What is up y'all! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the kickoff to the holidays! This year I flew out to California to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his family. I took the entire week off from work, UNPLUGGED, and thought what better way to kick off the week than with two days in wine country? So I landed in LA Monday morning and hit the road immediately to travel the PCH up to Paso Robles.
Why Paso? Two reasons - 1) I LOVE Justin wine and 2) I LOVE Ancient Peaks wine. If these two gems came from Paso, then I was excited to see what else this wine country had to offer.
Paso Robles: The Itinerary
While planning this out, I was warned not to make the mistake of getting "slammered," which is the act of scheduling way too many winery visits in one day. Whether that actually happened is debatable, but I like to make the most of my days so here's how it went down:
Monday afternoon: Ancient Peaks winery
Ancient Peaks sits at the bottom end of Paso Robles. Since we arrived into the area late Monday afternoon, we thought this would be our winery choice for the day before driving into the heart of Paso and checking into our hotel.
Ancient Peaks' tasting room is more of a storefront experience, versus sitting on sprawling vineyards. But, I absolutely LOVED the interior of it, and our wine server was so awesome and knowledgeable. They have a really cute outdoor area with little cask fountains and couches that look out to the streets of the quaint little town of Santa Margarita.
The wine I went there for is the Oyster Ridge Cabernet, which is the final wine on their tasting menu. Clearly I have good taste. The wine that shockingly blew me away was their Chardonnay. I'm NOT a Chard fan, but I was shocked at how light and airy theirs was. The flight included 5 wines (1 white and 4 reds) for $15. Overall good value and I recommend stopping in.
Hotel: Holiday Inn Paso Robles
I researched a ton of different hotel options, but ended up using IHG points to stay for free at the Holiday Inn Express because it's located in the dead center of Paso. We were 150% satisfied with the accommodations. So after getting a much needed long night's sleep, we arrived to Justin the next day, bright and early.
Tuesday Winery #1: Justin
Justin sits way back there in the valley so have patience on your drive. I highly recommend making this your first stop of the day given its distance, then you can work your way back in to town.
The inside of Justin has an open air, contemporary vibe to it. We took a walk around and found our favorite Justin bottles staring back at us behind thick glass cases. Justin enthusiasts, carry a napkin to catch your drool. The Eighty-One and Isosceles never looked so good.
They also have a restaurant on site that overlooks the vineyard. We opted not to eat so early, so we instead found a spot outside overlooking their vineyards.
Justin's tasting is 5 wines for $20. The pours were average 1 oz as you can see below, and their wines are all SO damn good that even if we got stiffed some, it didn't matter. In my opinion, their wines are standout in quality.
The views were really nice, and it just so happened that sitting next to us were Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra! This is me finally realizing why the couple looked so familiar. No we did not do a group pic lol. But Justin did have the most adorable fall setup at the entrance of their winery so Derek and I posed for that.
Tuesday Winery #2: Daou
Ok. Now you want to talk about views? Daou's views are absolutely breathtaking. And their outdoor seating area has couches, blankets, fire pits, and spans multiple levels into the vineyard. Everything about this place is beautiful and you'll want to spend the entire day here...
...If you're the richest man in the world that is. It is EXPENSIVE, with the wine tastings coming in at a measly $40 per person. What?? Yes, $40 for 5 tiny pours. Now it'd be one thing if the pours were generous, but they were by far the tiniest pours I have EVER seen in my life. Like, so tiny I couldn't even tell you what the wine tasted like.
I was pretty upset about this, but when I turned my eyes away from the 4 drops of a "tasting" in my glass and looked out at the 360 degree vistas, I felt better.
We also ordered a $40 cheese and charcuterie plate (as if we had a choice lol), though it was pretty substantial, and really good I might add.
And then the bill came.
HERE IS THE SECRET TO NOT GOING BROKE AT DAOU: Do NOT do the wine tastings. Rather, you can order their best bottle for $65 and share it. That's an entire bottle for you and your company to spend the day there soaking in the views, for a TOTAL of $65.
Here's where it gets even better. If you do the wine tastings, you're confined to their upper deck, so the server can keep watch on your status and tend to you better. If you pass on the tastings and order either full glasses or a bottle, you can sit yourself wherever you'd like on the grounds. And as I mentioned above, they have some STUNNING seating areas. Trust me, this is 100% the way to go.
Tuesday Winery #3: Alta Colina
Talk about some awesome estate wines. It was really cool getting to meet this family, including the friendliest German Shepard pup I have ever seen - Honey! Their wine tasting was $15 for 5 wines. And it is here I finally bought a bottle to take home, in which they waived our tasting fee.
This was one of those fun wineries where at this point you're loosened up and just shooting the sh-t with the owners. Or, if you're like me, you're on the ground giving belly rubs to the family dog. (recall from my Instastories lol).
There isn't a view from the tasting room's bar, per say, but that's because the tasting room sits at the base of their vineyards, so the views expand backwards and upwards. Regardless, it was one of my favorites spots we visited.
Tuesday Winery #4: Bodega de Edgar
This tasting room actually sits on the 2nd floor of another winery and distillery called Villicana Winery & ReFind Distillery. So as not to cause confusion when you pull up, look for this staircase on the left side of the building.
I love Riojas which is what I was hoping to get from this winery, however they didn't have any on their tasting flight. Major bummer. We ordered the tasting regardless, which I think was $10, and yeah I'll say the wines were good. I'll also remind you this was our 4th winery soooo.....recall that term "slammered" above.
Now what I will say is the story of Edgar, the founder, is REALLY cool. So if anything, I'd recommend reading the backstory to this winery. And of course if you love Spanish reds, then swing on by for sure.
Tuesday Winery #5 (barely) : Eberle
I mean, can I get a round of applause that we even made it to a 5th winery in one day on our own two feet??
So Eberle is the winery with the totally awesome cave tours. However, we showed up 10 minutes before closing time so the tours were done for the day. I wasn't really impressed with Eberle's wine quality, however the tastings were FREE so the wine bar was packed with people. And for as packed as they were, the service was still really good.
We grabbed two full glasses of wine (for free!) and walked outside to check out the views. Did we really need two glasses of wine at this point? Absolutely not. But the glasses served their purpose, allowing me to get the pretty cool shots you see here.
Six Wineries in 1.5 Days....That's a wrap!
Whew! We did good. We had great weather, great wine, and great company. Overall verdict - I would go back to Paso Robles in a heartbeat! For now, I'm taking a teeny tiny break from wine lol. Hope you all enjoyed this post, and comment below if you've been and want to share your experiences, have questions, or just want to say hi!
Keep doing it for kicks! - Kristin