Paso Robles, California is a wine region many are keeping an eye on. This small town, with acres upon acres of countryside and a historic downtown, is steeped in wild west history. In fact, the area now known as Paso Robles was purchased by Jesse James’ uncle, along with two others from Mexico in 1857. The town began to grow from there and the first hotel was then built in 1964.
Today, you’ll find your fair share of strip malls and tract housing, but, simply venture into the historic downtown and wine country and you’ll quickly realize this is still cowboy country. Paso Robles has a true sense of place, (its own uniqueness) and a pioneering spirit. The wine industry is at the heart of the town’s growth, but it’s currently being redefined by a new generation of winemakers that are bending and even breaking the rules.
Beyond the world-class wine, you’ll find top-notch breweries, craft distilleries, and elevated eateries. It may seem like Paso Robles has grown up, but it’s still a small town at heart. It’s a town where people know their neighbors and business owners. At every stop I made during my visit to Paso Robles, I was surprised to see people greeting each other by name and wandering over to say hello.
For your perfect day in Paso Robles, we have a secret insider day! The day starts with morning coffee, followed by visiting seriously hip wineries, craft distilleries, restaurants and ends with after-dinner drinks at a secret club.
Your Perfect Day in Paso Robles
If you want to meet and see a few of the rising stars in the Paso Robles community that are helping to enhance the Paso lifestyle experience, this is your perfect day.
Paso Robles Perfect Day Guide:
Coffee & Breakfast
One of the best ways to start the day is with a good cup of freshly brewed coffee. There are two specialty coffee shops in town and we recommend that you head over to Spearhead Coffee in the heart of downtown Paso Robles. It is the ultimate insider hangout and many mornings you can find local winemakers enjoying their first coffee of the day.
Spearhead Coffee roasts their beans on site that are sourced to be the best quality around. The staff are helpful and friendly which makes for a great start to the day. One of the co-owners, Matt Klomp, started out on the Big Island in Hawaii working in coffee shops in the Kona coffee belt. So, you can be sure Matt is brewing some top-notch coffee varieties.
If you’d like more than coffee to start your day, there are several breakfast spots to choose from. Joe’s Place offers a quintessential diner experience and is a local’s favorite for breakfast. Popular dishes include the country scramble which consists of bacon, eggs, fries, and cheese all scrambled together as well as the chili verde omelet.
Alegretto is another option and they are known for smoked salmon eggs benedict. If you have a sweet tooth, try their waffles, pancakes, or pastry basket.
Another great place to have breakfast is the Kitchenette, which serves delicious dishes from around the world. Whether you are craving a breakfast burrito or ricotta pancakes you’ll be in luck here. You can even get a mimosa to go with your breakfast to prime you for your wine tasting.
Paso Robles Wine
Wine grapes were introduced to the Paso Robles soil in 1797 by the Spanish conquistadors and Franciscan missionaries. Fast forward about 200 years and today you will find Paso Robles is one of the wine regions to watch.
Paso is well known for its heritage varietal Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rhône-style wines. Paso Robles wine country is famous for Syrah which is a big wine with fairly low alcohol levels. It is an elegant wine, which is both sophisticated and approachable. In addition to the Syrah’s and other red varietals, the area is also now producing some top-notch white wines.
Something a bit odd is going on in the wine-making industry here. The new generation of winemakers are working together, sharing their knowledge and creating some amazing wines. Many of the varietals are single grape, unfiltered, organic, bio-dynamic and delicious.
It is a truly a special time for Paso Robles; a moment to celebrate ingenuity, creativity, and collaboration.
For this highlighted part of the day I suggest that you try two of the newest tasting rooms in town; both of which are seriously hip.
Paix Sur Terre
The first tasting room, Paix Sur Terre can be found on Highway 46. To get there you will pass beautiful countryside, rolling hills, and acres of vineyards which will get you in the right frame of mind for your tasting.
Paix Sur Terre, which means Peace on Earth in French, opened in February 2018 by winemaker, Ryan Pease. However, he was not new to the business as he first began to make wine in 2007.
He produces one thousand cases per year and they are all single varietals except one. Ryan likes to choose grapes and varietals which are unusual and he gets all his grapes from West Paso. He is the only winemaker who produces Uni Blanc in California and he specializes in Mourvedre, a full-bodied red wine.
The cost is $20 for a wine tasting that includes five different wines, although it is waived if you buy 2 bottles of wine. The tasting room is filled with innovative artwork. The art has been created by a childhood friend of Ryan’s, Jon Blythe. Each time there is a new wine or a new vintage, he will create a piece of art for the tasting room and bottle label, making the room and wine bottles completely unique.
There is also a beautiful outdoor space where you will find a stunning oak-shaded patio which is dog-friendly.
Ryan likes to create wines which are elegant and feminine. He doesn’t filter his wines, they have low sulfur, little or no tannins, and there are no additives as the fruits are organically grown. European methods are used, such as cold fermentation and keeping the yeast in for an extended time. Ryan doesn’t blend wines that he believes can be expressed as a stand-alone wine.
After Paix Sur Terre, head another mile or two on Highway 46 for a tasting at Dilecta Wines. Dilecta means lovely or loved in Latin and the owner of this company is Orion Stang who started working in the wine business in 2007 at Booker Vineyards. Here he learned the process of making wine, from picking the grapes right through to bottling.
By 2011, he had already established Dilecta Wines. Orion is a young, hip winemaker who creates mainly red Rhône style varietals. He changes his blends every year, but it all starts with Syrah and he builds his blends around this varietal.
All of his wines are blends, fresh barrel fermented, and bottled unfiltered. They have soft tannins and a higher ph. Orion produces 800 cases of wine each year.
If you wish to have a tasting at Dilecta, it will cost $15 for 1 white and 5 red wine tastings. Again this cost is waived if you buy 2 bottles of wine. You will find the tasting room decorated with art created by Orion’s mother. She also designed the wine bottle labels.
Orion believes that wine makes itself and it is up to him to make sure that nothing goes wrong. He doesn’t believe in manipulating the grapes but wants their essence to come through on their own merit.
A tip from Orion: Paso reds are best drunk chilled at 56 – 57 degrees.
Lunch – Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ
After wine tasting, continue your day in Paso Robles by heading to lunch. I recommend the newly opened, Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ; a high-end and hip BBQ location in downtown Paso Robles.
Here you will get fully immersed in the Paso Robles lifestyle. The restaurant was opened in June 2018 by Jeffry and runs it together with his wife and daughter. All food is cooked to order and it shows in the plating and the deliciousness of every bite.
Jeffry began his career as a personal chef; then he became a caterer, and now is a restaurateur.
Here wine country meets bbq and there is plenty of local wine and beer on tap which pairs well with Jeffry’s smoked meats and house-made barbecue sauce. Vegetarians won’t miss out here as Jeffry makes a mean mac and cheese. In fact, he has come first at the Mac n Cheese Festival for five years.
Jeffry smokes his own bacon and the tri-tip pulled pork sandwich is amazing and very popular. Homemade chips, both potato and tortilla, come with most dishes.
There is a fantastic outdoor seating area where dogs are also welcome. They even make sure there is plenty of water available for your dog.
This is a bbq for foodies and food lovers and is definitely gourmet. This is a serious insider spot so don’t miss out.
After having a delicious lunch, spend the afternoon in the uber-hip section of town called Tin City. This is a great space in town created out of industrial buildings. It is now home to wine tasting rooms, breweries, ice cream shops, and specialty stores.
There is so much to explore, and a whole day could easily be spent in Tin City.
One of the newest industries around the country, and all the rage, are the distilleries. If you only have time to visit one, choose Calwise, which is owned by Aaron Bergh. Aaron’s family has a history in the distillery trade as his ancestors ran a moonshine operation in the Prohibition days.
He now distills two rums and one gin. There’s spiced rum which is infused with cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla flavors, blond rum which is distilled in chardonnay barrels, and Big Sur Gin, which is infused with no less than 12 different herbs. Aaron creates his spirits with native plants and herbs found in California and everything is distilled on the property.
Aaron has been distilling for two years and his distillery opened in July 2018. It is the only distillery between San Diego and the Oregon border which has a full bar. They also have a kitchen and currently on the menu are a variety of appetizers, salads, flatbread pizzas, and desserts.
If you are keen to do a tasting, Calwise is open Thursday to Sunday and for special events. When you visit you can either do a tasting of the spirits or come in for a specialty cocktail made from one of the spirits. When you visit, make sure to try the Small Dinger which is a mix of blonde rum, gin, grenadine, and lime.
While in Tin City, make time to stop at Etto, a pasta making house created by Brian Terrizzi. Now, this is a “top gain” location and a hip place to go. Etto was recently opened and it showcases Brian’s love of both Italian wine and Italian food. Brian has even worked in a Tuscan winery and taken cooking classes during a time when he livedItalytaly.
Enjoy watching the pasta making process and then you have the option to purchase both fresh and dry pasta. You can also purchase Italian specialties here.
Another favorite stop in Tin City is Giornata wines. This is also owned by Brian Terrizzi.
Brian believes that wine is the natural extension of food and has produced Italian inspired wines, using the same grapes as in Italy. You will find that his wines are more subtle than Californian wines. Tastings are by appointment so please call before you go.
Dinner – The Hatch
After a true insiders day to Paso Robles, head to a local favorite for dinner. The Hatch was opened by Maggie Cameron and Eric Connolly in 2015. It is considered a mixology mecca where you can order some spectacular and different cocktails. A favorite cocktail is the Thyme and Roses which has gin, rose liqueur, thyme liqueur, lemon, and rose and peach peppercorn bitters.
The Hatch is a favorite hangout for local winemakers. It’s a perfect place for happy hour, especially if you want to meet a few of the locals.
Dinner at the Hatch is a foodie dream! There are specials on most nights. Monday is one of their most popular nights because of their famous fried chicken dinner. Another favorite is the leg of lamb special on a Thursday.
If you aren’t in Paso during one of their specials nights, you will still be in for a treat. The menu caters to sharing plates as well as ordering per person. There are so many mouthwatering dishes on the menu, such as pork belly with blackberry preserves, asparagus with miso mayo, burrata and tomato salad, just to name a few.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with a flat iron steak with feta salad!
End the Night at a SpeakEasy
A perfect end to the evening must happen at the seriously hip Eleven Twenty-Two, which is a speakeasy that opened in June 2018. It is an exciting place to go, and embodies the vibe of prohibition. Just like the days of prohibition, to enter you have to ring a bell. Then a small window opens asking for your party size.
Chances are you’re going to have to wait as there are only 28 seats. However, it’s well worth the wait. Once your table is ready, you’ll finally get a peek behind the velvet curtains. I don’t want to spoil your fun, so you’ll need to visit to see!
This is half the fun; the other half is watching the cocktails being made.
In fact, apart from new drink inventions, they make all the classic cocktail from before Prohibition. If you opt for a table instead of the bar, your drinks are still made for you by your server. Whiskey drinkers will be in their element here as 100 whiskeys are in stock.
As can be seen, you can have a seriously hip day in Paso Robles. I hope this has given you an excellent guide to the Paso Robles lifestyle and some of the newest must-visit locations. Enjoy your perfect day in Paso Robles!
WHEN TO VISIT PASO ROBLES
My favorite time of year in Southern California is early fall. September and October have gorgeous weather and is less crowded than summer months. Summer can be quite hot and winter does cool down. You’ll find the low’s in the 30’s and high in the 60’s in December and January.
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Traveling To Paso Robles? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: Paso Robles is located just off US Hwy 101, 158 miles south of San Jose, 204 miles from San Francisco, 207 miles north of Los Angeles, and 110 miles from Bakersfield.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Paso Robles. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend the Hotel Cheval, which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Best Western Plus Black Oak. Finally, for a budget hotel, try the Adelaide Inn. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Paso Robles Hotel Rates.
What to pack: Summer temps soar in Paso Robles Wine Country, easily breaking triple digits regularly. That means you’ll need a quality tube of Sunscreen and probably a hat, too. Pack a good pair of cowboy boots and you are good to go in Paso Wine Country. From vineyard tours to picnics to hiking, biking, and horseback riding, you’re sure to get a little dirt on your denim. Even though summers sizzle, Paso Robles Wine Country is known for its drastic swings in temperature. There might be a 30-degree difference from day to night and that means you should always bring a jacket, even if the weather report calls for a sunny, hot day.
Paso Robles Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Paso Robles Vacation
- Get the Discovering Paso Robles & San Luis Obispo Wine Country: The Premier Guide to Wine Country.
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Paso Robles landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Summers sizzles in Paso Robles, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bag. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- Comfortable shoes are a great item to pack as there can be a lot of walking when visiting vineyards and wineries.
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.