Wine Guides

Guide: The Best Paso Robles Wineries and Restaurants to Visit Now

Tractor-lined roads, world-class Zinfandel, and some not-to-miss dives? Sold. Here’s your Paso Robles wineries guide to make the best of a weekend in this charming town.

By Logan Davis

September 22, 2021

Sensorio Paso Robles

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Back in the day, Paso Robles was a small farm town. In the early 1900s, Europeans flocked there to plant vines and capitalize on the steep hills and pristine weather. It’s made a name for itself since then, and Californians now gather there on weekends to get a taste of the premier wineries and drool-worthy eateries — but Paso hasn’t lost its laid-back, country roots.  

The Maker team gave it a spin with recommendations by 3rd generation Paso Robles resident Janell Dusi — winemaker of Maker’s Zinfandel, and practically royalty in Paso — and swooned the entire time. Put a weekend on the books and follow this insider guide to Paso Robles done right, featuring wine tasting, a sheep-milks ice cream cone, and karaoke at a honky tonk. 

Want the skinny? Skip straight to our Shortlist and Paso Robles Wineries map

Welcome tour at Tin City

If you arrive on a Friday afternoon, it’s about time to kick off the weekend right. Tin City is a collection of wineries, breweries, and restaurants, all within walking distance from one another, so you can start tasting and eating the best of Paso Robles off the bat. First things first: Ice cream. Negranti Creamery is the move, offering creamy, rich sheep’s milk ice cream that’s the perfect appetizer. Because it’s the weekend, right?

Hands down the best ice cream shop in Paso Robles
Photo curtesy of negranticreamery.com.

Hands down the best ice cream in Paso Robles. Photo courtesy of negranticreamery.com

If you need more fill before your first flight of wine, Etto makes delicious homemade pasta, and Six Test Kitchen has a to-die-for multi course menu — it’s exclusive (read: we didn’t go) but we hear it’s absolutely worth the splurge. Otherwise, go straight to wine tasting.

We recommend Desperada Wines for small-production Italian and Bordeaux style wines made by artist, traveler and renegade Vailia. Upon arriving at her tucked away tasting room, you’ll walk through a velvet-adorned, dimly lit room full of art and artifacts — it’s a vibe, which matches her feminist bottle art that the team produces in house. Through the back is a private rooftop where you can sit and taste her divine wines of the moment. While Paso is rightly known for big, bold reds, Desperada is lauded for their surprising, beguiling white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc — perfect after a hot Paso Robles wine tasting day.

Desperada wines tasting room

The amazing tasting room at Desperada Wines. Photo courtesy of desparada.com.

The Maker Wine team sipping wine on the patio at Desperada in Tin City.

The Maker team sipping wine on the Desperada rooftop patio.

Friday night, if you haven’t eaten at one of the above already, stop by The Backyard for a quick bite. Fire pits and cooling misters (depending on the season) keep the outdoor patio comfortable, and the communal eating space makes for a lively evening. Janell swears by the burger and fried chicken sandwich, and we pretty much do whatever Janell tells us to do when it comes to food and wine. Grab a quick bite, then head out to Sensorio for a once-in-lifetime outdoor lights exhibition celebrating the stunning scenery of Paso Robles. Or, catch a concert at Vina Robles if you’re there in the summer or Fall. 

Sensorio Paso Robles

Sensorio, the magical art installation in Paso Robles. Photo courtesy of Travel Paso.

The Maker Wine team at the Sensorio Art Installation in Paso Robles, CA.

The Maker team as the lights start to glimmer at the Sensorio art installation by iconic artist Bruce Munro. Get tickets here.

Turn in early — a packed day of tasting at Paso Robles best wineries is in store. 

Coffee and downtown meandering

Before you head to the vineyards, check out downtown Paso. Spearhead coffee is our choice for your morning brew — it’s a simple, inviting space where locals gather before heading out to the farms or vineyards. Sip it there, or head to Paso Park a block away. The downtown park isn’t just any plot of grass; it’s a whole city block chock full of restaurants, ice cream, tasting rooms and a movie theatre — there’s even concerts there on Thursday evenings. Didn’t we tell you Paso was charming?

Check it out to get a feel for the city, or make a plan to revisit later. Either way, don’t leave without checking out The General Store, which is a great, not-too-kitschy stop for gifts, snacks, or a quick trinket to stash in your suitcase and remind you of Paso. 

Paso Robles general store

A perfect place to grab a gift or souvenir. Photo courtesy of solterrastrategies.com.

Wine tasting

First stop on the wine tour of Paso? McPrice Myers Winery. Mac Myers and his partner, Venus, have been making show-stopping wine in Paso for a couple decades now. Their property and estate vineyard sits on varying elevation in the mid-coast hills, and the duo was committed from the get-go to making their winery an immersive experience; In 2018, they opened the Hilltop House, a luxury vacation rental that showcases the wines alongside the acreage. Adored by winos and critics alike, Jeb Dunnuck said about Myers’ wine, “readers should snatch up these wines.” Between that and the nod from Janell, it’s a must. 

Mcprice myers winery guesthouse

The dazzling Hilltop guesthouse at McPrice Myers Winery. Photo courtesy of mcpricemyers.com.

Next up: Barton Family Wines — another Paso Robles winery rec from Janell. Owners Barton and Jenny are beloved locals who’ve nailed combining a winery and distillery into one space. That’s right — wine, food, and spirits all in one stop. The space is rustic and humble, and we instantly felt at home. With truly quaffable wine and a full lunch available, they invite you to stay a while and make you feel right at home. Grab some fuel for the day ahead and explore their wide array of beverages.

The kitchen at Barton Family wines
The distillery at Barton Family wines

Distillery, winery, and kitchen?! Apparently you can have it all. Photos courtesy of bartonfamilywines.com.

The next stop is our favorite, Janell’s own winery: J. Dusi Wines. The winery is tucked into the vineyards, and it’s not uncommon to run into Janell’s entire family working the grounds, sharing a bottle, and truly savoring their lovely slice of life. On the way in, you’ll pass the old tractor that Janell’s grandpa used to carry her and crates of grapes in. There’s so much to say about this place, and you should absolutely read up on her story. But for the visit, the main thing you should know is to chat with her and Billy if they’re around — these are just really amazing, fun, good people — and don’t leave without a bottle of their Zin (or a can of the Dusi Maker!). 

Three generations of Dusi.

Three generations of Dusi at their vineyard in Paso Robles.

If you have a 4th in you, Epoch Winery is a short drive down the road and truly phenomenal. Featured as one of the most impressive wineries in the world by Architectural Digest, the winery is a stunning renovation of one of Paso’s oldest farm houses tucked into the forest. It’s expansive indoor tasting room offers glass walls looking into their production, and outside there are chairs looking over the backyard canyon and long farm tables for groups. Another reason we love it? The wines are world class — our favorite was the Grenache — and the winemaker is a woman. 

Epoch winery

The stunning tasting room at Epoch. Photo courtesy of ssgse.com.

Saturday night, Paso style

After you’re properly wined up from the day, most anything will taste good. But there are some favorites of Janell to consider:

  • Les Petites Canailles is the current talk of the town. This buzzy, farm-to-table restaurant was just featured in the NY Times. Chef Julien Asseo (of Guy Savoy in Las Vegas) is responsible for the incredible French food served in the quaint space. 

  • The Hatch & Della's offers delicious southern food and a high end pizza and small plates restaurant side by side — truly, the best of both worlds. A young local couple started both and they have a serious following. 

  • The Alchemist Garden is stellar. You must try their craft cocktails, and honestly anything you order off the menu will be a hit. 

Dinner tonight should be leisurely; the pace of Paso is slow and intentional. People stop to chat with one another, locals all know each other’s families and have each other’s backs. Revel in the world class wine and top notch food in this small, quaint California town that has a fraction of the prestige of Napa, but, in our humble opinion, multitudes more of authentic charm. 

Alchemist Garden Paso Robles

Come for the drinks, stay for the drinks. Photo courtesy of alchemistsgarden.com.

When you’re ready, head to the Pine St. Saloon. It’s a hole in the wall bar adored by locals, and the Maker girls may or may not have made it their stomping grounds for the night. Put your name in for karaoke, swing dance with a stranger, and please send us pictures. 

A slow Sunday morning 

Before you head back home, grab a coffee at Amsterdam. It’s a coffeehouse by day, jazz bar at night, and a great place to grab a cup of joe and pastry before hitting the road. If you got a late start and want more of a bite, Paso Robles Market Walk is a great indoor/outdoor food hall with multiple tempting options, from a vegan creamery to a deli. 

On your way out, swing over to the coast for a dip or kayak, take a hike in nearby San Luis Obispo, or just drive the country roads with your windows rolled down and some Chicks turned way up. 

The Shortlist

Where to taste:

Where to eat and drink:

J Dusi Zinfandel: Can and Glass

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Have any more Paso Robles Wineries or Things to Do that we missed? Let us know at hello@makerwine.com.

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