I was able to do a lot of travelling in Northern California due to a 6 week work assignment in PALO ALTO. One of my favorite weekend trips was PASO ROBLES, this is a lesser known wine region in California, just north of SAN LUIS OBISPO. I found out about this area from a friend of mine that travels to Paso Robles once a year – I have included some of his recommendations as well as my personal recommendations.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO NAPA? We traveled to Paso Robles just weeks after I visited Napa. When comparing the two, the tastings in Paso Robles were noticeably cheaper, usually $5/person, compared to anywhere from $15 – $25/person for a tasting in Napa. Also, a lot of the time the person doing your tasting was the winemaker, which was a really incredible experience. The overall atmosphere was more friendly and laid back than in Napa. Most of the other visitors were local to California and were die-hard “Paso” fans that did not care much for Napa. For the most part, the views and buildings themselves were much prettier in Napa than they were in Paso Robles. However, once you’ve had a few $5 tastings you really don’t care what the buildings look like. For more information, check out my blog post on NAPA.
WHERE TO STAY:
MADONNA INN (100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405) – I wanted to stay here after seeing Holly, Bridget and Kendra stay here on “The Girls Next Door”. If you’ve read my blog posts you might start to notice a trend… I’m not sure if picking hotels based on pop culture references is the best way to go – but it hasn’t failed me yet! This was by far the most unique hotel I have ever stayed in. Each of the 110 rooms are designed differently and they are very… eccentric. Tip: our room was pink and glittery, so your husband may not love staying here. Check out pictures of the hotel online first – you will either love or hate this place. The only drawback is that it was not super close to Paso Robles so if you are going to be doing a lot of wine tasting I would recommend staying somewhere closer. (The hotel is 30 miles/30 minutes from Paso Robles). Tip: For the adventurous folks – check out the famous rock-wall waterfall urinal in the men’s rest room… just send your husband in first to make sure it’s empty! Madonna Inn
STAY AT A VINEYARD – If you want to stay in Paso Robles, one of the neat things to do is to stay at a vineyard. We weren’t able to do this during our trip but my friend recommends the FRANCES JAMES VINEYARD (4665 Linne Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446) Frances James and DUNNING VINEYARDS (1953 Niderer Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446) Dunning Vineyards
KELSEY SEE CANYON VINEYARD (1947 See Canyon Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405) – Even though this winery is located in San Luis Obispo, this was my favorite winery of the trip. This is a small family owned winery and the owners are an elderly couple that live within footsteps of the tasting room. The vineyard is located amongst apple orchards and they are famous for their Apple Red (“Hot Tub Wine”) and Apple White (“Golden Delicious”). We chose to do our tasting outside in the vineyard where there are peacocks roaming around. This vineyard is truly a must-see. We purchased a bottle of the Golden Delicious, which was one of my favorite wines of the trip. Kelsey See Canyon
TOBIN JAMES CELLARS – (8950 Union Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446) – On the opposite end of the spectrum is Tobin James. This winery is huge, loud and popular. It feels like a bar in that it is truly a party atmosphere. This is a winery where people come to have fun and the servers are more like bartenders that anything else. This is a great place to start the day off if you want to leave with a strong buzz due to the generous size of the tasting pours. Not to mention that there is a huge selection of wines and they are actually very good. We purchased the Liquid Love a “late harvest Zinfandel” that paired great with chocolate. Tobin James
photo credit: Marriott
VIA VEGA VINEYARD & WINERY (2378 Adobe Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446) This place is a trip – very interesting décor. This was one of my husband’s favorites of the weekend. This winery has a skeleton/day of the dead theme. My husband likes very oaky wines and he purchased their Cab. Via Vega
EDNA VALLEY (2585 Biddle Ranch Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401) We chose this winery due to the fact that I love their Chardonnay. They are known for their white wines and the tasting room has an amazing view of the vineyards. This winery had the best view of any of the places we visited, so I would definitely recommend stopping by and enjoying some white wine and a great view. We purchased the Edna Valley Chardonnay. Edna Valley
LE VIGNE WINERY (5115 Buena Vista Dr, Paso Robles, CA 93446 ) – this is a great spot to stop if you need a snack. We did a wine and cheese paring and a wine and chocolate pairing. Both were delicious. I purchased the Bella Moscato – a very sweet, delicious white wine. Le Vigne
CHRONIC CELLARS – (2020 Nacimiento Lake Dr, Paso Robles, CA 93446 ) This is a young, hip winery. Their wines have awesome names – our favorite wine here was the “Sofa King Bueno”. The winery itself is small with no view but there is a pooltable and the staff is very friendly. We purchased the Sofa King White, Tranquilo and Sofa King Bueno. Chronic Cellars
BEST PLACE TO EAT – We received the recommendation of FIRESTONE BREWING COMPANY (1400 Ramada Dr, Paso Robles, CA 93446) from a local (get the tri-tip sandwich and a side of fries). We drove by with the intention of eating lunch here but the line was out the door and across the parking lot. I’m kind of sad that we missed out on this one – but be prepared for a wait.