By Lisa Pretty
With almost 200 tasting rooms open in the Paso Robles area, it can be difficult to make a plan for a day or weekend trip. Throughout Paso Robles you will find groups of wineries who have gotten together to create wine trails that can often be done in a weekend visit, making it easier for guests to plan their tasting adventure. Visitors can pick an area of Paso Robles Wine Country and really explore the “neighborhood.”
One of the wine trails, known as the Union Road Wine Trail, includes 12 distinct wineries within a six-mile drive. Located along Union Road off of Highway 46 East, the trail is easy to find and meander. The well maintained road takes travelers through the rolling countryside with views of vineyards and oaks studded hillsides for which the area is known.
The members of this wine trail are all family owned and operated. Most tasting room guests will find themselves talking with either an owner or winemaker to get the inside story about the wines being offered for tasting. Picnic lunches are encouraged with almost all the wineries provided a seating area for guests to relax and enjoy the peaceful setting.
Starting from the west, the first stop along the trail is at Hug Cellars. Hug Cellars is a husband and wife team that love to make wine. It has been 16 years since their first harvest and they love to share their passion with guests. The tasting room is located just off Union Road at 2323 Tuley Road and is open daily. On the tasting list you will find everything from Pinot Noir to Zinfandel. Stop by for a taste and a story. www.hugcellars.com
Continue east on Union road and you will find Penman Springs Road, home of Penman Springs Winery, on your right. The family-owned winery offers estate grown Muscat Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot hand-crafted into various varietals, blends and dessert wines. The tasting room is known for its warmth and hospitality with some of the friendliest people you can meet in the area. The farmhouse-style tasting room gives you a true sense of escaping from the city. The tasting room is open Thursdays-Sundays and after the first visit people make it a regular stop each trip to Paso. www.penmansprings.com
Continuing east once back on Union Road and you will find Pear Valley on the left. The gorgeous, stone tasting room surrounded with rose bushes, is nestled in the center of the estate vineyards. Once again a husband and wife team own and operate this business. The wines poured are all 100 percent estate made, and with over 24 varietals grown on their vineyards you will not only be able to taste some interesting stand alone varietals, but also some very fun blends such as Inspiration and Distraction. The tasting room is open daily with several areas for picnic lunches. www.pearvalley.com
Just a little east of Pear Valley is Steinbeck Vineyards & Winery. The Steinbeck family has been growing grapes in the area for many years, in fact 99 percent of their fruit is still sold to other wineries. This is a great stop to learn about the history of the area and if you call ahead you may be able to arrange for a vineyard tour in an old jeep. The tasting room itself is built in what was once their grandfather’s blacksmith shop and has a museum like feel. The wines poured are all estate grown. www.steinbeckwines.com
Also, located right on Union Road, is Barr Estate Wines, another family operation. Native New Orleanians, the Barr family moved to Paso Robles to grow grapes and making wines at affordable prices that enhance the culinary experience. Their estate grown wines and olive oils can be sampled in the tasting room Saturday and Sundays. www.barrestatewines.com
At the west end of Union Road, Tobin James Cellars offers thirsty travelers a place at the bar. Known for its “belly up to the bar” attitude and large selection of wines, this is the busiest tasting room on the trail and one that keeps drawing visitors back. The bar atmosphere, friendly staff and line of wines also gives Tobin James bragging rights to the largest wine club with killer parties. www.tobinjames.com
For more information on all the wineries along the Union Road Wine Trail, visit www.unionroadwinetrail.com
Article featured image at top: Warmth and Hospitality abound at Penman Springs Winery.