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First Wine Tasting Trip to Paso Robles

d
donfellows Jun 15, 2012 09:55 PM

Planning a visit next month to Paso Robles and would appreciate your thoughts on top 5 or so wineries in the area.

  1. g
    glbtrtr Jun 16, 2012 06:21 AM

    For sheer loveliness of a drive and some individual award winners, take look at the group called "Far Out Wineries" out Peachy Canyon Road. They have a website.

    1. pamf Jun 16, 2012 04:48 PM

      Visited Pas Robles in April and our favorites were Chronic Cellars and Tablas Creek.

      Full report is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/847872

      1. dockhl Jun 17, 2012 09:00 AM

        LOTS of choices ! Can you give us some idea what you are looking for?
        Do you want the absolute top rated wine? Looking for cool tasting rooms? Great views and atmosphere? Food? Will you be there on a weekend or during the week?

        1. g
          goldangl95 Jun 17, 2012 09:32 AM

          Paso Robles has gotten expensive. A lot of the reds have inched up into the $40 range a bottle. My top five would be (for someone's first time):

          Justin (furthest out of my recs)
          Tablas Creek (very well balanced reds and whites - a little more restrained in style)
          Daou (great new tasting room, whites are great, reds seem to be getting better)
          Denner (if you are going during the week you can try calling and getting in, they have very little wine to sell so they are mostly restricted to members these days)
          Terry Hoage - Small tasting room, really like their wines
          Villa Creek (if Denner doesn't work out - tasting @ wine facility very bare bones - great wines)

          1. j
            jinjur Jun 17, 2012 09:47 PM

            I hope you don't mind my horning in on your post, but I am also planning a first trip to Paso with my husband and adult children in August and would love to hear what people recommend. As I will be the designated driver and won't be drinking, I'm interested in wineries in scenic settings or with interesting things to do besides tasting wine. We will be there Sunday-Wednesday. Food would be nice. My husband and kids are more interested in learning about and sampling wines than getting the absolute top rated wines. Thanks in advance for your ideas.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jinjur
              g
              goldangl95 Jun 17, 2012 09:52 PM

              Unlike say, Napa - there aren't too many sights to see at wineries (to my knowledge). Justin, Tablas Creek and Daou (and Denner if you can get in) are rather picturesque with views. But they don't have the art collections, sculpture gardens etc.

              Restaurants in Paso worth trying are:
              Thomas Hill Organics
              Il Cortile
              Artisan
              Villa Creek has a nice happy hour

              1. re: goldangl95
                toodie jane Jun 20, 2012 10:40 AM

                Sculptera Winery has a beautiful open sculpture garden and bi weekly singer songwriter concert series Sunday afternoons, called Songwriters At Play. Great quality touring musicians from all over. Pass the hat. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimg944/sets/72157618846408878/

                For a look at a local Paso radio station that has tuned into its demographics ( locals, businesses and travelers) tune into 92.5 Krush radio. light rock and singer-songwriter music but interspersed with all sorts of wine industry analysis and interviews. Interesting shows and lots of event listings. http://www.krush925.com/shows.php

              2. re: jinjur
                PolarBear Jun 18, 2012 05:42 AM

                Lone Madrone / Kenneth Volk tasting rooms on west Hwy 46 just off 101 are a nice rustic setting with picnic grounds, farm animals, and an organic herb garden and flower nursery run by Fat Cat Farms. Ken features some of the lesser know and more obscure Rhone varietals.

                1. re: jinjur
                  g
                  glbtrtr Jun 18, 2012 08:16 AM

                  Again, I will recommend Far Out Wineries website - lets you plan a very scenic route and the wineries are small where you can get a lot of individual attention - some have food and snacks other have more substantial offerings. The website tells you what is what for each of them. If you can do this a week-day instead of the week-end, you will have a more serene time. http://www.faroutwineries.com/

                  Just being out in the quiet country can be beauty enough. Bring a good book, iPod, sunglasses, binoculars, a camera and/or some hiking shoes and just wander around the surrounding country side while you exercise your DD duty - good for you to do this -- these roads are narrow and only two lane. One needs to pay close attention because others may not be as responsible are you are.

                  If you decide to do the Far Out Wineries route, be sure to take the Peachy Canyon Road out from Paso Robles - a little tricky to find where it starts - I think it is out 4th or 5th streets through a residential area before it finally leaves town and changes its name to Peachy Canyon Road.

                  PS. The Far Out Wineries that offer event and wedding spaces are often the more scenically interesting. We are partial to Thacher Winery ourselves having attended an event there in the past and found the owners were so helpful and gave us a special background tour and preliminary tastings when we went back later for tastings. Doesn't hurt for them to also have an award winner best of reds Zinfandel at the last SF wine show either.

                2. m
                  mike0989 Jun 18, 2012 12:22 PM

                  I prefer the West side to the East side. Quite a difference in how the grapes are grown and the end result.

                  Tablas Creek - Rhones done in partnership with Chateau de Beaucastel
                  Le Cuvier - Great wines and the views are nice at the new location. The Owner, is a fun piece of work if you happen to meet him
                  Halter Ranch - Biggest grower in the area. He is putting out some great whites and roses. Good reds as well.
                  L’Aventure- Putting out some big reds that need to be put down for awhile prior to drinking.
                  Villicana - Good wines at reasonable prices
                  I’d skip Justin. I think he’s over priced and you have to join in order to taste is better wines.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: mike0989
                    g
                    glbtrtr Jun 18, 2012 01:29 PM

                    I heard Justin got sold to some large corporate interest - do you know?

                    1. re: glbtrtr
                      m
                      mike0989 Jun 18, 2012 01:44 PM

                      Fiji Water bought them

                      1. re: mike0989
                        PolarBear Jun 18, 2012 03:50 PM

                        An even more compelling reason to never buy another bottle from them.

                        1. re: PolarBear
                          g
                          goldangl95 Jun 18, 2012 04:01 PM

                          Why? Because it is associated with a large industrial corporation? Because it is funded by a large industrial corporation? This is the case for most wineries these days (that or one is privately incredibly wealthy - due to working for a large industrial corporation). Take Jackson Family's wineries as an example in Sonoma.

                          Justin and his wife are still running the operation, and sold their winery in order to have more capital to grow certain of their lines. While they are still at the helm, there is no reason to assume the quality will change (indeed it may go up).

                          1. re: goldangl95
                            PolarBear Jun 18, 2012 04:08 PM

                            Google "Fiji water greenwashing". One of the most despicable corporations on the planet. Children dying of water borne diseases while they export all the clean potable water.

                            Personally i've thought for years that Justin's wines have been on a downhill slide, but the Fiji name just assures that I'll never find out or care if they do improve or not.

                            1. re: PolarBear
                              g
                              glbtrtr Jun 18, 2012 04:15 PM

                              Spent quite a bit of time in Fiji in remote villages - not sure why they picked this name or exploitation.

                              Just learned it also takes 3X the amount of water to make the plastic bottle as what is in the contents of the bottle. Yes, bottled water brings in clean water to area with no possibility of safe municipal supplies, but it also means now billions of water bottles are consumed every few hours around the world. As Carl Sagan would say that is billions and billions ..... and billions .......... 24/7/365.

                              This is staggering for a commodity that is handed to us by nature and can be harnessed with targeted infrastructure projects. 5000 years ago the Persians transported melting snow and mountain water in to Turpan China over thousands of miles of underground canals they dug at precise drops of elevation

                              For those with access to safe municipal water, do us a big favor and the rest of the world a big favor rejecting your need to swill H2O from individual plastic, disposable bottles and turn that plastic into safe irrigation pipes for the rest of the world.

                              1. re: glbtrtr
                                g
                                goldangl95 Jun 18, 2012 04:30 PM

                                I'll read into Fiji water, but for the record if one truly wants to not consume from an industry that is destroying the environment/manipulating natural water systems... I would have to place many (if not all?) of the California wine industry in this category.

                                1. re: goldangl95
                                  g
                                  glbtrtr Jun 18, 2012 04:35 PM

                                  When they start selling wine in 1 cup disposable plastic bottles, then we all do have to worry. ;-)

                                  1. re: goldangl95
                                    PolarBear Jun 18, 2012 07:05 PM

                                    I think we agree on one major point, why aren't wine bottles reused, not just recycled? Last I heard on individual servings of bottled water, @ 80% do not get recycled, plus almost every large conference I attend most of the bottles are left on the tables with only 1/4 to 1/2 of the contents consumed at best. And glbtrtr is correct, using 60 oz of water to produce a 20 oz product (40 oz to manufacture the cap, bottle, and label) makes as much sense as our government continuing to spen $0.02 to make a penny and $.08 to make a nickel. No wonder we're in trouble.

                                    1. re: PolarBear
                                      OldJalamaMama Jun 19, 2012 08:26 AM

                                      Whatever you do, don't research how much resources are used to make a single bottle of wine.

                                      From the vines & pesticides, to the water used, to the scorched earth policy on deer/bear/birds....getting the grapes from the vineyard to the winery, to the store.... the CARDBOARD we use...its enough to drive you to drink.

                                      1. re: OldJalamaMama
                                        g
                                        glbtrtr Jun 19, 2012 10:12 AM

                                        And then add the social costs of excessive and dysfunctional alcohol consumption .... sobering! And itinerant labor costs not covered in-house by the industry. Hard to believe TwoBuck Chuck can be a profit center.

                                        1. re: OldJalamaMama
                                          PolarBear Jun 19, 2012 04:50 PM

                                          Or lobby for high quality wine in a box. ; >P

                                          Actually, I'm intrigued by the few BYO empties/jugs for refill. Also recall the old college days when we could purchase a wooden 7 gal (iirc) barrel directly from the vintner. Problem was that the deposit on the keg was minimal and nobody returned them, made for cool looking gas tanks on 3 wheel motorcycles and who knows what else.

                        2. re: mike0989
                          j
                          judybird Jun 19, 2012 11:02 AM

                          Is Le Cuvier back? We belonged to their club years ago, then the owner (can't remember his name, but I agree, he was a hoot) closed the tasting room and I think threw in with Halter Ranch. If there's a tasting room again, we'd love to visit. His wines were usually pretty interesting.

                          1. re: judybird
                            m
                            mike0989 Jun 19, 2012 11:23 AM

                            Didn't know they ever went away. They have a new tasting romm near Villicana, off of Adelaida Rd. It just opened in time for the Harvest Festival last October. John Munch is the Owner and he is a piece of work, in a fun way.

                        3. wineanddine2nite Jun 19, 2012 01:27 PM

                          I am surprised no one has mentioned Epoch and Booker. They are by far two of the best in Paso Robles. I will be visiting Paso Robles at the end of the month and those are two of the wineries I will be visiting. Others include: Villa Creek, Turley and Terry Hoage. I am also going to try a wine tasting bar downtown. Paso Wine Centre offers 48 wines "on tap" to try. I like that they donate most of their profits to charity. You could start there, see what you like, and then visit those wineries.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: wineanddine2nite
                            g
                            goldangl95 Jun 19, 2012 02:38 PM

                            My thoughts:

                            Booker is just a tasting room, wine are around $50 a bottle, they are very big, very fruit forward, oaky, tannic wines. They release the wines young, and I frankly, cannot taste much under all the oak and tannin. I did had a three or four year old Booker bottle a few months back, and I realize they can settle down into a great wine, but I have a real hard time tasting there. If your family does like big red wines, in addition to Booker, I'd recommend Linne Calodo.

                            Epoch: I've only been to once, and all the wines had a strange metal tinge at the end (which I blame on my off palate that day and not on them). They have a great reputation (again just a tasting room).

                            Thought: I know Tablas Creek has tours and classes etc, so that may be something to look into.

                            1. re: goldangl95
                              m
                              mike0989 Jun 19, 2012 02:49 PM

                              I love Linne Calod since I discovered them about 15 yrs ago. But good luck getting in. Last I remember it was Memebers only( a waiting list) and even they had to make an appointment. If you see it on a menu though and want to splurge, do try them. in my opinion, Matt is makeing one of the few wines in the area that can justify the higher price point.

                              1. re: mike0989
                                g
                                goldangl95 Jun 19, 2012 03:00 PM

                                They've gotten less strict. During off season/weekdays, you can usually get in these days without being on the list - so it doesn't hurt to call. HOWEVER, most of the wine you try you can't buy unless you are a member. So it is a nice introduction to the winery, but it is just a tasting room, and they may have very little to sell.

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