Wine tasting in Paso Robles and Edna Valley has quickly become one of the favorite leisure activities of both Central Coast visitors and locals. It continues to grow in popularity with every phenomenal harvest and every splash of Reserve wine. Sipping and lounging on patios overlooking the rolling Central Coast hills with friends and family fabulous wineries is the new way to spend the weekend. Wine enthusiasts come from near and far to hear the winemaker’s stories, their method of growing and producing their wine and enjoying it at the source. After all, the wine you get in stores just doesn’t have the same energy as the wine you’ll enjoy looking over acres of blossoming vineyards. The following tips will help you embrace your inner wine connoisseur and wine taste like a professional.
1. WINE TASTING IS FOR EVERYONE:
No matter your experience, knowledge of the industry, or reasons for visiting, each winery will provide phenomenal service and education based on what you’re looking for. With over 15 tasting rooms in Edna Valley and hundreds more in Paso Robles, you will find that there is great diversity in the hosting environments, specialties of each winery, and experiences. This also means that you’re going to encounter a wide range of guests at each winery, so it’s important to respect their tasting dynamic. Make friends when appropriate, be conscious of your noise level, and remember that everyone is trying to enjoy their day wine tasting on the Central Coast.
2. DESIGNATE A DRIVER & MAKE RESERVATIONS:
Wineries are staffed according to how many guests they’re expecting, so if you show up unannounced with six or more people, it might create a problem for the tasting room. Some wineries will begrudgingly serve you, while others may turn you down. Needless to say, you won’t get the quality of service that you’re looking for! Luckily, there’s an easy solution, call ahead of time to book so you can count on top-notch service from the winery.
While we’re on the topic of reservations, we recommend hiring a chauffeur, no matter your group size. Not only can they assist you with making winery reservations, but mainly because the real fun of wine tasting comes from having the ability to try and enjoy all of it. Don’t skimp on the craftsmanship of the wine, because you have to drive home. Reserve a luxurious vehicle for your wine tasting day so you can enjoy the wine at several different wineries from Edna Valley to Paso Robles. For larger groups, we recommend the Luxurious Limousine Bus or the Newport Coachworks Luxury Bus. For smaller groups or solo parties, we suggest the Executive Chrysler Sedan or the LandJet Mercedes Sprinter. Regardless of your mode of transportation, staying safe while traveling throughout the vineyards and windy roads is the number one priority.
3. KEEP AN OPEN MIND!
The production and enjoyment of wine is a rewarding and fun process. You may learn things about your taste buds, find a new appreciation for Central Coast nature, or make some new friends along the way. At every winery, there is room for learning and building from every experience, and that includes soaking up some rays while sipping some vino.
Additionally, tasting rooms are great places for those who value education. Karen Motto, Director of Key Relationships at Tolosa Winery, says, “Every industry has its own language. If your wine educator says something you don’t understand, ask for clarification. Wine educators are excited at the opportunity to go into more detail when desired.” We agree wholeheartedly—ask away!
4. EXPERIENCE EACH WINE INDIVIDUALLY:
“Wine tasting is about seeing, sniffing and sipping…not chugging. Each one-ounce pour should last four sips, and tasters should take at least 1 min to savor each one,” says Karl Boone, the Direct to Consumer Manager for Niven Family Wine Estates (Baileyana, Tangent, True Myth, Zocker). We couldn’t agree more with Karl—you should be looking to catalog the flavor range of each wine sip-by-sip. After all, you have an entire weekend ahead of you to enjoy fabulous Central Coast wines.
5. RESPECT THE TASTING ROOM!
While often overlooked, this is one of the most important tips (besides a designated driver) that we want to share. Wineries are not bars, and specific behaviors applauded in your favorite dive bar are frowned upon in the tasting room. For the best treatment from the staff and your fellow wine tasters, you’ll want to avoid the following behaviors: being over-intoxicated, loud, or demanding service before you have been attended to in turn. However, there’s one rule that catches many off guard. You cannot bring outside alcohol into a winery, even if it’s wine you purchased from a different location that day or a beverage you were enjoying on a tour bus. Wineries have specific licensing laws they have to follow, and they are unable to bend them or change them for you.
6. BUY SOME PRODUCT!
Wineries on the Central Coast typically have a $10-20 tasting fee per person; however, most wineries will waive tasting fees with the purchase of a bottle or two. Even better, once you buy a couple of bottles, you can enjoy them on the road (letting your chauffeur take care of the driving and navigating). More importantly, buying bottles supports the wineries and allows you to share your newfound tastes with other people who weren’t along for the experience that day. If you’ve fallen in love with a particular winery, always ask about their Wine Club Membership. Not only will you be guaranteed their wine at a minimum of twice a year, but you’ll also receive discounts, free tastings for up to a certain number of people, and invitations to Member-Only events and fun Pick-Up Parties. Also, you can never have enough wine to enjoy at home, right?