Driving up from San Luis Obispo into the hills of Paso Robles is awesome. It’s a little further back from the coast than regions further south, and seems a little bit drier and warmer, but you also feel the difference in elevation. Great winding roads took me out to my first of two visits, where I passed deer and squirrels.
Although Tablas Creek do have a focus on Rhone varieties, they also produce a few interesting wines from slightly more obscure grapes. Their Vermentino was very clean and light, not really much character to it, the Petit Manseng had a very interesting satsuma-like sweet and dy quality, and the Tannat was sufficiently robust in its tannin structure. They also grow chardonnay and pinot noir amongst others, which go back to when they operated a nursery growing stocks commercially, which has been sold off.
Justin Vineyards not far, from Tablas Creek is a lovely sight and great for wine tourism. Their cellar door is the most charming I have seen so far. The business was recently acquired by the group that owns such companies as Fiji Water and Pom juice. In spite of the Rhone revolution in Paso Robles, this winery focuses on more classic french varieties, particularly Bordeaux varieties and blends. The wines are sufficiently fruit driven and oaky but not overly alcoholic, and remind me of a lot of Australian wine. The chardonnay showed very good restraint and acid, being the first non-malolactically fermented chardonnay I have seen so far.
In the evening I managed to put myself into a food coma by getting a clam chowder bread bowl from local icon, Splash Cafe. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like; a hollowed out toasted loaf of bread is filled with chowder, and you use the middle to dip into the chowder. It’s a local delicacy here on the Central Coast, and certainly filled me up.