illustration by oliver and michele
First Stop: Welcome to your Paso Robles wine adventure. First stop is Dover Canyon, Dover is a smaller winery and tasting room, I like to start small earlier in the day, beat the big crowds and spend more time with the people behind the counter and learn about their wines. Dover Canyon has great service, a superb zin and rhone blends, well-priced wines and tasting fee, and it is just a charming little place.
Second Stop: Tablas Creek, located on a beautiful road called Peachy Canyon, is arguably one of the best in Paso Robles Wine Country, the location is impressive and elegant, and the wines are organically grown and have a high quality and complexity. I recommend booking a tour and enjoying your time with a Tablas Creek employee such as the charming and funny Charlie.
Third Stop: Third stop is your most important stop. You are going to need a break. Trust me. Fuel up on water and grub. Calcareous is probably one of the best wineries for this important task. I have been there a couple handful of times and have had many many picnics on their stunning grounds. The views are spectacular and there are plenty of places to lay down your blanket or sit at a table and have a long, leisurely picnic. Or, buy a bottle of wine and play boccie ball. My personal favorite is the Twisted Sister 2010 Zinfandel and Calcareous 2009 Viognier Marsanne. Saturday and Sundays you can have wine and food pairings from Thomas Hill Organics.
Fourth Stop: Travel into the town of Paso Robles, there are a lot of cute boutiques, delicious cheese shops, great restaurants like the Berry Hill Bistro and Artisan. There is also a handful of tasting rooms. My favorites are D’Anbino (live jazz music), Pianetta and Clayhouse Wines.
Wine Tasting Tips:
- Share your tastings: If you are traveling as a couple and don’t mind sharing from the same glass share the glass together, it’s a romantic way to compare notes (save money and drink less too).
- Take home tasting notes: Nearly all wine tasting rooms have notes on their wines, that you are encouraged to take with you
- Don’t feel you have to finish the entire tasting: There are always dump buckets close by to empty your glass after you’ve had a good taste. Don’t feel you need to finish the entire pour, this is especially important for the driver (nothing ruins a great wine trip more than a DUI).
- Ask Questions: The employees at the wineries are excited to tell you about their wines so feel free to ask questions and learn more about the wine production, the vineyard, the wines and even the environment in which the grapes are grown.
- Designate or Hire A Driver: Wine tasting is a lot of fun but, it is important to remember that even the slightest bit of alcohol can impair your driving. Designate a driver or, better still, hire a driver to take you on your adventure.
What to bring on your adventure:
- picnic basket with all the goodies
- A real map
- wine opener
- playing cards