paso robles

A Weekend in…Paso Robles

Though it got its start as a wine region in earnest in the 1980s, Paso Robles is already among the preeminent destinations to oenophiles worldwide.

Located between Los Angeles and San Francisco – just a short drive from San Luis Obispo – the well-received Saxum brand helped put Paso on the map in 2010. Then once it was named by Wine Enthusiast as the Wine Region of the Year in 2013; it was on. Today, there are more than 200 wineries and 40,000 vineyard acres producing at least 60 types of varietals throughout greater-Paso Robles, many with immersive tours and culinary experiences on property. And because one cannot live on wine alone, there are also dozen of award-winning restaurants, resorts, inns and other attractions to explore between sips.

Chronic Cellars

Cass Winery is the perfect way to start any trip to Paso. A party for the palate and any person who has ever visited, this this bold winery benefits from some of the best service staff in the state. Equal parts knowledgeable and laugh-out-loud funny, Cass does not take itself too seriously but has seriously exceptional wine. If traveling in a group, arrange a Camp Cass program through the winery as well. Billed as adult summer camp and available to private groups reserved in advance, Camp Cass offers a combination of experiences packaged together including olive oil pressing, beekeeping, scavenger hunts, archery and even horseback riding.

Tablas Creek, a pioneer in cultivating Rhône-style wines for which Paso is becoming well known, is also great stop. Its tree-lined patio offers reserved seated tastings with red, white and mixed flights, not to mention views for days. For quick tastes, both Baileyana, offering beautiful, cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and cheeky Chronic Cellars, playfully named because only the best – or “chronic” – grapes go into their wines, are for you. At Chronic, enjoy the outdoor tasting bar and corn hole set up across its expansive property, which combine to make wine tasting feel more like a casual backyard bash than some of the stuffier experiences you may have had. 

Booker Vineyard & Winery

More into caves than corn hole? Then Booker Vineyard & Winery is for you. It sits along 100 acres of the western hills of Paso Robles and features a variety chambers within its caves of varying temperatures and size. Guests are offered tours inside followed by a sky-high elevator ride for a rooftop tasting experience that only just opened in 2021. History buff? Booker has you covered there as well. Its wild, outgoing, entrepreneurial owner named the winery after two orphaned brothers who purchased the land where Booker would one day sit in the 1920s. Paso legends, they were beloved farmers and humanitarians that were the very definition of the American Dream realized.

Another piece of living history: DAOU Vineyards. Set high atop a mountainside with about a dozen Instagram-worthy backdrops from vineyards to art installations, at DAOU you will learn the story of two other brothers: Georges and Danial Daou. Born in Lebanon to a successful family, in 1973 the brothers’ lives were changed forever when a missile, fired to begin the Lebanese civil war, struck the sidewalk in front of their family’s home.  After recovering from shrapnel-related injuries, the family fled to France with virtually nothing and rebuilt their lives, falling in love with the world of wine along the way. The brothers moved to California in the 1980s and first built a successful networking technology company, which afforded them to invest in getting into making their own wines. A triumphant success, the winery is today a palace to perseverance, not to mention a tasting space out of your wildest dreams. The tasting room has regular flights as well as culinary enhancements for an added charge ranging from charcuterie and cheese plates to more exotic options, including clams and chorizo.

Speaking of culinary pairings, Paso Robles’ vineyards excel in epicurean offerings. Adelaida Vineyards & Winery, whose reds are exceptional by any standards, offers a food and wine program meant to take a deep dive into how food and wine complement and impact each other. It features a curated meal created by the nearby Patio Kitchen and signature wines to accompany each bite, all in an intimate setting within the VIP Library Room. Insider tip: take a ride to the top of the vineyard’s property, which peaks at 2,320 feet and is the highest elevation point in the region.

JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery

Another must is Niner Wine Estates, especially its Chef’s Garden Tasting. It takes places in a private section of the property’s garden and – after a picturesque tour – features a prix-fixe, three-course seasonal menu with remarkable estate wines. And JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery? The Cabernet Sauvignon powerhouse and nationwide phenomenon has its own full-on restaurant serving lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends overlooking its vineyards and featuring many ingredients from its own 26 acres of orchards, vegetable gardens and edible-flower fields.

Of course, there are dining destinations beyond those available at the vineyards as well, notably Les Petites Canailles, a modern take on a French farm-to-table bistro specializing in local Central Coast California ingredients, and La Cosecha Bar and Restaurant, a chic eatery serving Spanish and Latin American dishes and top-shelf craft cocktails.

Though the wine and culinary experiences are epic, it is worth budgeting some time for other types of exploration as well. During the day, stroll around the Paso Market Walk, which is a mixed-use marketplace with local purveyors ranging from coffee roasters and brewers to The Mercantile Paso, where you will find unique gifts, special household relics and exceptional candles.

Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Exhausted from all of the adventure? Rest, relax and recharge at Allegretto Vineyard Resort.

Spread across 20 acres, the Tuscan-style and dog-friendly resort features 171 guests rooms and suites, as well as onsite dining, lush gardens, pool with luxury cabanas, lavish spa – complete with massages accompanied by prosecco and energy treatments – and its own wine tasting room with some of the finest regional wines, including Allegretto’s own private label. As much an attraction as accommodations, the property offers meditation, yoga, art tours, chef’s garden strolls, fire pits and photo opportunities with George, the property’s resident alpaca.

Oh, and if after a few days in the palatial paradise that is Paso Robles you feel the need to give thanks, Allegretto has you covered with an onsite Abbey. Modeled after the rustic chapels of Europe, the Abbey blends ancient symbols with contemporary artistry to bring a sense of harmony and peace.

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