Changemakers at Paso Robles’ Tin City Blend Wine, Culture, and Ingenuity

tin city

Among the rolling vineyards and stunning mountain views of central California’s Paso Robles wine region sits Tin City. Since opening in 2012, the industrial micro-village has offered a distinctive mix of wineries, breweries, distilleries, and restaurants. It’s an alluring blend amid a trendy atmosphere of live music, walkable streets, and farm-to-table restaurants.

The eclectic and steel-clad environment attracts crowds looking for alternative wine tasting experiences. Wine lovers can experience several wineries in one day while also getting a transparent look at production to packaging processes.

The one-stop-shop is home to creative and diverse winemakers. Ones making their mark while also attracting a new wave of young wine enthusiasts. In short, Tin City is changing the face and culture of wine.

Connecting Tin City to Paso Robles

Paso Robles became an official American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 1983 and contributes $1.9 billion annually to the regional economy. Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the region is home to 200 wineries across 11 sub-AVAs and grows 40,000 acres of grapevines. In contrast, the state’s most illustrious region, Napa Valley, grows roughly 45,000 acres of vines. Equally important, 95% of wineries are small, family-owned businesses, which is a source of pride for this grass-roots community.

Parts of the region sit a mere six miles off the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It stretches another 20 miles east towards La Panza Range, where elevations reach 2,086 feet above sea level. Pacific Ocean sea breezes, nearby mountain ranges, diurnal temperature swings, and calcareous soil (containing sea fossils) make the region perfect for growing high-quality grapes.

Tin City is in the heart of the region, only a 15-minute drive south of the city of Paso Robles. It’s easily accessible off Highway 101, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals.

Tin City embodies the Paso Robles community, linked by their passion for wine. That is, it’s full of changemakers erasing the stigma that wine is only for an elite demographic.

Exploring Tin City

Michelin Star Restaurant, Six Test Kitchen, is the pulse of Tin City. California-born chef, Ricky Odbert, offers a dining experience and a 12-course tasting menu that changes each season. Foodies may also enjoy dining and wine pairing experiences at Etto Pastificio, which offers Italian dishes with a California flair or McPhee’s Canteen, which serves wood-fired pizzas and gourmet burgers. Occasionally, Tin City Cider hosts various food trucks for visitors to try.

A short walk down from Six Test Kitchen is Onx Wine, a tasting room and production facility with a rustic interior and bright neon accents. Guests can step directly inside the winemaker’s lab to see firsthand the art and passion behind every bottle. Onx is one of several wineries providing an entertaining and engaging experience, an appealing draw for millennials and younger creatives.

Currently, Tin City is home to more than 25 wineries, most of which source their grapes within the AVA. Winemaking techniques range from traditional to innovative. And many wineries, such as Field Recordings and End of the Day Wines, offer vegan and organic products, appealing to sustainably-mindful consumers.

“Tin City has become an incubator for a lot of new wine brands,” says Christopher Taranto, the communications director for Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “The start-up aspect of the community is really attractive to young winemakers who want to put their passion for wine into a bottle.”

Tin City from above / Photo courtesy of Tin City

The Women Winemakers of Tin City

Tin City continues to expand, along with the number of women-owned wineries joining the collective. For instance, Vailia From, owner and winemaker of Desparada Wines, applies her creativity and spirit to making Bordeaux style wines. Guests can taste outside on the private patio or inside the beautiful tasting room that dons velvet curtains and dark colors on the walls.

The thoughtful decor seems to have been chosen with the wine in mind. Like From’s rich red blend, 2020 Borderlands, the tasting room’s luxurious, velvety undertones make the location perfect for a date or private event.

On the north side of Tin City, Riley Hubbard of Hubba Wines began her winemaking career as an intern. The memory of having a winery owner tell her that gender would prevent her from being a winemaker pushed her to defy the odds. As a result, after completing a degree from Cal Poly, several harvest seasons abroad, and an internship with Domaine d’Aupilhac in France, she came back to California with determination. Today, she focuses on red blends, like the 2020 Dreamland, which incorporates Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.

Hubbard believes that Paso Robles’ warm hospitality is cause for the influx of younger generations to the area. “Tin City is the personification of what Paso Robles is all about. We want everyone to succeed, and have built an ecosystem of business owners that support each other,” she says.

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