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The aroma of ripe grapes wafts through Paso Robles’ Opolo winery and its vineyards, dotted with leaves in rusty shades of crimson, yellow and orange. Outside the tasting room, a crowd dances to live music, while foodies pile their plates high with whole roasted lamb, a perfect match for Opolo’s fruity flagship Mountain Zinfandel.
And depending on the specific Harvest Wine Weekend lineup, there’s still plenty of time to explore more. Time to hit the 17,000 square feet of underground wine caves at Eberle Winery, where wood-fired pizzas and chardonnay await. Or head for a Justin dinner from the winery’s award-winning culinary team — and then stomp barefooted in a barrel of grapes. It’s just ceremonial, of course, but unbelievably fun.
Wine festivals are an essential California experience, and harvest is the most magical time to attend one, especially in Paso Robles, a region in San Luis Obispo County known for its wide variety of grape varietals, its historic downtown and proximity to iconic Hearst Castle and the Pacific Ocean.
The Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend is particularly accessible because it is family friendly (dog-friendly, too), and it takes place during the third weekend in October, after the frenzy of summer tourism has died down.
During this time, most of the grapes have been picked and winery crews are busy de-stemming, crushing and fermenting the grapes into wine. The promise of a new vintage creates an unmistakable buzz as each winery hosts a unique celebration of crush.
Some 130 separate events happen all around the Paso Robles wine region, from ceremonial grape stomps and educational crush pad tours to vineyard excursions, restaurant wine pairings and barrel tastings. If you’re looking for something more laid back, there are plenty of barbecues, dinners, live music events, open houses and even cupcake-wine pairings.
And when you need a break from tasting wine and eating great food, you can explore a wide variety of other activities in Paso Robles, from golf and cycling to hiking, olive oil tasting and distillery tours.
Details: The Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend takes place Oct. 19-21 at more than 100 wineries in and around Paso Robles. For more information on the festival and the region, visit www.pasowine.com.
Source: East Bay Grape stomps, barrel tastings and Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend