By Matthew Liberty
So what’s all the hype about Paso Robles? Well, sit right back and I will let you know.
I hear Paso Robles being referred to as an “up and coming wine region” a lot and I don’t know how long it will take that “up and coming” part to go away but I kind of like it. In my opinion though, it’s not so much an up and comer but it does make Paso seem mysterious and intriguing. All that aside, I have lived in this area for 10 years and have seen a lot of growth in that time.
The wine industry has certainly led the charge with number of wineries being somewhere between 220 and 250 but an interesting thing happened on the way to the tasting room. This growth led to other industries stepping it up. The food scene here in Paso Robles and in surrounding communities has, in my mind, really blown up not only with the number of places to enjoy food but also with the quality and the many different styles. Some of my personal favorites are Artisan, Villa Creek, Il Cortile, Thomas Hill Organics, and Pappy McGregor’s but these aren’t the only ones, too many to list here.
Paso Robles has a growing beer scene as well; Paso Robles Brewing, the well known Firestone Walker Brewing, and the newest one called Barrelhouse Brewing. As you head south down into San Luis Obispo there are more breweries but I will stick to Paso Robles for now.
The art scene and boutique shops have taken off here as well. Studios on the Park stands out in my mind because it’s a non-profit and has many artists located in the studio. They also have regular art related events and seem to get quite the crowds.
Paso also has many other amazing features…like quick and easy access over to a number of amazing coastal towns, horseback riding, ranches and farms open to the public, a downtown square that brings the whole community together throughout the year, during the summer there are “Concerts in the Park”, the well known Mid State Fair that brings in lots of great music, zip lines right down the road in Santa Margarita at Santa Margarita Ranch, hot air balloon rides out of the Paso Robles Airport, the Estrella Warbird Museum which houses planes as well as a great car museum, Zoo to You, and so much more that I know I am forgetting right now.
I haven’t even mentioned events yet. There are always events going on at wineries that combine food and wine, live music, blending parties, art, tours, animals (yes, animals), and winemaker fun. In addition to all that there are yearly events like Paso Robles Wine Festival in the downtown park, Zin Festival weekend, Harvest Festival weekend, Paso Robles Garagiste Festival (wineries that produce 1,200 cases or less), a new event called the Paso Robles CAB Collective, Rhone Ranger events, Paso Mac & Cheese Festival, Crush & Roll (cigar and wine event), Paderewski Festival, Sunset’s Savor the Central Coast (in Santa Margarita), and Earth Day Food & Wine Festival…just to name a few.
Have you booked your ticket to Paso Robles yet?
There are dozens of hotels and B&B’s in Paso Robles as well that cover the spectrum in regards to budget. There something for everyone from LaBellasera (which also houses Enoteca Restaurant), Hampton Inn & Suites, Hotel Cheval (in downtown Paso and has the Pony Club Bar, awesome spot), La Qunita, the new Oaks Hotel, and many more. As for the B&B’s, there are a lot and many of them sit at wineries, on vineyards, or tucked away in the hills. Some truly breathtaking spots!
How about the wine in Paso Robles?
I know, I haven’t even gotten into any detail about that yet so here we go. The greatest thing about Paso Robles wine is the diversity in styles, winemaking, varieties, and blends. While Paso is more notably known for Zinfandel and Syrah, there are many, many other kinds making a home here. Rhone wines and blends have become quite popular here, which doesn’t hurt my feelings as I am a big fan of Rhone wines. This link, http://www.pasowine.com/vineyards/varietals.php, will show you some of the breakdown in varieties grown here, via the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.
I can’t say that I’m a world traveling wine drinker but I can say there is simply something special about Paso Robles. Once you go through and start tasting and drinking some of these amazing wines you will find something else, something a little bit deeper. Paso Robles wine country has some of the most amazing winemakers, assistant winemakers, vineyard folks, and tasting room people in the business. Paso always comes down to the people.
When my wife first got me into wine about five and a half to six years ago, we had no friends in the wine business and now…almost all of our friends are either in the local wine business or are as passionate about this local wine scene as we are. It’s an amazing community that we are part of and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you ever been to Paso Robles? What are your favorite Paso Robles wineries?
Guest blogger, Matt Browne is a 10 year resident of the Paso Robles area and has been heavily involved in the local wine scene for the past six years. He and his wife, Annie, have been blogging about the local scene for over 3 years covering food, wine, beer, events, and general lifestyle. They had a son in October of 2012 that is now part of this life adventure and is already well known at the wineries. Matt is also very active in social media and consults wineries and other businesses on how to properly go about setting up a presence online. Matt and his wife have two blogs, www.HootnAnnieBlog.com, which is their lifestyle blog and www.LittleBrowne.com, which is a window into their world of parenting.