Wine tasting in Paso Robles

Paso Robles is fast becoming a well known California wine destination, second only to Napa/Sonoma. There are many wineries spread out from the 101 and in order to get the best experience, focusing on one area is key.

Danny and I had done the 46 West a few years ago, so this time I wanted to take him to some wineries around the 46 East. However, this in no way means we’ve “done” the Paso region now. As you can see by the map below, there’s so many more to explore! I can’t remember what winery imparted this fact, but the wine from either direction of the 46 highway each has its own characteristics due to the soil. The 46 west side does great Zinfandels while the 46 east side does better Cabernet Sauvignons. I love Cab and not a big fan of Zin (too jammy, too sweet and cloying at times) so I was in for a treat!

We started at Clautiere Vineyard which has amazing wines, whimsical grounds and a fun tasting room. They’ve gotten rid of their assortment of dress-up hats and wigs but added a cheese pairing with each tasting, so I still love them!


Clautiere does mostly reds which is right up my alley. We tasted some delicious wines and ended up buying a Grenache and my dad a Cabernet Sauvignon. The girl pouring for us was so nice and personable, and recommended some great places for our next stop. Tasting room pourer – what a job!

First though, we had to take some pictures outside. One of the owners is an artist and constructed the metal fence and sculptures around the property.


Our next stop was Pear Valley. They’re a fairly new winery with a gorgeous property. I’ve never been to Tuscany but I imagine it looks a bit like this.






We had so much fun at this place! Danny ended up purchasing a bottle of their Sweet Orange Muscato for this mom. I’m not a fan of sweet wines but this was pretty good. Don’t think I could manage more than the few sips they pour for tasting though.


Since it was a Thursday a few of the smaller places were closed, so we ended up next at Steinbeck Wines. This winery couldn’t have been more different than the last. A true farming family, their business has been around since the late 1800’s but they’ve only recently started their own label.


This winery was true county and Howie Steinbeck himself wandered into the tasting room for a chat wearing Levis, a big cowboy hat and a bolo tie. Got to love Paso!

Our last stop was Eberle Winery. We tasted pretty quickly here as we wanted to get a full glass to enjoy out on the patio as the sun set.


Eberle means small boar in German. My dad also says that wild boar roam the local hills. We may or may not have seen some on the drive to Paso.


My dad soon found a friend who would not leave his side. Danny, my mom and I were trying coax him over to us, but nope, he was staying put!




We ended the day with cheese and crackers, a must with all the wine we had consumed that day!


Edna Valley Wine Tasting

One of my most favorite activities EVER is wine tasting. Not only do I love wine, but my hometown’s local wineries are full of memories and make me feel like I’m truly at home. Growing up with vineyards and wineries practically in my back yard I always took this for granted. As a teenager I was dragged on countless wine tasting trips when relatives were in town and had nothing more to do than browse the gift shop. But I think those pre-legal years were slowly influencing me because once I turned 21 I was a full convert. Wine tasting is like a posh pub crawl – it’s fun, it’s perfect for any occasion and there’s no gross bar bathrooms to deal with.

I’ve been wine tasting with girlfriends on Valentine’s Day, wine tasting for pick-up parties with my dad and I even organized a pre-wedding wine tasting day for 20 people from around California and Scotland. Every time I come back to the States, wine tasting is definitely on the schedule.

This year, we took an afternoon to hit our favorite Edna Valley wineries and then took another day to drive out to Paso Robles and explore the wineries off the 46 East.

Edna Valley is home to one of my favorite wineries, Tolosa. Edna Valley’s climate is conducive to great Pinot Noir and I think Tolosa’s Pinot is the best. We went on a Saturday so they were quite busy, but we kept ourselves occupied with the photobooth while waiting. I had trouble locating the camera both times and my dad wasn’t fully in the shot, but we got there, sorta!



After Tolosa we continued on to Claiborne and Churchill. They’re known for their Alsatian style whites although we ended up buying more Pinot Noir and a very cool wine grape varietal chart that’s going up in our kitchen. It looks really classy but it’s basically a scientific periodic table for winos.


Fun fact – my dad built this winery. It was one of the first straw bale buildings and naturally insulates the room to keep the wine barrels at the optimum temperature.


Our last stop of the day was Baileyana. We quickly tasted here as they were closing for the day and then my mom and I went outside to photograph the area. It’s so beautiful there. I miss it. I miss it more every year I’m gone. I’m not ready to hop back on a plane to California tomorrow but I know it’s in my plans for the future.


Back to life, back to reality

We’re back! That shouldn’t be an exclamation point as much as a sad face but I’m slowly warming up to our return to the UK. We got back Tuesday afternoon and I have been in a zombie like state since then. I think I finally kicked it by sleeping 11:30 pm to 3:00 pm yesterday. It’s amazing how jet lag can affect you when there’s really nothing to get up for!

Our flight back went much more smoothly than our flight over, but that’s a story for another post. We got the 4:30 pm flight out of LAX on British Airways and I passed the time by watching movies and reading my new American magazines. Checking in and getting to the airport was fine, but LAX was crazy busy. Maybe it’s because we were flying out on a Monday but it seemed weird, like there was some mass exodus out of LA.

The wait for security was the longest I’ve ever been in and I went through one of those full body machines for the first time. I know, they’ve been out for a while, but as I realized on this trip, I’ve been out of the country for a few years and one can miss a lot in that time. (Is everyone on Instagram? What is this mid-day happy hour with $3 glasses of wine and how can I bring it to the UK? How did Chobani’s greek yogurt get so popular?)

I find that the movie audio is absolutely horrible on flights so I tried to pick the mindless action movies to watch. I really wanted to see Anna Karenina and Lincoln but those are way too dialogue heavy so I settled for End of Watch, Looper and Total Recall. I really liked End of Watch and will probably try and watch it again so I can hear it better and Danny can see it.

We got to Heathrow around 11 am the next day and after clearing immigration and security we were starving and picked the exact same restaurant as last year – Giraffe. I love this place because it’s a perfect US/UK transition. I got massive chunky chips with my chicken sandwich and they have no free refills on their ยฃ2.50 Diet Coke but I also got loads of avocado and they have Chipotle Tabasco. It’s the closest I’ll get to California cuisine and I really wish we had one in Glasgow.


The LHR-GLA was fine, we got a taxi home and then immediately jumped into the car to pick up our cat-baby Fernando. He was not impressed that we had abandoned him for two weeks but like my jet lag, I think he’s over the worst of it.