Downtown Paso Robles
Many wineries have set up tasting rooms right in the middle of downtown Paso. It’s hard to resist walking into a tasting room that bears the name Midlife Crisis Winery (1244 Pine St., Ste. A, 805/237-8730, www.midlifecrisiswinery.com, Thurs.–Mon. 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.). Midlife Crisis is just that according to its owners, two veterans of the Los Angeles media circus who come up to Paso on the weekends to tend to their new pet winery.
They got started in 2004, so you’ll find mostly young vintages in the large, eclectic tasting room that’s built into an historic Paso building. Heck, you might find one of the owner/winemakers in there, pouring, stocking, or just talking with employees and guests. Though the wines here leave plenty of room for improvement, the chatter and gossip are the best in the area. If you just ask a question or two, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the wines and vineyards of the Paso Robles region.
If you’re in town to find the best vintages possible, stop in at Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines (1220 Park St., 805/239-8915, www.edwardsellers.com, Thurs.–Mon. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.). This one’s a favorite of California cork dorks, creating a number of Rhone varietals and some fabulous blends that transcend their French roots and California styles to create something new. If you’re a varietal lover, try Edward’s Grenaches and Viogniers—less common wines that are picking up popularity with serious wine aficionados in California.
The small tasting room with distressed white woodwork and a shining black counter makes room for several tasters at once, so belly on up and ask for a glass! And if you don’t know your Cinsault from your Counoise, be sure to ask. The pourers are happy to answer any and all questions pertaining to Edward Sellers wines and vineyards.
What matches more perfectly with a glass of small-lot wine than a chunk of artisanal cheese? At Orchid Hill Vineyard (1140 Pine St., 805/237-7525, www.orchidhillwine.com, daily 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m.), you can get both. From Friday through Sunday, a tasting at Orchid Hill includes pairings with fine, flavorful cheeses that catch the attention of many a taster. Visitors also spend some time gaping at the walls, which bear original modern artwork by Jean Pierre de Rothschild. The small list of varietals, which includes Viogniers, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel, includes some tasty wines (but they aren’t the best in the area).
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition