Wines From Paso Robles You Have To Try

Taste These Top Picks From California's Central Coast

By Sandra Crittenden
Paso Robles 

Paso Robles wine country is located in the rolling hills of the Central Coast of California, an equal distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The region enjoys a long growing season with warm days and cool nights bringing forth vibrantly ripened grapes which make beautiful wines. Grapes have been commercially grown in Paso Robles since the late 1800s, but modern winemaking in the region has a younger history beginning in the 1970s and expanding throughout the following decades. Currently, Paso boasts more than 200 wineries with 40,000 acres under vine.

The fruit and the wines they make are high quality which is why the region has such a long grape growing history. There are some larger production wineries making excellent wines that have become easier to find in Texas.

These include Tablas Creek Vineyard which has a French connection and is a pioneer for organic grape growing in Paso and J. Lohr Vineyards, which has been a Houston Rodeo winner numerous times.

Some of the most exciting wines in the area come from smaller artisan producers that only sell direct to consumers at the winery or online.

There are some names to know if travel plans are being considered or if special online orders are being made and the top of that list starts with the Dusi family. The family’s heritage in the region dates back to the early 1920s where the sustainable farming practices that were implemented eighty years ago are still followed today. Grapes from the family vineyards are highly sought after by local winemakers and well respected brands like Turley.

Janell Dusi was born and raised on the Dusi Vineyard where her grandfather Dante taught her the old-world Italian style of winemaking. She took an interest in turning the family’s produce into wine at an early age, even before she was old enough to drink, and began making wine for competitions.

Paso RoblesShe now takes 20 percent of the family vineyard production and makes her own J Dusi brand wines which include a Pinot Grigio that is a local summertime favorite, a southern France-style Zinfandel-based rosé, and a wide range of reds.

Austin Hope maintains the Hope Family’s legacy of sustainable farming practices and creating delicious, accessible wines. They have five brands including the premium Austin Hope and the more affordable Treana and Austin line which have been spotted here on the Island.

Golfers may have seen Rory McIlroy celebrate his win on the PGA Tour on the Netflix docudrama “Full Swing” with a glass of Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon on the final episode.

Hearst Ranch Winery invokes grand images of the Hearst Castle, but the winery is a partnership with the Saunders family; second generation Scotty Saunders has created a boutique brand called Arbuckle Ridge which has yet to be released but promises to be a favorite for future tasters at the estate. Winemaker for Hearst, Soren Christiansen, also has a new brand called Anonimo.

Alta Colina Vineyard is the realized dream of former home winemaker, Bob Tillman. He purchased the 130 acre property in 2003 and now Alta Colina is one of Paso Robles’ most beautiful vineyards and one of the Central Coast’s most acclaimed producers of Rhône-style wines. Bob’s daughter Maggie is working towards even more sustainability, pushing towards organic though not planning on certification yet.

Adelaida is producing wine from their organically farmed estate vineyards. Surrounded by organic walnut orchards, the tasting room offers multiple elevated experiences including the option to taste library wines on a hilltop outdoor space with expansive views.

Caliza Winery has a beautiful terraced 28 acre vineyard on a 60 acre property and specializes in Rhône style wines in the well-regarded Willow Creek District sub-ava. The name Caliza is the Spanish word for limestone which is an important component of the vineyard soils.

Bubble lovers can expect to find more offerings, too. Paris Valley Road, Vino Vargas, and Sextant Wines are all producing local versions of traditionally made sparkling wines using the same production method as Champagne.

Other top boutique producers include LXV Wine, Brecon Estate, Straight Out of Paso, High Camp Wines, and Le Vigne Winery which also owns a cheese company and offers wine and cheese exploration tasting menus at the winery.

Some of the most exciting artisanal producers can be found in Paso’s warehouse district called Tin City. Housed in industrial style tin buildings are a mix of producers making a variety of wines like the edgy Anarchy Wine Co with their rock and roll tasting room to Giornata Wines which focuses on beautiful old-world style Italian varieties.

Also of note are newcomers Benom Wines, owned and operated by the French Fabre brothers with a family wine history in Bordeaux and the Languedoc, and Cordant Winery which is making wines from across the Central Coast.

Some wineries have expanded beyond wine and are also distilling spirits like Barton Family Wines which makes smaller production wines labeled as Grey Wolf Cellars and a range of liquor under Grain & Vine Craft Distillery. Opolo is another option for tasting both wine and spirits at the same site; Willow Creek Distillery is attached to their winery allowing visitors a wider tasting experience.

A Taste of Paso Robles found in Island restaurants:

Look for Austin Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon on the wine list at the San Luis Steakhouse and Katie’s Seafood House. Find Daou Sauvignon Blanc and “The Pessimist” at Riondo’s Ristorante by the glass or bottle, Daou Chardonnay at Rudy & Paco’s, and Daou’s Cabernet at Katie’s.

Refresh with Tablas Creek Dry Rosé at BLVD. Linger over multiple tastes at Hearsay which has a few Paso offerings sold by the taste, glass, or bottle. If celebrating and looking to splurge, try Patrimony Caves des Lions offered for $430 at Riondo’s.