What makes for a good winery tasting room? Is it the wine? The people pouring you? The vibe? The view?
For me, it’s really all of that. And after a few more trips to Paso Robles, I’m adding and updating this list of my favorite Templeton and Paso Robles tasting rooms and wineries at last! So grab your wine glass, fill it up and read on. These are in no particular order …
Nestled up on a hill in an area of Paso that feels like you’re a million miles away from anything, Calcareous delivers up huge, sprawling and breath-taking views along with darn good wine. Every time we’ve been we’ve had a relaxed and friendly tasting with a really knowledgeable staff member. Definitely a place to plan to spend some time!
Best for: A picnic. You simply can’t get a more scenic and beautiful spot in Paso, and they’re set up for it with tables, outdoor games and plenty of space to hang.
2. Peachy Canyon
Don’t let the campy nature of the massive chair fool you; this place is laid back and in a busier area of town, but the wine is damn good. And, for the most part, pretty darn affordable. Which is awesome. They specialize in Zinfandel and do it really, really well. When it comes to a tasting room, expect it to be bustling and crowded — but in a really fun and feel-good way. Plus, they have friendly cats!
Best for: Picking up some quality bottles at a really good price point — and making new wine friends (feline or human).
3. Turtle Rock
Wine in an industrial area sounds weird, but don’t be swayed by the cool metal exterior. Turtle Rock is a GEM that you simply can’t pass up. Sure, it doesn’t have the view or the vines, but it’s got the good wine — up-and-coming wine that is incredible, in fact. It’s in an area called Tin City (which this lovely lady hipped me to) and if you’re looking to try a lot of new exciting wines and want to be able to literally walk from boutique tasting room to boutique tasting room, this is it. (And if you’ve got time while you’re there, also stop by The Fableist, Tin City Cider and Negranti Creamery!)
Best for: Hipsters, those who want to taste the next generation of winemakers, and those who want to taste a lot of wine in a short amount of time.
It’s taken me four trips to Paso to make it out to Adelaida and, MAN, I wish I’d come out sooner. Using some of the oldest vineyards in Paso, the grounds are gorgeous, the tasting room is as elegant as it is relaxing, and the wine is nuanced, refined and really complex. Can you tell I loved Adelaida? Loved. It. We did our own private tasting outside on their balcony and it was truly wonderful.
Best for: Those looking for a relaxed, gorgeous tasting — from the view to the wine to the service.
I’ve written about Turley before, and my opinion of their Zins has only increased. I mean, this one gave me my first wine ah-ha moment. And I’ve never had a bad pour there. When it comes to Zin, they are simply the best, in my opinion (and — warning — they may ruin you on all other Zin for all time). The tasting room gets busy and bus tours drop off here, so go early in the day to avoid the crowds. Definitely spring for the reserve tasting, too. You won’t regret it.
Best for: Zin lovers or those who think they’ve had Zin and it can’t get any better (it can and does here).
6. Tablas Creek
I love Tablas Creek for a lot of reasons: the wine, the history, how they use biodynamic techniques, and — of course, along with that — the sheep, goats and dogs that roam the property. It’s truly a unique and awesome winery to check out. The tasting room does feel a bit like an amusement park in its more structured set-up (you can’t just saunter up to the counter and taste — you basically get in a line and then wait for your turn), but I’ve never had a bad wine there and a lot of them are pretty affordable at $30 or so a bottle. It’s a great place to get amazing value on Rhône varietals that are complex, refined and — if you can wait — lay down really well.
Best for: French wine fans and /or those interested in biodynamic winemaking … and animals!
Epoch was one of my first Paso finds and it continues to deliver year after year — it’s always on my list to taste. Its renovated barn tasting room is modern and simply gorgeous. And it pairs perfectly with the wine — bold, refined and somehow classic yet pushing the bounds of what Paso wine is and what it’s known for.
Best for: Architecture fans and fans of big, bold, smooth and round blends.
Law hasn’t been opened for long, but, holy cow, is it impressive. Like, breathtakingly impressive. In fact, it might be the most beautiful modern building in Paso. And the wine is quite the complement to it. The price point is high on its bottles (looking at $75 easy), but, damn, the wines are good — rich and smooth with so much complexity, refinement and character. All tastings are scheduled and private — and, this is the best part — they pour everything you’re tasting in its own (gorgeous) glass up front. That way you can go back and forth and compare and contract. It’s really, really fun. Plan to be there for a full hour — and be sure to go outside to enjoy the amazing views.
Best for: A freakin’ luxurious wine-loving experience. (Totally worth the money and booking a reservation!)
The name kind of says it all. L’Aventure Winery is all about innovation and trying new things (the owner and winemaker is French but left his homeland so that he had the freedom to make the wine he dreamed of), and they do an amazing job of creating some beautiful and rich yet refined blends in a beautiful space. Tastings are by appointment here, too, and it’s worth booking. We spent an hour with the place to ourselves and it was glorious.
Best for: A leisurely tasting of blends that are more subtle than big, but really, really tasty.
What are YOUR fave Paso Robles tasting rooms? There are so, so, SO many now and I know that despite visiting Paso four times now, we’ve only scratched the surface. And more are opening all the time! Like, Field Recordings? OMG, on my list for next time. (Sadly, their tasting room wasn’t opened yet when we were there!) —Jenn