy do I disagree with that comment. IMHO, these wines are much more in line with Tablas Creek than Saxum or Linne Calodo. Maybe you have the memory of their Tannat, which is a bit of an aberration.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Wino

                                                                                                                              Actually, the Tannat was the only wine I liked. The rest were big, ripe wines.

                                                                                                                        2. re: wineygirl

                                                                                                                          I live in Paso and love wine. Meridian is normally on my list of wineries to take family and friends to. Their Late Harvest Riesling is a favorite of mine. Many of my family and friends say that Meridian is their favorite wine.

                                                                                                                        3. Looking forward to my next Paso visit in a couple weeks. These are my current must visit Paso wineries:
                                                                                                                          1. Torrin (AMAZING-releasing 2nd vintage - Scott Hawley pours out of the back room at Booker. You need to make an appointment. You won't be disappointed)
                                                                                                                          2. Villa Creek
                                                                                                                          3. Booker
                                                                                                                          4. Caliza
                                                                                                                          5. Denner
                                                                                                                          6. Jada

                                                                                                                          I also really enjoy:
                                                                                                                          -Tolo
                                                                                                                          -Four Vines
                                                                                                                          -Justin
                                                                                                                          -Opolo
                                                                                                                          -Jack Creek
                                                                                                                          -Halter Ranch (not for the wine, but on event weekends Chiro (sp?) is there with his oven baking breads and pizza - WOW!)
                                                                                                                          -Epoch - Actually tasting this for the 1st time on the upcoming trip. Getting great reviews for the first release that's coming up in 2010.
                                                                                                                          -Poalillo - Great small vineyard off the beaten path. You can find them on the Far Out Wineries map - outstanding zins!
                                                                                                                          -Tablas Creek - I usually don't spend much time there, but I always pick up some Esprit de Baeucastel

                                                                                                                          Also, Paso restaurants to visit:
                                                                                                                          -Villa Creek
                                                                                                                          -Thai Basil

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: msaly

                                                                                                                            I just need to update my Dec. 7 post after my Paso visit:
                                                                                                                            -All listed above, and...
                                                                                                                            - Epoch Estate Wines is a must visit! We barrel sampled the '08s and if their '08s in the barrel were as good as they were, I can only imagine what the '07s will be like when released in 2010.
                                                                                                                            - McPrice Myers - pouring out of Barrel 27 Wine Co.
                                                                                                                            - Terry Hoage

                                                                                                                            (By the way, this board needs to change the title to Paso Wineries to Visit, it looks like that's what it has become.)

                                                                                                                            1. re: msaly

                                                                                                                              This is a very old thread but saw this comment and had to reply. Discovered Epoch a few months ago, went to their tasting room (newly built?) and let me tell you - this tasting room has a very country rustic feel, you look around and you don't see any vineyard, a lot of dirt, etc., not like other wineries I have visited in the area with tasting rooms in picture perfect settings. But found their wines absolutely heavenly.

                                                                                                                            2. re: msaly

                                                                                                                              Excellent list msaly.

                                                                                                                              We try to do 3 buying trips a year in Paso (we live in MI). Here's where we go:
                                                                                                                              Denner
                                                                                                                              Linne Colodo
                                                                                                                              Caliza
                                                                                                                              Alta Calina
                                                                                                                              Chateau Margene
                                                                                                                              Tablas Creek
                                                                                                                              Villa Creek
                                                                                                                              Adelaida
                                                                                                                              Halter Ranch

                                                                                                                              Denner, Linne and Villa Creek are head and shoulders above anything else IMO -- except Saxum of course. We managed a find a magnum of 2006 Syrah in a downtown wine store a couple of weeks back:)

                                                                                                                            3. I disagree about Eos winery...my husband and I went there a few weeks ago and thought the wines were wonderful! Their Pinot Blanc and Reserve Cab were incredible. Very knowledgeable staff as well...

                                                                                                                              1. Easier to recommend the good ones......My vote goes to Minassian-Young on Peachy Canyon road. Very good wines especially (in my opinion) Zins by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic winemaker.

                                                                                                                                Also, Zin Alley and Opolo.

                                                                                                                                1. There are so many wineries there now, it's doubtful any of us have visited even half of them.

                                                                                                                                  I don't like a lot of "attitude" in my wine. For me Justin has always had a Napa-ish arrogance problem. I think it was founded by an investment banker and it kind of shows. Good wines, high prices. I can skip it.

                                                                                                                                  I like Tablas Creek just down the road much better. Then again, I'm a big fan of Rhone varietals and that's Tablas' thing.

                                                                                                                                  (Oddly, I like L'Aventure even though they can throw some attitude, draw the "Parker points crowd" and charge too much for their wine.)

                                                                                                                                  Caparone if you like Italian wines made with old school integrity. (I'm not a big fan of their non-estate Bordeaux wines though.)

                                                                                                                                  Have liked Jade and Denner but have only been once.

                                                                                                                                  Have not been to the new Chateau Margene. Loved the old location way out the way in the SE corner of the area. Their wines can be quite lovely but expensive.

                                                                                                                                  There are plenty of good wines being made in the region. However, the pricing is often quite out of line with the quality when compared with what you can get from Europe and South America. Too many new players are making super dense "Parker" wines, highly extracted, and high alcohol and then trying to justify the price they paid for their land through the price they charge for the bottle. That said, I like and respect the region and many of its producers. However, expect a shake out.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: tward

                                                                                                                                    Gotta agree about Tablas Creek vs Justin. I'm sure others feel differently.

                                                                                                                                    At Caparone, however, I do like both the cab and merlot. And both age very well. Among the estate wines (that sounds so weird to write re Caparone), I am not as happy with the Zin and the Sangiovese, but like the other Italian varietals. But if we all liked the same thing, we wouldn't have so much choice.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: tward

                                                                                                                                      Might want to check out Edward Sellers and Barrel 27 (McPrice Myers) as well.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: PolarBear

                                                                                                                                        Yeah McPrice is making some great wines. Also, when you find their tasting room, go next door and try the Hug wines. They are very good too.

                                                                                                                                    2. My "Spousal Unit" put this together for a friend heading to Paso...

                                                                                                                                      Paso Robles Recs

                                                                                                                                      Wineries:
                                                                                                                                      Tablas Creek (the best)
                                                                                                                                      Edward Sellers (this place is great, nice people & very good wine)
                                                                                                                                      Denner
                                                                                                                                      Turley
                                                                                                                                      Also:
                                                                                                                                      Caliza (we have never been there, but have heard good things, very tiny winery, owned by a married couple, next to Booker, also worth a try)
                                                                                                                                      L’Aventure (too expensive but pretty good)
                                                                                                                                      Linne Calodo (too expensive but pretty good)
                                                                                                                                      Justin (long ways out)
                                                                                                                                      J. Lohr (nice property, decent wine)
                                                                                                                                      Opolo (used to be better, they serve great sausge!)

                                                                                                                                      Restaurants:
                                                                                                                                      Artisan
                                                                                                                                      Villa Creek
                                                                                                                                      Odyssey (not bad, for lunch)
                                                                                                                                      Cider Creek Bakery (bummed they moved, best pies and jellies, worth the trip)

                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                      Villa Creek Restaurant
                                                                                                                                      1144 Pine St., Paso Robles, CA 93446

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                                        I visit the are quite often with my girlfriend. Here are my suggestions of places to visit.

                                                                                                                                        Adelaida
                                                                                                                                        Edward Sellers
                                                                                                                                        Donati Family Vineyards
                                                                                                                                        Tablas Creek
                                                                                                                                        Hansen
                                                                                                                                        Pear Valley
                                                                                                                                        Calcareous

                                                                                                                                        Places I have been to and had an enjoyable experience
                                                                                                                                        Halter Ranch
                                                                                                                                        Whalebone
                                                                                                                                        Opolo
                                                                                                                                        Orchid Hill
                                                                                                                                        Pineata
                                                                                                                                        Arroyo Robles
                                                                                                                                        Vihuela
                                                                                                                                        Ortman
                                                                                                                                        Midlife Crisis

                                                                                                                                        Places I Stay Away From
                                                                                                                                        JUSTIN - Extremely Rude, Not Worth The Price,

                                                                                                                                        If you have never been to Tobin James, you have to go at least once. You are guaranteed a great time. The wine is average but they are willing to pour you a lot of wine not on the tasting menu. Make sure you try the Liquid Love

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        Donati Family Vineyard
                                                                                                                                        2720 Oakview Rd, Templeton, CA

                                                                                                                                        1. re: IDrinkRedWine

                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the great list. I'll be up that way this weekend and was prowling around here for info.

                                                                                                                                          One thing, though,.............. have to disagree about Justin. We were there about six months ago and found them to be very, very nice. We'd never been but were familiar with Isoceles and Savant in particular. Their Sauv Blanc was also very good, and a very competitive value.

                                                                                                                                          The tasting room manager was there at the time, as well as a young woman and an older man who has worked at several wineries in the area. All were just great.

                                                                                                                                      2. I go on wine buses from the Valley to Paso Robles. Favorite last stop is always Tobin James (especially around dessert time). "Liquid Love" is just the best.

                                                                                                                                        On other trips, Peachy Canyon and J. Lohr were also outstanding, my parents favorite is Justin's.

                                                                                                                                        Just by following signs and off the beaten path, have come across a few other good ones.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jules93292

                                                                                                                                          >>>>I go on wine buses from the Valley to Paso Robles<<<<

                                                                                                                                          Jules, where does the bus leave from? How long is the trip? Sounds interesting!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gail

                                                                                                                                            Wine bus leaves from Visalia, one day trip, usually 3 wineries, wine tasting and lunch included.

                                                                                                                                        2. Just back from a weekend at Paso Robles and this thread was very helpful so thought I'd chip in too -

                                                                                                                                          my faves included Tablas Creek (the rosé & grenache are phenomenal) Villicana (I particularly liked their Rousanne; they also distill vodkas & gins too!) and Sculpterra (love their red blends & their tasting room space.)

                                                                                                                                          I wasn't particularly impressed with Daou's wines, but they do have an impressive view (apparently one of the highest elevation wineries in the county) so I'd say just do the $10 tasting (or better yet, share one with a friend) and just soak up the sights.

                                                                                                                                          I really wanted to try Opolo but when I stopped by their winery they must have had a recent drop off from a winery-touring van/bus -- there was a pretty loud & rowdy crowd in there, so rather than wait it out I just moved onto Turley (which was good--not great.)

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: AquaW

                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the tips on Villicana and Sculptera, haven't managed to get around to them yet, but they're now on the list.

                                                                                                                                          2. We travel to Paso yearly and have joined several wine clubs.
                                                                                                                                            Our favorite and a must for all visitors is LeCuvier located 3333 Vine Hill Ln Paso Robles. The wine is fabulous as well as the view. We also recommend the tasting room of Piannetta in downtown Paso. Booker, Adelaide, Opolo, Calcereous-has a view from heaven. Enjoy your trip.

                                                                                                                                            1. We live in Paso Robles -- lucky us! I agree on Daou - taste, enjoy the view, move on. Calcareous has a great view as well and is a lot less snobby. In addition to what has been mentioned - Oso Libre is fun. Great people, nice wines, bits of cheese with your tasting, Angus burgers from their estate steer every other Saturday from spring until end of October, and two great dogs to greet you. Tablas Creek is worth a stop for sure. Halter Ranch has a lovely Victorian farmhouse and nice setting, decent wines, friendly people. We have not enjoyed Peachy Canyon or Castero. Just ok. We had a rude experience at Adelaida so won't say any more. On the east side, if you want a party atmosphere - everyone loves Tobin James. It's not for us, but many love it. Pear Valley has decent wines...especially if you factor in the price point...and a beautiful setting, nice picnic area, music playing, nice views. By far (maybe we should keep this a secret), our favorite winery on the east side is Cass. Great, down to earth people who draw you right in to their family, rustic but beautiful setting under heritage oaks, great wines, and a full-on cafe! Unusual around here! Delicious food, and you can eat inside or out...or you can bring your own picnic. There are also menu choices for just nibbling like olives and meat/cheese platter. Penman Springs is a winery we were led to, and didn't care for any of their wines. Across from Cypher (formerly Four Vines) on 46 west is Donati and their wines odd nothing for us. We know many like Eberle, but somehow it just doesn't click for us. Nor does EOS. Whew! Only about 250 more to explore! Hope this helps!

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: kcunning

                                                                                                                                                From the OC. We love Paso, have been going there for years. Here are the wineries we're stopping by for a taste in May.
                                                                                                                                                Steinbeck. Love their petite sirah.
                                                                                                                                                Pear Valley. Great price point on all their wines. Tom and Kathleen are a great addition to Paso.
                                                                                                                                                Calcareous. Only our second time there, however had a great taste on our last visit.
                                                                                                                                                Villa Creek. Never been, but heard good things.
                                                                                                                                                Terry Hoage. Best syrah and Grenache in town.
                                                                                                                                                Justin. Worth the drive. Favs are Savant and Focus.
                                                                                                                                                Denner. Everything here is good. Pricey, but worth every drop.
                                                                                                                                                Donati. I read where someone mentioned Donati. They are one of the best kept secrets in Paso. Their pinot blanc is the bomb.
                                                                                                                                                Brian Benson. This is the son of the Darkstar owners. Sorry dad, Brian has you beat.
                                                                                                                                                L'Aventure. Another winner. Great reds. Sibling my personal fav.
                                                                                                                                                Booker. Another excellent winery.
                                                                                                                                                Others we have been too and find just ok are Tablas Creek, Halter Ranch, Broken Earth, Vina Robles, Bianchi, Tobin James, and Oso Libre.
                                                                                                                                                Enjoy your day.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bruno13

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the recs. We are heading down to Paso in early June. We have been several times before too, but not for a while. Prices for tasting and wine have gone up! We are trying to set up some appointments and it is good to have more choices. We are going to Denner, and Booker for appointments and hope to set one more appointment up and then fill in with others that are open. Report back is you would after your visit! Thanks

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: zinfanatic

                                                                                                                                                    Last year I came across Epoch Estate Wines in Paso and fell in love with their wines, they are pricey so check if they are within your budget. But these are most opulent and hedonistic wines I every had at this price point. They offer different Syrah blends, Tempranillo, no Cabs there. They also make some Zinfandels but production is so limited that these are impossible to get, I could never find a bottle.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: olasek

                                                                                                                                                      +++++1

                                                                                                                                              2. Fairly new to the area but very nice winery still..... Villa San Juliette. Everyone I've sent has had nothing but great reviews on their wine.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: SharAnn1

                                                                                                                                                  Like SharAnn1, everyone we have sent to Vill San Juliette has loved it. When they first opened their wines were less than great. They are getting better. I personally have mixed feelings. The winery itself and the setting are beautiful. It is the winery opened by Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, formerly of American Idol fame so plenty of money was poured into the creation of the place!

                                                                                                                                                2. Also do visit D'Anbino, tasting room is by the train station in town Paso Robles. Great people!