The Best Tin City Paso Robles Wineries + Surprises

Recently I was heading up to Paso Robles to be a judge at the Central Coast Wine Competition. On my way, I went to meet with winemaker and owner David McGee of Monochrome Wines. His tasting room is located in Tin City, an super-hip wine tasting destination in Paso Robles. But, Tin City has more to offer than just wine tasting some of the best boutique wineries in the region. There are a few other surprises. You can read all about it in the story that I had written for California Winery Advisor.

So what is Tin City Paso Robles and why should wine lovers care?

Fifteen minutes south of the town of Paso Robles, an unassuming industrial park is home to an unexpected experience: Tin City. While pool supply companies, auto body shops, and air conditioning distributors are still located here, there is no mistaking that Tin City is Paso’s hippest wine tasting destination. Add in a brewery, cider maker, and distillery and it is clear that Tin City is a drinker’s paradise!

Before We Get To The Tiny City Wineries

BarrelHouse Brewing Co was one of the first businesses to set up shop in Tin City. Established in 2013 by co-owners Jason Carvalho, Kevin Nickell, and Chis Vaughn, they started as home brewers and have grown to be the largest family owned and operated craft brewery in San Luis Obispo County. BarrelHouse Brewing Co opened their brewery and taproom in what was formerly a work studio for metalsmith Dale Evers. In fact, a few pieces of Dale Evers art still adorn the property. The main brewhouse was made from a decommissioned brewery they bought in Muskoka, Canada. BarrelHouse Brewing Co portfolio beers include Templeton – Blonde Ale, Sunny Daze – Citrus Blonde, Mango IPA, BarrelHouse Rye IPA, BarrelHouse IPA, Big Sur – Double IPA and BarrelHouse Stout. They produce four barrel-aged beers, aged for eight to nine months, per year, such as the Dorado Fuerte – Belgian Golden Strong in Tequila and the Curly Wolf Maple Vanilla Bourbon Stout. Sours, ales, and stouts are also available, including unique flavors such as Coffee Milk Stout Nitro and Visalia Barbera Imperial Red Ale. There are 12 beers on tap, available as tastes, a glass, 32oz or 64oz. In addition to the brewery and taproom, which has TVs on the walls, BarrelHouse Brewing Co has outdoor grounds with picnic benches and a fountain. Food trucks and live music are regular occurrences at BarrelHouse Brewing Co. This is great spot to kick off your Tin City Paso Robles experience.

Tin City Cider is a collaboration of three winemakers, Curt Scalchlin (Sans Liege), Andrew Jones (Field Recordings) and Mikey Giugni (Scar of the Sea). Together they are crafting some of the best and highest quality ciders using local California grown apples. The crisp dry ciders are Champagne-like and the taproom offers the original dry, hopped cider, as well as specialty small-batch ciders such as the Polly Dolly wine infusion, the Parrothead pineapple fruit infusion and the Templetucky aged in bourbon casks.

Wine Shine creates brandy by sourcing grape juice from local Paso Robles wineries and then fermenting and distilling it. The brandies are aged in new French and American oak barrels or infused with California fruits and botanicals. Classic neutral brandy is available as well as unique flavors such as Mango Ginger Black Pepper Brandy, Hibiscus Lemon Brandy, and Cinnamon/French Oak Brandy.

On To The Tin City Wineries

Within a two-block radius around BarrelHouse Brewing Co are chic warehouses with green and gray corrugated tin walls that give Tin City Paso Robles its name. These modern warehouses, connected by a wooden bridge and surrounded by greenery, are home to eighteen wineries. These wineries feature locally sourced small production wines. Some of the Tin City tasting rooms have regular hours, but many are open only by appointment only, so take a few minutes to plan ahead.

Aaron – Winemaker and owner, Aaron Jackson, focuses on the uniqueness of place, sourcing fruit from Westside Paso Robles to Santa Lucia Mountains to produce terroir-driven wines.

Al Lago Wines – Owners Blair Allan and Simone Lagomarsino produce Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from their vineyard in Santa Rosa.

Benom Wines – Brothers Arnaud Fabre and Guillaume Fabre focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Spanish blends.

Brian Benson Cellars – Founded in 2001, Brian Benson Cellars specializes in Rhone-style wines with grapes sourced from Paso Robles vineyards.

Desparada – Winemaker Vailia From works with more than 20 vineyards in the Central Coast and utilizes different techniques and trials to produce unique and elegant wines.

Field Recordings – As a grapevine nurseryman planning and planting vineyards all over California, winemaker Andrew Jones has access to fruit from unusual, unknown vineyards to produce his wines.

Giornata – Stephanie and Brian Terrizzi’s love of Italian wine led to them creating Giornata where they produce wine from Italian grape varieties.

Jacob Toft – Jacob Toft sources fruit from Central Coast vineyards from Santa Barbara to Santa Lucia Highland, with a focus in Paso Robles, to produce full-flavored blends.

Kaleidos – Owner and winemaker Steve Martell currently has an acre planted on his 24-acre property in Westside Paso Robles where he focuses on Rhone varietal wines. 

Lefondusac – Stewart Finlay-McLennan and JP French created Lefondusac which specializes in small production “Garagiste” wines, which are available on tap, by the glass or freshly bottled to go.

Levo – Self-taught winemaker Bret Urness takes a minimalist approach to produce wines with personality from Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos and Santa Maria.

Monochrome – Unlike anyone else in Paso Robles, Monochrome Wines focuses exclusively on white wines. Owner David McGee sources fruit from vineyards within three hours of Paso Robles. He creates a number of small lots, each treated differently, and then blends them together to produce six white wines. 

Nicora – Winemaker Nick Elliott also holds the role of forklift driver and adventurer at Nicora, where he crafts Rhone-style wines from known Central Coast vineyards.

ONX Wines – Steve Olson purchased the 122-acre ONX Estate Vineyard in Westside Paso Robles in 2004 and with winemaker Brian Brown, they produce balanced and complex blends.

Powell Mountain Cellars – Bill and Kim Powell established Powell Mountain Cellars in 2019 with the goal to produce exceptional handcrafted Rhone and Bordeaux style wines from Paso Robles.

Sans Liege – Winemaker Curt Schalchlin’s passion for the Rhone Valley in France and his love for the diversity of the Central Coast is the backbone of San Liege Wines. Schalchin sources grapes from vineyards as far north as Paso Robles and as far south as Santa Barbara in search of great character wines. 

The Fableist – Curt Schalchlin of Sans Liege and Andrew Jones of Field Recording tell the story behind each wine in their joint Tin City Paso Robles project, The Fablelist.

Turtle Rock – Specializing in Rhone varieties, winemaker and owner Don Burns sources fruit from two premium vineyards in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles.

What To Do In Tin City Paso Robles When You Are Done Drinking

 

After a day of wine, beer, cider, and spirits tasting, what better way to end it than with a refreshing scoop of ice cream. Newly opened Negranti Creamery is a family owned and operated business focused on using fresh ingredients to create delicious ice cream. What sets them apart is that they make ice cream with sheep’s milk. Sheep’s milk not only makes a smooth, light ice cream with no aftertaste, but it is lactose intolerant friendly and gluten free. Try the strawberry basil, the black coffee chip, fresh mint chip or any of the other tasty flavors.

Tin City Paso Robles is a community for libation lovers. It is a one-stop shop for wine lovers, craft beer geeks, cider fans and spirit imbibers. And you will feel the comradery as you wander around Tin City. Walk into any tasting room and you will likely find the owner or winemaker on-site. And, each business will happily suggest neighbors that you should visit. In fact, you will find the producers stopping by for a beer or cider at the end of the day.

Read the original story at California Winery Advisor where you will also find a directory of Tin City Paso Robles Wineries.

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