Starting at the southern terminus in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Freeway, or the 101, as you proceed north enroute to San Francisco, or to the highway’s end at the Oregon state line, is “Oak Pass”, or better known as Paso Robles in the Central Coast region of California. Paso Robles is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco in San Luis Obispo County.
“Paso” as the locals call it, has a very long history with wine-making. The commercial wine industry was introduced to the Paso Robles region in 1882. In the early 1920’s wine from this region became award-winners. This established Paso Robles’ reputation as a premier wine region, thereby firmly establishing them with later successes. Some wine critics today have called Paso Robles the next Napa Valley. Paso may not have the name recognition and elite status of Napa as of yet, but the winemakers in Paso Robles hope to keep their low profile.
What makes this incredible wine region of California so unique is its laid-back vibe, reasonable prices for wines, and a greater freedom and experimentation for the winemakers without the micro-managing from large corporations. You’ll find world-class wines from this gem of a wine country in Paso Robles that is on par or even better than Napa or Sonoma. Since it isn’t as commercialized as the other famous California wine regions the traffic is a lot less, more unclogged roads, and friendly winemakers offering to pour their vintages to you from their garages or back porches.
Come discover more of what this hidden treasure in Paso Robles has to offer with their extraordinary wines. This is a wine guide of the five best wines that you will ever find.
1.) Turley Wine Cellars – 2900 Vineyard Drive Templeton, California (805) 434-1030: Just outside Paso Robles in Templeton in San Luis Obispo County is a winery that specializes in delightful old vine Zinfadels, which is my favorite. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting their Juvenile Zinfadel a long time ago and the memory has stayed with me ever since. This winery offers some sinful zin from one of the earliest varietals to be grown in California. Based on someone’s written review of Turley’s Wine Cellars tasting room they stated Larry Turley does not distribute their wine, so the only way to get it is through the winery or being on their mailing list, which is a 2-year wait to purchase anything.
They also have limits on the quantity that you can buy, because their production is so small. The reviewer also claimed “I once talked to a guy in Napa who said he would buy a case at the Turley winery, and then sell it to his local wine shop at a profit, because the wine was so coveted.” The prices on these prized Zinfadels, if you can get it, are from $22-$56. Some of the featured ones are the Dusi, Presenti, and Juvenile. These Zinfadels are huge, ultra-ripe, intense, massive, and chewy. Their most popular, The Juvemile, comes from the Zinfandel lots of the youngest vines (around 25 years), they are then put into a general blend called Juvenile. This is always one of the least expensive and its most delicious offering. The 2007 Zinfandel Juvenile offers good berry fruit, pepper, and spice as well as medium body, and no hard edges. According to another taste room reviewer who quoted the following: “Word has it that one of their ~$50 bottles goes for ~$200 on Ebay! Hello post-financial apocalypse alternative investment vehicle, eh? Taste on, my friends.”
2.) Eberle Winery – 3810 Highway 46 East Paso Robles, California (805) 238-9607: Gary Eberle was the first to plant Syrah in Paso Robles and the first California vintner to produce a wine made from 100 percent syrah. Syrah is widely grown in the California wine country. Paso Robles has a greater concentration of Syrah wines than any other California wine region. Today, this boutique winery offers voignier, roussanne and syrah rosé as well as syrah. Syrah is a heavy wine with a dark inky color. Syrah’s aromas and flavors are pepper, blackberry, herbs, and cinnamon. The 2007 Syrah Rosé, which is Eberle’s dry rosé, displays aromatics and flavors of wild strawberries with hints of spice. A light wine that drinks like a red and pairs perfectly with a variety of foods. $16 http://www.eberlewinery.com/
3.) Justin Vineyards & Winery – 11680 Chimney Rock Road Paso Robles, California (805) 238-6932: Of all of the San Luis Obispo County wineries, this is the favorite one of “Sideways” author Rex Pickett, which was an Oscar-winning film from 2004 about the Santa Barbara wine region. The ISOSCELES Reserve, “The Central Coast’s most collectible wine”, is one of America’s sought after Bordeaux blends featuring the classic blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. This results in a beautifully integrated and extraordinary definition of fruit with an awe inspiring finish. However, production of this wine is limited. Regrettably, only JUSTIN Wine Society members have access to ISOSCELES Reserve. To add your name to the list, simply click on the ‘Join JUSTIN Wine Society” link at their homepage. http://www.justinwine.com/index.php
4.) Tablas Creek Vineyard – 9339 Adelaida Road Paso Robles, California (805) 237-1231: A winery which is a joint venture between the Perrin family, owners of the famed Chateau de Beaucastel in France’s southern Rhone, and Robert Haas, their U.S. importer. They have been receiving non-stop acclaim for both their red and white Rhone varietals. In its inaugural BusinessWeek column, the writer identified the 2005 Tablas Creek Rosé as one of his favorite Rosé wines. The 2005 Rosé is rich, ripe, and full of spice and fruit. The aromatics consist of sage and juniper, as well as white plum and watermelon, plus flavors of ripe strawberries. The fresh acidity gives it a lingering finish. Pair it with Mediterranean cuisine, such as Spanish tapas, or just enjoy it outdoors on a sunny day. $20 http://www.tablascreek.com/
5.) Adelaida Cellars – 5805 Adelaida Road Paso Robles, California (805) 239-8980: This is one of the most critically acclaimed wineries along California’s Central Coast. Adelaida Cellars produces mountain-grown pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, Rhône blends and zinfandel from a handful of estate vineyards. This winery is gaining a lot of renewed attention recently, that’s because its pinot is among the reasons why. The winery was among a handful in San Luis Obispo County to be given a mention in an issue of Wine Spectator. Pinot Noir was made famous in the film “Sideways” as the central character’s favored wine. Adelaida HMR Estate Pinot 2006 scored 94 Points from the Wine Enthusiast magazine – May 2009 issue: “This bottling is always good, shows lusher, more exotic notes than ever before, just oozing in tiers of black and red cherry compote, currants, mocha, cinnamon, anise, and pepper flavors. It finishes thoroughly dry, a beautifully crafted Pinot that will change your mind about Paso Robles wine. –S.H” $50 http://www.adelaida.com/
Just because a wine region isn’t as well-established, famous, or popular does not mean they don’t produce the very finest wines. As you have just read that is quite the contrary. If you want to have a different kind of wine experience with winemakers who take great pride and loving care with their wines, such as zinfadels, syrahs, Bordeaux blends, rose, and pinot noir, then the ones from Paso Robles are for you. Some of these wines you need to be on a waiting list for. Just like the saying goes “some things are worth waiting for” like wine.