Villa Creek Cellars is off the beaten path, and is the most unassuming tasting room you're likely to find -- inside the metal winemaking building where they make the wine and store the barrels. The "tasting bar" is little more than a plank stretched between two wine barrels. So if you're into well-appointed wine tasting rooms with expansive views over hillside vineyards -- stop right here.
But if you want to taste some of the best wines that the Paso Robles region has to offer, poured by someone who knows about wine and can really explain what you are drinking, how it was made, where the grapes came from, challenges with a particular vintage, and so on -- then I can highly recommend Villa Creek. Its location virtually ensures that you won't be lined up behind a crowd of thirsty wine-tasters. And to me, there's a certain charm about parking in a dirt parking lot, walking across the crush pad past wine-making equipment and through an industrial metal door to taste the wine that's made right there.
It's a $10 tasting fee and you get to keep the glass. Wallet warning: This is not inexpensive wine, so if you're looking to pick up a bottle of red wine for under $20, this is not the place. But if you want to taste some truly fine wine from the region, then Villa Creek Cellars will not disappoint. During our tasting, we were served a chilled white wine blended with Grenache Blanc and Roussane (Rhone varietals), a wonderful red Rhone grape blend (I think it's called Willow Creek), a Grenache that was lip-smacking good and one other red that escapes me at the moment although I'm tempted to say it was a Mourvedre. We took our time with each of the wines as the tasting room hostess (who is also basically Villa Creek's marketing director -- they're a very small operation) explained each one, talked about the vineyards where the grapes were sourced, they types of barrels used, and so on. Of the four wineries we visited during our time in the Paso Robles region, it was definitely the best experience.
I think they're only open Fridays and weekends, so if you're wine tasting mid-week, you're out of luck. And as I said earlier, they're off the beaten path, so you have to make an effort to drive there up in the hills north of Hwy 46. My understanding is that they have a restaurant in Paso Robles by the same name, not sure if they do tasting there or not.
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