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3 Day Itinerary to Wine Tasting Paso Robles, California

It’s a bold claim.

Napa Valley isn’t the best wine tasting region in California.

The lesser known Paso Robles, California has award-winning wineries, sunning scenery, and world-class cuisines.

But that’s not all…

The tasting prices are very reasonable and rooms far less crowded.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the experience is casual – without the snobbish attitude you get in Napa.

Yes, bring on the debate…

History of Wine in Paso Robles, California

Wine has grown in the Paso Robles region since 1790 when it was grown and used by local missionaries.

It wasn’t until the 1870s when commercial wine was initially introduced to the area.

Growing continued over the next century and in the 1980s large-scale production boomed and hasn’t stopped since.

Paso Robles California Grapes Credit: Trekity

Paso Robles California Wine Today

The continued success of the wine industry in Paso Robles hasn’t tainted the love of growing grapes and tasting wine.

There are over 180 wineries and 26,000 vineyards in Paso Robles and surrounding areas.

The area of Paso Robles has a range of micro-climates, elevation levels, and soil conditions making it an ideal place for premium wine growing.  More than 40 varietals are grown in the area to please any palate.

The following is a list of percentage of production for the varietals as of 2007.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon 38%
  • Merlot 15%
  • Syrah 10%
  • Zinfandel 9%
  • Chardonnay 8%
  • Petite Sirah 4%
  • Sauvignon Blanc 3%
  • Cabernet Franc 2%
  • Other Varieties 11%

Paso Robles California Credit: jimg944

Wine Tasting Paso Robles California

Most wineries accept walk-in tastings but a few require appointments.

Typical hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Most tasting rooms offer a standard tasting for around $5 and a reserve tasting for around $10.  Some wineries will compensate your tasting charge if you buy a bottle of wine.

Be sure to call ahead to plan your tastings accordingly.

Paso Robles California Region Credit: Ruth L

Recommended 3 Day Itinerary

There are several activities and sights along the California coast after you’re done tasting.

Here’s a three-day recommended itinerary:

Day 1

  • Drive, from San Francisco or Los Angles, along the gorgeous coastline of highway 1.
  • Stop at a few of the many view points to take pictures of the iconic California coastline.
  • Arrive and get settled at your pre-booked accommodations in Cambria.
  • Warm the pallet over a delicious dinner and bottle of local wine in quaint downtown Cambria.

Paso Robles California Coast Credit: jitze

 Day 2

  • Drive to Paso Robles to start your wine tasting.
    • From Cambria:
      • Head south along Hwy 1 for 2.5 miles (4 km)
      • Turn left onto Hwy 46 heading east for 20 miles (32 km)
      • Stop when you see a winery that you want to try
  • The drive one-way takes about 30 minutes and gains elevation giving you more dramatic views of the coastline.
  • Continue wine tasting and sightseeing as you make your way back over Hwy 46.
  • Drive to Cayucos for a walk on the pier and beach.
    • From Paso:
      • Head west on Hwy 46 (back towards Cambria)
      • Turn left onto Hwy 1 heading south for 10 miles (16 km)
      • Take the exit to Cayucos
  • Drive back to Cambria for dinner and rest.

Paso Robles California Coast Credit: TedsBlog

Day 3

  • Drive to the Elephant Seal Viewing Point.
    • From Cambria:
      • Head north along Hwy 1 for 8 miles (13 km)
      • Continue past San Simeon for 5.5 miles (9 km)
      • Stop at the Elephant Seal Viewing Point
  • Drive to Hearts Castle.
    • From the Elephant Seal Viewing Point:
      • Head south on Hwy 1 for 5.5 miles (9 km)
      • Follow signs as you enter San Simeon
  • Drive back to Cambria for dinner.

Paso Robles California Sea Lions Credit: mikebaird

When To Go

The best time to visit Paso Robles, California is in the Spring and Autumn.  Spring is lovely with green rolling hills and the brilliant orange California Poppy in full bloom.  Autumn is when the grapes are ripest in preparation for crush which generally occurs in October.

Climate

Spring and Autumn have lovely climates with comfortable to warm daytime temperatures and cool evenings.

The average highs and lows for April are 41-73ºF (5-23ºC), May are 46-81ºF (8-27ºC), September are 51-88ºF (11-31ºC), and October are 44-79ºF (7-26ºC).  Be sure to bring a light jacket as fog and light rains are common.

Getting There & Around

Paso Robles is located along California’s central coast roughly half way in-between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

If you are coming from San Francisco or Los Angeles, rent a car and drive along the dramatic coastal highway 1.  Driving highway 1 will take a few hours longer but the views are worth it.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $150-200
  • Meals: $20-30
  • Bottle of beer: $4
  • Wine tasting: $5-10 per tasting

Do’s

  • Take a day trip to Cayucos, a small town just south of Cambria.  They have nice stretch of beach, an old pier you can walk out on and a quaint town for shopping.
  • Watch the Elephant Seal pups at Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal vista point located 5.5 miles (8.9 km) north from San Simeon. The pups are born in January to February but can be seen year round.
  • Pack a picnic basket (or cooler) with crackers, cheese, salami, fruits and nuts.  Many wineries welcome guest to enjoy a bottle of wine while they relax and snack outside.

Don’ts

  • Tip when wine tasting.  It’s not customary and you can save your tip for the next tasting.
  • Drink and drive.  If you’re planning on sipping at a few locations, be sure to hire a driver.  California is very strict about drunk driving which may land you in jail with a hefty fine.
  • Be embarrassed to toss your wine in the “dump bucket” if you don’t like the taste or to ask for a glass of water in-between tastings.

Fun Facts

  • In addition to wine tasting, Paso Robles is also famous for its hot springs.
  • Paso Robles is known as “Paso” to the locals.
  • Paso became well-known when Ignace Paderwski, a famous statesman and pianist, visited the area and purchased 2,000 acres.

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