Reflecting the same going-rogue attitude as the wines poured in the region are several unique Paso Robles wine tasting experiences. No two vineyards are alike in Paso Robles. Each exudes its own personality, offering a sense of place. The tasting experiences deliver the same unique character. History buffs, art aficionados, nature enthusiasts, and foodies have opportunities to indulge in an array of activities that elevate any traditional winery tasting.
Pair Wine with… Spices
Wine pairs with a variety of spices at the tasting room of LXV in downtown Paso Robles. Owner Neeta Mittal explains that “the spice comes from a place of showcasing the wine. The pairings are food and wine to some extent, but for us, it’s a deconstruction of the wine.”
An understanding of wine’s basic components, such as acidity, tannin, or texture, leads to the success of this spice-laden tasting. “For example, we have a Sauvignon Blanc that’s textured, so we bring out coconut to highlight the body of the wine, green Hatch chile to play with the fruit notes and cilantro to pair with its culinary versatility,” Mittal says. “We also present Meyer lemon to showcase the grape’s acidity.”
Darrell Barcos, a 20-year veteran of tasting in Paso Robles, agrees. “People love the spice and wine. It’s not a standard wine and cheese pairing – it’s something different. The spices add depth to the wines in a way that normal food pairings don’t.”
Hunt for Truffles
Paso Robles is a new destination for truffle hunting, joining the ranks of wine regions such as the Rhône Valley and Piemonte, where the activity is a popular pastime. At Caelesta Vineyard in the Templeton Gap AVA, an in-depth soil study showed that it’s not only optimal for cultivating grapes but for growing truffles.
Brian Farrell Jr., winemaker, shares that the first truffle was found on the property in 2021. “Now that the size of the truffles is significantly larger, a hunt happens three times a year,” says Farrell. “Up to 20 guests meet at the vineyard and walk with Caelesta’s hunting dog, Lolo, to find truffles.”
Camp Under the Stars
Five vintage trailers surrounding a pond at Alta Colina Estate Vineyard brings wine lovers closer to nature. “Campers can enjoy vineyard, orchard and hilltop views, hiking throughout the estate, the noise of bullfrogs in the evening, colorful sunsets, stargazing and the serenity of nature,” says Melissa Swanson, camp coordinator for The Trailer Pond.
Anyone can stay at The Trailer Pond with a two-night minimum, which includes a complimentary tasting at the tasting room. If a group reserves all five trailers, they receive a hand-selected bottle of wine per trailer, a group tasting experience, and more. “This is a highly curated, highly stylized experience. But there’s no concierge on-site, so it’s still camping,” says Swanson.
Hike, Sip, and Learn in the Vineyard
A vineyard walk paired with wine education and a glass in hand is part of the experience at Pelletiere Estate. Janis Denner, owner, offers the excursion every Saturday at 11 am.
“We tour the vineyard for education and taste along the way,” states Denner. “The group is immersed in the process of grape growing and winemaking. We talk about the ‘why’ of winemaking techniques and what’s going on during the growing season, like pruning, bud break, and other seasonal vineyard activities.”
The walk finishes in the tasting room with more wine and conversation. “Everyone loves the experience. It’s a way for people to learn and taste wine plus get some fresh air and exercise,” says Denner.
Savor and Stroll at an Outdoor Art Gallery
Unique artistic impressions surround art devotees and wine lovers at Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden in the El Pomar AVA. Paul Frankel, winemaker since 2008 and son of owners Dr. and Mrs. Warren Frankel, states that “art is about supporting the winery and the winery is about supporting the art.”
Artists Dale Evers, John Jagger, Bob Bentley and others showcase their work around a gazebo. The open area is amidst the vineyards and often used for weddings. Additionally, a stage for live music is in full view of an expansive gaming area with chess tables, a bocce ball court and cement foosball table.
Guests can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a glass of wine while indulging in a healthy dose of art appreciation.
Dig Deep into the History of Paso Robles
Paso Robles seeps history, and at Dubost Winery, history and heritage are at the core. Family-owned since 1882, Dubost has “an interesting history that predates Paso Robles of today,” says Kate Dubost, owner and proprietor. “Occasionally, we have Dr. Dan Krieger, a local historian, come talk about the area while my husband Curt cooks his grandmother’s clam chowder for guests.”
“On the property are funky old vehicles, such as a springboard wagon, that the family used to get to the store at the Cayucos Pier,” shares Kate.
The winery also remains a part of cinematic history. Seven scenes from the movie Destination Wedding with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder were filmed at Dubost Winery. The rehearsal dinner scene takes place on the crush pad and the wedding scene at the top of the vineyard hill. Also, the Dubost logo is clearly seen in a scene that takes place in the barrel room.
Wear Your Cowboy Boots
If anyone has the urge to be an urban cowboy or cowgirl in Paso Robles, Tin City is waiting. Approximately thirty small wineries are housed in a sprawling industrial spaces off Highway 101. It’s like a Disneyland for wine fanatics.
Eclectic and exciting, visitors may observe a forklift moving palettes, a rolling door open to a contemporary interior or a falcon winging its way to the sky. Chris Kern, owner and proprietor of Forgotten Grapes Wine Club, remarks, “Tin City has expanded through the years. For example, Emercy Wines pairs music and wine, Monochrome produces all white wines and has an intimate tasting. Besides the many winery tasting rooms, there are restaurants, a food truck, craft breweries and cideries.”
At Tin City, guests can find a uniquely creative group of independent artisans who may actually be pouring Paso Robles wine in your glass.