Even if you don’t love wine, it’s worth the trip up to Adelaida Cellars (5805 Adelaida Rd., 800/676-1232, www.adelaida.com , daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.). You’ll get stunning views of Adelaida’s mountain vineyards and down to the valley below. Adelaida wines are made with grapes grown on the estate vineyards, and the results can be fabulous. Adelaida takes advantage of its high elevation and difficult soil to raise grapes that produce small lots of top-tier boutique wines.
Smoky, rich, angry-tasting Syrahs make up the backbone of Adelaida’s list, which also includes Chardonnays, Rousannes, Vin Gris, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a number of different and delicious blends. The winery produces vintages under four labels; the Reserve and Adelaida labels run toward the higher end, while the SLO and Schoolhouse labels provide tasty and affordable table wines suitable for everyday drinking.
A local producer with prestigious founders and backers, Tablas Creek Vineyard (9339 Adelaida Rd., 805/237-1231, www.tablascreek.com , daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.) specializes in Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape varietals and blends. Taste from the longish list of current commercial and winery-only vintages. Tablas Creek takes its winemaking seriously, maintaining its own grapevine nursery, keeping its vineyards organic, and using only its own yeasts created on-site.
If such practices interest you, call in advance to get a spot on the daily vineyard and winery tours. End your survey of this showplace with a visit to the dark bar and bright artwork of the tasting room. You’ll find many uncommon-for-California blends and varietals here, and the Tablas Creek bar staff can help you expand your palate and your knowledge of wine.
Halter Ranch Vineyard (8910 Adelaida Rd., 805/226-9455, www.halterranch.com , daily 11 a.m.–5 p.m.) sits on a 900-acre ranch property once owned by a pioneer of the Paso Robles  area. In 2000, the ranch was bought by a Swiss emigrant who planted almost 250 acres to grapes from the Bordeaux and Rhone varietal families. All the vineyards are farmed using organic and sustainable methods, which combine with the limestone-rich soil and unique climate to help create intensely flavorful wines.
The ranch is fronted by a charming white Victorian farmhouse, and tours (call in advance) take you around both this house and the other historic buildings on the property, as well as the two winemaking facility structures. This newish winery has a small list from which to taste and purchase; its flagship vintages are Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the less expensive Ranch Red and Ranch White blends are also good buys.