Variety is the spice of life! Maximize your next wine tasting experience and dabble in a diverse range of sips, slurps, and fresh new flavors that venture beyond the vino. All you have to do is stop by a growing number of Paso Robles tasting rooms pouring more than incredible wines (when maximizing these adult beverages, we suggest allowing Drive 805 to do the cruising for you). The world already knows that the Central Coast is incredibly spoiled to have so many world-class wines at our fingertips. Thanks to the emergence of local hard cider, spirits, craft beer, and grappa, that title has elevated to “spoiled rotten.”
Rabbit Hole: Creative Mimosas
Heaven is a place on Earth. It’s called “Mimosas at The Rabbit Hole,” and it’s not just reserved for Sunday mornings. Stop in daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and marvel at this downtown tasting room’s extensive Mimosa Fabulosa Menu. Here, classics like The Regular (Brut and pure OJ) mingle with modern twists like the Pinamosa (Sparkling Citron, 100% Pineapple juice), the Bingo (Sparkling Peach, Mango Nectar), the Merry Berry (Sparkling Raspberry, Cranberry-Raspberry Juice) and the Pomosa (Sparkling Pomegranate, 100 % Pomegranate juice with or without fresh seed float). Think these drinks sound fancy? Well they’re all mad here! These gourmet mimosas are just $5 each with $2 refills. And of course, all of these delicious creations are made with naturally flavored BLING Sparkling Wines, which make a great addition to the tasting room’s lavish array of Rabbit Ridge offerings produced in Paso Robles. Next time you’re in need of a little sunshine, belly up to the Bubbly Bar and make a few new friends, watch the game, or lose yourself in one of the many versions of Alice in Wonderland playing all day. Because whimsy is totally underrated.
Lone Madrone: Bristol’s Hard Cider
There’s the sickly sweet commercial swill that’s out there masquerading as hard cider, and then there’s Bristol’s: Authentic, English-style hard cider with just the right amount of effervescence, bite, and acidity. Inspired by thirst and rooted in tradition, the locally-sourced cider is available at Bristols Cider House in Atascadero (which you may already know). However, did you also know you can pick up bottles of this golden elixir at Lone Madrone Winery, too? Yes, that’s right: Savor an impressive wine flight that spans Chenin Blanc to Barbera to fantastic Dessert Wines, then cleanse your pallet with a bold, refreshing wallop of hard cider! There’s nothing better to serve when you have company coming over, especially during the holidays. What could be more festive than a pint of fizzy hard cider made with the very best local apples? Stop by the Adelaida District tasting room daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and raise a glass to something a little different. Isn’t that refreshing?
Lusso Della Terra Cellars: Beer Drinkers, rejoice
It’s a common conundrum: you love wine (and wine tasting), but your spouse/friend/drinking buddy is a tried and true beer drinker. What now? Well, whatever you do, don’t settle for a beer joint where the wine comes from a dusty jug somewhere in the back room. Likewise, it wouldn’t be fair to drag your friend to a tasting room that thumbs its nose at a frosty brew. At Lusso Della Terra Cellars, both beer-drinkers and wine-aficionados can hang loose and leave happier than when they strolled in. For the wino: Sample a rainbow of handcrafted, ultra-premium Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon (the list goes on) sourced from noteworthy vineyards across Paso Robles, Sonoma, and the Russian River Valley. For the beer lover: Pop open a frosty bottle of Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Double Barrel Ale or 805 honey blonde (it’s fresh; it’s local; it’s “what we drink around here.”) This downtown tasting room even offers non-alcoholic O’Doul’s for your beloved designated driver—how thoughtful is that? With sophisticated leather couches and a clean, modern bar, this posh hangout has become the natural meeting place for every stripe of sipper. Hours: Monday through Thursday 1 to 6 p.m., Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m., and Fri through Sun. from noon to 8 p.m.
Opolo: Great Glass of Grappa!
When I think of Opolo, all sorts of happy thoughts begin to multiply in my head. There’s the to-die-for wood fired pizza, the boisterous grape stomps, the world famous Mountain Zinfandel, and those cool folk dancers that twirl and spin each Harvest Festival Weekend. Turns out, there’s even more exciting things brewing at this charming, Old World tasting room! The word to remember is Grappa, and oh, is it delicious! Not familiar? The alcoholic, grape-based pomace brandy is fragrant and just a tad sweet. Get your grappa on and purchase a bottle at tasting room, which also carries Opolo’s pear brandy and walnut liquor—all crafted with their onsite distillery. Oh, and be sure to taste all the new releases while you’re at it ($10 gets you a delectable wine flight waved with any two bottle purchase; Tasting Room hours are: Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). With all of these options, you may need to mull it over with a sizzling ‘za or cured meat plate (served daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). If you ask me, Opolo truly gives Disneyland a run for its money!