Yep, we ended this road trip between Christmas and New Years in Paso Robles,,,,and we were pretty surprised as the place was slammed busy. Lots of people there meant we had no reservations,,,,which meant we found new places to eat and explore; it was all good and we’re glad we found great new places to eat. First day we went to San Luis Obispo looking for Pinot and Chard,,,,and found it. Down in San Luis Obispo, the Edna Valley AVA is littered with wineries with great Chardonnay and great Pinot, but we wanted to go where we knew, so we went back to Chamisal (on Orcutt Rd) and Kynsi (on Corbett Canyon Rd). Both of these may be a bit outside of the normal Edna Valley Wine Trails, but we find these two to be awesome and they welcome our kids. At the end of the day on our way home, we stopped at Ancient Peaks off the 101 N (technically in Paso Robles) on El Camino Real Rd. They have some outstanding wines at great prices and we were impressed by some of the distinct flavors we found from specific blocks in certain wines.
The next day we decided to have a Paso day, so we checked out Turley, Epoch, Brecon and Sextant. Turley Winery is always impressive in the fact they have excellent Zin’s (but pricey). The winery is owned by Helen Turley’s brother, she’s famous for being one of the wine makers associated with Screaming Eagle (cult favorite) back in the day, but we’ve also had her very own brand and were very impressed with it. Epoch is a bit of a drive up the 46W and into the backcountry, but most worth it. Their tasting room is brand new and the place is very, very scenic, having the largest redwood that far west, and friendly draft horses. My girls loved them and I loved talking to the friendly property manager (who had owned a large Halberg-Rassey back in the day). After a time in the stunning ambience of the new Epoch tasting room, we moved on to Brecon. At Brecon, we were allowed to use the private and comfortable members-only tasting room, which was super swanky and made us felt very sophisticated, but we were still just country bumpkins pretending to know what we were doing,,,having a great time. Lastly, we went back to Sextant as our last winery of the day. We received a less than enthusiastic welcome as we trooped in there with three kids, but we put them in their places with books and toys away from the tasting area and we keep them under control, not being loud or running around. This is all that 99% of the wineries in Paso Robles or SLO ask for; keep your kids under control and they’re very welcomed. To be fair to Sextant overall, only one employee didn’t make us feel welcome but it was kind of obvious. We had been to Sextant years ago when it was operating out of a small office at the Paso Airport and we knew more about past wines than she did, and we were past wine club members with their wine in our house still. However, she told us clearly that kids were not allowed in the swanky members only area (which we could see into) and when asked if she had a certain wine open for tasting off the normal menu (which we wanted to buy); she said “yes, but it was only being poured for wine club members”. This was the first time in Paso Robles I’ve ever heard that and 74% of the time that I ask to taste something not on a tasting menu,,,,I get to taste it (cause I ask nicely). After this, we bought a few bottles and decided we were leaving, as Sextant just isn’t what it used to be and seems to have gone hugely commercial instead of the friendly winery we remember operating out of the small office at the Paso Airport. Too bad, but we can spend our hard-earned money at other wineries just as easily.
This trip we didn’t get to the Farmers Market, we’ll get there next time-