Wine Country of Paso Robles

Rolling hills, ancient oaks, and some of the most sought-after wines in the world make Paso Robles wine country and its wine trails a must-do for flavor-motivated travelers. As the largest American Viticulture Appellation (AVA) in California—and one of the largest in the nation—the Paso Robles wine region is endlessly explorable. You’ll find a multitude of wine trails in Paso Robles backcountry, each with its own vibe and focus. These wine trails are like a network of vineyards and winery tasting rooms, linked by their geographical area and, sometimes, linked by the style of their wines. 

Keep in mind that all roads lead to Downtown Paso Robles; as such, these trails offer an easy way to build an itinerary for any wine tasting trip. (In fact, Downtown Paso Robles has its very own “Downtown Wine District,” complete with a series of downtown tasting rooms open for tasting. That being said, if you’re not much into wine, there’s still plenty of culture, dining and shopping to enjoy in Downtown Paso Robles.) But whichever trail you choose to travel, you’re bound to encounter some of the best wine tasting experiences in Paso Robles.

One thing to note: Paso Robles wine trails and tasting rooms can get very, very crowded, especially during the summer months and holidays. It’s also worth mentioning that in the summer months, Paso Robles’ temperatures can blaze upwards of 100 degrees F. For a more relaxed wine trail experience and more moderate temperatures, the locals know to spend their time at tasting rooms in the Edna Valley, outside San Luis Obispo.

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Explore Paso Robles

46 West Wine Trail

This wine trail connects Paso Robles to Highway 1 via Highway 46, which is one of the most stunning drives in California and a locals’ favorite for catching sweeping views of the coastline. But the scenery is just gravy for lovers of great wine and excellent wine tasting rooms. This is one of the highest-regarded sub-appellations in California, known for its Rhone varietal wines like Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Tempranillo. The 46 West Wine Trail is an excellent option for those looking to extend their wine tasting journey between coastal and inland experiences in a delicious way.

Look for Tooth & Nail Winery along the 46 West Wine Trail, one of the wineries closest to Highway 101. Tooth & Nail is regarded as one of the most fun wine experiences in Paso Robles as the tasting facility occupies a castle, complete with turrets and a moat! Expect lots of estate wines (i.e. wines made from winery-owned vineyards—in this case, some of which are located just behind the castle) including several brands under one roof. Check out the Audubon series for serious winemaker-driven wines, the Squad series for easy-drinking everyday wines, or Stasis for experimental varieties and winemaking styles. Make a point of coming hungry, as snacks and sandwiches are served daily, with charcuterie boards and a to-die-for Santa Maria Style BBQ French Dip. On Sundays, come for the sumptuous brunch, with dishes like pimiento cheese deviled eggs, lemon-poppyseed pancakes, and carnitas tacos on the menu. Tooth & Nail also presents a wide variety of events as part of their “Social Club,” like roller skating, live music, and more.

A venerated, pioneering wine brand with a long history in Paso Robles, Castoro Cellars offers a variety of wines, events, and amenities to make any trip along the 46 West Wine Trail epic. Opened by Niels and Bimmer Udsen in 1983, the winery offers a lineup of wines that range from serious to casual in their comfortable tasting room and on the sun-dappled patio. (You can even pluck and eat a couple winegrapes from the vines growing on the pergola that leads to the tasting room!) Try a classic Castoro Cellars Zinfandel for a taste of Paso Robles history, or pick up a four-pack of canned sparkling rosé to relax with on the lawn. Members of the Udsen family have long been patrons of the arts in the Paso Robles community, and Castoro Cellars Winery often features live music on weekends. Looking for more music? Come for the Whale Rock Music & Arts Festival held each September in the vineyards, where a lineup of world-famous musicians take the stage. Castoro Cellars also offers regular yoga classes, as well as a disc golf course among the vineyards.

At Niner Wine Estates, visitors can experience a high-end wine tasting experience complete with a chateau-like ambience, a sprawling field of lavender, and farm-to-table cuisine. Niner is a family-owned estate winery situated on the edge of Paso Robles’ sought-after Willow Creek District. Enjoy the spacious indoor bar, where attendants pour Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah from Niner’s estate vineyards in Paso Robles, and delicate Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from their estate vineyard in the much-cooler Edna Valley. The wines pair nicely with fare made in the Niner kitchen, including a lunch menu that features creative dishes crafted from local ingredients, and produce from the Chef’s Garden on site.

Vineyards Paso Robles
Vineyard views along Highway 46

46 East Wine Trail 

Look for this wine trail to cover the larger highway that heads from Paso Robles out toward Fresno and Bakersfield. Here, you’ll find a vast selection of wineries, particularly heritage properties with grand tasting rooms and long, fascinating histories in Paso Robles. But wine isn’t the only highlight on this side of Highway 46; have a look at the other attractions to add on to your wine tasting journey. These include the outdoor “light sculpture” art installation by Bruce Munro called “Sensorio: Field of Light,” the Hunter Ranch Golf Course, and the spectacularly fun Ravine Water Park.

For a wine tasting destination that embodies the pioneering spirit of Paso Robles win, head to Eberle Winery, a mainstay of the Wineries of 46 East Wine Trail. Gary Eberle opened the winery in 1973—right around the same time winemakers in Napa and the rest of California were beginning to gain notoriety for making high-quality wines on par with the most famous bottles in the world. In fact, Eberle planted the first Syrah vines in California. In 2020, Eberle was named Wine Enthusiast’s American Wine Legend of 2020, and the Eberle tasting room showcases and highlights the fruit of his labor. Tastings are all held seated on the Eberle patio, or as part of one of the well-known tours of the Eberle Caves. 

At Vina Robles, wine comes first, and headliner music acts in the state-of-the-art amphitheater come at a close second. In the 1990s, wine importer Hans Neft brought made the leap to start his own winery in Paso Robles—the property that would become Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, and Chardonnay provided the backbone for Vina Robles’s wine lineup, while a lineup of a different sort was preparing to perform onstage with the amphitheater, which opened in 2013. The outdoor venue seats 3,300 concertgoers, and is considered one of the finest places to hear live music or comedy in California. Previous performers include Steely Dan, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Primus and the Avett Brothers.

With 173 acres of estate vineyards, Robert Hall Winery is another paragon of Paso Robles winemaking on East Highway 46. This producer is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhone-variety wines, as well as its generous hospitality and spacious tasting facility. The winery is set up for several different kinds of wine tasting experiences. For folks curious about Robert Hall Winery, a classic tasting walks guests through a series of Cavern Select wines while sharing the history of the winery and the Paso Robles wine region. Other choices include a Grapes to Glass Excursion, which leads guests through the vineyards, cellar, and barrel room, and includes tastes of five to seven wines. And because Robert Hall cares deeply about regenerative viticulture and their environmental impact, the winery offers an E-Bike Tour through the vineyard that highlights sustainability and includes five wine samples and snacks.

Paso Robles Sensorio
Sensorio: Field of Light art installation

The Back Roads Trail

Want to go off the beaten path for your wine tasting excursion? While Paso Robles wine country includes many large-scale wineries on major thoroughfares, it also has a multitude of small, family-owned boutique wineries, too. A large number of these lie within the loop formed by Highway 46 East and Highway 41 East. The landscape here is charming, with scenic roads that meander through the oak-studded countryside. The wineries that make up the Back Roads Wine Trail are excellent destinations for boutique, small-lot wines, as well as picnic spots, olive oil, art and activities.

Locals love Bianchi Winery & Tasting Room for the diversity of its wine offerings as much as they love it for the family-friendly activities available in and around the tasting room. Owned and operated by the Bianchi family, Bianchi Winery’s focus is on high-quality white wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and red wines like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Sirah. They also produce several blends, as well as limited-production wines that can’t be tasted or purchased anywhere else. Bring the kids along to feed the koi fish and enjoy the waterfall, or try your hand at a game of bocce ball with friends. 

Cass Winery’s Spanish-style tasting room and generous grounds make this one of the most inviting places to taste wine in Paso Robles. Walk in and choose from a selection of Cass’s Rhone-varietal wines, from white Roussanne and Viognier, to red Grenache, and Mourvèdre. These can be enjoyed either inside the cool tasting room, or out on the trellised patio, centered on an ancient oak tree. The on-site cafe makes wine pairings easy and wine tasting flights can be added to any cafe visit. Choose from appetizers like fresh bread with house-made marmalades and olive spreads, Caprese or Caesar salad, burgers, pasta, and wood-fired pizzas. Looking to do more? The winery offers “Camp Cass,” a menu of activities to accompany any tasting experience. Choose from ax throwing, cooking classes, trail rides on horseback, archery, and even helicopter flights.

The two major themes at Sculpterra Winery are award-winning wines and sculptures from internationally-acclaimed artists. Located in the Linne Valley, Sculpterra’s 260-acre estate vineyard produces reds like Syrah, Merlot and Primitivo (a cousin to Zinfandel), and whites like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Vioginer. At the center of the vineyard lies an exquisitely manicured sculpture garden, featuring the work of top artists like John Jagger and Dale Evers. The concept of a sculpture garden echoes back to the origins of the property, which once served as the home and workshop of master blacksmith and ironworker Robert Bentley. Guests to the tasting room can enjoy a flight of Sculpterra wines either at the indoor bar or with what the winery calls “Back and Forth Wine Tasting.” This allows visitors to take their tastings outside to wander the gardens.

Vineyard Paso Robles
The back roads of Paso Robles wine country

Pleasant Valley Wine Trail

This backroads wine trail highlights the vineyards and wineries on Paso Robles’s northernmost edge, connecting to the little town of San Miguel. Some of the area’s most picturesque and Tuscan-like views can be seen here, tucked away from the often-busy major wine tasting districts. As such, many of these road-less-traveled wineries were founded with a rogue spirit and fierce sense of independence, making this a sub-appellation to watch.

Fans of Hearst Castle, just over the Santa Lucia Mountains in San Simeon, will enjoy a visit to Hearst Ranch Winery, located on North River Road. (Travelers to Hearst Castle can also enjoy Hearst Ranch wines in their San Simeon tasting room, part of the Coastal Wine Trail.) The Pleasant Valley winery is an intimate space designed in the similar (but definitely muted) Mediterranean style that made W.R. Hearst’s palatial estate so famous. Hearst Ranch Winery was founded in 2010 by W.R. Hearst’s great-grandson Steve Hearst and his friend Jim Saunders. The result of their collaboration is wine that’s as high-quality and sustainably-produced as it is historic. The tasting room in Pleasant Valley is surrounded by the Saunders Vineyard, which produces an array of varietals. Some of these include Petit Sirah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, most of which can be tasted in the elegant tasting room.

Opulence and relaxation are distinct themes at Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery. Founded by television producers Ken and Julie Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe, the property was designed around a majestic oak tree that stands in relief against picture-perfect rolling vineyard views. Given the Tuscan-reminiscent landscape, the winery is designed in the style of Tuscan country estates, complete with fountains, towers, and elegant sculpture. Enjoy a seated wine tasting experience on the Villa San-Juliette patio, where attendants pour from the estate’s 12 varieties. These range from well-known winegrapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc to lesser-known varieties like Alicante Bouche and Petit Verdot. The winery also serves lunch and snacks from a menu curated by highly-acclaimed chef, Rachel Ponce, and features dishes composed solely from locally-grown ingredients.

Though it is only a 15-minute drive from Downtown Paso Robles, Bon Niche Cellars feels a world away. The winery is tucked away, off the beaten path, but is well worth the visit. (Interestingly, the words “bon niche” originate from the French for “a good place.”) The property is operated by Melani Harding, who acts as farmer, winemaker, and hospitality—which means she may very well be the one pouring your tastings! Enjoy views of the Bon Niche seven-acre vineyard, which produces Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. These are typically supporting varieties in American winemaking, but at Bon Niche, Harding gives them the stage to shine. Batches of these wines are incredibly limited, and most are enjoyed by folks who take the time to visit the tasting room. Sip them while you soak in the views, or visit with the winery’s many animal residents, including Gilbert the pig, Barley the standard poodle-St. Bernard dog, and Larry the goat.

Paso Robles Vineyards
Rolling hills and vineyards through the countryside

Coastal Wine Trail

Paso Robles has gained a massive reputation as a destination for wine, which means tasting rooms can be crowded and busy. The weather can also be incredibly hot, especially in summertime. But just over the mountains along the coast lie some of the best-kept secret wineries and tasting rooms, and they’re very easy to reach from Paso Robles. For a variety of tasting experiences in just one day, design an itinerary that takes you from Paso Robles to the Coastal Wine Trail by taking the 46 West Trail, then traveling north to Cambria.

Wine Back Bay Inn Baywood
A tasting along the water on the Coastal Wine Trail