There are no scenic vineyards or rustic barns, but what the downtown wine-tasting scene offers is an eclectic group of wine lounges within proximity of four to five blocks, representing Paso’s 11 sub-appellations. Here you can savor a wide selection of wines ranging from Spanish, Portuguese and Italian varietals to Bordeaux and Rhône style wines as well as some impressive pinot noirs.  

Paso’s downtown district continues to elevate the local wine experience with an explosion of tasting lounges now escalated to some 30 of which 25 winemakers/owners have formed the Downtown Wine District association. 

The holiday season is just beginning and the tasting rooms are festive with special wine packages, music on weekends and plenty of bubbly from wineries such as D’Anbino Cellars, Derby Wine Estates, Bushong, CaliPaso, Hoyt, Symbiosis and Serrano.

Wines featured at downtown tasting rooms are produced by dedicated winemakers who craft small production of artisanal wines mostly made offsite in various wineries, sourcing fruit from prized Paso vineyards and along the Central Coast. Few have vineyards and there are just three actual wineries in downtown — Derby, Herman Story and Symbiosis.   

These tasting rooms, stretching from 14th Street to 5th Street, are tucked in alleys (Indegené Cellars), sharing space with a jewelry store (Frolicking Frog Cellars), by the Train Depot (Cypher Wine), in a restored almond mill (Derby) and a guitar museum (Gary Kramer Guitar Cellars). 

Enter AndBe, a chic fashion boutique on Pine Street that will lead you to Paso Underground, a collective of four tasting counters where noted winemaker Amy Butler pours the distinctive Rhône-style wines of Ranchero Cellars. Others in the collective include Lost Blues, Hubba, and Primitive sharing counter space with Ultima Tulie

Once neglected Railroad Street is emerging as the next hub where brewmaster Frank Panian makes nine beers at California Coast Beer Company, a ten-barrel brew house across from the cowboy-themed Iron Oaks Wine Lounge. A few blocks up, Ted Ross, co-owner of Hayseed & Housdon, is dedicated to supporting local charities by donating 50 percent of sales of his four wines to four different charities.

A cluster of tasting rooms lines the busy 13th Street stretch. Copia’s outstanding Rhône-inspired wines are produced by the winemaking team of Anita Kothari and Varinder Sahi. At this contemporary designed lounge, a five-wine lineup is offered with or without cheese and charcuterie.

Next door at Sea Shell Cellars’ breezy beach-themed lounge, there’s a lineup of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, tempranillo and refreshing Rosé and viognier.

Across the street, Pianetta’s tasting lounge has been around since 2006 with its wines produced in San Miguel. Winemaker Caitlin Pianetta is crafting impressive Italian varieties such as sangiovese made in the classic Chianti style and barbera, a popular tasting room wine. There’s also a luscious Super Tuscan, velvety zinfandel and the flagship cabernet sauvignon. Head a few doors down and taste superb Bordeaux-style blends at Domaine Degher crafted by musician Denis Degher.  

You will find Spanish varietals such as tempranillo and graciano at both Bodega de Paso Robles and Diablo Paso whose owner/winemaker Enrique Torres is known for his minerally albariño and superb tempranillo. Torres has just launched his namesake non-Spanish label, bottling Bordeaux-style blends and a nebbiolo. Diablo Paso is among the few tasting rooms open until 8 p.m. — or until the visitors leave. 

“We’re always flexible; we don’t kick people out,” affirms co-owner Nora Gaisi.

At Bushong Vintage Company, where edgy art adorns the walls and wine labels, owner/winemaker Jason Bushing, a die-hard vinyl collector, might spin a disc or two while pouring his wines. Here you can taste Cold Roses, a refreshing blend of gewurtztraminer and albariño, a decadent barbera or a dense and rich tannat. 

Across the street, Glenna Thompson’s Symbiosis Wines is a one-woman operation producing wine in a small facility in the back while minding her tasting room in the front. Thompson is the only one in downtown producing the Argentinian white wine torrentes alongside her Rhône-style wines.

LXV’s co-owner Neeta Mittal has given a unique spin to their Bordeaux- and Rhône-style blends by pairing them with spices. LXV also hosts acclaimed artists in a new adjacent space, which also serves as a private tasting room for up to 12 people.

For pinot noir lovers, look no further than Tudor Wines where owner/winemaker Dan Tudor offers silky pinots sourced from Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands, as well as aromatic rieslings and a gewürztraminer Ice Wine. Up the alley, a seductive pinot noir is served at the intimate space of Indigené Cellars crafted by veteran winemaker Raymond Smith. 

Derby Wine Estates is noted for coastal pinot noir from its hilltop Derbyshire Vineyards planted in San Simeon. Derby’s tasting lineup is vast, ranging from Bordeaux- and Rhône-style wines to Spanish varieties. The contemporary tasting lounge and patio get festive during this month with the Annual Holiday Open House December 7.

Justin’s ultra-chic tasting lounge and restaurant is a popular spot for food and wine pairing as well as hand-painted chocolates by pastry chef Saree Musick paired with Justin’s deep lush Bordeaux blends.

There’s a certain throwback vibe to Cypher Winery’s tasting room at the train depot, a historic gem on the station’s platform, dating back to the 1800s. How convenient for rail passengers to enjoy winemaker Susan Mahler’s bold and bodacious Rhône-style wines before getting on their journey. 

To ring in the New Year, members of the Downtown Wine District are planning their very first New Year Eve bash at the former Level 4 space at 1216 Park Street. There will be food prepared by Justin restaurant, a live band, prizes and plenty of downtown wine — all savored under one roof.

For a complete list of tasting rooms and New Year’s Eve party information, visit