What’s Paso’s most popular grape? Well, that is a trick question. Plenty of wine varietals have stolen the spotlight over the past hundred years. In fact, lighter, fresher reds and bright whites have only recently gained popularity in Paso Robles Wine Country, known for its rich Cabernet Sauvignon and unique red blends. However, before these tasty trends rose to prominence, there was one varietal to rule them all. Yes, it was granddaddy Zinfandel, Paso Robles’ first official heritage grape. Here’s 5 reasons to check out Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend, kicking off this March 15-17 across Paso Robles Wine Country. Hint: Sometimes, old school is totally cool.
1. Zins Have More Fun
It’s hard to put your finger on what makes Zin so…exciting! Zinfandel grown in Paso Robles ranges from rich and jammy to bright and fruit-forward. You may also get nice hints of pepper and zest—which keep things spicy yet approachable, even if you’re a total wine beginner. Zinfandel is lighter in color than both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but it still packs a punch. Although light-bodied (not unlike Pinot Noir), Zin’s moderate tannin and high acidity give it a bold kick. Generally speaking, most Zinfandel wines have higher alcohol levels ranging from about 14 – 17% ABV. Not saying that’s always more “fun,” but hey! Good to know, right?
Event: On Friday, Park Street Grill presents a Vintage Paso Weekend winemaker dinner with Vines on the Marycrest at 6:30 p.m. ($100 per person; inclusive passed appetizers paired with a three course meal and wine pairings).
Event: On Saturday, Bodega de Edgar, winemaker extraordinaire, Edgar, is pulling 5 special library wines from his personal cellar to pair with select artisan cheeses at 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ($35 for wine club members and $45 for non-wine club members.) Edgar will also be offering additional discounts to his guests on these once in a lifetime wine purchases. Call 805.423.3545 or click here for tickets 2323 Tuley Ct, Ste 120 Paso Robles (5 minutes from downtown Paso).
Mapping and Directions to Vines on the Marycrest
Mapping and Directions to Bodega de Edgar
2. It’s Paso’s Heritage Grape
The Paso Robles AVA is still acknowledged today for its heritage grape, Zinfandel. Grapes were first introduced into the Paso Robles area in 1797 by missionaries at Mission San Miguel Arcangel, where more than one thousand vines were planted. Commercial wine growing, however, wasn’t started until the 1880s with the establishment of Ascension Winery, later known as York Mountain Winery, and today known as Epoch Estate Wines. Among the winery’s early producers following prohibition was Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski. What did he plant way back when? Why, Zinfandel, of course! Now there are hundreds of wineries in Paso and thousands of Zinfandel bottles to explore.
Event: On Saturday, enjoy a dessert bar at Brecon Estate, provided by Heirloom Catering and paired with new releases (including a decadent new 2016 Brecon Estate Zinfandel). On Saturday evening, enjoy a wine and cheese reception overlooking Brecon’s Old Vine Estate Vineyards. Continue your evening in the dining room, where an elegantly styled, farm-style table awaits. Savor a wine paired prix fixe menu for the ultimate wine dining experience with Chef Alex of Crush Catering.
Mapping and Directions to Brecon Estate
3. It Gives Food a ‘Zing’
There may not be a more food friendly red wine than Zin. Zinfandel can pair with your neighbor’s pulled pork cooked over smokey coals and it can heighten a fancy meal served at one of Paso’s fine dining establishments. If you’re into food prepared with spices (and a mix of savory and sweet notes), reach for a bottle of Zin. Pizza, quail, bacon, turkey, pork, and lamb are all friendly to this fun-loving ruby red wine (and it plays well with ginger, garlic, rosemary, curry, and cayenne)!
Event: On Friday, unwind with a sunset social at Cass Winery. Stop by to enjoy music and plenty to dine on. Your ticket allows you after-hours access to the winery and Cass will stay open for extended café hours. Food and wine will also be available for purchase. 5:30-7:30 p.m.; $10 per person/free for wine club. On Saturday, take part in an olive oil and wine pairing seminar. Discover how pairing olive oils with wine elevate the food to new heights. 1-3 p.m.; $45 per person /$36 wine club. On Sunday, celebrate the first signs of spring with a brunch buffet and bottomless mimosa bar. Additional wine available for purchase. 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; $45 per person /$36 wine club. Tasting room and café open daily 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Mapping and Directions to Cass Winery
4. It’s Got Street Cred
Not only is Zinfandel Paso’s oldest planted grape—some of the oldest vines around Paso Robles Wine Country today are (you guessed it) Zinfandel! These ancient, gnarled vines (which can range upwards of 80 years old) are still producing insanely delicious wines, vintage after vintage. Dry-farmed Zinfandel has a reputation all its own, offering up a more condensed, full-flavored glass of wine. Youth is not always better, to be sure.
Event: On Friday, join Sextant Wines as the winery dusts off the bottles and pour some of their favorite past vintages. These library wines will be available for an amazing wine tasting experience this weekend only. Wine Club members will receive a “Key to the Cellar,” which gives access to even more library favorites in the club VIP lounge. Not a club member? Join in the tasting room to receive your key. $20 per person | Wine Club Members complimentary up to four guests.
Mapping and Directions to Sextant
5. It’s Worth Celebrating
Every year, droves of people flock to Paso Robles Wine Country to taste the remarkable local Zin. This March 15-17, it’s your turn to experience just what makes this varietal so dang appealing. There’s literally hundreds of Zin-related events unfolding all across the region. Book your stay at a local vacation rental, stay at winery (JUSTIN’s Just Inn is a great option), or book a hotel like Adelaide Inn, Allegretto Vineyard Resort, Hampton Inn & Suites, or La Bellasera Hotel & Suites. Click here to see all the unique lodging options available for Zin Fest.
This blog is written by flavor fiend Hayley Cain. Follow her @flavorslo on Instagram or at astoldbyhayley.com.
Looking for a place to stay in Paso Robles?
The Adelaide Inn is an iconic, locally owned hotel known for its friendly staff and lush landscaping. With spacious rooms and a convenient location close to highway 101 and the event center – home of the California Mid-State Fair – this hotel is a great choice for most travelers. TOUR VIRTUALLY
Majestically set among vineyards, olive groves and fruit baring orchards, the 20-acre Allegretto Vineyard Resort is a world unto itself, offering breathtaking settings that inspire and bring joy to all who choose this memorable wine country haven. Featuring 171 rooms and suites, on-site spa, grand ballroom, wine tasting room, and inspired culinary creations at Cello, the resort’s full service restaurant.
Wouldn’t you love to wake up among the vines? Eden House at Carriage Vineyards Bed & Breakfast is on a real working vineyard and longhorn ranch in the Paso Robles Wine Region. Our rooms overlook vineyards, creeks and oaks, right in the Paso Robles Wine Country of Central California.
Spend an idyllic getaway at Briarwood Cottage at ONX Estate Vineyards in an English-cottage inspired vineyard-side home. Guests may rent rooms in the main cottage, reserve the entire main cottage for a large group, or book the fully equipped apartment. Wake up to peaceful vineyard views and spend twilight hours sipping wine on the back porch of the cottage. It’s a time you won’t quickly forget. Contact us for pricing and availability (see form below). Case, 6 Bottle, and 4 Bottle Collective Members receive preferred pricing.
Hampton Inn & Suites Paso Robles is nestled in the Central Coast wine region, home to over 200 wineries, beautiful beaches, mountains and diverse attractions. Relax and revive in a comfortable guest room with all you need for a successful stay. You can count on Hampton to deliver value, consistency and service with a smile. We love having you here®
Treat yourself to the ultimate Paso Robles wine country experience by booking your stay at The Inn at Opolo Vineyards. Guests enjoy our luxurious, spacious rooms and all of the sensory pleasures of Paso Robles in one destination. TOUR VIRTUALLY
Enjoy the elegance, style and natural beauty of California’s Central Coast at the JUST Inn®. Surrounded by vineyards, our JUST Inn Suites offer luxurious appointments like fireplaces, Tempur-Pedic®mattresses, Frette linens, hydro-spa tubs, and range in size from 600–1,200 square feet. An overnight stay includes breakfast and a tour of the winery and caves. TOUR VIRTUALLY
La Bellasera Hotel & Suites is an elegant boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country. Influenced by Mediterranean and Italian architecture, the luxurious accommodations reflect the aged sophistication of the Central Coast region and the relaxed nature of the California countryside.
Experience the pristine countryside of Paso Robles Wine Country at Lekai Ranch. Lounge on the porch of your private suite and lose yourself in the tranquility and stunning views of the vineyards and oak studded hills beyond. This vacation rental is located just minutes from some of the most distinguished wineries and a premier olive oil estate, and only 15 minutes from downtown Paso Robles’ restaurants, wineries and shopping. TAKE AN AERIAL TOUR
Paso Robles Vacation Rentals, also known as PasoStay.com assists guests in creating memories and wonderful experiences by providing quality privately owned vacation home rentals in Paso Robles Wine Country. With over 90 vacation homes to choose from, small enough for a couple’s romantic getaway to large homes amongst local vineyards and olive orchards, PasoStay.com has the perfect option for you. Feel free to call 805-423-9174 to talk with a local expert or book online at PasoStay.com.