Tasting the Best Wineries in San Luis Obispo County in 2 Days

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There’s no shortage of mesmerizing wines from the two major appellations in San Luis Obispo County: Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley. Whites tend to be aromatic, supple, and with dazzling minerality; reds are often vibrant, fruit-driven, and similarly mineral-fronted. Over the course of this two day itinerary, you’ll find yourself tasting wines among picturesque rolling vineyards and in beach-front tasting rooms, so get ready to enjoy the wines and the views San Luis Obispo County has to offer.

Day 1

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Wineries /

Sinor-­LaVallee Winery

In 2015, Mike Sinor opened a clean, sleek, and modern tasting room in Avila beach, one block away from the ocean. A biodynamic farmer through and through, he creates wines that are a living, breathing extension of Bassi Ranch, a southwest-facing vineyard-scape of rolling hills and soil, rich with marine fossils. Sinor’s estate whites–Albarino, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio–offer bright tropical fruit notes with great acidity, and his estate reds—Pinot Noir and Syrah—offer dazzlingly potent floral notes and complex minerality.

Insider Tip

Ask about the new White Label and Black Label limited-production reserve wines from the winery’s estate Bassi Vineyard, which showcase different styles of the same grape variety from same terroir.

Directions

From downtown Lodi, go south on US-101 for 6.8 miles. Turn right on San Luis Bay Drive and follow for 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Avila Beach Dive, and follow for 1.5 miles. The winery will be on your left.

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Wineries /

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery

If San Luis Obispo is all about the wine and the views, Laetitia Winery is at the top of the list. Ocean views aside, however, it’s the wines by Eric Hickey—like Burgundian-style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir—that stand out. Sustainability lovers will appreciate the efforts to reuse water and energy, and to employ goats in the vineyards, rather than using herbicides. If time permits, follow your tasting with a stroll along the walking trails for postcard-perfect ocean views.

Insider Tip

The Coquard Press, still used to make the wines, is the only one of its kind in North America.

Directions

From Sinor-LaVallee Winery, return to CA 101 S. Drive 14.4 miles. The winery will be on the left.

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Wineries /

Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards

Apples happen to be another major crop with deep roots in the region, and it’s a crop that’s maximized at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards. There’s often live music and food on Sundays, not to mention peacocks. This place will change your entire perception of cider and apple wine, but winemaker Jac Jacobs also produces traditional wines from San Luis Obispo, like Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and others.

Insider Tip

Just inside the tasting room, to the right, is a photograph of the model who posed for the label-design. Ask the tasting room staff about her.

Directions

From Laetitia Winery, go north on US 101 for 12.8 miles. Turn left onto San Luis Bay Drive and continue for one mile. Turn right onto See Canyon Road, and the vineyards will be on your right.

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Day 2

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Wineries /

Talley Vineyards

The Talley family first planted vineyards in 1982, and have since been recognized as prominent producers of Edna Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Stop in to taste through several of their wines in the modern tasting room, or reserve a private tour in advance to taste in their historic adobe that dates back to the 1860s and offers grand views of the Rincon Vineyard.

Insider Tip

You can extend your tasting experience by ordering a glass of any of their wines on tap and claiming a spot in one of three picnic areas on the grounds.

Directions

From Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards, return to US 101 S, and continue for 10.9 miles. Take exit 187A onto Huasna Road and continue for 5.8 miles. Once the road turns into Lopez Drive, the winery will be on the left.

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Wineries /

Saucelito Canyon Vineyard

This winemaking operation, centered around dry-farmed old-vine Zinfandel, is Bill Greenough’s labor of love, and completely a family operation. Today, Greenough’s son Tom has taken over the winemaking reins, and though the tasting room isn’t near Saucelito Canyon Vineyard, they offer an array of exceptional wines from their tasting spot in the heart of this region. The flagship wine is their “1880” Zinfandel, which will astound lovers of typical California Zin because of its lighter, more floral, mineral-driven qualities.

Insider Tip

Bill Greenough’s story is told through a riveting personal-journey book by Sean Christopher Weir called “The Mad Crush,” so pick up a copy for a real glance into the wild winemaking days of the region.

Directions

From Talley Vineyards, go northeast on Lopez Drive toward Rock Falls Road for 4.9 miles. Turn right onto Hi Mountain Road, and continue for 3.2 miles. Turn right onto Saucelito Creek Road and continue for 1.5 miles. The winery will be on your left.

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Wineries /

Niven Family Wine Estates Tasting Room

From a charming 1909 schoolhouse tasting room come local wine pioneers, the Niven Family, who have been making great wines that span six brands: Baileyana, Tangent, True Myth, Zocker, Trenza, and Cadre. The focus is on aromatic whites, with Zocker’s aromatic and bright Rieslings and Gruner Veltliner, and Tangent’s crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino, a luscious Viognier, Pinot Grigio, and Grenache Blanc. A SIP-Certified winery, they make sustainability a hallmark of their winemaking ethics.

Insider Tip

Two bocce courts and vineyard-to-mountain views round out the tasting experience.

Directions

From Saucelito Canyon Vineyard and Winery, head north on Saucelito Creek Road. Turn left onto Hi Mountain Road, then left onto Lopez Drive and drive for 5 miles. Turn right onto Orcutt Road.

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Wineries /

Sextant Winery

Focused on Old World varieties, Sextant Winery’s speciality is in making powerful Zinfandel and Petite Sirah blends. But their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah wines are not to be passed up—especially their Paso Robles Creek Side Farms Albarino, which is rich with tropical melon, kiwi, and juicy lime notes. The tasting room is situated in the old Edna Townsite with Claiborne & Churchill right next door: altogether a storybook setting.

Insider Tip

Proprietors Craig and Nancy Stoller have planted clean-certified nursery vine stock on site, so if you ask about it, you might get an up-close and personal look at young, burgeoning vines.

Directions

From Niven Family Wine Estates, take Lopez Drive to Orcutt road for 10.2 miles, continuing on Orcutt Road to Corbett Canyon Road for another 3.3 miles. Turn right onto Corbett Canyon Road, and continue for 2 miles. Make another right onto CA-227 N, and continue for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto Old Price Canyon Road, and the destination will be on your right.

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