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The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

Here’s my list of the Top Wineries and the Best Food in Paso Robles

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

About Paso Robles

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide:  Paso Robles is a lovely slice of paradise located just off the 101 Freeway and 30 miles east of the coast of Cambria.  Paso is the home of over 200 wineries, 11 distinct wine regions, a quaint downtown dotted with wonderful restaurants, and wine tasting rooms, just a few miles from Highway 46 which gives you access to the tree-lined winding country roads that lead to the area’s best vineyards and wineries.  Before I was a photographer I was a chef and wine buyer.  So you could say I have kind of insider’s information when it comes to Paso.  Plus it doesn’t hurt that I’ve visited the region over two dozen times in the 30 years I’ve lived in California.  I’ve also met with many of the winemakers and winery owners in the region. Done barrel tastings with them, purchased their wines, been a member of some of their wine clubs, and dined at all the restaurants I’m recommending below.  So rest assured this list isn’t something I’ve just gleaned from the internet.  This is a curated list from my own real-world experience.  


On the Way To Paso Robles ….

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

INDUSTRIAL EATS

Lunch Stop: On your way to Paso Robles, stop for lunch at Industrial Eats in Buellton.  Address:  181 Industrial Way, Buellton, CA 93427  Phone(805) 688-8807. Owned by husband and wife team Jeff &  Janet Olsson, Industrial Eats is a super casual, and funky eatery on Industrial way {hence the name Industrial Eats,} just 5 minutes off the 101.  You’ll find delicious brick oven pizzas. Their menu is based on uber-fresh local-seasonal-produce.  The menu changes frequently.  And if it’s the fall that means it’s wild mushroom season…..and you are in for a treat.  There are lots of great salads, fresh seafood, and meat items.  Wine and beer on tap and excellent coffee too. We stop in every time we pass by and if we are staying in the area we’ll go for a long lunch or a nice dinner.

INDUSTRIAL EATS

INDUSTRIAL EATS

“One thing I always look at in a winery, especially if I’m going to join their wine club, is how consistent are their wines, vintage to vintage?”

Travel Break & Picnic

Laetitia Winery:  I’ve been visiting Laetitia winery for over 20 years.  Letitia specializes in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sparkling wines lover their Sparkling Rosé.  They also produce some Rosé, Meritage-style wines and a late harvest wine too. It’s a great place to stretch your legs, and have a picnic lunch.  There’s lots of outdoor seating and picnic tables overlooking their vineyards.  Ask about their wine club.  Laetitia’s wines are reasonably priced and their tastings are fantastic.  One thing I always look at in a winery, especially if I’m going to join their wine club, is how consistent are their wines, vintage to vintage? In Laetitia’s case, the answer is that they are extremely consistent. Why is this important?  Because when you are joining a wine club you’re joining because of the experience you had both with your tasting and the quality of the wines.  If the style changes every year and is inconsistent the quality of wine will change with each vintage.  Address:  453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420 Phone(805) 481-1772.  Feel free to pack your own picnic {they actually encourage picnicking on property} or inquire ahead to see if they have some cheeses boards on hand.  


Below, are  In My Humble Opinion, the cream of the crop wineries in the Paso Robles area.  

Where to Taste the Best Wines in Paso Robles

Let’s face it. the quality of a wine, and what we like our wine to taste like is highly subjective.  However,  having been a wine buyer and also having written a Wine Spectator Award-winning wine list, I think I have a pretty good handle on my wines and what people like.  After a couple of decades of visiting Paso, I’ve culled through a whole bunch of wineries.  Some okay, some good, and some really great wineries.   Below, are  In My Humble Opinion, the cream of the crop wineries in the Paso Robles area.  

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

DESPARADA, LOCATED IN TIN CITY,  amphora and wine puppe.

DESPERADA: Address: 3060 Limestone Way, Paso Robles, CA 93446, desparada.com  Phone:  (805) 434-9611.  Located in Tin City … Tastings are BY APPOINTMENT ONLYEverything Winemaker Valia From makes is superb. IMHO she’s one of the best winemakers on the Central Coast. Valia ferments in amphora, oak casks, and stainless.  Her wines are nuanced and delicate.  Due to the small production and popularity, you’ll need an appointment for tasting and will need to pay, but her team provides an in-depth world-class tasting experience of their wines in an elegant setting.  

DESPARADA WINERY, LOCATED IN TIN CITY

HERMAN STORY WINERY & TASTING ROOM, DOWNTOWN PASO ROBLES

HERMAN STORY: 1227 Paso Robles St, Paso Robles, CA 93446, hermanstorywines.com Phone: (805) 237-2400. A small hidden gem of a tasting room on the backside of downtown Paso Robles just off the 101.  Russel From, winemaker-proprietor produces elegant Rhone-style wines and some of the best Syrah I’ve tasted on the Central Coast. His wines are usually ready to enjoy when purchased,  but age gracefully too. His wife Valia owns Desperada winery (above).  I’m a huge fan of Russel, his standing room only tasting room, his cooking and his wines.

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

LINNE CALODO

LINNE CALODO, 3030 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles, CA 93446, Phone: (805) 227-0797.  Tastings are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. I’ve been a fan of owner and winemaker Matt Trevisan since way back in the day {before he built his winery,} when he was selling is elegant and robust Rhone-style wines out of a wooden shack down a muddy dirt road on Paso Robles.  I spent an afternoon with Matt a few years back and he shared his unique dry framing approach with me and we tasted some barrel samples.  His wines are so popular that they typically sell out year after year.

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD

TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD: Address: 805.237.1231, Tablas Creek Vineyard, 9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles CA 93446.  https://tablascreek.com Phone805.237.123.  Tablas Creek has a unique story:  Tablas Creek is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families: the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family. Equally owned and run by the two families, the partnership began in 1987 remains today as ever, even as the next generation of Haases and Perrins have stepped into leadership roles over recent decades. In January 1990, the first vine cuttings were imported from France. Before arriving at Tablas Creek, they underwent a USDA-mandated three-year indexing process that ensured that the vines were virus-free; the first imported vines were available for multiplication at Tablas Creek in 1993. In 2003 the partners decided to complete the Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape collection. These seven varieties (Cinsaut, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Picardan, Clairette Blanche, and Bourboulenc) are now all in the vineyard at Tablas Creek and available to other interested growers. Tablas Creek Vineyard follows the centuries-old Châteauneuf-du-Pape tradition of blending, to produce wines that balance richness and elegance while ensuring complexity, freshness, and minerality. Winemaking techniques, including dry farming, native yeast fermentation, and the use of large, neutral French oak foudres for aging allow our wines to reflect authentically the grapes, place, and vintage from which they come. Red wines, comprising about 50% of the vineyard’s production, are made principally from Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Counoise, with other red varieties playing smaller roles. White wines, comprising about 35% of production, are based on Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc, again with additional white varieties in supporting roles. Two rosés, one based on Grenache and the other on Mourvèdre, account for the final 15% of production. Total production averages between 25,000-30,000 cases per year. Tablas Creek produces Rhone-style reds and whites. They have an impressive large glass-walled tasting room which shows off their immense French oak foudres {think mega huge oak barrles}. Their wines are very site-specific and cater to a very specific palette.  These wines are not for everyone.  But if you love drier-style French wines you’ll love Tablas Creek. 

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food GuideThe Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

TOOTH & NAIL WINERY:  3090 Anderson Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446, Appointmentstoothandnailwine.comcellarpass.com  Phone(805) 369-6100 One of the most unusual architectural wineries in Paso. The winery is a massive stone castle complete with a moat, surrounded by stunning hillside vineyards. Originally the property was a winery that went bankrupt and sat vacant for years.  Along came Rob Murray vintner-grower-owner, and breathed new life into the property.  Tooth & Nail and another of their wine brands, Rabble, produce, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah, Pinot Noir and more.  Their Amor Fati label is their finest juice and IMHO the best-of-show for them.  Years ago I met Rob at a tasting in Del Mar, California, where I tasted their Amor Fati Syrah and thought it was the best wine in the entire tasting of 100 vintners. You are sure to have a great time tasting at Tooth and Nail Winery.  Their tasting rooms in the castle are massive!  My last time there, was the summer before Covid and they had a live rock band for entertainment.  The winery also serves seasonally inspired culinary fare ….which makes it a great spot to taste wine and have a leisurely lunch or sunset dinner. They also have a huge outdoor patio area to enjoy your wines & food.  Make sure to visit their rooftop, if it’s not being used for a wedding that day.  The winery is easy to find.  It’s just off Route– 46 on the corner of Anderson Rd. 

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

TOOTH & NAIL WINERY Worth the {gorgeous} drive down the twisting oak tree-covered Peach Canyon Road.  Address:  3430 Peachy Canyon Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446-7685 https://www.calcareous.com Phone: (805) 239-0289  A lovely drive down Peachy Canyon road.  Calcareous sits atop a bluff with stunning views overlooking Paso Robles.   Go for the views alone but stay for their delicious Meritage and Chardonnay. 

TURTLE ROCK VINEYARDS: Address: 3075 Blue Rock Rd, Unit A, Paso Robles, CA 93446.  www.turtlerockvineyards.com  Phone:  (805) 674-1889 Winemaker, owner, Don Burns, assistant winemaker for Justin Smith of famed Saxum winery. Justin’s wines are only sold by allocation and fetch north of $100 a bottle.  Don is making his own juice which used to be half the price of what a bottle of Saxum costs. His Turtle Rock brand is spot-on delicious.  Big, supple beautiful wines that drink great now and age beautifully. I have one left in my cellar. When Don first started producing wine they sold for about $55 a bottle.  Now most are allocation only and have scored as high as 95pts. to 100 points and fetch from $70-90 a bottle.  UPDATEVisting the tasting room:   Due to limited wine availability, the Turtle Rock tasting room is temporarily closed. There’s been incredible momentum with our first 100 point wine and membership availability is full. We are taking sign-ups for the waitlist! We hope to reopen this fall with the release of the 2020’s.

VILLA CREEK CELLARS: 5995 Peachy Canyon Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446, Phone805.238.7145. Tastings are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. I’ve not been to Villa Creek for a few years.  However, this is the most unassuming tasting venue in Paso Robles.  More like an open barn under corrugated tin in the middle of nowhere.  But they have some very unique boutique-style wines.  And it’s definitely worth the trip.  

TINY CITY:  450 Marquita Ave, Paso Robles, CA 93446  https://www.tincitypasorobles.com  Called Tin City due to the unique tin-roofed structures has grown from a small tasting venue to hosting over 30 wineries, cider & spirit producers.  It’s a cool little area with a brewery, tasting rooms, and a wonderful eatery listed below.  A very cool place to stop for an hour or two for some impromptu tastings and possibly to discover some kickass wines you would have never known about if it wasn’t for Tin City. 


THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN PASO ROBLES

“These are my favorite restaurants that I’ve been to many time.  Pro tip: Make sure to make a reservation for anywhere you plan to go for dinner, especially on the weekends, during the summer months and during the wine crush in Sept. & Oct.”

The Ultimate Paso Robles Wine & Food Guide

*FISH GAUCHO –  Address: 244 Park St, Paso Robles, CA 93446, Menufishgaucho.com Phone(805) 239-3333.  Excellent Mexican food.  Killer mole, fab pozole and so much more.  Amazing list of Tequilas & Mezcals.  A large list of beers and wines by the glass. Impeccably handcrafted cocktails.  Very comfortable, great service indoor-outdoor seating.  Wonderful large bar. EXCELLENT MEXICAN / FAB BAR AND TEQUILA & MEZCAL LIST Very comfortable, good service, great cocktails, and beers.

THE HATCH ROTISSERIE & BAR:  Address: 835 13th St, Paso Robles, CA 93446    Phone(805) 221-5727 Reservations: hatchpasorobles.com Excellent handcrafted cocktails and great beer & wine list. Creative comfort food, like their shrimp and grits.   Could use a creature comfort upgrade. Great service. Bar and table seating.

LA COSECHA BAR & RESTAURANT: 835 12th St, Paso Robles, CA 93446  Menulacosechabr.com  Reservationsopentable.com  Phone(805) 237-0019. Upscale and elegant bar and restaurant.  Wonderful wine by the glass selections, lots of small plates to choose from, fresh ingredients.  Small outdoor seating area great for people watching on a warm summer’s day with a cool glass of white wine. 

*TIN CANTEEN:  Located at the entry point of Tin City:  3070 Limestone Way, Paso Robles, CA 93446, tincanteenpaso.net Phone: (805) 369-2787. Fabulous comfort food.  Spectacular pizzas, amazing lamb burger.  

*McPHEES:  In Templeton about a 15-minute drive from Paso Robles and worth the trip.  Address:  416 S Main St, Templeton, CA 93465 Menu: mcpheesgrill.com Phone: (805) 434-3204.  Wonderful by the glass and by the bottle list.  Large menu of meat, fish, pasta and lots of vegetarian choices.  Best damned double-cut pork chop I’ve ever had in my life.  Call ahead and reserve it. Devine creme brulee.  Very comfortable booths and tables.  It’s a local place as well as a destination for people in the know.  A bit old-fashioned….kind of mid-western on the decor….but super comfortable with excellent service.  

DI RAIMONDOS ITALIAN MARKET:  Picniking Supplies:  This is the place to go if you are looking to put together some great picnicking supplies.  Address:  822 13th St, Paso Robles, CA 93446, Phone: (805) 238-1268. Fantastic artisanal cheeses and cured meats, crackers, and bread.  


LODGING | WHERE TO STAY ?

A few words about staying in Paso Robles:  My go-to hotel in is listed below with two other recommendations.  Whenever possible I like to visit Paso Robles during the week when it is less crowded or off-season, late fall and winter,  when hotel rates are also half the price.   You can expect to spend $175 and up a night if you visit Friday through Sunday and expect more traffic and more crowds at the tasting rooms.  During the summer months, temperatures will climb into the high 90º’s in some microclimates and cool down during the evening.  There are AirBnB’s in the Paso area but I’ve found AirBnB’s to be problematic…some hosts canceling at the last minute. If you go during the high season, as soon as school gets out for the kids, or during the summer months, I highly recommend booking your hotel as far in advance as possible.  Paso has become popular over the years and hotels can be sold out during certain periods.  

“This is my go-to hotel when visiting Paso.”

*LA QUINTA INN & SUITES BY WYNDHAM PASO ROBLES:  Website, Adress:  2615 Buena Vista Dr, Paso Robles, CA 93446, Phone: (805) 239-3004.  Super clean, well-appointed, well maintained contemporary hotel.  This is my go-to hotel when visiting Paso.  It’s conveniently located off the 101 Freeway and a stone’s throw from Route 46 and near all the wineries.  There’s a pool and they serve a free breakfast buffet included in your stay. 

ALLEGRETTO VINEYARD RESORT

ALLEGRETTO VINEYARD RESORT

ALLEGRETTO VINEYARD RESORT PASO ROBLES:  2700 Buena Vista Dr, Paso Robles, CA 93446, Phone(805) 369-2500, Website.   A stunning 4-Star property, complete with fancy dining, luxury pool, and an Italian luxury mansion feel.  Rates in the off-season start at $275-$300.   It’s owned and operated by the Ayres family who run a chain of boutique hotels and they do it right.  It’s conveniently located off the 101 Freeway and a stone’s throw from Route 46 and near all the wineries. BTW, even if you aren’t staying here…it’s worth it to just go and check out the grounds.  I guarantee you’ll be floored by the architecture and charm. 

THE CARLTON HOTEL:  The Carlton is about a 20 minuted drive from Paso Robles and is a lovely historic property on the exterior but super comfortable, clean, and updated spacious quiet rooms and comfortable beds. Adress6005 El Camino Real, Atascadero  Phone:  (805) 461-5100.   I’ve stayed here a few times when my usual hotels are booked. .  Street parking only but very safe. It’s located right off the 101 Freeway. The town’s history dates back to the early 1800’s when it was named a 23,000-acre Rancho Atascadero.


1/2 DAY TRIPS & FULL-DAY TRIPS FROM PASO ROBLES

“Take a long stroll on Cambria’s long boardwalk that flanks the Pacific at Moonstone Beach and enjoy a long walk on the miles of sandy beaches.” 

1/2 DAY TRIPS TO CAMBRIA:  Paso Robles a perfect area for wine growing. Coupled with 700 – 2,000-foot elevations, 30 distinct soil series, and the diverse meso-climates created by these factors, Paso is blessed with a long season that allows growers to ripen 69 different varieties balanced with sugar and acidity ideal for producing world-class wine, ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne, to Zinfandel, the area’s heritage wine varietal. So there you are in Paso Robles and the temps are anywhere from 75ºF-95ºF.  Forty-five minutes by car to the west on Route 46 is Cambria where the temps can drop anywhere from 20ºF-30ºF. 

Cambria is a slow-paced beach town that has kind of stood still when it comes to gentrification.  Take a long stroll on Cambria’s long boardwalk that flanks the Pacific at Moonstone Beach and enjoy a long walk on the miles of sandy beaches.  It can be cold and windy along the coast so dress appropriately.  Cambria has a bevy of hotels and boutique bed & breakfast spots in town and up and down the coast.  One of our favorite restaurants in town is Robbins InternationalAddress:  4095 Burton Dr, Cambria, CA 93428, Phone(805) 927-5007.  There is some great pizza in town  J.J.’s Pizza Address:   2380 Main St., Cambria.  A little hole in the wall with excellent traditional pizza.  My Favorite Breakfast place: Linn’s Restaurant:  Address: 2277 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428, Phone:  (805) 927-0371  Another restaurant is the Sea Chest: Address6216 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, CA 93428 Phone:  (805) 927-4514.  I’ve always felt like they are doing me a favor by serving me instead of the other way around. A very popular and IMHO a bit overpriced spot. The food is good and fresh but I’ve gone twice and that was enough for me. 

CAMBRIA, MOONSTONE BEACH

MOONSTONE BEACH, CAMBRIA

FISCALINI RANCH PRESERVE:  For a great stroll head to the trail access located at 2799, Bluff Trail, Cambria, CA 93428.  This spot should not to be missed.  Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is off the beaten path.  A lovely dirt trail high up on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean.  Only known by the locals. It’s a stunning and serene walk where you’ll typically see locals taking a morning stroll or bringing their dogs our for a walk.

FISCALINI RANCH PRESERVE

FISCALINI RANCH PRESERVE


THE “VILLAGE” OF SAN SIMEON:  The area that William Randolph Hearst called his home.

Below is a list of what to do and what to see. I’m listing them in order based on distance from Cambria along Highway 1. You can make this a 1/2 day or a full day trip.  

THE PIEDRAS BLANCAS ROOKERY

THE PIEDRAS BLANCAS ROOKERY

THE PIEDRAS BLANCAS ROOKERY:  A seal rockery, where Elephant seals bathe in the sun and mate.  It’s a sight to be seen….100’s and sometimes 1000’s of seals occupy the beach depending on their migration and mating season.

SAN SIMEON BEACH AND PIER: WILLIAM R. HEARST MEMORIAL BEACH: A lovely small beach with a gourmet store with gourmet cheeses, meats, wines and more: Sebastian’s General Store: Address:  442 Slo San Simeon Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452  This local favorite is located near the historic town of San Simeon on Highway 1, across from Hearst Castle. The day-use area offers 24 picnic sites, 150 parking spaces, restrooms, water faucets, barbecue grill stands, and easy beach access. Recreational activities include picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking and sunbathing. Your four-legged friends are welcome, but leash laws are enforced. San Simeon’s recreational pier, built-in 1958, allows fishing without a license (limits are enforced). The protected beach has a spectacular view, soft sand and miles of easy walking.

SAN SIMEON BEACH AND PIER: WILLIAM R. HEARST MEMORIAL BEACH

SAN SIMEON BEACH AND PIER: WILLIAM R. HEARST MEMORIAL BEACH

SAN SIMION, HEARST CASTLE

HEARST CASTLE, SAN SIMION

SAN SIMION | HEARST CASTLE:  Everyone should visit this gorgeous historic site at least once. Hearst Estate is breathtaking.  The house the American businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician is known for developing the nation’s largest newspaper chain William Randolph Hurst built.  Orson Wells made a movie about Willaim Randolph Hearst and his castle “Citizen Kane.”  San Simion offers many different tours.  I’ve visited the property 4 times over the years.  It’s a great date trip or family trip.  Address:  750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452 Please call (800) 444-4445 or check online www.HearstCastle.org for tour times, availability, and tour reservations.


POINTS FURTHER NORTH

BIG SUR & CARMEL:  Stay tuned for my upcoming travel guides for Big Sur & Carmel By The Sea.  Calfornia’s coastal gems. 

About the Author ~ Marc Weisberg Before he began a career as a professional photographer, Marc worked in some of the top restaurants in New York City and California.  He was a chef and a wine buyer earning the coveted Wine Spectator Grand Award. Marc loves to travel.  His wanderlust revolves around, photography,  seeking out the best regional cuisines & tasting wines of the world.  Over the past 30 years, Marc has visited California’s wine regions on a regular basis including, Paso Robles, Lompoc, Santa Ynez, Santa Maria, Los Olivos, Napa, and Sonoma.  Recently, Weisberg enjoyed an extended stay in Barcelona &  Lisbon’s discovering their diverse cuisines and wines. Due to his enduring & intimate connection with food and wine, he’s developed an insider’s perspective and built unique relationships with chefs, restauranteurs, and vintners throughout the California regions.  This is the first of many articles Marc is writing to share his love of travel, food & wine.