Monday, April 26, 2010

Winetasting Near Paso Robles - The Food

This is the third, and last, post on winetasting near Paso Robles.  If you missed the first two, the first was on the wine and the second on lodging.  This post covers dining.

There are limited options for dining once you are out of the towns and in wine country.  Justin Winery, west of Paso Robles, is home to Deborah's Room, an upscale restaurant where you can have a gourmet dinner or a more casual lunch.  We recently lunched there and enjoyed dining outside on their terrace.  Lunch options include burgers, bratwurst, and salads. Dinner is much more sophisticated, consisting of a five-course, tasting menu.  Dinner is served nightly and lunch is offered on Saturdays during the winter months and on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer.  If you plan to eat dinner at Deborah's Room and are not staying at the Just Inn, watch your wine consumption as the drive back to Paso Robles or Cambria is along unlit, narrow country roads.

Another lunch option on the west side of Paso Robles is to picnic at a winery.  You can get supplies in Cambria, Paso Robles, or at Farmstand 46 at the intersection of CA 46 and Vineyard Drive.

East of Paso Robles, you can lunch at Cass Cafe at Cass Winery.  The menu is limited but  includes a salad, sandwich, pizza,  and cheese plate.  The cafe is open daily from noon until 4:00 p.m.  You can also picnic at many of the wineries on the east side.

For dinner, Paso Robles is home to a few excellent restaurants.  We've eaten at both Artisan and Bistro Laurent and enjoyed them both.  Also recommended are Villa Creek and Il Cortile.  If you are staying in Cambria, I recommend Black Cat Bistro.  I've also heard good thing's about Madeline's Restaurant but not eaten there.  There are other options in both towns but these are my recommendations.

I hope this series of posts on Paso Robles is helpful.  If you'd like to visit Paso Robles, Cambria, and San Simeon from San Francisco, please contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or  

Monday, April 19, 2010

Winetasting Near Paso Robles - Lodging

When you go winetasting near Paso Robles, where to stay depends on where you want to taste and if you want to combine a visit to Paso Robles with other activities. If you want to taste wine only on the east side of Paso Robles, then you probably want to stay in the town of Paso Robles or at a bed and breakfast on the east side. 

If you only want to taste wine on the west side of Paso Robles, you can stay in Paso Robles, at a bed and breakfast in the countryside, or in the coast-side towns of Cambria or San Simeon.  If you stay in Cambria or San Simeon, you can also easily visit the Hearst Castle at San Simeon and enjoy the beaches at both towns.

If your sole mission is to taste wine and you plan to visit wineries both east and west of Paso Robles, then you probably want to stay in Paso Robles or at a bed and breakfast that's in the countryside but not too far away.
Paso Robles has an array of hotel options but my preference would be to stay near the main square.  If you are near the square you can easily walk to one of the city's good restaurants (more on this in my next post), tasting rooms, and wine bars.  If you decide to make the plaza your home for your Paso Robles vacation, you have two options:  Hotel Cheval and Paso Robles Inn.  The former is an upscale boutique hotel, while the latter is a much larger and less expensive hotel that is a member of Historic Hotels of America.  You'll do fine at either.  Your decision depends on your budget and the type of experience you want to have.

If you decide to stay on the coast, you have three areas to choose from.  In San Simeon, there are motels lining CA Route 1, a few miles south of the Hearst Castle.  The motels on the ocean side generally cost more than those on the inland side, particularly if you have an ocean view.  In Cambria, you can either stay at a motel/bed and breakfast on Moonstone Beach or at a bed and breakfast in town.  Some of the establishments along Moonstone Beach call themselves bed and breakfasts but are really motels that serve breakfast.  The motels along Moonstone Beach sit across a small road from the beach, while those in San Simeon are on a low bluff overlooking the beach.  You can also stay in the town of Cambria where there are a few bed and breakfasts.  You'll be closer to the town's shops and restaurants but will sacrifice an ocean view or an easy walk along the Pacific.

For more detailed lodging information visit the websites of the Paso Robles Wine Alliance, Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, Cambria Chamber of Commerce, or San Simeon Chamber of Commerce.  If you would like to take a private tour of Paso Robles wine country, San Simeon, and/or Cambria that starts in San Francisco, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Winetasting Near Paso Robles - The Wine

This past weekend, I finally had a chance to do some winetasting near Paso Robles, about 3.5 - 4 hours south of San Francisco.  This wine region is growing by leaps and bounds with over 150 wineries located in the area. While there is just one wine region - Paso Robles - the climate is much warmer and drier east of town than on the west side.

More wineries are located west of the city of Paso Robles and that's where we spent our day tasting.  Wine grapes have been grown in the area for decades but, until recently, the area was best known for less expensive, bulk wines.  About a decade ago, the Zinfandels produced in Paso Robles started getting noticed.   More recently, some excellent wines from Rhone varietals, such as Syrah, Petite Syrah (Durif), Mourvedre, Roussanne,  Marsanne, and Viognier, have been produced.

We started tasting at two fairly well known producers - Justin Vineyards and Winery and Tablas Creek Vineyards.  Justin is one of the larger producers of premium wine in Paso Robles, making around 60,000 cases per year, and is best known for Cabernet.  You can taste wine while lunching at Deborah's Room, which we did, or in the winery's tasting room.  Tablas Creek produces some excellent Rhone style wines.  The tasting room, like all of the rooms we visited, was small.  The staff was friendly and attentive, even though they were stretched thin on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Local folks turned us on to two small producers that I was not familiar with:  Jada Vineyard and Winery and Halter Ranch Vineyard. Both produced very good wines from Rhone varietals.  At both wineries staff was very friendly and answered our many questions.  Jada offers cheeses paired with their wines.

We also tasted some wines which weren't very good and visited one winery -- Denner Vineyards -- where the staff was more interested in cleaning glasses and chatting with each other than talking with us.

I definitely recommend doing some winetasting in Paso Robles, particularly if you like Zinfandel and/or Rhone wines.  Tasting fees are reasonable -- usually no more than $10 or $15/person -- and staff friendly.  The tasting rooms are small and can be crowded on Saturdays so you might want to try to visit on another day.  If you would like to take a private tour from San Francisco that includes winetasting in Paso Robles, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or

For more information on winetasting in Paso Robles, visit the Paso Robles Wine Alliance's excellent website:   In my next post, I'll cover dining and lodging options in and near Paso Robles.