Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Go to Paso Robles now

By Jessica Yadegaran
Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 4:57 pm in Uncategorized.

You can’t call yourself a wine enthusiast if you haven’t visited Paso Robles. I lived in San Luis Obispo from 2002 to 2004 and consider that area the foundation of my love affair with wine.

This weekend’s 14th annual Zinfandel Festival was my first trip back in over a year. The growth in that short amount of time astounds me. Not only is Paso Robles officially the state’s third largest wine region (there are 100 wineries and counting), but the quality has not been sacrified in light of accolades and a lot of media attention (a PBS reality show on winemakers there is in the works, more on that to come).

Neither has the down-home hospitality and overall farmer spirit. There is class, not snobbery. A few wineries have incorporated tasting fees, but it’s still for a purpose (a glass; 10 tastes) and is often waived if you make a purchase.

I recommend hitting Highway 46 West, which starts at the ocean off Highway 1 and spills into what I’m convinced is the most beautiful land in California. It pops you out at Hwy. 101.

To be honest, I couldn’t find one thing I liked better about tasting in Napa. Here are 12 wineries you won’t want to miss in Paso:

Castoro Cellars: "Dam Fine" Zins.

Eberle Winery: Don’t miss the complimentary cave tours.

Four Vines Winery: Young winemakers doing forward-thinking blends with hip names. Try the "Anarchy."

JanKris Winery: Almond Champagne that’s actually not too sweet and only $12. They also have a cafe!

J. Lohr Vineyards & Winery: The 2001 Cabernet Sauvingon is in my Top 5.

Justin Vineyards & Winery: So is their 2001 cab. Beautiful grounds with an inn and restaurant.

Martin & Weyrich Winery: Stunning orange muscato.

Mastantuono Winery: Ditto on the raspberry champagne.

Peachy Canyon Winery: The Incredible Red is a best seller at Trader Joe’s.

Stephen’s Cellars: Organically-grown grapes. At $16, the Pinot’s a steal.

Tablas Creek: Also organic, and fabulous.

Wild Horse Winery and Vineyards: One of the all-time favorite merlots.

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