I took a short tip last week to Paso Robles. I have been meaning to
visit this area for quite a while. My SO and I are fans of Rhone
Rangers so we have become acquainted with many Paso wineries and
wanted to visit.
We drove down from the Bay Area on Wednesday morning. Stopped for
lunch in King City. Looking for tacos, we chose Tacos La Potranca De
Jalisco, mostly because they had outdoor picnic tables and we were
traveling with our dog, so that worked out very well. In fact the
entire trip worked well with dog-friendly spots.
La Potranca has a short menu with the usual taco/burrito choices, also
tortas and quesadillas. We tried the al pastor, asada and cabeza tacos
and they were all quite good. I thought the meat was a little dry but the
salsas were very tasty. Tacos were $1.15 each. There are three or four
other taco shops within a two block area of the main street in King
City (Broadway, just a couple of minutes off of 101), so there's
potential there for a taco crawl.
Arrived in Paso about 2pm, so we had time to stop at a couple of wine
tasting rooms before checking into our hotel. We stayed at the La
Quinta which is on the east side of 101. It is a chain hotel, but they
are dog-friendly and do not charge an extra fee or deposit for pets.
It's a new hotel and their rooms are nicely appointed, refrigerator and
microwave, etc. Reasonably priced.
The wine tasting rooms on the east side seem to all be new, with very
large and impressive structures. We visited Eberle, EOS, San Antonio,
and Vino Robles. Eberle was friendly and low key and did not charge a
tasting fee. EOS charged a $5 fee, which was not credited towards
purchase and they also offered to give your your tasting glasses for
$3 more. We really liked their Rousanne. Vina Robles had a great
San Antonio is more of a gift shop than a winery tasting room. They
seem to represent several properties and some Italian wines. No fee,
but not very interesting wines. They did have some intriguing stuff in
the store, like expensive Italian grappas. It was across the street from our
hotel, so we stopped in.
The La Quinta offered an evening happy hour with complimentary wine.
As a long time business traveler, these happy hours can be pretty bad,
but this hotel actually served some OK bottles, all from local Paso
wineries. The hotel employee who was pouring the wines actually took the time to talk about them and describe them for guests.
We started our first full day at the Grocery Outlet in Atascadero
(about 15 minutes south of Paso). My SO is a Grocery Outlet aficionado
and he was really hoping that there would be great finds in the wine
department here. Sadly, this was not the case. But we did pick up a
few more snack items for picnics, like Dagoba chocolates and Nutella
to go packs.
This day was all about the west side. The properties here are smaller
and more grounded into the landscape. It's easy driving, not long
distances, so we were able to visit quite a few places.
Chronic Cellars, has a style all their own, but they make great wine. Loved
their Zin and most everything else, lots of unusual blends. The tasting room staffer was very informative and it also helped that we were the first visitors of the day. While we were there the winemaker dropped by and joined the conversation. The wines are reasonably priced too.
The tasting room guy at Chronic recommended that we visit Tablas
Creek, since they were the originators of the Rhone style in Paso.
Excellent wines, very classy, they clearly have been here for a long
time and they also have a partnership with Beaucastel in the Rhone,
where they got most of their original root stock. We got a couple of
bottles of their blends, on the low end of their price list. Even though we we not big spenders, they waived the tasting fee and gave us the glasses. We took advantage of their patio to have a little lunch with some cheese and sausage that we brought with us.
Also visited Adeledia. I was surprised that I really loved their Pinot
Noir (not what I was looking for in this area). That was something of
a splurge purchase and will be put aside for a special meal.
After lunch, we stopped at Opolo, liked their Cab Franc, and Dover
Canyon for Zin.
After all that, and a nap, we were not interested in a big dinner. We
stopped by the Hotel Cheval, where the Pony Bar offers light
appetizers (and has outside tables, dog-friendly), but the kitchen was
already closed. It was late and we needed outside seating, so we ended
up at Red Brick Pizza near the hotel. Not bad for a snack, pizza and
salad. The interesting thing was that they had a selection of local
wines, including half bottles, and even though it was in a strip mall,
our server came out to check on us and pour our wine. This was the second time that we found a local business that was really supporting the local wines.
Friday, and the weather was heating up, we stopped in downtown at the
Anglim tasting room. They make a Rhone blend rose that is very dry and
perfect for summer. Also, a lot of other Rhone varietals and blends. When
we mentioned that we were thinking of having lunch at Bistro Laurent,
the proprietor offered to call the restaurant for us to make sure that
we could be accommodated with our dog.
Bistro Laurent has a shaded patio that is a lovely place for lunch,
they only allow dogs at the two tables that are adjacent to the
street, and the dog has to be outside of the fence on the sidewalk. Oh well, Tiny dog
still got plenty of tasty bites. We humans really loved Bistro
Laurent, steak frites and a croque monsieur, were delicious. They have
a wine shop next door to the restaurant and their list features French
wines as well as the local product. I enjoyed a lovely Sancerre, which
they offer by the glass. BL has a pre fixe dinner with wine pairings that is quite reasonable. I would love to return for a full dinner next time I am in Paso.
Overall, it was a great trip. We encountered great service and friendly, helpful folks everywhere we visited. There is plenty more to be explored on future visits.
The wine prices, overall, were a little higher than I expected. I suppose that I am a few years too late. Paso Robles is already well established as the luxury tasting rooms on the east side demonstrate. However, there are also plenty of charming spots with excellent wine nestled in the western hills.
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