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spacer.gif^ Livermore, CA | Paso Robles, CA | San Luis Obispo, CA | Santa Barbara, CA       >> Tasting Dispatches
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90+ point rated wines under $20
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FEBRUARY 2008:
paso_downtown.jpgDoing Downtown, Paso Robles, CA


We decided that since the cops are cracking down and the number of tasting rooms has gone up, to park our car, walk around and see what downtown Paso had to offer. Before the earthquake in 2004, their wasn't much going on here. If you wanted to wine taste, you had to drive around. Now there's a number of new restaurants – Artisan being the best – and over 10 places to wet your whistle.

Even though we're professionals, we couldn't get to them all, however here are some notes on our first pass. Most of these businesses open around Noon, but they stay open later than many of the traditional wineries, so at least you'll have somewhere to go while you wait for dinner.

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paso_anglim.jpgANGLIM WINERY: Free Tasting (6 pours); Reserve Wines - $5
Located away from the park, in the new train depot building this mostly Rhone wine producer is worth the extra 2 block walk. We heard of them from some friends who live in town and weren't disappointed. The wines were great and the expererience was fun and informative. Couldn't leave without bottles of their Rose (which is a GSM blend), the 05 Grenache and an 05 Pinot Noir they source from the Fiddlestix Vineyard worth every penny. We also liked their Reserve Syrah and Cabernets, but just have too many right now in our cellar to buy more.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


ARROYO ROBLES: Tasting Fee: $5 (10 Pours)
paso_arroyo.jpgThis was our first stop of the day and there's nothing like drinking wine at 11am. The tasting room is quite nice and located right on the park. The winery is family owned and they source their grapes from their own local estate property. The staff was quite friendly and the wines were solid. They make a little bit of everything with their Viognier, Rosés (one from Syrah, one from Mourvedre) and Cabernets standing out...and coming home with us. They also have a Syrah Port that I also couldn't resist.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


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EDWARD SELLERS WINERY: Tasting Fee: $ ( pours)
My friend Doug asked me on this trip how I find these great places. Well, I do a lot of research before I go, looking at the various wineries wine lists vs. price point, descriptions, etc., and go to the ones that appeal to my tastes. Sometimes, as in Edward Sellers, you hit it dead on. Their wines are exactly what I like and we had a great time talking to the owners Ed and Dani Sellers. They also have a female winemaker (Amy Butler), which I think is way cool. I wish I could have taken home one of each, but storage limitations required some decision making. So, we left with the 2006 Blanc du Rhone, 2006 Grenache Rosé, 2004 Grenache, and the 2005 Le Thief (Rhone Blend). Can't wait to crack them open.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


HICE CELLARS: Tasting Fee: $5 (7 Pours)
Wanting to be thorough, I decided to visit Hice, which is a few blocks south of the park, close to Anglim. Their barrel room is right behind the tasting area, so you feel like you're at a working winery. All their wines are unfined and unfiltered and a few are certified organically grown. We were not very impressed with what they poured, but the staff was pleasant and well-informed. All I can say is, to each his own.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


PIANETTA VINEYARDS: Tasting Fee: $5 (7 Pours) - Comped with Purchase
After looking at their list, this isn't one of those wineries I would have gone out of my way to stop at if it wasn't around the block from one of my favs. Which isn't to say that their wine wouldn't be good, I just tend to pick places that feature Rhones, because that's what I like. That being said, we bought bottles of their 2006 Rosato and their 2005 Sangiovese. We also enjoyed their 2005 Estate Cabernet, however, I just wasn't buying that this time around. They have a nice, big square bar and the staff was pleasant and quick.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


SILVER STONE WINERY: Tasting Fee: $6 (5 Pours)
paso_silver.jpgIf we hadn't passed by their window in December, I probably would not have stopped here. They aren't members of the Paso Vintners Association, so you won't find them listed on their website or the main map. The tasting room is nice, really long wood bar and the wines were good, but nothing we had to take home. Their 2005 Sauvignon Blanc and Rosetta are good wines for their $15 price tag. We found it more than a little odd that the woman behind the bar told us she really wasn't into wine, when we tried to chat about what we were drinking. Probably not the right person to work in a tasting room, selling wine.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


VIHUELA WINERY: Tasting Fee: $ ( Pours)
End of the day. Too many wines to count. Don't remember much, except the wines were red. The tasting room is tiny, but nicely located next to the Wine Attic. They had some good music going (local bands play every Saturday night) and the winemaker Mike Vihuela was really fun to talk to. Other than that I can't say. Will have to return earlier in a day to see what the wines taste like. I know, not very professional, but sometimes it just creeps up on you.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


paso_WineAttic.jpgWINE ATTIC: Tasting Fee: $5 (4 pours from list of 15-20 local wineries, can also purchase by the glass)
A cross between a tasting bar and a store. Nice courtyard patio out back that they share with Vihuela and the We Olive store. They carry about 150-200 different wines, mostly small lot California. The bar is small, but you can enjoy your pours on the patio. They have live music (mostly blues) on Saturday nights, along with wine and food pairings. They are kind of hard to find, located in an alley off of 13th street in between Park and Spring, but worth a visit. It's a nice store with a great staff and a good place to find those hard to get wines.
– For more information CLICK HERE.


LEVEL 4:
This new bar/restaurant/club was all anyone could talk about. Of course, none of them had been there, but it was apparently the "hot" new place to go downtown. Well, we had 45 minutes to kill and didn't really need more wine, but we found ourselves at their door, so we decided to check it out. Since it was 6pm, we were the only ones in the joint, which is exactly as we like it. All I remember is it was fairly dark, had a really cool bar, great big comfy booths, and a pretty good wine list. We had the $20 cheese plate, which was quite yummy, but didn't get a look at the full menu. Paso definitely needed a classier after dinner place than the two pubs and the tiny Vinoteca wine bar, though I'm not sure this is it. I guess the music is supposed to be live jazz and blues, so I may find myself wandering back to see what it's like when there's actually other people in there. It would be great if it's great since there's not much to do in town once you've finished eating.
– For more information CLICK HERE.




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