Where else than the Central Coast can you stroll along the beach in the morning, choose among dozens of wineries to visit during the day, be back to the coast for a nap, and still take in the sunset and be ready for a night out? For wine tasters, the Central Coast has a wonderful diversity of wine tasting experiences that are close by, easy to find and offer first class award winning wines. From small family owned wineries near Avila Beach to the large vineyards that blanket the picturesque Edna Valley, the Central Coast provides a wine tour for every taste. Most wineries in the area are open daily, with some staying open through the early evening. Check the online wine resources for detailed tasting room information.
Wine growing in San Luis Obispo County goes back to the missionary days of California when the first grapevines were planted in the 1880s by Franciscan padres. Much has changed from those early years. Instead of the plump, thick skinned and tannic “mission grapes” growing within church fruit orchards, we now find highly prized vineyards, sustainably grown with selected clones of European grape varieties on specific root-stocks, matched to the soil, climate and solar orientation.
Within 10 miles of Pismo Beach there are more than two dozen wineries open to the public with an array of facilities, ambiences and amenities. Some wineries will let you sample their wine straight from the barrel with the winemaker, while others offer an impressive tasting salon offering private tours, gourmet treats and gift shops.
The valleys locally have east-west orientations and are distinguished by the cool maritime influence. The soils developed from marine deposits left millions of years ago when the valleys were under water. This wide range of warm and cool air and complex soils heightens the subtle characteristics of the fruit, making it sought after by wine makers. The vineyards in the area are best known for their richly-flavored Pinot Noir and the complex and elegant Chardonnay. In addition Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Syrah, and Merlot are also grown.
Further north, in the warmer climes of Paso Robles, you find Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Trempranillo and many Rhone varietals. In fact the excellent reputation for Paso Robles fruit has expanded beyond just Cabernet and Zinfandel to include the Rhone varieties of Rousanne, Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah. In the Paso Robles and Templeton region there are over 180 wineries and one hundred and forty that open their doors to visitors.
To the south in Santa Barbara County, are the wine towns and vineyards of Santa Maria, Solvang, Santa Ynez and Los Olivos supporting over 80 wineries open for tasting. The rolling hills around Santa Maria, Los Alamos and Buellton have thousands of acres of vineyards growing Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Rousanne, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dozens of wineries can be discovered on back roads while store-front tasting rooms can be found in the downtowns.
For specific winery information and touring options visit California Winery Advisor.