WINERIES

Everything you need to know about the SLO winery scene

Did you know Central California has one of the hottest new wine growing regions, where you’ll find flavors are influenced by the coolest growing temps in North America. Here is a brief history for you about grapes in this idyllic coastal region…

San Luis Obispo County isn’t exactly new at growing grapes, but its two distinctive growing regions, Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley, are catching people’s attention with bold flavors that are only rivaled by the panoramic views at nearly every tasting room. You can drive the entire region tip to tail in just 30 minutes and growing conditions are commanded solely by the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Ocean cooled while blessed with one of the longest growing seasons in the world, SLO’s ultimate potential for vintners is most likely dictated by the finite number of growable acres in the zone. Currently, only 5,000 acres are planted as vineyards, which is sure to change as the veritable cat jumps out of the bag on SLO region grapes’ unique characteristics. Only twenty varietals are currently grown, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir competing for your affection.

In SLO Country, thick morning fog almost always gives way to warm afternoon sunlight. The vines from these local wineries count on this cooling and warming cycle to extend the growing season which adds complexity through deeper ripening of sugars, acids, and tannins. 

The majority of the SLO Coast is classified as “Region 1”, which indicates the zone is one of the coolest wine-growing areas in the world. The pronounced marine conditions and moderate temperatures allow the fruit to achieve, rich, full flavors while structure and balance remain steady and manageable.

 

The agrarian and farming culture practiced in the region instills long-term respect for the Earth that encourages most vineyards to farm organically, and biodynamically, and to maintain SIP certification. This designation demands a holistic and forward-thinking approach to growth and sustainability.

The land in this area has been farmed and maintained by a hearty brand of bootstrappers and visionaries for over 250 years. Many of the vineyard owners and staff are second and third-generation growers in the region and stake their success upon experimentation and perseverance.

More than twenty grape varieties flourish on the SLO Coast, an homage to the diverse soil, climate, and local winemakers. Renowned for Burgundian varieties and cool-climate favorites like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the area also boasts an arsenal of aromatic white varieties like Pinot Gris and Riesling. Move off the coast into the warmer, more mountainous regions to find powerfully flavored reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Merlot.

Where to go wine tasting in San Luis Obispo? What are the best San Luis Obispo wineries?

Here is the scoop on a handful of great wineries in the SLO Coast region that are not to be missed:

Edna Valley

Located just 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean, find your way to Edna Valley Vineyard where the first grapes were planted by the California Missionaries in the 1800’s. Their flagship varietal is Chardonnay and they take its refinement very seriously having won numerous awards throughout the decades. Edna Valley offers tasting experiences that you should not miss, offering much more than a come-one-come-all cattle call. They also offer group tastings, and focused experiences based upon pairings or limited release barrel flights so there is something for any type of group.

Tolosa Winery

Specializing in Spanish varietals such as Albariño and Tempranillo, Croma Vera was founded by Mindy Oliver in 2015. The name Croma Vera is Latin for True Colors and these vintners meticulously farm the grapes to allow each vineyard to reveal its true, unique colors. Mindy relocated to California’s Central Coast with her husband, Chris, and their two sons in 2011, and soon met consulting winemaker Jeremy Leffert while experimenting with different winemaking techniques. In Jeremy, they found an advisor who shared their focus on exceptional quality and interest in the Spanish varietals that form the foundation of Croma Vera’s offerings.

Croma Vera has great prices on tasting experiences for you and your group.

Croma Vera

Specializing in Spanish varietals such as Albariño and Tempranillo, Croma Vera was founded by Mindy Oliver in 2015. The name Croma Vera is Latin for True Colors and these vintners meticulously farm the grapes to allow each vineyard to reveal its true, unique colors. Mindy relocated to California’s Central Coast with her husband, Chris, and their two sons in 2011, and soon met consulting winemaker Jeremy Leffert while experimenting with different winemaking techniques. In Jeremy, they found an advisor who shared their focus on exceptional quality and interest in the Spanish varietals that form the foundation of Croma Vera’s offerings.

Croma Vera has great prices on tasting experiences for you and your group.

Filiponi Ranch

This family-owned and operated boutique winery began with the vision of founder Herb Filipponi whose father, Lorenzo, immigrated to America from Switzerland in the early 1900’s with the dream of a better life. After purchasing and settling on this 300-acre ranch, Lorenzo started a dairy farm where Filipponi Ranch is located today.

After eight years of producing wine, Filipponi Ranch has opened their “Old” Ranch House as a wonderous place for wine tasting. This house built in the early 1900’s and home to siblings Herb and JoAnn Filipponi has become a very special place to share moments with friends and family and enjoy the bounty that these beautiful surroundings provide. Come see for yourself.

Sextant Wines

With two locations in SLO Country: one in Paso Robles and one in Edna Valley, Sextant has their varietals and profiles very well covered. The Edna Valley vineyard laces around the historic townsite of ‘Old Edna’, and the proprietors decided to embrace the past by opening their tasting room in the Old Edna General Store. A few steps away you can find yourself surrounded by the oldest vineyard in Edna Valley, The MacGregor Vineyard, planted in 1974.

Don’t miss an opportunity to taste Sextants vibrant selections.

FAQ

San Luis Obispo County boasts more than 280 wineries and 40 grape varieties, producing palette-pleasing, world class wines for visitors from all around the country. You can make your way across all of SLO wine country in a mere 15-20-minute drive, so rent a car or hire a driver and make your rounds! Wine lovers fawn over the county’s pinot noirs and chardonnays, so whether you lean towards red or white, you’re bound to fall in love with a bottle.

Many of SLO County’s wineries have tasting rooms located in downtown SLO, or on the outskirts of town, here are a few you should definitely explore:
There are a number of SLO wineries that host fun for all ages in a variety of ways. Lawn games are all the rage these days, and these wineries are happy to host your entire family’s leisure Olympics with rounds of bocce ball and corn hole: Other kid-friendly wine adventures would include a stop at Sextant Wines for a visit to the historic town of Old Edna to check out its artifacts and old structures. Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards have a flock of real-life peacocks roaming around the grounds. Buy a bag of feed for the kids to share with their new feathered friends and let the fun begin.
Of course you can! There are quite a few tour companies providing a variety of styles of tours based upon your group size and budget. Here are 5 tour companies that are rated very highly:
That’s an understatement! SLO County has a number of fantastic wine trails that cover an eclectic mix of territories and varieties. This is best explained by our friends at the San Luis Obispo Wine Collective, who have each trail mapped out for your perfectly:

These are just a few of the more than 280 wineries in San Luis Obispo County. This area is brimming with exciting new things to see and taste every single year. So make a plan to come visit the beautiful SLO Coast, and be ready to try some truly spectacular wines.