Raise a Glass, or Two, in Paso Robles Wine Country

We’re going wine tasting … care to join us?

Smack dab between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Paso Robles is more than a rest stop for 101 weary roadsters. This Central California town and outlying region is ripe with wineries, many giving Napa and Sonoma a run for their money. Zinfandel, Cabernet and Viognier are only a few of the bottles in good supply within those rolling hills between the freeway and the coast. Food & Wine recently listed its top picks of wineries worth a stop and sip. Here are a few highlights:

 Jada Vineyard & Winery

 “The Messina family’s 3,000-case, boutique winery produces all its own grapes from its bio-dynamically farmed estate vineyards. It is situated in the Westside’s Willow Creek district, benefitting from the full-on cooling effect of the Templeton Gap, whose Pacific Ocean breezes can cause 50 degree day-to-night temperature swings that help lock-in acidity as the grapes ripen. Sample the fancifully named (Jersey Girl, Hell’s Kitchen) Bordeaux- and Rhône-style blends in the gorgeous contemporary tasting room. Best deal: $18 for five wines.”

jadavineyard.com

J. Lohr

“Still family owned, this is one of the Central Coast’s largest and best-known brands, with vineyard holdings extending north to Monterey and Napa Valley. The J. Lohr label itself encompasses four reasonably priced tiers of wine, plus Ariel non-alcoholic wine and budget labels Cypress Vineyards and Painter Bridge. Visitors to the Paso Robles tasting room (and its counterpart in San Jose) enjoy no-fee tasting, unless you step up to limited production wines like the Bordeaux-esque Cuvée Series. Depending on the day, there may be wines being poured that are available only at the tasting room or to J. Lohr Wine Club members.

jlohr.com

Tablas Creek

“Few if any other Central Coast wineries can claim a pedigree like Tablas Creek, a joint venture between American wine importer Robert Haas and the iconic Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe producer Château Beaucastel. The grape vines here are propagated from Beaucastel’s own back in France, and tended organically. Though the tiny production, luxury-priced Mourvedre-based Panoplie is the star of the show, Tablas Creek produces an almost bewildering variety of other worthy wines, red and white (don’t miss the Esprit de Tablas Blanc). The basic tasting is $15, but the Reserve tasting (book ahead) is well worth the $40. And the tasting room has non-wine temptations, too, like Provençal table linens.”

tablascreek.com

Read Food & Wine’s full list here.