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California Central Coast Wineries

by Cathy Enns


California Central Coast wineries have grown in every way in recent years: in diversity, in quality and, most definitely, in number. No matter what kind of experience you’re seeking, it’s virtually certain you’ll find your heart’s desire at one of the hundreds of California Central Coast wineries.

If Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are among your favorite varietals, visit Edna Valley wine country near San Luis Obispo. You’ll enjoy beautiful scenery along the back roads and delicious wines when you drop in at Edna Valley Vineyard, Claiborne & Churchill, Kynsi, Saucelito Canyon and others.

If you’re a fan of big, bold red wines, head north to Paso Robles. Here, hot summer days and cool nights—with 50 degree temperature swings normal—favor varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah. Travel a few miles east of Paso to taste at Vina Robles, J. Lohr and Robert Hall. Or, try the east side of Templeton and stop by Victor Hugo or Hansen Winery.

To get a sampling of some of the best wines greater San Luis Obispo wine country has to offer, visit L’Aventure in Paso Robles, where winemaker Stephan Asseo regularly earns high 90’s ratings for his reds from the legendary Robert Parker. And you won’t want to miss Justin Winery, one of the best-known California Central Coast wineries. Justin wines have won numerous awards throughout the last two decades, including high honors in international competitions.

Maybe you’re looking for a special experience, for a honeymoon or perhaps an anniversary. You can’t do better than taking a romantic drive on the byways west of Paso Robles. Pack a picnic lunch and head out on Adelaida Road. Stop at Halter Ranch and marvel at the beauty of the restored Victorian farmhouse built in the 1880’s. Relax under the shady oaks with a bottle of the winery’s renowned “Ranch Red.” To top off the day, continue west to Chimney Rock Road and visit Carmody McKnight Wines. When you see the weeping willows over the pond, the olive orchard and the lovingly cared for winery grounds, you won’t be surprised to find out the winery owners are artists in more ways than one.

Let’s say you’d like to experience local wine but San Luis Obispo is the only place you have time to visit. You’re in luck—a well-known winemaker in the area, Stephen Autry, has just opened a tiny tasting room and winery, Stephen Autry Cellars, on Capitolio Way, just off Broad Street near Tank Farm Road. It’s easy to get there, and once you find it you can also enjoy nearby Cerro Caliente Cellars. In both cases, chances are excellent you can relax, meet the winemaker and taste some wonderful, small lot wines.

If you’re visiting the coast, stop in at Cayucos Cellars in the small town of Cayucos just north of Morro Bay. Or, if you’re hanging out in Avila Beach, Alapay and Wood Winery have tasting rooms right in town. In Pismo Beach, drop by and see Martin and Bryan Friedman at Pismo Beach Winery. They will gladly take you through their tasting line-up of wines made exclusively from San Luis Obispo County grapes, including Pinot Noir from their own Edna Valley and Avila Valley vineyards.

No matter what your tastes might be, let them lead you to California Central Coast wineries. When you do, chances are you will soon be back.

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