Rather than driving North from the San Francisco Airport to Napa or Sonoma, my husband and I decided to try something new for our mostly-annual anniversary trip and drove 3 hours south instead. Our destination was the central California wine region of Paso Robles, pronounced Pah-so Row-bulls by locals. Over the years, we’ve found that a lot of the cabs we like come from this region, so we thought, why not?
With an even greater daily temperature change and a host of different microclimates, Paso Robles wines are very fruit forward and complex. If you like California cabernets, it is likely that you have already enjoyed wines from this region.
Our first day of tasting included Tobin James, Eberle, and J. Lohr wineries. Tobin James is like a scene out of the old West. Sara our friendly and knowledgeable pourer told us that the enormous 180 year old bar where we were tasting had been purchased by Tobin James and moved to the winery. The bar is rumored to be the one that Jesse James bellied up to in Missouri back in the day. Sara also shared that Tobin James has the world’s largest wine club. “We only have a 3% drop rate.” With a free tasting, a friendly staff and great wines, Tobin James was a great start to our trip.
Still East of the 101, we Uber’d to Eberle winery where we met Dennis, an Akron native, and our tasting room associate. One of the perks of Eberle, besides their wine, is their wine caves. They were the first winery in Paso Robles to dig them and tours are offered free of charge. It was a great way to learn more about the wine-making process.
Last on our list for the day was J. Lohr. We are a big fan of J. Lohr cab and probably the number one reason we decided to visit Paso. The free wine tasting (yes, many of the wineries in Paso Robles offer free tastings!) did not disappoint. Simon, our tasting room pourer told us that J. Lohr Cabernet is the number one selling cab in the U.S. – which confirmed we have great taste in wine 😉 We also learned from Simon that the diurnal shift in temperature in the area is what makes the wines have such a robust depth and flavor. Okay, I had to use that word “diurnal” – basically their nights are really cold and their days get much warmer. This variation in temperature is even more pronounced than in Napa and Sonoma.
This gorgeous view attached below was off the tasting room of Daou winery where we started our tasting Saturday. The picture probably doesn’t do it justice, but the view is absolutely breathtaking. Daou winery sits on 115 acres. Their cabernets are their main focus, but they do offer other varietals. For this winery, we reserved a cabernet tasting and were greeted warmly by Gabriel who walked us around the premises and told us about the history of Daou winery and the great attention to detail in their wine-making process. Following our tour, he led us to an outdoor table set with all the wines we were to taste. Let’s just say we joined the wine club afterwards.
Off the beaten path, we decided to visit Dilecta winery based on a recommendation from one of the tasting room associates. Who would know better, right? We were greeted by the winemaker and owner’s mom who designs the wine labels and the artwork that decorates the tasting room walls. After learning that she was yet another Ohio native (from Youngstown) she told us about the winery and introduced us to her son, Orion. These type of more-intimate wine-tasting experiences is just one of the many perks of visiting Paso Robles wineries.
Gabriel from Daou told us, “no matter what, it’s about enjoying the wine.” – and thanks to Daou winery and all the other wineries in Paso Robles we definitely did 🙂
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