Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Apr 17, 2008 06:58 PM

Unpretentious Paso Robles Wineries?

A couple recent threads on Paso area wineries has got me thinking. What wineries in the Paso Robles area would you consider unpretentious or down-to-earth?

What do I mean when I say "unpretentious"? How about some or all of the following characteristics:

-Don't charge for tastings. Or if they do charge, they're not trying to pawn off a souvenir glass. Or if they do give you a glass, they don't make a big deal out of it.

-Lack of attitude. They' re interested in having you taste their wines. They're not interested in convincing you that you're in the middle of Napa Valley.

-Small quantities. They seem interested in making a high quality wine (in addition to a profit). They're not interested in making a profit instead of a high quality wine.

-Low-key tasting room. The tasting room hasn't been remodeled to look like a French chateau. And if it has been remodeled, it's still pretty basic.

-Meet the owners. When you get into the tasting room you have a good shot (better than 50-50) that the person pouring the wine is one of the owners.

-Smaller parking lot. They don't have room for a limo to park. And if they did, they probably wouldn't allow a limo there anyway.

Well, you get the idea. My intent here is to start a discussion about a certain kind of Paso winery (& why they are that kind of winery) but without repeating previous threads that list & describe the best wineries generally. Perhaps even a discussion about how to define "unpretentious" when applied to wineries would be appropriate (agree or disagree with my criteria above?)

Looking forward to your ideas.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's been a couple of years since I've been up there but Dunning fit your criteria. During the week, you needed to call for "an appointment" (more like saying you were in the area and was it okay to come by). The owner was always very gracious.

    1. Caparone. Although I haven't been there in a few years, a rough counter next to barrels was the 'tasting room' with owner pouring.

      An unfortunate fallout of the popularity of the Central Coast as winery country destination is the boutique-ification of the whole scene. But it happened in Napa and Sonoma, so I guess it follows that it will happen here. Gone are the days of Rotta and York Mtn. There is just so much pressure to stand out from the crowd with some sort of garish theme.

      But I'd love to be fly on the wall in some of these planning sessions:

      "Now let's see, we'll carve out the side of the hill, build a castle with turrets and a moat, Yeah! and have a whole buch of flags on poles fluttering in the breeze so people will notice us as they drive by (and we don't violate the ordinance that limits the size of our highway signage) and get a cool dog or two as mascots, and maybe a falcon? and bocce ball, gotta have that. And we'll have bbq's of whole roasted pig and have grape stompings and some old wagons and neat old farm equipment and...."

      2 Replies
      1. re: toodie jane

        LOL ! Of course, no on e would REALLY recommend *that* one , now would they? Certainly not anyone local.

        Rotta still pours at the Cider Creek Bakery, don't they? York Mtn......well.

        1. re: toodie jane

          LOVE IT! never did like the pig roast. The bigger the theme, it seems, the more pressure to buy. Someone's gotta pay for all that concrete they wasted with which they could've built a whole village in Guatemala.

        2. Check out Villicana Winery on Adeliada Road., open Thursday-Sunday. Great wines and friendly owners.
          Also Silver Horse on Pleasant Valley Rd. and Locatilli Winery, all owners present.
          See Paso Web site at

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bruce in SLO

            I would second Villicana, I enjoyed the wines, and the owners were very nice. Another winery that I might suggest is Garretson, I think there should be bonus points for any winery in a business park. I do enjoy Toby James Zins, but I would not call his place low key. They try so hard to be low key, they really are not. Also if you get there at the end of the day it seems that there are way too many out of control tasters, guzzlers? I enjoy my wine and I am for a nice relaxed time, but that crowd gets a little offputting. Yeah and I do miss old York Mtn.

          2. Try Tobin James, It is on the east side of of the valley. If you have kids, they have a free video games for them to play while you are enjoying tasting.

            1. I recommended Vista Del Rey in a previous post, but unpretentious is the perfect description.