I've seen some great winery recommendations on here for all the various wine areas in California but at the moment I'm torn as to where to spend 2-4 days including my birthday in early September. I'm coming over from Britain and have a keen interest in wine but know comparatively little about California so apologies in advance for any errors. There seem to be a lot of wine buffs on this forum so I hope you don't mind if I have a few questions about wine country.
1) It looks to me as though the wineries in Paso Robles are of a slightly higher calibre than those in Santa Ynez. It's a totally subjective judgment but reading around it sounds as though Villa Creek, Jada, Turley, Tablas Creek and Linne Calodo are slightly better than Linford, Kalyra, Foxen, Sanford and Gainey - or is this just plain wrong?
2) Reading all the other threads on wineries in both areas one question always jumps out at me: how the hell do people get around without drink-driving? There will only be two of us and neither are keen to be the designated driver. Does this limit us to tasting rooms in towns or is there another way to get around?
3) Given the above, which towns in the various areas are better for tasting rooms in the town centres? It looks as though Edward Sellers will have moved out of downtown Paso Robles by the time we get there and while I like the idea of going to Paso Robles I'm slightly concerned that there won't be enough tasting rooms in town for 2/3 days of tasting without having to take the car out and use the spitoons. Buellton and Solvang on the other hand seem to have plenty of tasting rooms so you could get away with a quick visit to a vineyard or two at lunchtime then spend the rest of the day in the tasting rooms.
4) Final question, I'm really keen to find at least 1 or 2 small boutique wineries in either area, somewhere that doesn't necessarily have a dedicated tasting room and where you have to make an appointment to get in thus avoiding the tour buses and really being able to talk to the winemaker. I had Herman Story in mind but that's the other side of Los Olivos. Any recommendations in either area (we haven't ruled out spending 2 days in each) would be much appreciated.
Thanks very much in advance.
Villa Creek Restaurant
1144 Pine St., Paso Robles, CA 93446