Visit Paso Robles. In summer, the golden hills and dark Oak trees remind you of California’s frontier past, and provide an excellent contrast to the green of the grape vines. Paso Robles has continued to evolve, but has maintained its adventurous spirit and its small-town feel. Each vintner believes that their wine is the best, while continuing to strive for greater regional success.
Paso Robles can provide you a unique experience if you are adventurous enough to seek it out. Arguably the region is known Rhone-style wines, but those who prefer Bordeaux or Burgundy-style wines will find wines in those styles.
Our introduction to Paso Robles was seven years ago, and we couldn’t begin to fathom the passion for viticulture Paso ignited. Paso Robles remains our favorite region, and since that first trip we have continued our quest to explore this region further.
To us wine tasting is not just about the wine but the journey that the wine evokes. With so many great wineries in the area and new wineries popping up every year, choosing only five wineries for a newcomer to visit was extremely challenging, but we believe the following five wineries provide a unique and memorable experience, regardless of where you are in your wine education.
Tablas Creek Vineyard
Tablas Creek has grown into a highly recommended winery by visiting winos and locals alike. They are a winery whose roots are deep with French influence (literally). Their vines were provided by their sister winery, the famed Rhone Region powerhouse Chateau de Beaucastel.
As mentioned earlier, Paso Robles has become the premier Californian producer of Rhone varietals. Tablas Creek’s tireless effort to perfecting and demonstrating to their neighbors and the world how Rhone varietals can be expressed in Paso is truly admirable. Tucked away in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles, Tablas Creek provides an excellent opportunity to escape the potentially hectic nature of the major thoroughfare in Paso, the 46.
Vineyard Drive is a gentle winding two-lane road lined with Oak trees. The road leads to a bronze sign and the open-air seating at Tables Creek invites you to linger all day. Guests are invited to experience their tastings indoors or outdoors (weather permitting). Walk-ins are welcome but reservations can be made in advance for more intimate and unique tasting experiences.
While tasting indoors treats you to a view of the barrel room, we have found the view of the vines with the outdoor experience more preferable. The flagship wines at Tablas Creek are the Espirit de Tablas and the Espirit de Tablas Blanc.
A further evaluation of the portfolio of wines reveals a collection of both widely-known varietals such as Viognier, Mourvedre, and Syrah and lesser known wines for visitors to enjoy as a single varietal such as Tannat, Clairette Blanche, and Picardan. We highly recommend picking up a bottle of Tablas Creek’s Espirit de Tablas and Chateau de Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape for a side-by-side tasting as Tablas Creek model their flagship blends after their sister’s counterparts.
Hours: Daily 10 am – 5 pm (Pre-Covid-19 hours)
Phone: (805) 237-1231
In 2019 Eberle Winery celebrated its 40th anniversary so it goes without saying that Paso Robles would not be where it is today without early visionaries such as Gary Eberle.
Eberle Winery is directly adjacent to Highway 46 on the eastside, and the tasting room sits atop the barrel room which is housed in the man made cave. From the tasting room’s perch above the barrel room, visitors are treated to an excellent vantage of the property from the vineyard-facing deck. We highly recommend that you set aside extra time for the complimentary cave tour that runs throughout the day.
The tour provides an excellent look into their wine making process and a walk through their barrel room which provides the added bonus of a refreshing escape, especially on hot days. The flagship, Cabernet Sauvignon, provides an excellent representation of how the varietal expresses itself on the eastside of this region. The tasting room is warm and the welcoming staff present guests with two tasting options; the first consists of current releases, while the second provides a look at library and reserve/library wines.
The current releases tasting is complimentary, the library tasting has a fee but you have the opportunity to try more limited bottles. The complimentary list provides a robust portfolio of wines which allows every palate to find something to take home. Providing two different tasting options is unique compared to many of the other tasting rooms, which usually have one standard tasting.
The combination of the tasting options, tour, and history makes this winery a must stop location. If you’re lucky you may even have the chance to visit with the legend himself, Gary, while he sips a glass of wine with his loving poodles, Sangiovese and Barbera.
Hours: Daily 10 am – 6 pm (Pre-Covid-19 hours)
Phone: (805) 238-9607
Le Cuvier Winery
Sip, Savor, and Survey are the three descriptors of why Le Cuvier is a must stop for anyone visiting the Paso Region for the first time. A core belief at Le Cuvier is that the best wine will be produced when nature is allowed to run its course. To this end the winery seeks out grapes that have been dry farmed, and they utilize wild yeast in the fermentation process so each sip is a true time capsule of what occurred that year. (Wild yeast is literally the yeast that is floating around in the natural environment!)
The extra amount of time in barrel makes each of their wines distinct and age predictably. The winery also demonstrates its versatility by producing wine from the Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rhone regions. Whether it’s the uniqueness of their Chardonnay that is treated more as a red wine, or their L’enfant du Pape blend which has a touch of Petite Syrah they are always seeking to innovate and challenge the status quo. When you enter the hacienda inspired tasting room take a moment to catch a whiff of what the in-house chef and kitchen have going for the day.
Each tasting flight is perfectly paired with a tasty bite. The kitchen, expertly blends traditional and more progressive pairings to create a memorable connection of how food and wine work to enhance each other. This emphasis on the marriage between food and wine makes them hands down the best in the region.
Lastly, either before or after your tasting, take a moment to go outside and survey the beautiful view of the valley. We prefer to begin and end our tasting experience by taking a few minutes to bask in the beauty of this view and you would be remiss not to take a moment to let it all soak in for yourself.
Hours: Thursday – Monday 11 am – 5 pm (Pre-Covid-19 hours)
Phone: (805) 238 – 5706
Nestled to the east of downtown Paso Robles lies Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden. The ornately decorated gates are just a small preview how this property has become a living art piece. After you pass some of the properties first vines, you are met with several sculptures created by renowned sculptor John Jagger and visitors are provided with the unique opportunity to combine wine with fine art.
The various art pieces from Jagger and other contributors surround the tasting room, which also has astounding and ornate ironwork. The picnic tables underneath the trees located in front and behind the tasting room combined with the sculptures, open-air stage for live music and bocce ball court invite guests to sit down with a glass or bottle of wine while taking in the beauty that surrounds them.
If you’re feeling more active, there is a hiking trail and a simpler walking trail that travels through a portion of the estate’s vines as long as you respect the growth of the grapes by not touching the vines. Sculpterra’s wine portfolio contains many different varietals most of which are estate grown, and one of the many staff members will gladly assist you in finding the perfect bottle to bring home.
The flagship wines here are the series of red blends that have several of the sculptures engraved into the bottles. The engraved bottles double as their own individual art pieces and make an excellent memory of your visit or the perfect gift for an art lover in your life. If you are the creative or crafty type, we highly recommend enjoying these wines and then turning the empty bottles into candles. On a slightly different note the property has grown its pistachio production and you can join its pistachio club starting in late 2020.
Hours: Daily 10 am – 5 pm
Law Estate Wines
Law Estate is the only winery on this list that requires a reservation to visit the property for a tasting experience. This requirement stems from the deep desire to provide guests with a more intimate and communal experience than most provide. Each group is led through the current tasting experience by one of Law’s knowledgeable staff in a seated, 1-hour long format that welcomes discussion and questions about the wines.
A 360° view accompanies your tasting! We highly recommend that before or after you finish the seated portion of your visit you walk around the top portion of the property. If you schedule the appointment for later in the day you can watch the sun begin its slow descent below the surrounding hills. Law primarily specializes in red blends that are produced to be an excellent representation of its terroir with a focus on Syrah and Grenache.
We have come to enjoy how the French and Spanish clones express themselves differently in the Grenache forward blends. Law releases a different set of wines in the fall and spring. While the fall release is all red blends, Law showcases their refreshing white blend and Rosé blend along with a few additional red blends in the spring which are perfect for when the weather heats up. Many of the wines that can be acquired here are perfect for consumption now or will cellar beautifully.
Hours: Thursday – Tuesday 10 am – 4 pm (By appointment)
Phone: (805) 226-9200
Visit Paso Robles: let the journey begin
We believe the wineries listed above provide first time Paso visitors with both a memorable and unique experience from its contemporaries. Over the course of our visits to this region we have learned sometimes the most memorable experiences are those that happen unexpectedly.
With new wineries popping up every year, don’t hesitate to take a moment to talk to the tasting room staff and see where they recommend because we have found that if 2-3 tasting rooms provide the same recommendation it is worth the stop.
It’s our hope that both this article and I like this grape’s upcoming Drive Through Paso Robles book will assist new visitors in the exploration with this wonderful area. We fell in love on our first trip, and our greatest delight would be to see this region continue to grow and prosper.
About the authors: Matt and Andrew are brothers based in Los Angeles, C.A. who began their wine adventure in 2012. They have made the agreement to visit all of the wine regions in California together.
In July 2019, they launched their food and beverage blog titled Tastes of the Terroir (https://tastesoftheterroir.com/) with a corresponding Instagram account. Matt and Andrew have a goal of passing their experiences and insight in the food and beverage industry with the world.