Plan Your Spring Adventure
February 18, 2021
Spring is an exciting time to visit Paso Robles Wine Country. The vineyards have been pruned, groomed, and are beginning to bloom for a new vintage. The budding vines tint the hillsides in vibrant shades of green with wildflowers dancing between the rows. The air is crisp in the mornings while the bright sun warms the afternoons. There is great energy in the air.
This time of year, wineries begin releasing their newest vintages and the third week of March is our annual Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend. This year, Zin Fest (as it is commonly called) does not feature a single marquee event, but rather individual experiences at wineries. More than 100 Paso wineries celebrate with three days of experiences. And although currently large-scale gatherings are not approved, wineries will be conducting business much in the same way they are now, with groups of no more than six people per party, socially distanced, with all precautions in place to create a safe environment for both guests and employees. Tasting reservations are highly recommended!
With more than 200 wineries to choose from, dozens of wonderful restaurants, and many diverse activities to excite any visitor to Paso Robles Wine Country, it’s hard to know where to start your spring getaway. We’ve taken the guesswork out of planning your trip and crafted a lively itinerary just for you. If this is your first vacation to Paso Robles, we are confident it won’t be your last.
Whether you’re an avid Paso Robles visitor or a newbie to our world-class wine region, you will soon discover that there is something for every wine-loving traveler here. We have countless options for lodging from budget-friendly inns to full-service resorts, vineyard estates to tiny bungalows, deluxe RV properties to vintage trailers. For this springy trip to Paso, we are staying at a modern hotel in the center of wine country, La Quinta Inn & Suites. This well-appointed property is perfect for families, friends, or couples. Don’t miss the complimentary evening wine and cheese reception, it’s a fun and relaxing way to wind down the evening while enjoying local wines accompanied with artisan cheese and bread. *Local Tip – La Quinta is located directly across from one of our favorite wineries, San Antonio Winery & Bistro. They stay open a little later than some of the other tasting rooms and have an awesome Italian Bistro. After a day of exploring wine county, pop across the street and grab some bottles and a few artisan thin-crust pizzas to enjoy back at La Quinta.
The Paso Robles AVA (American Viticultural Area) is just over 600,000 acres, which is pretty, big right? But the way our region is laid out is that no matter where you are staying you are in very close proximity to a multitude of wineries, great food, and fun experiences. Since it’s your first evening in Paso we suggest you get the lay of the land and vibe of the community by heading downtown, just a couple miles away by car. Take in the fresh air while you stroll through the four-acre park, which is the centerpiece of downtown, peruse the many charming shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Now it’s wine time (when is it not?)! Downtown Paso is home to more than 20 wine tasting rooms. A few of our favorites include Sea Shell Cellars, Pianetta, CaliPaso, Copia, Asuncion Ridge, Hayseed & Husdon, Herman Story, Derby Wine Estates, and the collective tasting space of the Paso Underground. After tasting at a spot or two grab a table at Thomas Hill Organics for dinner. This farm-to-table restaurant THO (as locals call it) creates bold imaginative dishes using only the freshest ingredients from neighboring farms. THO is a top pick among visitors and locals alike, plus has a killer wine list. *Local Tip – Request a table on the enclosed brick-walled patio, the ambiance is dreamy. Create your own Paso Wine Flight with glasses of Turtle Rock Grenache Rosé, Per Caso Albariño, and Ranchero Cellars Carignan. Dishes not to miss would be the black lentil tacos and the bone marrow-crusted ribeye. They also do a fabulous Sunday brunch!
You don’t want to worry about driving around Paso Robles, you are on vacation after all. So, leave the driving to the experts, Toast Tours is picking you up to head southeast. Having a designated driver also allows you to take in the spectacular scenic landscape. Rows of vines popping with neon green, cover crops of wild legumes and clover, and vibrant mustard flowers line the country roads. Toast Tours is taking you to a hidden gem of the Paso AVA, the wildflowers of Shell Creek. The rainbow of flowers will wow you, and if you are really fortunate, it will be a super bloom year. Be sure to snap selfies (and tag #pasowine)!
Take the backroads back to B & E Vineyard. This working horse and cattle ranch grows and produces lovely red blends, merlot, and cabernet. The rustic tasting room gives you a feel of the cowboy heritage that Paso Robles was built upon. It is likely that owners Pat and Jerry will be the ones pouring wine for you while treating you with good old-fashioned hospitality.
A short drive away is the new kid on the block, Rava Wines + Events. The Ravas, a third-generation farming family, have taken their expertise into the cellar crafting sparkling wines in the traditional méthode champenoise style. Experience this elegant wine country venue and discover a blend of modern hospitality, fine wines, and your place for your future celebrations. Taste through the exquisite wines of Rava on one of the many patios or our preferred spot next to the pond. For lunch share a generous cheese and charcuterie board or choose items from their seasonal food menu.
From Rava head over the neighboring vineyard and winery, an OG of Paso Robles Wine Country, Still Waters Vineyards. This is an oasis set atop a hill with views for days, lush gardens, warm hospitality, and award-winning wines. Sustainably farmed, Still Waters handcrafts over 22 different wines. Choose from many special tasting locations like the gazebo, koi pond, olive grove, or under a great oak.
Freshen up back at the hotel and prepare yourself for a real treat, dining at The Restaurant at Niner Wine Estates. Named #1 Best Winery Restaurant” by USA Today and “Top Winery Restaurants in America” by Food & Wine, this experience exemplifies wine country. The seasonal and themed Supper Club dinner series occurs on a limited basis. Spring Supper Clubs to reserve today include A Fancy Night Out, Spring Lamb, and Rib Feast. The multi-course family-style meal is expertly paired with Niner wines and is created to highlight the best the season has to offer. The upcoming Supper Club we are most excited about is the spring-inspired dinner featuring roasted lamb and garden-fresh ingredients. Start with a canapé of tapenade and fresh goat cheese with Niner’s country-style terrine followed by a dinner of spring roast lamb, fava bean puree with roasted garlic and lemon oil, a garden salad with citrus dressing, roasted carrots and fennel, tarragon & mustard butter, handmade rosemary & raisin focaccia, then for dessert Meyer lemon pudding cakes and fresh berries. *Local Tip – take pictures from Niner with the picturesque Heart Hill in the background.
Start day three with coffee from local hangout Spearhead Coffee downtown Paso. You are headed west on Highway 46 for coastal views and the brilliant green rolling landscape. Just 15 minutes from Paso Robles you’ll crest the Santa Lucia Mountains where you’ll see the Pacific coastline. To the south is the iconic Morro Rock in Morro Bay and the small surfer town of Cayucos. To the north nestled between pine trees hugging the ocean is Cambria with San Simeon, home to the world-famous Hearst Castle and elephant seal rookery, just a tad to the north. Choose one of the few turnouts on Highway 46 for breathtaking views or drive the additional 15 minutes longer to explore Highway 1 to the south or north and the multitude of beaches. It’s good for the soul and one of the most memorable drives in North America.
After epic coastal sights and crisp salty air, head back on Highway 46 and make a left turn onto Vineyard Drive. This meandering road, which is dusted with bright purple lupin and pastel sweet peas, loops through what’s known as the westside of Paso Robles Wine Country. Scattered with highly-acclaimed wineries and established vineyards the offshoots of backroads will lead you to adventure at every turn. The list of outstanding wineries and unique experiences on Vineyard Drive is a long one. There are too many great wineries to name along this route so here are a few stops to make, on this trip. Cheese & wine paring at Jada (we are obsessed with the Jersey Girl Syrah), Oso Libre to taste the Por Vida Estate Blend and their estate beef, Brecon Estate for the boutique wine tasting in the gardens and super cool photo op with the giant hanging Brecon frame, HammerSky to indulge in a bottle of Queen Sparkling Rosé to be consumed in white Adirondacks next to the white farmhouse watching the vineyards, and last but certainly not least a visit to Whalebone Winery to 1) see THE whalebone pulled from the vineyard 2) meet some of the nicest people in the world 3) grab a pic of you and Bentley the Bulldog 4) taste and purchase the infamous Bob Wine. *Local Tip – Before heading out westside, pick-up box lunches from Red Scooter Deli. We are obsessed with the tuna’licious and veggie wrap!
Head back to the hotel and tap into some of those delicious bottles you collected over your two-day itinerary in Paso Robles wine country. Still hungry for more? Head to downtown Paso Robles and let your nose guide the way to another fabulous meal from one of the many chef-owned and inspired restaurants. *Local Tip – Bring that special bottle you purchased out on the wine trail to dinner, local restaurants often offer a lesser-priced corkage fee for local wines that are not already on their wine list.