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Pair Perfect: Nosh & Sip At These Paso Robles Wineries

You’ve heard it a million-and-one times before. “Food and wine pairing is an art form.” Before you roll your eyes for the millionth-and-second time, let me expand on that thought a bit further. Sure, red wine goes with lamb and white goes with halibut. But did you know that everyone of our taste senses—sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami—can be exquisitely heightened by just the right wine? Did you know that tannins in your Cabernet Sauvignon actually bind with the protein in your steak to create that satisfyingly sumptuous chew? Did you know that rosemary, nectarine, and chilled rose´ are a match made in heaven or that a spicy dark chocolate can bring out the lively pepper notes in that bottle of Syrah?

Pairing food to just the right wine is truly an art form and a science. Lucky, for you, these Paso Robles wineries have already done the hard work for you. All you have to do is sit back, relax and bask in the glow of a perfect Paso pairing. Wake up taste buds, you’re going for a joy ride!

Jada: A Fresh Twist On Cheese And Wine

“Wine and cheese” is a timeless pairing that should never, ever be stuffy. This is what the folks at Jada Vineyard believe, and it shows in their exceptional pairing experience. Step into the winery’s gorgeous tasting room off Vineyard Drive in scenic Westside Paso Robles and prepare your taste buds for a classic combination that explodes with fresh pleasure. With two entirely different tasting menus—“Signature” and “Reserve”—you can sample up to eight Jada wines (spanning elegant Rhône and Bordeaux varietals) alongside a worldly array of nine gourmet cheeses. With yummy morsels of Gouda, Raspberry Bella Vitano, Beecher’s No Woman Cheese (imbued with kicky Jamaican spices), and Cypress Grove’s Midnight Moon goat cheese imported from Holland—you know you’ll find your next favorite snack…or three (Tip: Find all of these cheeses at Vivant Fine Cheese in downtown Paso Robles). Finish it all off with a sample of Jada’s Tuscan-style estate olive oil produced from a blend of over 300 Frantoio, Leccino, Maruino, Manzanillo, Pandolino, and Mission olive trees located on the breathtaking estate.  These are truly the makings of a flavorful afternoon in wine country that will linger on your lips long after the sun has set.

Justin Winery: A Very Tasty Education

With an incredible farm-to-table restaurant, cozy inn, and legendary wines (could there be a more celebrated and beloved Paso Robles wine as Isosceles?) it might be easy to overlook JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery’s epic food and wine pairings. I’m here to make sure you don’t do that, because I would hate for anyone to miss out on the extravagant array of tastes and textures on display at this modern tasting room tucked away in dusty, oak-studded Eastside Paso Robles. 

Learn how top sirloin with kohlrabi puree and orange roasted beets pairs perfectly with JUSTIN Winery’s award-winning Isosceles at a tasty and educational pairing workshop.

On most Friday afternoons through October, you can tuck into fresh bites (and education) prepared by Restaurant at JUSTIN Executive Chef Will Torres, who sources many of his creations from the winery’s thriving edible garden. During these insightful, immersive classes, you’ll learn what it takes to create a powerful flavor combination in your own kitchen. Want to know when to pair wine to the main ingredient or the sauce? Want to learn the do’s and don’ts on mimicking andcontrasting food and wine flavors? Learn it all at JUSTIN with the help of talented on-site sommelier Jim Gerakaris. Because pairing shouldn’t just be fun. It should be mind-bendingly delicious!

Oso Libre: Estate-Raised Burgers And Bold Bordeaux Wines

paso-robles-angus-beefOso Libre winery isn’t just a destination for world-classwines. Their grass-raised beef is incredible, especially when sampled alongside a lineup of bold Bordeaux wines.

Oso Libre proves that Paso Robles is one part wine country, one part cowboy country.  The award-winning Westside Paso Robles winery is the perfect example of this culmination of worlds, where world-class vines intermingle with estate-raised Angus beef. With 360 aces of pasture to roam, Oso Libre’s sustainably sourced steers are raised without hormones, corn feed, or stress (Yes, even the steers breathe easier in Paso Robles). Raised on grass and luxuriously finished with beer brewer’s mash, wheat, oats, barley, and molasses, nothing pairs better with the winery’s 91 point 2010 Grande (an ultra smooth Bordeaux blend with hints of plum, vanilla, and mocha) or 2012 Nativo (awash in dreamy strawberry pie, tea, and cedar honey). Attend one of the winery’s plentiful Estate Angus Barbecues and see for yourself. These juicy burgers are blissful alongside the bold, fruit-forward reds Oso Libre is known for.  Cheers to happy cows in Paso Robles!

Cass Winery: Endless Pairing Combinations Made To Order

At Cass winery, you can tuck into a gourmet cheese plate or a pulled pork sandwich. Regardless of what you choose on this vast menu, the perfect wine is at arm’s reach.

Amazingly, everything that Cass Winery Executive Chef Jacob Lovejoy cooks up—from his smoked chicken salad to their pit roasted pulled pork sandwich—pairs perfectly with the winery’s lush lineup of Rhône-stylewines. Perhaps this is partly why the scenic Paso Robles hot spot was named 2015 Winery of the Year at the Central Coast Competition, although their stunning tasting room, relaxed wine patio, and award-winning wines may also have something to do with it!

Here, food is as much apart of the experience as the wine, and the pairing applications are practically endless. Looking for a luscious nibble? Order the cheese and meat platter, complete with chef-selected artisanal cheeses and meats, each paired with wine from Cass’s ample tasting list and accompanied bydecadent fruit, olives, and nuts. Into something bigger and beefier? Go for the steak sandwich or Benny’s burger topped with the chef’s famous house-cured bacon. If you go this route, be sure to sip through the winery’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Grenache, and 2013 Mourvedre—but not before you try all the whites first! 

Brecon Estate: Dessert In The Afternoon

Move over milk—wine has taken its rightful place alongside the crumbly cookie thanks to the folks at 
Brecon Estate. This ultra boutique Westside Paso Robles winery is known for its handcrafted creations that span estate-grown Albarino, Rhône blends, and the kind of big, juicy Cabernet Sauvignon that Paso Robles is known the world over for. Everything at Brecon is done with passion and ingenuity, so it makes sense that winery owners Damian and Amanda Grindley would start baking shortbread cookies out of their own kitchen to delight their friends, fans, and wine club members. Stop by the tasting room and taste for yourself! Savory, herbaceous, and even pallet cleansing—these are not your grandma’s cookies.  

Depending on the tasting list, you might bite into a lemon lime basil cookie (great Conviction, a lemon-lime flavored 2013 white Rhône blend of marsanne, rousanne, and viognier) or perhaps a sinful praline bacon cookie (epic alongside their 2013 Petite Sirah). One word of advice: don’t dawdle! When these cookies are gone, they’re gone folks. Well, until the next week, when the Grindleys bake up a fresh new batch!

This blog post was written by Hayley Thomas, food and wine writer for SLO New Times and She can be reached at [email protected]

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