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Craig Kerstiens

Craig's Paso Robles Guide


  • Lone Madrone - Lone madrone is one of my favorite wineries in that area and possibly period. In particular they focus a bit more on blends and being a little crazier, their winemaker Neil is also the winemaker at Tablas Creek where he makes a slightly more traditional Rhone style. Their new space makes it even better overall, with burgers and music often on weekends. They also do a variety of ciders, which are all very well done and can be a nice change of scenary to all the wine. Though don’t be mistaken despite great burgers delicious cider the wines are truly the highlight. A few personal favorites are The Dodd, The Will and the Tannat, though nearly all are delectable. Tasting here is $5, bottles range from $10 for cider $20 for wine up to $60ish.
  • Le Cuvier - Le Cuvier was a rare gem we immediately found in Paso. Their wines are a bit more on the lighter side over all with some acidity coming through, but at the same time very unique. Their pairing is all done with food and the food goes perfectly with the wine. If you like wines that are meant to be done with food or slightly lighter/acidic overall its well worth the visit. Tasting is complimentary wines range from $30 towards $70 with most in the $50 range.
  • Shale Oak - Shale oak is newer on the list for me, upon entering it had a much more elaborate feel to many others in Paso Robles. They have a strong focus on sustainability, which is expressed in a nice flair of their tasting menu having seeds made into it which can sprout flowers. Though for all the focus on sustainability its not lost on their wines. Straight down the menu was delicious with their white blend, cab (lighter overall compared to bolder napa ones), and petite sirah all standing out. Tasting is $5, bottles range from $20 to $40.
  • Derby - Derby is much more of a grower than wine maker, making wine from only about 10% of the grapes themselves, however what they do make is all equisite. Several were in a bit of a Rhone style and done quite well, overall lighter on the earth in many cases. Their white was a great surprise more interesting than most, as was their sparkling. Tasting is $5, bottles range from $15 to $60.
  • Clayhouse - Clayhouse was largely the reason we started heading down to Paso Robles. Looking for something different from the common Sonoma/Napa wines we were drawn to them strictly for their Petite Sirah which is an extremely valuable buy for as delicious as it is. They have several others that I’d put within the good every day drinking range, as well as some nicer ones that hold up well to other wineries such as their reserve Petite Sirah and Malbec. Another great convenience is they’re located on the square and open later to make it a great end of day stop once you shouldn’t be driving. Tasting is $5, bottles range from $10 to $50
  • Tablas Creek - With the same winemaker as Lone Madrone its not a surprise that many of these are great, it also probably doesn’t hurt that many of their grapes came from Chateau de Beaucastel. Tablas Creek focuses especially on Rhone varietals and dry farming as much as they can in similar fashion to many Rhone wineries. Commonly their rated well in wine reviews, and its clear why with certain ones. While all of theirs don’t stand out the same on the list, over half of them delight everytime I’m there. Tasting is $5, bottles range from $15 to $80
  • TurtleRock - Turtle rock was actually one of two labels by the wine maker. The turtle rock wines stood out a bit more, in particular their Rose was the highlight. A dry, but with great floral-ness and strawberry on the nose rose this was probably the favorite of many we’ve had down in Paso Robles.
  • Arroyo Robles - Arroyo robles is often hit or miss for us. Often times its been great, such times include when they had their sparkling, their almond sparkling (sweet, but could pair great with a weekend brunch), their grenache which has some awesome spice. Though sometimes when they have a shorter list while still good some its not quite the same. Their Rose is a fun one in that its more orange than pink. Tasting is $5, bottles range from $15 to $50
  • Assucion Ridge
  • Aaron


  • Berry Hill Bistro - Berry Hill is one of our regular stops when down in the area. Most commonly for lunch, a fairly casual bistro overall their sandwiches and salads are all delicious. Among delicious ones we’ve enjoyed were the Ahi Tuna, French Dip, and Swordfish steak, though nothing on the menu is likely to let you down.
  • Thomas Hill Organics -
  • Yanagi - A reasonable sushi place overall. There’s nothing in particular that stands out about it, their rolls are more creative than traditional. Fish has always been fresh.
  • Amsterdam Coffee House - This is a regular stop for us at least once often more when we visit. Their coffee is great, and the overall feel of the place is even better. Good choices in music, ample couch space, and great breakfast sandwiches make it an easy way to get going for the day.
  • We Olive - This was a bit of a surprise find as we were searching for a place to get some good aged balsamic vinegar. The result was leaving with that plus some great olive oil and banana caramel. They’ve got nearly everything in the store available for tasting, ranging from olive oils to marinades.