With more than 250 wineries and other sights to see in Paso Robles—not to mention dozens of restaurants and lodgings—deciding what places to visit and where to eat and stay can be daunting. Our expert Daniel Mangin spent hours in the field wining, dining and bedding down in swank places (someone had to). He humbly submits this Paso Robles 48 Perfect Hours Wine Tasting weekend itinerary for your consideration. Bon voyage!
1) Book lodging (suggestions below).
2) Book 10:30 am Saturday winery tour at Tablas Creek Vineyard.
3) Make dinner reservations at Il Cortile for Friday night and Thomas Hill Organics for Saturday night. If your choice for Saturday lunch is the restaurant at Niner Wine Estates, it’s wise to make a reservation there as well.
Spice pairing: After checking into your lodging, slip downtown to the LXV Wine Lounge for co-owner Neeta Mittal’s spice pairing with her winery’s beautifully crafted wines. The lounge is open until 7.
Dinner: Drive or walk a few blocks west for dinner at Il Cortile.
Tour and tasting: The tour at Tablas Creek Vineyard, a pioneering producer of Rhône-style wines, provides a good overview of Paso Robles’s evolution as a grape-growing region. Tablas Creek is 14 miles west of downtown Paso Robles on Adelaida Road, but the drive here is winding, so allow 30 minutes minimum to make it.
Olive-oil tasting: At the olive-oil producer Pasolivo you can taste premium olive oils and learn how they’re made. The drive here from Tablas Creek takes about 3 minutes. Backtrack about a quarter-mile on Adelaida and then turn south (right) onto Vineyard Drive.
Lunch: Head back toward Paso Robles (driving southeast on Vineyard Drive and turning left on Highway 46) for sandwiches and other comfort food at Barton’s Kitchen Window at Barton Family Wines and Grey Wolf Cellars, or go slightly more formal at Niner Wine Estates. There will be time for a full tasting at either winery, or you can just sample a few wines with your meal. Barton also has an on-site distillery, open on Fridays and weekends, at which you can sample small-lot spirits (love the gin and that rye).
A final tasting: Finish your leisurely lunch by 3:30, then head east on Highway 46 a mile to delightful J Dusi Wines.
Dinner downtown: Catch your breath at your lodging before having dinner at 7:30 or 8 at Thomas Hill Organics downtown. Depending on the season, if you come early some of the nearby storefronts, including Studios on the Park, may still be open for browsing.
Breakfast and checkout: Have breakfast at your lodging or slip downtown to Kreuzberg Coffee Company or the jolly Red Scooter Deli. Whether at the restaurants or your lodgings, if you’re in your car by 9:40, you’ll have enough time to reach the day’s first destination on time.
Warbirds and racecars: Save wine tasting for later and visit the Estrella WarBirds Museum to look at the military memorabilia and aircraft. The bonus here is the huge Woodland Auto Display of rare cars and racecars. From U.S. 101 take Highway 46 East to Airport Road north (turn left) to Dry Creek Road east (right).
Villa with views: The next stop, Villa San-Juliette Winery, is 8½ miles away in the town of San Miguel. Owned by two former American Idol producers, it’s quite the spread, with views of much of Paso Robles’s east side. To reach the winery, head north on Airport Road, east (right) briefly on Estrella Road, north (left) on Pleasant Road and east (right) on Cross Canyon Road. Have a tasting, and then make a decision about lunch.
Pizza here or there: If the pizza du jour or the few other menu items at Villa San Juliette look appealing, stay there and have lunch. Otherwise, backtrack to Highway 46 to Dolce Galleria. This shopping mall café is beloved by locals for its pizzas and sweet and savory crepes. At Highway 46, head west (turn right) ¼ mile to Golden Hill Road and turn north (right), and then immediately left into the big shopping center. Within the parking lot, head south back toward the highway. The café is next to the Subway sandwich store.
Small-lot wines: Producing only a few thousand cases a year, Caliza Winery, is the antithesis of JUSTIN, which makes more than 100,000, except in one respect: these wines are impressive, too. Sample the Rhône-grape and other offerings either in the small tasting room or outside under the huge pine tree.
To get to Caliza from wherever you had lunch, head west on Highway 46 a short way to U.S. 101 south. Take the Highway 46 West exit (the one for Hearst Castle), and turn right (west) at the light. Caliza is on Anderson Road off Highway 46 about 3 miles east of U.S. 101.
Zinfandel or boutique wines: Turley Cellars, 3½ miles away, west on Highway 46 and south (left) on Vineyard Drive, beckons all Zinfandel lovers. For a hip and funky alternative, visit the Tin City complex of boutique wineries plus a brewpub and a distillery. From Caliza head east on Highway 46, south on Ramada Drive (right) after passing under U.S. 101, and east (left) on Marquita Avenue).
Souvenir shopping and a farewell dinner: Before bidding Paso Robles adieu, head back downtown and pick up some locally made souvenirs. General Store Paso Robles and We Olive are good places to start. If you’re not heading right home, have dinner at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, a Spanish-Latin restaurant run by the owners of Il Cortile. La Cosecha’s mixologists prepare refreshing, palate-cleansing cocktails to accompany the inventive cuisine.