Through Our Wine Glasses

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Paso Robles Favorite

Wine glass from San Marcos Creek Vineyard

One of our favorite and most often visited wineries in Paso Robles is San Marcos Creek Vineyard.

The winery is located on the southbound side of Highway 101 a few miles north of downtown Paso Robles and well worth the drive.  We drove past the beautiful property for years before we started on our wine tasting adventures and always admired the beautiful tudor style “mansion”.   Our friends visited the tasting room and absolutely raved about it so it wasn’t soon afterwards that we made a special trip out there.  One thing I’ve learned from visiting wineries with this particular friend is that our taste for wine is completely opposite of one another so when she recommends a winery the verdict is still out until I try it myself but surprisingly we both agreed on this outstanding winery.   Every wine on their tasting list is superb and though I am a huge fan of Paso Robles wines there are less than a handful  of them that I can say that about!  The owners Brady and Cathy are almost always in the tasting room to greet you warmly with a smile and share their fabulous wines with you.   And did I mention that every wine on their tasting list is outstanding?

San Marcos Creek Vineyard wine tasting list IMG_0317

I’ve lost count of how many times we have been out to this winery and how many people we have recommended to check it out.  We’ve been out there for picnics when family is in town, we’ve told visiting friends and family to head out there and they end up becoming wine club members.  Our last big family get-together was spent at the winery for a picnic before Ray’s father passed away.  Our friends became club members long before we did and we would pay a fee to attend their pickup parties as non-members. We finally figured that since we were loved their wines and their parties it became an irresistible choice to join the club ourselves.

As you drive north on the 101 past Paso Robles you will pass Wellsona Rd, just a few miles past that you will see a turnout on the left side to cross the highway into San Marcos Creek Vineyard.  You will pass by a large pond on the right and may even see a peacock or two and a few ducks.  When you approach the front door of the tasting room you are likely to be greeted by Chloe the sweet Australian Shepherd.  I love how bright and open the tasting room is and it has some very nice wine gifts and accessories.

Mural and gift items in San Marcos Creek Winery tasting room

Mural in San Marcos Creek Tasting Room

We mentioned that this is one of our favorite picnic spots.  They have a nice shaded patio with a few tables and a nice view of the  pond and vineyards and you are likely to see a peacock up close. Although we love all of their wines, some wines of note from today’s tasting are the 2012 Merlot, 2013 Flings First Crush, and the 2012 Estate Petit Syrah was memorable. All these wines have the classic Bordeaux structure with the fruit forward complexity that this region offers. The White Merlot finally sold out but we hear their will be a new release soon,  highly recommend it!

Peacock feathers at San Marocos Creek Vineyard winery

Resident peacock at San Marcos Creek Vineyard winery

Tooth and Nail winery castle entrance

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Bookends Tastings

Bookends tasting, as in we started the weekend tasting wine at Pear Valley Winery along with some live music and delicious food and we finished the weekend with a quick trip out to taste at the new winery, Tooth and Nail where Eagle Castle Winery used to be.

We started our weekend by heading out to Pear Valley Winery for a evening of delicious wines, great company, live music and great food.  These Friday night Fireside Concerts are very popular and the main room was packed with people so we found a seat at a round table in the corner of the tasting room.  Ray and I brought our own pizza to have for dinner (we bought a bottle of the Inspiration which was a GSM blend that paired well with our pizza) but we soon became jealous of our friends who called ahead and ordered dinner from Pretty Cafe when Lisa Pretty delivered an amazing looking lasagna with salad and bread (they bought a bottle of the Zinfandel which was a winning combination).  But when Lisa mentioned that she made Tiramisu for dessert we couldn’t resist!  We were not disappointed!!  If you are ever at Pear Valley Winery and you have the opportunity to order food from Pretty Cafe I am quite confident that you will love it!

Slices of Tiramisu on plates with raspberries

The best Tiramisu I’ve ever had!

Bottle of Pear Valley Inspiration

Pear Valley Winery Inspiration, it’s a gsm blend that is always a winner and paired well with our pizza.

Friday night Fireside Concerts are always fun, this Friday duo of Billy and Charlie Foppiano, (father and son) known as “Meet the Foppers” performed some fun songs and even got a few up on the floor dancing!

We finished off the weekend by satisfying a curiosity and checking out the new Tooth and Nail Winery in Paso Robles.  Tooth and Nail moved into the old Eagle Castle Winery that closed in 2013.   The castle structure still exists and there really isn’t another building like it on the Central Coast.  It’s the only winery with it’s own “moat” and you may even feel like you are about to enter medieval times.

Tooth and Nail winery castle entrance

Grand entrance to Tooth and Nail Winery

Tooth and Nail Winery Moat

Moat around the winery looking towards the production facility

Soft leather cover for tasting list

Soft leather tasting list cover.

Tooth and Nail Rabble tasting list

Tasting List

Tempranillo wine label with art drawing

“Force of Nature” Tempranillo Label

Wine bottle label art drawing

“Stasis” Pinot Noir

Chardonnay wine label with art drawing

“Force of Nature” Chardonnay


Welcoming area by the fireplace in the tasting room


Vineyards at Tooth and Nail Winery

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Sunshine, Wine and Cheese

Warm sunny Sundays are a perfect excuse to run up to Lowes to look at tile especially if there are great wineries within a few miles of it.

Our friends Corey and Jinky drove up from San Luis Obispo to join us for our trip to Lowes with our bag of cheese, crackers and salami.  We drove out past the Paso Robles Airport and a pistachio farm to Le Vigne Winery out on Buena Vista Drive.  The tasting room was remodeled last year and it’s very open and spacious with a cheese room, a counter where you can buy panini’s and nibble on a few delicious samples of chocolate or cheese (or both).

Le Vigne Winery wine glass

Le Vigne Winery wine glass below the arbor.

A very friendly tasting room attendant named David made room for us at the handicapped counter as Ray’s mom accompanied us.  We wouldn’t have guessed it but it was only his second day working in the tasting room but not his second day in the wine industry.  We decided to go for the wine and cheese pairing, and why not with the amazing cheese selection in their cheese refrigerator chosen by the Cheese Lady, Zina.

Cheese on a plate at Le Vigne Winery

Two of the delicious cheeses paired with the wines at Le Vigne Winery

Cheeses on racks in a refrigerator

Amazing variety of cheeses!

We enjoyed our wines and cheese pairing and especially the Lamb Chopper and a delicious Bleu Cheese.  Ray enjoyed the 2009 LV Cuore Della Vigna, which was a wine made in the Super Tuscan style; this particular blend I believe used Petit Syrah with Zinfandel and Sangiovese. It’s always good to get an education in the diverse wine making styles of our area. We purchased a bottle of the Kiara California Sparkling Wine to enjoy with our picnic and Laura got a single glass of the 2012 Merlot. We settled ourselves into one of the tables out on their front patio to enjoy the warm sun and gentle breezes. We all took a moment to notice just how quiet it was out there, it was almost deafening but quite pleasant. The view just beyond the parking lot is seemingly endless vineyards where Laura has pulled over a number of times to photograph the vines in the fall.

Autumn colors of grapevines and grapes in Le Vigne vineyards

The colors in the fall in the vineyards are pretty incredible and just off the road.

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Puddles and Tasting

Rainy days are few and far between in California lately and are actually quite thrilling for most Californians.   It definitely didn’t stop us from piling into our car to head out to a couple of Paso Robles wineries last Sunday.

Looking through the large windows at Shale Oak Winery on a rainy day

Looking through the large windows at Shale Oak Winery on a rainy day

Our first stop was to Shale Oak Winery on Oakdale Road right across the street from another favorite, Red Soles Winery.  Shale Oak has set the standard in Paso Robles for sustainability. The beautiful grand windows at the tasting room let in plenty of light making the need for lighting more of a design accent than a need for illuminating the room. They also take recycling to the next level by having seeds implanted into the tasting list which can be planted to grow wildflowers!

Tasting list at Shale Oak Winery that can be planted to grow flowers

The plantable wine tasting list at Shale Oak Winery

Ray’s mother joined us for this outing and even though she has little interest in drinking wine she enjoyed sniffing our glasses and easily agreed with our taste in good wines. Our favorites this visit were the always fabulous 2011 Petite Verdot and the delicious 2011 Zinfandel.

We had hoped to head up to Rabbit Ridge Winery in Paso Robles where we are wine club members but remembered that there is a new place in downtown Paso Robles called the Rabbit Hole where they are in collaboration with Rabbit Ridge Winery and sell their wines along with a Bubbly Bar.  We were greeted by the wonderful Paula and were seated at some comfortable chairs and couch and the coffee table/foosball table with a stuffed rabbit in the chair across from us.   The tasting room is very colorful and whimsical to say the least.

Rabbit Ridge Winery glass

Looking through the Rabbit Ridge Winery glass to a stuffed rabbit

The wines were all delicious and Paula was kind enough to give a small portion of wine to my mother in law so she could sniff the wine out of her own glass and even had a couple of sips which she enjoyed.

White wine tasting list at Rabbit Hole in Paso Robles downtown

Rabbit Hole White Wines Tasting List

Looking through a Pelletiere Winery wine glass towards the barn door at the winery

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A New Favorite and an Old One

We had the privilege of visiting Pelletiere Winery today in the Willow Creek area of Paso Robles that just opened on Friday January 16th.  The tasting room is gorgeous with a fabulous granite counter and a beautiful farm table with great wood accents on the walls.  The grand barn door is from wood from a great local barnwood company called American Barn and Wood.

Pelletiere Winery wine glass

There’s a tasteful display of pendants, keychains and scarves for purchase.  We were greeted by the delightful owner Janis Denner and her friendly tasting room attendants.   Oh yeah, and there’s the wines….we started off with a delicious Viognier that was crisp and creamy.  The Sangiovese was spicy yet smooth and their Lagrein (lah-Grine) was the darkest wine I’ve ever seen and it’s delicious.  We ended up going home with a bottle of the Montepulciano which is as fun to drink as it is to say.

Pellletiere Winery tasting list

We finished our visit with a tour led by Janis of the impeccably decorated and completely remodeled inn next to the tasting room.  It’s a two-story place with gorgeous views from most of the rooms and a fireplace.   The kitchen is a nice space that features a vintage oven.  It is the perfect place for family and friends who are visiting the area.

Photo of Pelletiere Winery Inn  view from living roomPhoto of view vineyard view from living room at Pelletiere winery inn

Following our enjoyable visit to Pelletiere Winery we all piled into our Toyota Highlander for the quick drive over to Croad Vineyards for their Kiwi Hour.


Croad Vineyards has some of the best views in Paso Robles and the wines never disappoint

We strategically arrived during Kiwi Hour which is between 2pm and 3pm every day when glasses of wine are 1/2 off.  I got a glass of 2010 Ariki which is a delicious blend of 58% Syrah, 32% Grenache and 10% Mouvedre and my husband had the 2010 Zinfandel Pure which is a 100% estate dry farmed Zinfandel in new French Oak that lives up to the distinguished Paso Robles Zinfandel reputation.

We enjoyed a picnic on the patio with our friends next to the hypnotizing sounds of the tiered fountain.  Thankfully the weather was a perfect companion to our enjoyable afternoon with temperatures in the 70’s and a light breeze.


Old oak tree at the top of stone stairs at Pear Valley Winery in Paso Robles, CA


Pear Valley Pickup Party

Looking through Pear Valley wine glass onto terrace.

You need to make the short trek up the steps to the old oak tree to get a view from this beautiful terrace. It’s worth it!

Pear Valley Vineyards winery is located in beautiful Paso Robles and has a gorgeous tasting room and surrounding property.  It’s a fabulous place for a picnic to enjoy the incredible views from just about every spot.  There are lots of little areas to set up your picnic and each place is equally nice.  From the little patio next to the outdoor fireplace to the larger patio that you pass by as you enter the gigantic wooden door into the tasting room you will find the spot that suits your group.

We have been wine club members for a number of years although we dropped it for a short while but realized we needed to go back since we just love it there.  Their wines are consistently good, they have a nice variety of wines from a Chenin Blanc to a Muscat Frizzante with lots of delicious reds in between.  They have a nice blend called Sterling Red (named after the owner’s friend Sterling Diamond) which contains 31% Merlot; 26% Cabernet Sauvignon; 26% Syrah; 6% Malbec; 4% Charbono; 4% Cabernet Franc; and 3% Petit Verdot aged in French Oak.  We usually have a hard time choosing which additional bottles we want to purchase since we have so many favorites on their list!

The owners always cook up something delicious for their pickup parties and this was no exception.

Plate of food at Pear Valley pickup party

Chicken tenders in a tomato sauce, ham, salad and potatoes baked in their on-site pizza oven.

The tasting room staff is always friendly and we always look forward to seeing the smiling face of Ellen who always makes us feel at home and makes our visit a fun one.

Hope you make it out to this fine tasting room some day soon and bring home a few bottles of their delicious wines!  And be sure and stroll around their beautiful grounds and take the short hike up the hill to their ancient oak to get a glimpse of the incredible views up there.


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11 years of tasting…and we aren’t done yet!

Glass of red wine overlooking crashing waves.Eleven years ago my wife Laura wanted to celebrate her birthday by going wine tasting! She figured wine country was in our backyard and we kinda liked wine and I did a lot of civil engineering work with wineries.

So first weekend of January 2004, we went on our first wine tasting trip and we went to Rabbit Ridge Winery.

As you can predict, we really loved the experience and for the last eleven years, we’ve gone on weekly (almost weekly) wine tasting trips on Sunday afternoons, as we’ve discovered quickly that this is the time when the tourists are all gone and we’ve had great one on one conversations with the owner and/or wine maker.

We’ve visited almost all the wineries in the Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo area.  We’ve been partial to the Paso Robles region. The many great wines of the world are represented in the Paso region – Bordeaux blends, Rhone blends, Italian varietals, California Zinfandel, among others…

Although we’ve developed a good foundation for tasting and appreciating good wine, we are always learning….and enjoyed the learning experience. We hope to share the experiences we’ve learned along the way.