While I certainly will not use the movie, Sideways, as a template for wine tasting, we will visit a winery or two. One of our favorites, Laetitia, just south of Arroyo Grande, has a nice shaded outdoor picnic area that is perfect for a picnic lunch with Lexi. But obviously, there is more to the area. It is a real shame that it took a movie like that to bring attention to this area!
The Central Coast is the location of the Central Coast American Viticultural Area. This area extends from the Santa Barbara area in the south, all the way to the San Francisco Bay Area. The central coast wineries includes portions of six counties. Over 100,000 acres of are planted in wine grapes, with Chardonnay making up over half that total. Why not take advantage of the cooling breezes of the Pacific Ocean?
The region contains 40 AVAs, including the Paso Robles area where we are visiting. And no, it does not have the cache’ of Napa or Sonoma, but nevertheless, has some really fine wines and great wineries to visit. But, after many visits, I have found the area to have its own style and character. And we like it!!!!
One big advantage to entering the Paso Robles area is arriving on Highway 46 from the San Joaquin Valley. The wineries line the highway on both sides, the first one being Tobin James Cellars, my sister in law’s favorite. In general the area is known for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah wines. But many other old world wines are showing up, along with the ubiquitous Cabernet sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Merlot, along with Viognier, Grenache, and Sauvignon blanc.
Everyone has their favorites, but here are ten to try if you have not been to the area before. In no particular order: Justin Vineyards, Firestone Vineyards, Tobin James Cellars, Herman Story Winery, J. Lohr Vineyards, Robert Hall Winery, Calcareous Vineyard, Edna Valley Vineyard, Laetitia Vineyards and Winery, and Sunstone Winery.
Last year’s Mid State Fair revealed these wines as some of the best of the region. Best in Show, as well as Best Red Wine went to Broken Earth Winery’s 2015 Grenache. Best in White Wine went to Eberle Winery’s 2016 Muscat Canelli. Best Pink Wine went to Kita Wines 2016 Grenache Rose’. As I would expect, Best Sparkling Wine went to Laetitia Vineyard and Winery’s 2014 Brut cuvee. They also claimed a Gold Medal, and Best in Class for the Méthode Champenoise category. And Best Dessert Wine went to Glunz Family Winery’s Mission Angelica.
Winners for 2018 are as follows: Best in Show went to Alara Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc, a first for this varietal. Fast forward to best sparkling, my fav Laetitia won for Best Sparkling Wine for their 2015 Brut rose’. Other winners were: Best Pink Wine to Opolo Vineyards 2017 Rose’. Best Red Wine went to Cass Vineyard and Winery’s 2017 Mourvedre’. And Best Dessert Wine went again to Glunz for their Mission Angelica.
As you can see, or taste, this area offers a wide variety of wines, some of which are excellent. Many surpass the wines of Napa and Sonoma. The area is not as crowded, traffic is manageable, and tasting fees are lower. And they have some decent bike lanes, especially along Highway 1. Let’s go!