Paso Robles – My Favorite!

Wine Tasting Patio at Tobin James
Wine Tasting Patio at Tobin James

Anyone who’s spent even a minute on this blog knows that my favorite California wine country is the Central Coast, Paso Robles in particular. The appellations in Southern Oregon are a close second, and if you compare them, they have a lot in common.

This was a girls’ weekend in Paso Robles wine country, long planned and anticipated. It did not disappoint!

While everyone else was there not only to have fun but to learn, mine was to have fun – that was inevitable – learn, and to chronicle everything as best I could.

Our arrival and departure began and ended at Tobin James Winery, which is the winery where everyone who’s driving in on the 46E stops to begin their Paso Robles adventures.

Victor at Vines on the Marycrest
Victor at Vines on the Marycrest

When my friends Don and Mark first brought me to Paso Robles in 2006, I had no idea what to expect.  I’d been to the “typical” wine countries over the years; everything from Temecula to (briefly) Napa. And I loved the wines. Not all, of course, but enough. I’d been introduced to “good” wines in the early 90s, and knew that I couldn’t go back to White Zinfandel or Boone’s Farm.

When I visited Paso that first time, it was like meeting “The One,” you know what I mean? I knew that somehow my wine destiny would be forever intertwined with Paso Robles. Sounds a little corny and maybe somewhat overdramatic, but so be it.

In the decade plus that I’ve been visiting, I’ve made friends, loved wines, and know that this region will always be my favorite.

Barrel House Truck
Barrel House Truck

This visit showed me some things that I’d not previously noticed. Paso, known for its super fruit-forward, jammy, and alcoholic Zinfandel, is now pulling back on the overdone. Nearly every winery we visited offered Zins that were nuanced and refined, with layered complexity. Many were almost Bordeaux-like in nose and flavor. Rhône varietals are the darling of Paso, and boy! Are they delicious! The Cabernets are rapidly approaching (if not surpassing) equity with Napa. The winemakers are experimenting with Amphorae, concrete, and woods other than oak. And the results are stunning. 

This post is just the intro. I will, in the next few posts, showcase and focus on a few wineries that had outstanding wines or processes that amazed me. 

Stay tuned!

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