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Downtown Wine Tasting: It’s Not Your Parents’ Wine Tasting Style

California wine tasting rooms in Sonoma, Napa, Monterey, Lodi and Paso Robles continue proliferating in downtown city centers or in clusters of industrial areas like Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto or Paso’s Tin City. Then downtown you’ll find Napa’s 1st Street or Sonoma Plaza. This trend allows young winemakers with limited capital or lack of estate grapes to share their wine while compressing tasting rooms into one accessible area.

It also brings wine to the customer, creating opportunities to walk to your tasting destination among restaurants and shopping. The trade off is, it removes the experience of visiting a working estate: a farm with rows of vines, grapes, tractors, tanks, barrels and beautiful countryside.

CaliPaso Winery takes advantage of both with their downtown wine taste room along with their estate tasting room adjacent to a hotel and wedding venue.

We visited the tasting room on 13th St. in downtown Paso experiencing a wonderful flight of wines.

We always suggest you let your wine host be your guide to their wine. Let them choose what you want to taste because you’ll never explore new wine drinking the same old same old.

Our wine host Nicki started out saying, “Most people come here because of our Prosecco.” Except we don’t enjoy Prosecco. But sometimes you have to kiss a lot of ugly frogs before you find your beautiful Prince or Princess of a wine. We went for it.

In this case, the Prosecco was wonderfully dry, not your typical sweet wine. In fact it was a, ‘Lick the bottom of the glass clean’ great wine. We went home with two bottles.

What did we taste?

CaliPaso Prosecco $38 ✰++

2018 CaliPaso Chardonnay (stainless fermentation but still buttery) $30 ✰+

2018 CaliPaso Zinfandel

2018 Reserve Chardonnay (oak barrel aging) $40 ✰+

2020 Three Hounds Pinot Noir (Russian River) $50 ✰+

2019 Kinne Reserve Grenache (a hearty version of this wine) $67 ✰+

2019 Cellars Tinta Cao (Portuguese, big & bold and we need to go back and taste it) $67 no rank yet

2019 Cellars Touriga Nacional (Portuguese varietal grown in Paso) $67 ✰+

2020 Cellars Reserve Blend (Petit Sirah base with Cabernet) $75 ✰+

2091 Cellar Selection (blend Cabernet, Cab Franc & Petit Verdot) $87 ✰+

You never know what interesting wine you might find following your host down a fork in the road. Or as the infamous New York Yankee Yogi Berra would say, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” We took a fork and found rewarding wines we would’ve never enjoyed without our fearless leader Nicki‘s guidance. Ask for her leadership when you visit.

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

Bill & Erin Hodge write about California Wine, the estates & winemakers producing them and educational information about Vino. Living in California Wine Country provides a front row seat to the places you want to visit the most here in the Golden State.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.

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