Paso Robles has become one of California’s most exciting wine regions. Ten years ago, there were less than 35 wineries here. Today there are more than 300. And the wines they make are increasing in acclaim and recognition.
Paso Robles (“Pass of the Oaks” in Spanish), in San Luis Obispo County, is located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which makes it a great destination mini trip. Their prices are reasonable, the vibe is laid-back and the wines they make are garnering increasing acclaim.
Paso’s (as the locals call it) rolling hillsides were once home to fruit orchards, fields of vegetables and cattle ranches long before the first grapes were planted, and that tradition continues today. Currently, there are more than 32,000 acres of grapes planted and still growing. There is an adamant farm to table ethos among local food producers, restaurants and even winemakers who sell their bottles either out the winery door or directly to area dining establishments. Downtown Paso Robles is home to many restaurants serving locally grown food and locally made wine and several wineries offer lunches whose ingredients have mainly been sourced within county limits. Look for grass-fed beef, local olive oil, and even Ocean Rose Abalone raised on a unique oceanfront farm in nearby Cayucos.
Paso Robles is proud to be home to several varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Sangiovese, and Nebbiolo grapes. There is literally wine to suit everyone’s tastes.
I’ve been coming to this area for many years and always enjoyed the wine, food and people. On a recent trip, my daughter-in-law and I set out to my two favorite wineries, Turley, and SummerWood and to find some new ones. Tooth and Nail and Hope Family Treana vineyards stood out from the crowd. Justin vineyards were once on the ‘fav’ list but after selling the winery to Figi Water Company, the quality and taste have continued to go downhill. My last visit there was a complete bust. Oh, how I miss the old Justin’s wines. However, thankfully we still have Turley, SummerWood, Treana and Tooth and Nail to fill our glasses.
The inviting SummerWood Tasting Room overlooks the estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard with picturesque views of the rolling coastal terrain. There are a lot of appealing spaces at this west side winery for enjoying a glass or two―and the view―from the spacious tasting room with fireplace to an expansive deck and gazebo outside. Perfect for picnics or to watch a sunset over the vineyard hills.
They are currently pouring a 2016 Picpoul Blanc. Citrus coated apricots give this wine a bright acidity level and luscious fruit-forward notes. The 2015 Syrah and Merlot blend are rich with dark berry fruit goodness and notes of fresh violet bouquets. Their GSM is rich and intense with notes of cranberries, raspberries, and red cherries. A wonderful blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, without sacrificing balance. Of course, you can’t live on wine alone so try their delectable chocolates!
Tasting fee from $5; SummerWood Winery: 2175 Arbor Rd.; summerwoodwine.com; 805/227-1365
Turley Wine Cellars
Turley Wine Cellars makes forty-seven wines from over fifty vineyards, the vast majority of which are a single vineyard designate Zinfandels and Petite Syrahs. By focusing on old vine vineyards, in particular, Turley aims to both create and preserve California’s unique winemaking culture. Their big bold Zinfandel has a serious cult following, so be prepared to pay up: Bottles often trade at two to three times suggested retail prices. At Turley, you can sample many old-vine Zinfandels from all over California, as well as from three local vineyards. The estate and the beautiful tasting room are on the old Pesenti Vineyard, which has zinfandel vines that are more than 85 years old. There 2005 “Hayne Vineyard” Petite Syrah is all head-trained, organic, and dry-farmed and was my personal favorite this visit. If you are a Zin fan, you have to try his. Rich, bold and a meal in a glass!
$10 tasting fee 2900 Vineyard Dr., Templeton (6 miles south of Paso Robles); turleywinecellars.com or 805/434-1030.
Tooth and Nail
A towering castle surrounded by a moat is the backdrop to this winery that pours two delightful wines that you need to sample. The first tasting was their version of a Rose that has its structure from the Syrah grape. This newly released Rosé screams watermelon, young strawberry, orange peel and stony minerality. Flavors of melon rind and hibiscus will dance across the palate while the juicy acidity rounds out this lively fun-going wine. The brightness will happily pair with anything from oysters to burgers.
Their 2014 Amor Tati Syrah is the second one I recommend. Ripe black fruit, figs, and boysenberry jam lift from the glass while intoxicating oak aromas of coffee, caramel, and cocoa powder add to the complexity of this full-bodied lush wine. The palate finishes with sweet lingering tannins that round out this truly hedonistic wine. Each bottles label design is a work of art and features from John James Audubon originals and has quotes from him like:
” We cannot command nature except by obeying her”
Each summer this place comes alive with a concert series because as you known wine goes well with music, laughter, and smiles.
3090 Anderson Road Highway 46 West & Anderson Road Paso Robles, CA 93446 (805)369-6100 ext 201
Treana means sand, soil, and sun. The perfect blend to produce these high-quality wines. Hope Family Winery has been making an impact on the winery scene since the early back in the 1990s. Austin Hope grew up working alongside his father, Chuck Hope, inheriting his love and respect for the region. He led the family’s move into winemaking in 1995, and further exploration of Paso began. In 2000, Austin created the Austin Hope label, making very small productions of Rhône varietals. These wines are produced from vines grown at the family’s estate property, where soils and climate have similarities with Rhône Valley vineyards. They remain small yet extraordinary productions. Each bottling holds onto a unique intensity and softness, expressing a special side of Paso.
2015 Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep ruby in color, the 2015 Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon expresses intense fragrances of black currants, ripe black cherries, and blackberries with subtle notes of violets, mocha, and dried spices. It’s a big, powerful, modern-styled wine with velvety tannins and heaps of juicy blackberry and cherry fruit, while nuances of cedar, clove and vanilla bean round out the long smooth finish. It’s full-bodied, rich and balanced by fresh acidity with a firm, polished tannin structure. Voted 97 Points – Wine Enthusiast. This wine is exceptional and a bottle or few are coming home with me to share with friends.
Ricky, their tasting room manager is a delightful, intelligent, charismatic, and wine savvy man who will make you feel right at home with these wines.
After visiting their tasting room I sent them a thank you note and the link to the article I wrote. In return, they sent me a touching note and 2 bottles of their newest releases for my enjoyment. Here are my impressions of these two remarkable treasures.
2016 Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon
Their goal for this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is simple- to make wine that expresses all that Paso Robles has to offer.
The heart of this Cabernet Sauvignon is essences of ripe blackberries, violets and currants with layers of cloves and nutmeg spices. As smooth as silk on your palate before giving way to a long lingering mocha finish. The grapes for this wine were specially selected from five different vineyard locations around the Paso Robles valley.
2016 Trena Cabernet Sauvignon
As a tribute to the three men who influenced Austin in the wine making craft, his father Chuck Hope, his uncle Paul and winemaker Chuck Wagner, Austin Hope created Trena Cabernet Sauvignon- a wine that encapsulates the quintessential learnings over the course of his career.
This wine is 90% Caberent Sauvignon with the addition of 10% Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah grapes. Deep rich blueberry syrup and crushed violets please the palate with a velvety weight in the mouth and a long finish of caramel, mushrooms and coffee notes from the soils. A superb full bodied wine to savor.
Well done Austin Hope! These specially crafted Cabernet Sauvignon wines are as expected, there is total typicity of the Paso Robles AVA ( the degree a wine reflects the classic expectations of the grape varietal).
As a tribute to the three men who influenced him in the winemaking craft, his father Chuck Hope, his uncle Paul and winemaker Chuck Wagner, Austin Hope created Trena Cabernet Sauvignon- a wine that encapsulates the quintessential learnings over the course of his career.
Transendict- a meal in itself!
Paso Robles Inn
In the mid-1800s, the Paso Robles region—known for its mineral hot springs–was a rest stop for travelers of the Camino Real trail who indulged in the area’s therapeutic watering hole. Today, the Paso Robles Inn carries on this tradition with 18 of its guest rooms outfitted with hot spring spas. It is also home to many large Koi fish swimming along with their creek-like ponds that weave throughout their meticulous gardens. This is a downtown favorite for many. I have stayed here 4 times and each time was better than the last.
Steakhouse and coffee shop on-premises. They offer 98 rooms. 1103 Spring Street, Paso Robles pasoroblesinn.com or 800/676-1713.
At SummerWood Winery, a beautiful farmhouse-style inn set among gardens, with one of the best breakfasts in the region. plus Gourmet appetizers and wine await you in the afternoons and homemade dessert and coffee in the evening, all prepared by a professional chef. Fireplaces, 100% Turkish robes and luxury linens are standard for each room.
They have 9 rooms; two-night weekend minimum; summerwoodwine.com; 805/227-1111.
Allegretto Vineyard Resort
A rustic, Mediterranean-inspired refuge poised along the idyllic east side of Paso Robles, the Allegretto is bathed in 20 acres of sprawling vineyards and orchards, blending the region’s best food and wine experiences with European-style hospitality that invokes joy and harmony. Here, discoveries never end, with spaces that open up to lush gardens, soothing spa treatments that perfect balance and finely crafted cuisine cultivated from local farms and purveyors.
The hallways are full of fascinating art from all over the world. Enjoy yoga in the Abbey, a zero-gravity pedicure chair in the spa and rustic Italian cuisine in the restaurant.
2700 Buena Vista Drive • Paso Robles, California 93446
Phone: 805-369-2500 www.Allegrettovineyardresort.com
Hotel Cheval was just awarded by Trip Advisor as the 2018 #1Best Small Hotel in the United States and #8 best small hotel in the world!
This intimate 16-room boutique luxury hotel, located just off Paso Robles’ historic town square and offers distinctive travelers a unique and memorable experience. With personalized service with thoughtfully designed and refined accommodations and amenities. Make your stay unique by attending their Vinsider experience. It’s a special package for the wine connoisseur who wants to experience some of Paso Robles’ smaller, “hidden gem” wineries.
This package includes:
– Overnight accommodations
– A welcome bottle of local wine
– A private, 4-hour wine tour in the Hotel Cheval Mercedes SUV, led by our in-house Wine Educator
– Visits & tastings at 3 wineries, including a deli lunch al fresco
Hotel Cheval 1021 Pine Street Paso Robles, California 93446 www.hotelcheval.com
 226-9995 phone  522-6999 toll-free firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting there: Paso Robles is off U.S. 101, about 3 hours north of Los Angeles and 3 hours south of San Francisco. For more information on wine tours, contact the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (800/549-9463). If you have more time, drive 30 minutes further and visit the small coastal town of Cambria.
Once a laid-back farming community, and now California’s next hot wine country, when you visit Paso, you’ll understand why people never want to leave. You will be awed by the beautiful natural landscape, the delicious wine, the excellent food, the friendliness of the people and the complete lack of traffic. Cheers!
Words by Shelley Pittman