Any road trip between Santa Barbara and the San Francisco Bay Area deserves a wine break. One of the most picturesque stopping points about half way through your journey is Paraiso Vineyards just north of King City and Paso Robles. Upon stopping, the first thing you notice is a lovely cork tree growing right outside their tasting room.
But what takes your breath away is the view of its hillside and sprawling valley while sipping sumptuous wines. Their Chardonnay has a lively blend of red apple, citrus, and pineapple flavors from partial time in French oak and stainless steel. It’s thickness and hint of banana must be what the French contributes. It would be a lovely pairing for rich salads or saucy lean meats.
Their flight of several Pinot Noirs showcases the versatility of this region. The first Pinot starts with tart currants and raspberry but the second Pinot has more richness with flavors of cherry and berry with a dark musty earthiness and a bit of spice. The third Pinot has more firm rich blueberry and dark black cherry with a balanced and complex body. This is the meaty one who can stand up to a steak or barbecue dinner. Their Zinfandel might surprise you not because of its lively berry profile but because of its subtle earth and spices of clove and sage. It must be its proximity to the coast that ensures the fruit is not overripe and its body has a velvet texture.
Finish the tasting with a dessert wine you certainly won’t see very often. It is a port varietal called Souzao aged into a port styled dessert wine with lots of plum, vanilla, and caramel flavors. An afterglow of cocoa rounds out the berry and plum but what lingers is the smokey vanilla and caramel. This one really rounds out your meal or dessert.