Located in California between San Francisco and Los Angeles is Paso Robles Wine Country, which is home to over 200 wineries. These wineries are comprised mostly of Small Family-Owned and Boutique style wineries and vineyards. We absolutely love visiting wineries but have never been to this region before. So we figured what better way to celebrate our four year anniversary then with a bit of Wine Tasting and exploring?
Where: Paso Robles, CA
Wineries Visited: HammerSky, Oso Libre, Justin, Calcareous, Terry Hoage
Breweries Visited: Fire Stone Walker, Barrel House Brewery
We headed out early in the morning for the 4 hour trip up the 5 freeway. After being on the road that long a beer was definitely needed. We wanted to check out the Firestone Walker Brewery but before taking the tour we decided to stop by their restaurant for a quick bite to eat. The food was amazing and the place was HUGE! They had an adorable outside seating area which would be perfect to enjoy a nice cold beer. Only down side is the parking. They don't have much of a parking lot so you have to scramble for a space along the street. The Tour met at the bar across the street from the restaurant at the Tap Room. They started off by handing out protective eye wear, ear phones, and a small radio to hang around our neck. That way we could hear our tour guide over the loud noises of the working brewery. The tour was quick but very informative and we got a couple tasters out of it. It was great to see how the beer was made and how the brewery was ran. We were literally walking through water and trying to avoid forklifts that were caring barrels that needed to be clean (Quick Note: Make sure to wear flat, closed toe shoes!). It was awesome! We ended our visit at the gift shop picking up a few Barley Wines for Erin's sister then headed to our hotel to check in.
Paso Robles Inn is located right next to the small downtown. Its a historic hotel that was originally built in 1891 but burnt down in 1940. The new Paso Robles Inn was built in 1942 and still stands to this day. It definitely had an old charm to it and was very cute. The bed wasn't extremely comfortable but you can't beat the location. We were able to walk to dinner and get some coffee with no problem. If you are looking for a centrally located hotel then the Paso Robles Inn is your best bet.
The first winery we visited was Hammer Sky Winery. They were suggested to us by Luke's Brother, who is a big Wine-O and has made several trips to Paso Robles. The grounds were beautiful! They had a white barn and house that is surrounded by vineyards. Unfortunately, this was all that was good about this place. The wines just didn't cut it for us. We felt a little let down. It could have been that the bottles had been sitting out for too long but we feel that is wishful thinking. We wouldn't mind going back and giving them another try though, it hopes that this was a fluke.
Lucky for us one of our favorite Wine makers is located right next door! Oso Libre may not be has beautiful but their tasting room is fun, the owners are super friendly and the wines are delicious. Luke's Brother had brought back a bottle for us to try and we instantly fell in love with it. We were definitely not let down when we got there. After trying a few of their wines we decided to buy a bottle of the Primoroso which is a blend of 10 different wines. Due to the limited quantities of that wine, they only sell it to Wine Club Members but lucky for us they made an exception.
One winery we really wanted to visit was Justin. They sell a reasonably priced cab that Luke enjoys buying. When we got there it was already pretty busy but we were able to get a seat outside on the patio that overlooks the vineyard. It was such a beautiful day and we didn't want to waste it inside. Our server was very informative and one of the best story tellers who taught us about the History of the Winery. One bottle that we wanted to try was the Isosalies which Luke had been eyeing for awhile but just couldn't bring himself to pay that much for. Lets just say, it is definitely worth the price!
We continued on our journey by looking for a couple places that were suggested to us. We were aiming for one place but couldn't find it. It turned out okay though because it lead us to Calcareous Vineyards. This winery sat at the top of a steep hill which provided breath taking views of the valley below. We could have sat there for hours just looking at that view! But, we wanted to try their wines too. We had a lot of fun tasting the wines and talking to the gentleman pouring the wine. He was awesome and gave us all the information we needed about the winery. Our favorite part was walking around the grounds and seeing all the different little nik-naks they have. It is definitely worth the drive up the steep, scary drive way to go to this winery.
Before we called it quits we wanted to try one more winery. A few of the places had mentioned that a couple of the wineries require appointments and are kind of fancy. So we gave one of them a call and got in! Apparently it wasn't a busy day for them. We showed up at Terry Hoag Winery not really sure what the expect. They offered two different tastings where you get to try the 2012s along side the reserves from 2007-2009. It was definitely different and interesting to be able to compare them side by side. I can see why they only offer tastings by appointments only because their tasting room is TINY! Which gives it a more intimate feel. We ended up leaving with a bottle and ended our wine tasting adventure there.
Of course we ended up finding a local brewery on our way out of town! We visited Barrel House Brewery which is located down the way from Fire Stone Brewery. Its small with a great outdoor seating area which includes a gorgeous water fall, a small stage on the back of an old truck, and plenty of chairs to relax in. We shared a flight of their beers and instantly fell in love! Their IPA was the perfect mix of hoppy and smooth deliciousness while the Sunny Daze Citrus Blonde Ale was one of the best blonde we have ever tasted. Of course we had to stock up before we left to share with the family when we got home.
This was such an amazing experience for us. We have been wanting to explore Paso Robles for a few years now and we were definitely not let down. It had the feel of Napa but without the overcrowded feeling. Reminded us more of DryCreek Valley in Healdsburg California. We can definitely see ourselves going back for another visit in the future. Check out our video from this trip below. If you like the video please give it a Thumbs Up and don't forget to Subscribe to see more videos!