From pretty hillside vineyards to cutting edge wineries - Julie Albin shares where to visit in Paso Robles...
Paso Robles vineyards & wineries to visit
Wine-growers benefit from numerous environmental factors, including abundant sunlight, a diurna; range of up to 10 C and a diversity of more than 30 soil series.
What truly sets Paso Robles apart from other California regions is calcareous soil with high pH levels comparable to the Rhône Valley.
The rolling hills of the east contain granular forms of calcareous soil as loam layers over the watershed areas.
It was this particular terroir that caught the attention of Jerry Lohr in the 1980s when he recognised the immense potential for Bordeaux varieties and became an early pioneer of the region’s commercial era. Bring provisions with you to J Lohr Vineyards and Wines, and enjoy a tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon and juicy Merlot from the picnic area, with no appointment necessary.
Accessible by snake-like roads, the rugged hillsides of the west extend all the way to the coastal Santa Lucia Mountains. This area, especially the Adelaida District, charmed winemakers with its maritime terroir of steep slopes and calcareous shale soils that retain moisture like a sponge. This allows some producers such as Tablas Creek Vineyard to dry-farm. Taste its biodynamic Rhône-style wines by walk-in or by booking a tasting experience. A short walk from the tasting room is the original nursery and vineyards where the estate’s herd of sheep and alpacas can be spotted.
A drive up Peachy Canyon Road will lead you to Law Estate, where you can taste limited-production Rhône and Priorat-style blends. The property’s towering elevation, modern design and stunning views make a utopian ambience.
For a bit of adventure, continue west to Adelaida Road for an excursion tour at Halter Ranch. Cruise around its lofty vineyards in a restored 1984 Land Rover Defender 110 and taste wines against scenic backdrops before stopping by the Victorian farmhouse, which was the filming location for the movie Arachnophobia.
Then retreat from the afternoon sun in Willow Creek District by exploring L’Aventure Winery’s caves, carved into the limestone hillside. A renowned winemaker from Bordeaux, Stephan Asseo’s medley of Bordelaise origins and west Paso Robles style can be tasted in his Paso blends of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.
From its viticultural renaissance in the late 20th century to now having more than 40 different grape varieties planted throughout the region, Paso Robles is now home to yet another new wave of experimental winemakers. Launched by Phillip Hart, just east of Templeton, AmByth Estate was the region’s first Demeter-certified biodynamic wine producer. The family continues its focus on head-trained, dry-farmed, unfiltered and unfined wines with zero added sulphites, aged in barrel, clay eggs or terracotta amphorae. Their natural style is well demonstrated by an eclectic range: from Sauvignon Blanc orange wine to a bottling of 100% Counoise.
Continuing the theme of untraditional varieties, due west on Vineyard Drive is Paix Sur Terre, where owner and winemaker Ryan Pease is making Ugni Blanc cool again. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it with a chilled glass of southern French varieties such as Picpoul or Clairette.
No trip to Paso Robles is complete without a visit to Tin City. An industrial park turned haven for artisan wineries, the attractions also include Tin City Cider Co and BarrelHouse Brewing Co.
Allegretto Vineyard Resort
Arise from your lavish bedroom at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort and greet the morning with a refreshing swim in the saltwater pool, then stroll in the courtyard through the world’s first sonic labyrinth Sound Circle, emitting soothing tones of wind instruments to send you off in state of Shangri-La. Drive over to Law Estate to taste current releases in its ultra-modern tasting room, displaying an inside-outside architectural design, with views over neighbouring hilltops.
Head north on Hidden Mountain Road to Daou, where you can treat yourself to the Culinary Pairing Experience that matches Lebanese-inspired cuisine with Daou’s award-winning wines and sweeping views of the Adelaida District.
Make your way back up Adelaida Road to Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery for its Summit Vineyard Tasting. This picturesque private tour leads you to the top of the organically farmed vineyard to taste Viognier and Rhône-style reds.