Daou Vineyard: Daou wins hands down for having the most scenic vistas in Paso Robles. It's a great place to order a glass of wine and sit outside to take in the view or do a tasting, which is a bit on the pricey side compared to other wineries in Paso Robles, but worth it if you want to sample their selection of wines. Lately, Daou has received quite a few accolades and one of their wines even scored 100 points from Robert Parker. If you want to see what all of the fuss is about or just want to take a few amazing photos, Daou is the place to go. Website: Daou
Halter Ranch: To be honest, on this particular trip we didn't do a tasting at Halter Ranch, although we have in the past. On this trip we just wanted to check out the renovations to the winery. Halter Ranch used to have a very quaint feel to match their name, but they've since expanded. Luckily, they still kept the beautiful old barn on the premises, which is where I took one of my favorite photos ever that you will see in my old post about Paso Robles entitled When in Wine Country. The new tasting room is beautiful, although not as charming, and they have a gigantic picture window that will let you take in the scenery while sipping their wines. Website: Halter Ranch
Carmody McKnight: This vineyard was founded by actor Gary Conway and his wife Marian McKnight, who was crowned Miss America in 1957. This is a small vineyard due to the fact that they sold off about half of their land to Justin Vineyards over 35 years ago. The thing I like about Carmody McKnight is that it combines two of my favorite things: art and wine. In addition to being an actor, Gary Conway is also an artist and his paintings grace the winery's labels and the small tasting room. They also have a good olive oil that comes from their many olive trees on the property. Website: Carmody McKnight
Justin Vineyards: When we first went to Paso Robles, the tasting room at Justin was tiny and they had the most adorable old Basset Hound named Churchill. (I'm obsessed with the dogs they have at each winery! In fact, wineries with dogs get bonus points from me!) Since then, Justin is under new ownership and has expanded quite a bit. On this last trip, we were told that due to the large traffic flow, Justin need to expand even more to keep up with demands on weekends. Often, the integrity of the wine is compromised when vineyards start expanding, but so far this has not been the case with Justin. Also, this is another winery that has gorgeous views. Since we are wine club members here, we had a nice time with our tastings and watched the sunset by a fire pit at the end of our trip. Website: Justin Wine
Two other vineyards that were not included here, but that I highly recommend are Eberle Winery and J.Lohr. I wrote about Gary Eberle and his winery in a post called Boars, Ponies and Ostriches Oh My!, because it's my favorite Paso Robles winery and Gary Eberle is a living legend and the person who should be credited for putting Paso Robles on the map. I can't say enough good things about their wines, their staff, and their commitment to making excellent wines at affordable prices. If you go to Paso Robles, it's imperative to check them out!
J. Lohr is another winery that I highly recommend. They are the largest producers of wine in the area, which might give you some pause, but their wines are actually very good and at reasonable prices. Plus, they will put a portrait of your dog in their tasting room if you are a wine club member! So, if you visit J. Lohr, you just might see a picture of Colonel William van Winkle the Bard of Bardstown!