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 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 winegrowing 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 a long-term respect for the Earth that encourages most vineyards to farm organically, biodynamically, and to maintain SIP certification. This designation demands a holistic and forward-thinking approach to growing 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? (SEO questions)

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

Vintner Robin Baggett came to the SLO Coast area almost 40 years ago, drawn by the climate and soil but also with a dream of owning a cattle ranch. His mission has always been to discover the best pockets of soil and coerce the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays out by using advanced farming and wine making practices.

Tolosa is an SIP (sustainability in practice) certified winery and takes sustainability very seriously. Cover crops are utilized each year to add nitrates back into the soil and also assists in its ability to absorb water. Every drop of water is reclaimed and biologically processed for careful distribution throughout the vineyard.

Tolosa has a wide variety of tasting experiences to excite your eyes, nose, and taste buds. Keep them on your short list for a visit.

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. Stop by and see them!

FILLIPONI 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.

How many wineries are in San Luis Obispo County? (SEO)

San Luis Obispo County boasts more than 280 wineries and 40 grape varieties, producing palette pleasing 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.

Which wineries are nearest SLO? (SEO)

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:

Shadow Canyon Cellars

Croma Vera Wines

Stephen Ross Wine Cellars

Deovlet Wines

Refugio Ranch Vineyards

Are there kid friendly wineries? (SEO)

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:

Chronic Cellars

Laetitia Vineyard & Winery

Biddle Ranch Vineyard

Eberle Winery

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.

Can I go on a San Luis Obispo wine tour? (SEO)

SLO Wine Tours: How to Sign Up

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:

The Wine Wrangler

Grapeline Tours

Breakaway Tours

Toast Tours

Does SLO have a wine trail?

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:

SLO Coast Wine Collective

Closing

 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.

WHAT ARE THE BEST HIKING
TRAILS IN SAN LUIS OBISPO?

San Luis Obispo, California is becoming known as the happiest place in America. The beautiful beaches, bustling downtown, and bountiful wineries are often credited with inspiring such lofty language, but the great hiking trails must have something to do with it too. Some of the best coastal hiking trails in California are in SLO County, many with panoramic views of the ocean and the volcanic morros in the area.

While a popular question, this often depends on the hiker’s priorities and fitness level, so let’s stick with which trails in the area deliver the best views and/or nature experience. Here is a breakdown of 5 of the very best that SLO County has to offer:

Morro Strand Trail to Morro Rock

Morro Rock is an iconic monolith located north of San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast. This 578-foot tall outcropping of volcanic rock rises above the Pacific Ocean and separates the sands of Morro Bay State Beach with the Morro Bay Harbor. This suggested hike route starts from a coastal wetland called Cloisters Park and crosses over sand dunes as it heads towards Morro Rock. Total route if completed around Morro Rock is 3.5 miles roundtrip.

*no dogs

*kid-friendly

More info and directions HERE

Black Hill in Morro Bay State Park

Of all the morros in SLO County, Black Hill is the easiest to summit. This 661-foot volcanic peak in Morro Bay State Park can be reached by hiking up a dirt single track with 190 feet of elevation gain and views over the city of Morro Bay. Total mileage roundtrip is around .6, so this is a great hike to bring the kids along. Anyone looking for more mileage can find it by starting farther down Black Hill.

*dogs ok on leash

* kid-friendly

More info and directions HERE

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

This easy-breezy hike along the coast is probably the only wild habitat in the country where humans can view these boisterous creatures up close and personal. Located just off Highway One north of San Simeon, the trail skirts a bluff along the Pacific coast, and features a couple boardwalks for observing these large mammals as they lay around in the sand. This hike is not just kid-friendly, we will happily give this one a designation of kid-favorite!

*no dogs

*kid-friendly

More info and directions HERE

Cerro Alto

As one of the tallest peaks in the volcanic plug system in SLO County, Cerro Alto provides some of the best views in the area, but not without some effort to reach the peak. This peak in the ‘nine sisters’ chain of morros tops out at 2,624 feet, and there are a couple different routes to the top ranging from moderate to strenuous. The shortest (and steepest) route is a quick 1.95 miles, and the more moderate route measures 2.75 miles. You can combine these with a spur trail to a southern ridge for a total climbing effort of close to 2,000 feet.

*dogs ok on leash

More info and directions HERE

Valencia Peak / Montana de Oro State Park

Valencia Peak is also part of the area’s volcanic morros system and tops out at 1,347 feet. This peak resides within the majestic Montana de Oro State Park and the journey to the peak will provide hearty hikers with amazing views of the Pacific coastline as well as mountain ranges inland. The hike being very close to the ocean just south of the visitor center near Spooner’s Cove, and the upward journey of 1,275 feet might be challenging for kids or the grandparents.

*no dogs

More info and directions HERE

Cerro San Luis Obispo

The aptly name Cerro (aka “hill”) is part of the ‘nine sisters’ which are ancient volcanic morros  native to the SLO County area. This particular hill is located closest to downtown SLO and sees a lot of users hiking and biking around the peak. In springtime the trail is flooded with beautiful wildflowers and there are several options to vary mileage and difficulty depending on your mood and ability.

*dogs ok on leash

More info and directions HERE   

Waterfalls? Here’s the trail and directions.

Reservoir Canyon Trail

This hike has a little bit of everything – passage through oak tunnels, unexplained metal sculptures, a waterfall, and a steep assault to the summit of an unnamed peak! The Reservoir Canyon area utilizes a few trails to close the loop on a great day and packs a punch with 1,350 feet of climbing in just a couple miles. The hike is located on an offshoot trail at the base of the climb and should not be missed. After viewing the waterfall (or taking a dip), you can begin your quest for the peak which is not for the meek of heart. The final mile of the trail ascends 800 feet in less than a mile!

*dogs ok on leash

More info and directions HERE

Can I join hiking groups in San Luis Obispo?

Not only is SLO County labeled as one of the happiest places on earth, it is also an outdoor recreation hotbed that attracts many like-minded nature lovers to visit and call home. So, there is no shortage of happy SLOcals to meet for a hike near town.

Meetup is a great resource for connecting with people or groups that share your hobby of hiking:

https://www.meetup.com/topics/camping-and-hiking-group/us/ca/san_luis_obispo/

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