Over the Christmas break, our whole family (10 of us) drove up to the central coast for a vacation. We spent a few nights in Paso Robles and a few nights in Santa Barbara.
Paso Robles and the Edna Valley, to the south of San Luis Obispo, have really become extraordinary wine regions. I actually prefer it to the more hyped Los Olivos/Santa Inez regions outside Santa Barbara.
We tasted at 17 wineries during the trip. The Rhone-style wines from this region are really getting good: the weird and wonderful Linne Calodo wines; the ersatz Chateauneuf du Papes at Tablas Creek; the single-vineyard Syrahs from Adelaida; and the huge, chocolatey Syrahs from Alban. Also picked up some unique Roussannes, Marsannes, and Viogners, as well as the obligatory Santa Barbara/Santa Maria Pinot Noirs.
This part of the central coast feels to me like Napa or Sonoma 25 years ago, before the wine tourism. At many of the Paso Robles and Edna Valley wineries, the owner/wine-maker was there, in rubber boots, making wine. Totally unpretentious.