Americans are used to the new, the novel, and the unexpected—after all, we formed our own country and are still thinking up new ways to improve our wacky democratic experiment hundreds of years later. In Paso Robles, especially, the independent spirit lives on far after the 4th of July is over. Sure the fireworks have died out, but we’re still making fireworks explode on your palate! Known for crafting bold blends that buck the status quo, Paso Robles winemakers have continued to push the envelope further and further, vintage after vintage. Growing unique varietals unheard of in California? Check. Mixing Old and New World techniques? Check. Tinkering with cutting edge farming and winemaking trends? Yep! Craft spirits made from premium wine grapes? You know what I’m going to say. If it can be made, a Paso Robles winemaker has probably bottled it. Here’s five delicious ways to salute to Paso’s independence this summer.
1. Bold Blends
Paso Robles is known for its unexpected, larger-than-life red blends, and Chronic Cellars might be the boldest blend-maker in town. It’s not just the brash, Day of the Dead inspired labels or the owners’ propensity to use the word “dude.” It’s in the wine itself. The hilariously titled 2016 “Sofa King Bueno” is just as good as you’d think, considering the name. A mix of 46 percent Syrah, 31 percent Grenache, 13 percent Petite Sirah, 10 percent Mourvedre and 2 percent Tannat, this bodacious blend is a party in your mouth (and the party’s going all night long). It’s approachable, as all good guests should be, but still knows how to bust a move on the dance floor. Expect lively flavors of blackberry, cherry, strawberry, milk chocolate, caramel, and leather. Oh yes. It’s going to be an interesting night!
2. Hip Hooch
Barrel rested gin crafted by two successful winemakers? This is the usual in Paso Robles, where the creative juices are always flowing. KROBAR Craft Distillery’s Barrel Rested Gin (a recent CA Craft Spirits Competition Gold Medal winner), is made with juniper, coriander, cardamom, grains of paradise, angelic root, orris root, clove, lavender, black pepper, bitter orange, fennel, star anise, and nutmeg (for good measure). Made from spirits crafted from100 percent Grape Distillate, you can expect a smooth drinking gin with the warm toast of rye whiskey barrels. It’s not wine, but it’s exactly the kind of ingenious offering you’ll find along Paso Robles’ unique Distillery Trail.
3. Seasonal Sips
Many boutique, small-lot Paso Robles wineries rely on the seasons to dictate their blends. That means that—year after year—you’ll experience the unique terroir of this special place, without ever getting bored. At Kiamie Wine Cellars, the only constant is change. Blends are always new, as the winemaker constructs each blend thoughtfully and with imagination. Often, he ends each bottling process with extra wine “left over.” This doesn’t mean the wine wasn’t good enough; it just means that the winery is adamant about getting percentage just right (whether that be 67% or 58% or 21%). At Kiamie, the motto is: “Each wine has its own voice and should be heard properly.” Pretty punk rock if you ask me!
4. Cutting Edge Food
It’s not just about wine and cheese in Paso. Sure, you can get a traditional cheese plate if you’re feeling the classic pairing, but there’s so much more to discover and devour. Stop by Tooth and Nail Winery each Saturday and Sunday this summer for their famous Anti-Brunch festivities. Expect live music, lots of wine tasting, and an insane spread of food that goes leaps and bounds beyond your average omelet station. Case in point: Avocado Toast with smashed avocado, blistered tomatoes, smoked ricotta, house brioche and bacon; Beignets with rum caramel, seasonal berries, and powdered sugar; and Thai Brussel Sprouts with toasted peanuts & coconut, pickled chilis, coconut maple vinaigrette. That last one pairs incredibly with Stasis Viognier, BTW.
5. Crazy Cool Cocktails
In Paso Robles, a cocktail is never just a cocktail. Stop by Fish Gaucho in downtown Paso Robles for a wine flight or a drink and rest assured that both will come with Paso Robles’ signature vivacious vibe. Tequila drinks are shaken and stirred with local produce and herbs, plus the hand crafted cocktails are terroir driven to the max. Grab the “Something Girly” for a mix of locally made vodka (produced from premium Paso Robles wine grapes), elderflower, honey, rose, and pink peppercorn bitters. Wow, right? Paso Robles really knows how to make a splash. Bring on the copy-cats! There’s only one place where all this revolutionary revelry lives on 365 days a year.
This blog was written by Hayley Thomas Cain, food and wine writer for SLO New Times and PasoRoblesWineries.net. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on instagram @flavorslo.
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.
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.
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.
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®
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.
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.
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.