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Recs for Can't Miss Wineries in Paso Robles Region

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Four 50ish guys have 1 day in this area to hit the wineries. We are interested in quality wines but would like to visit wineries that stand out above the rest either for design, view, restaurant, staff or preferably all of the above. If you had just a very short time to pick one or two wineries in the area to visit, where would you go. Thanks.

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  1. Eberle Winery, Peachy Canyon, Adelaida.

    1. The staff at Bonny Doon's tasting room(at Sycamore Herb Farm, Hiway 46 West) are a bunch of real characters. After all they work for Randall Grahm! Bonny Doon works with Rhone varietals. I like their sense of humor, too.

      A major proponent of screwcaps. If you follow the link, view the video on screwcaps located in a pulldown menu on the Propaganda page.

      The barn housing the tasting room burned down a year ago, but is being rebuilt now. They have a temporary tasting room set up.

      Link: http://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/

      1. Tablas Creek - Rhone varietals planted on limestone westside soils. Owned by Chateau Beaucastel of Chateuneuf de Pape.

        Justin - World class cabs and blends. Restaurant.

        Other favs: Peachy Canyon, Adelaida, Wild Horse, Caparone (if open), Tobin James, Garretson.

        3 Replies
        1. re: e.d.

          Mastantuono Winery

          Paolillo Vineyards

          The map is a treasure, too.

          Link: http://www.pasowine.com/wineries/map.php

          1. re: e.d.

            Summerwood wines, there is also an Inn adjacent to the tasting room where we have enjoyed numerous stays. kevin

            1. re: e.d.

              Tablas Creek would be my number one choice. It's in the "far out" winery area and there is no place to eat nearby except at Justin Winery and their restaurant is only open weekends.
              On the east side, Eberle is always reliable and has gorgeous views. Robert Hall has good wine and an impressive tasting room. Chumea always has some tasty wines.
              If you're on the eastside around mealtime, Matthews at the Airport is good and fairly close to many of the eastside wineries. Downtown Paso has an abundance of places to eat. At lunch you could try Panolivo, Odyssey Cafe (very casual, good salads and sandwiches), Dining With Andre (French bakery), Berryhill Bistro. For dinner Paris, Bistro Laurent, Bueno Tavola and Villa Creek are good options.

            2. hello, I've only been to two wineries in that vicinity, but if your time is limited, Peachy Canyon is 1/4 mi. off of hwy 46 and they'll pour about 14 wines all drinkable to very good, $3 if you don't buy a bottle (they're known for good quality to price) or free with a purchase. Facilities are comfortable but nothing fancy. cheers

              1. Adelaida and Tablas creek are by each other, sort of, but are way out of town. Both make good wine.
                Garretson is in town but I don't think it's on the Paso Robles map. I like Garretson wine enough I joined its wine club.
                Linne Calodo and L'Venture also have excellent reputations.
                Bonny Doon is fun, but they also have a hard sell to join the wine club.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Steve Timko

                  I forgot about Linne Calodo, but they used to be open weekends only.

                  1. re: e.d.

                    Call Linne before going. They don't make much and are often completely out of wine if it is not near bottling time. Good stuff but he almost sells it all out to the wine club which is full as well.

                    Same thing in true for many of the smaller producers out there. I think Nadeau ran out last year and Denner is close to out now, IIRC.

                2. Tobin James is one of the most fun tasting rooms in town with an Old Wild West feel. No pretentions, no tasting fees. If you like big, fruity and hot wines, this be the place. On the other end of the spectrum is Tablas Creek or L'Aventure. More understated, both in tasting room atmosphere and in the wines themselves. Eberle, on the same side of town as Tobin James, has a tour of the facilities and caves about every hour, which can give you a good overview of the winemaking process -- and their zinfandel is very good.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: AmySue

                    Tobin James is definitely fun, but I was wondering if anyone had a chance to rate the restroom facilities at some of the Paso wineries. I noted that some were nicer than others. Eberle was fairly decent, but some of the restrooms were extremely well done for instance Halter Ranch, Hunt Cellars, Denner and Jada - among a few. Hadn't checked out Tobin James, but maybe next time.

                    1. re: Samcatwoman

                      I really disliked Tobin James. I thought the wines were clumsy and obvious, and it seemed to me they catered mostly to people who viewed wine as a short path to drunkenness. Eberle, on the other hand, was a really good experience.

                  2. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Turley. It's the only "cult" zinfandel which generally can only be purchased from the mailing list, which I believe has a waiting list. However, you can buy some bottles at the winery. IMO, it's the best zin out there. They also make a fabulous petit syrah. I also recommend Justin and Eberle, if nothing else for the wonderful location and views. I had a wonderful dinner at Justin and would highly recommend it if you're around when it's available.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: RevrendAndy

                      Two reasons I didn't mention Turley (and I agree their wine is terrific - wonderful tannins and structure for zinfandel):

                      1) I can remember buying zin from the Pesenti vinyard (which they now own) for about $5 a bottle when the Pesentis owned it, and it drives me crazy to see it for $40 today.

                      2) They are surly at Turley. I (and friends on a separate occasion) both felt like we were treated like s**t there. The least friendly tasting room (with the highest tasting charge, if memory serves) in the Paso area.


                      1. re: e.d.

                        We similarly had a rather miserable experience at Turley. Very surly but we have our expensive glasses.

                        1. re: wally

                          Sorry to hear of everyone's "surley Turley" experiences. I was there in September and found our host quite nice. Besides, I love their wine, and with enough tastings under your belt even Saddam Hussein pouring for you may seem warm and fuzzy.

                        2. re: e.d.

                          The Old Vines zin which is what became of the Pesenti is far better than the Pesenti was. And on the list the Old Vines is only $25. I think it may be a little more at the tasting room. Their $10 tasting fee bugs me but the zins are quite good. I particularly like the Dusi Zin (which is my neighbors vineyard) $42 for a really nice dry farmed Zin.

                          You can also try Zin Alley which is across 46 from Turley. He was one of the winemakers from Pesenti and sells his big Zin for $42 and a great Zin Port. Sells out pretty fast each season though.

                          One more Zin option also has Pesenti connection is Rotta. They taste at Cider Creek right next to Zin Alley. But their winery right behind Turley is supposed to open soon. The people behind this are Steve Pesenti and Mike Guibinni. $27 for their Zin. They also do a very nice sherry. www.rottawinery.com

                          1. re: beachgrub

                            I just had a Dusi zin yesterday at the former-Hidden Mountain Ranch winery (it's now Thunderbolt Junction; the new owners have been there for about 3 months. They also own a "San Luis Obispo" label which is going to have cheesy wine names like "Poolside," etc.)

                            Anyway, it was a good zin. I was particularly fond of another we had at Wild Coyote, which if you're looking for unique ambience, this has it in spades. Adobe houses, a Bed and Breakfast, Native American music playing in the winery and a wolf-looking dog coming to greet you as you pull up the long driveway. Gorgeous.

                            I would actually recommend taking Adelaida Road all the way out to Carmody McKnight and Justin. It's a manageable trip and you'll see some beautiful wineries, AND drink some great wines, especially if you're into reds. Yesterday we also hit Villicana -- they have a good Merlot that actually tastes a bit like cab, and a later-harvest Zin that's full of berries, yum.

                            Adelaida has great wine and I just found a really good deal for their Gamay Beaujolais for $10. You have to drink it right now, but it is a STEAL for that price. We got several bottles. Also they carry my favorite oil from Olea Farms, Arbequina. Pick up a bottle for dressings and roasted veggies, it's WONDERFUL.

                            Have fun! I have lots of opinions about Paso wine but my feeling really is that you should pick an area, like the far out wineries on the far west or Hwy 46 East or San Miguel, etc., and then I can give you recs for that particular area.

                            1. re: SLOLindsay

                              SLOL, thanks much for the tips on the lesser known wineries (Wild Coyote and Villicana). I have a dear friend that loves Merlot, but not the fruit bombs. I'm wondering if the Villacana might suit her tastes. I poured a bottle of the Carmody-McKight that she liked, but other than Duckhorn it's hard to find the right one. Got a bottle of Twomey for Xmas but haven't heard back about it.

                              1. re: PolarBear

                                Actually Wild Coyote has a good merlot also. I thought it was the best thing they were pouring 2 summers ago.

                          2. re: e.d.

                            I, too, had fond memories of Pesenti's. There was an older man there, and due to a severe Parentitis Flare-up, who's name now escapes me, that _really_ taught us how to wine taste. He spent four hours with us just talking grapes and wine, letting us sample, laughing and talking about his experiences with some of the customers that came through his place... It was that memory that got us to come back every spring like swallows. (And, of course, to purchase wines by the case.)

                            My memories of Surly Turley are _not_ so fond. I will drive out of my way to avoid that particular winery when visiting the area. No one does me the favor of abusing me while I pay them. I have preteen daughters for that.

                        3. add Denner and Turley to the list

                          1. we really enjoyed adelaida, chumeia, and york mountain, though they are all in different areas. adelaida was certainly the most elegant, chumeia somewhere in the middle, and york just a simple trailer but we enjoyed the many years of history behind it and were saddened that we don;t have a chunk of cash sitting around as the whole place is for sale. they are all in different areas but one of the best things about paso is the gorgeous scenic drive from one place to the next!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tastycakes

                              what about the olive farms? I've heard there is an olive festival in a couple weeks. do they have any olive farm tours or stores that sell on the premises. we're heading up there in a few weeks. i am sure it will be HOT though!

                              1. re: tastycakes

                                Gotta disagree with two of the recs on the list. I was at chumeia last summer and was extremely disappointed. Few of the wines are from Paso as the winery is located in the Central Valley. Nothing there was really good and several things I tasted were mediocre - or worse.

                                Haven't tasted at York Mountain in years, but nothing in the past was ever special there.

                                I agree about Adelaida - good wines and nice people. But I would avoid the other two. With over 200 wineries, there are numerous better ones.

                              2. My husband and I went to Eos Estate Winery a few weeks ago and absolutely LOVED it!! We bought a bottle of their Pinot Blanc, sat outside in the beautiful picnic area and had lunch. I would highly recommend visiting them...their staff was so friendly and knowledgeable as well! Their Reserve Cab is amazing too, so make sure and try it if you go!!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: bwighton

                                  EOS Estate has had a major turnaround and the quality is vastly improved.
                                  The 2007 Zin is a delight, as is the Petite Sirah (2005 if I remember)

                                  1. re: Bruce in SLO

                                    Really? Last time I was in there, maybe 4+ years ago, the wine was downright lousy. That place fell so far off my radar, I would not even try it a a tasting event. If they have improved good for them and I might give em another shot.

                                2. After reading over this entire post we composed a list of wineries that we wanted to visit. I really wanted to respond after we went tasting not that we have any big say one way or the other but anyway the places we really liked were
                                  Jack Creek. Their wines were all fantastic. It was a little hard to find because there wasn't really a sign but you turn on Jack Creek Rd and go rt. then it is easy to find. Their wines were really good, like I said. Everyone of them were wonderful. We got their concrete blonde and 2008 Pinot. The 2006 Pinot was incredible but quite a bit more than the 08 so we figured we would get this and IF we laid it down it would be wonderful. The tasting room girl recommended Jada which wasn't on our list but we went there anyway. Well, don't waste your time. Most of the wines were sold out. The tasting room wasn't anything great. They didn't give a discount for restaurant wine buyers which seems like shooting yourself in the foot.
                                  We ended at Opolo. They were amazing too. All the wines--awesome. Tasting room personnel--wonderful. Beautiful surroundings. Definitely worth the drive.
                                  Hug Cellars is another Don't miss. Definitely not one that you would normally include in your wine tour because it is in an industrial center off 46E but the wine is amazing. Augie, the winemaker, studied under the tutelage of John Alban--enough said. Just make sure you go there.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: REBJA

                                    My list includes:
                                    Linne Calodo
                                    Zin Alley
                                    L'Adventure (excellent, but expensive)
                                    Jack Creek

                                    1. re: steve753

                                      That is spelled "Thacher" (like the school) in the Far Out Wineries group - which is a stunning wine tour when the hills are green in the spring. For a relatively new winery, his big recent win in the SF tastings was a very nice surprise. http://www.thacherwinery.com/winery.php

                                      1. re: steve753

                                        Good list, might add:

                                        Tablas Creek
                                        Halter Ranch
                                        Edward Sellers

                                        BTW it is Denner (not plural) and def. worth a visit.

                                        1. re: PolarBear

                                          There are a few more that I would like to add:

                                          Proulx (pronounced Pru)
                                          Alta Colina