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Column: Tasting Paso Robles in 24 hours 

Carl Bowker: Photo credit: Heather Daenitz: Craft & Cluste

Carl Bowker: Photo credit: Heather Daenitz: Craft & Cluster.

– When you only have an overnight in Paso Robles, there is still plenty of time to experience great wine and food. Returning from a two-week road trip, my wife and I got the most out of Paso in 24 hours.

Caliza Winery, Carl Bowker (owner/winemaker), and his wife Pam just celebrated their winery’s 15th anniversary. It’s been quite a journey following Carl’s success since the tasting room opened in November of 2008, then pouring a selection of 2006 red wines plus a 2007 Kissin’ Cousins white.

Our recent tasting started off with a 2018 Roussane. This very special wine is aged 30 months in barrel, plus 2 years in the bottle before release. My wife described this as “liquid gold.”

We were then treated to several reds:

  • 2020 Primitivo (an enticing blend of 90% primitivo and 10% petite sirah)
  • 2019 Cohort (65% petite sirah, 20% mourvèdre, 15% syrah)
  • 2020 Syrah (100% syrah)
  • 2020 Companion (50% cabernet sauvignon, 50% syrah)


Jordan Fiorentini

Jordan Fiorentini.

Cheers to Carl and Pam on their first 15 years.

The Red Scooter Deli, by the park, is one of our go-to lunch spots between tastings. Following a relaxing lunch across the street in the park, with one of their fresh, delicious sandwiches (large enough to split), we took the scenic drive on the 46 West to Epoch Estate Wines.

Epoch is more than just a winery; this is a historic property. Epoch’s Paderewski Vineyard was once owned by famed Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who was also free Poland’s first prime minister. Additionally, the tasting room is the restored York Mountain Winery, one of the first bonded wineries on the Central Coast, dating from the late 1800s. Surrounded by history and a pastoral setting, we were treated to an exceptional library tasting of several 2013 Vintages.

Since 2010, winemaker Jordan Fiorentini has been turning out elegant wines at Epoch, and the 2013 vintage is vibrant, flavorful, and as exciting as when it was first released. Our tasting host, Sherman Walton couldn’t have been more knowledgeable and pleasant as we experienced the following:

  • White (a blend of white Rhone grapes)
  • Zinfandel (Paso Robles’ signature varietal, also blended)
  • Estate Blend (representing five of Epochs estate grown varietals)
  • Ingenuity (syrah based)
  • Tempranillo (87% tempranillo with grenache and zinfandel co-fermented).


Tasting at Epoch is always an epic experience.

The Cioppino at CATCH

The Cioppino at Catch.

Catch Seafood Bar and Grill was the evening’s dinner spot, across from the park. Chef/owner Chico Mora, a longtime Paso Robles restauranteur, creates magic in his open-style kitchen. Check the chalkboard for daily specials. If you are a cioppino lover (as I am), get ready to dive into one of the most enticing, seafood-filled, tasty cioppinos you have ever experienced! This dish can certainly be shared by two. Our party of five all agreed, bravo to Chef Mora!

The it was off to bed, and up the following day for a late morning tasting at Cairjn Wine Cellars. As exciting as it has been following many of Paso’s winemakers like Carl and Jordan over the last 10-15 years, it’s going to be just as exciting to follow winemaker Andy Neja.

Andy Neja and family

Andy Neja and family.

Andy isn’t exactly “new,” having been at Caliza since 2015 (currently Caliza’s Associate Winemaker). Now introducing his own brand, Cairjn Wine Cellars, Andy opened his tasting room (just off the 46E) in August of this year. We were pleased to sample Andy’s initial release, consisting of the following:

  • 2021 Rose of Grenache
  • 2021 Albarino
  • 2020 Grenache
  • 2020 Syrah
  • 2020 Blend No. 1


It’s going to be an exciting journey following and tasting the wines Andy creates. An added bonus tasting at Cairjn is you will taste with the winemaker, which is always a super experience.

And that wrapped up our 24 hours in Paso Robles. As always, a memorable and tasty. So, if you “only have 24 hours in Paso,” make the most of it! Safe travels! Cheers.


-Donald Sonderling is a freelance writer covering California’s Wine Roads from Santa Barbara to Napa Valley. He may be reached at:


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