California’s San Luis Obispo Coast for wine lovers

San Luis Obispo Coast
Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo County

The area hugs the Pacific Ocean on the seafront side of the coastal range mountains in San Luis Obispo County and also includes two contiguous AVAs—the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley. San Luis Obispo’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean shapes the terroir, the wines and the convivial lifestyle that is distinctly “SLO.”

Dwarfed by the larger and inland-lying Paso Robles AVA to the north, SLO Coast Wine is comprised of 30 wineries and is destined to become an appellation of its own, due to its cool maritime influence and personality which grant the wines a natural and energetic balance of acidity, complexity and freshness. SLO’s wine culture is not new. The modern era of winemaking in San Luis Obispo County dates back to the early 1970s, approximately 200 years after mission priests of San Luis Obispo grew grapes to make sacramental wines.

Together with generational wine making families and young pioneers, a thriving dining culture and coastal activities, the seaside destination – which once was one of California’s best kept secrets – is catching on throughout the world.

The quaint small-town feel of San Luis Obispo and surrounding areas are punctuated with coffee shops, artisanal crafts, beach-front eateries and ocean activities that favour the vibrant college town crowd and discriminating tastes of the well-travelled. San Luis Obispo is bordered to the north by the magnificent Hearst Castle, which was developed by media mogul William Randolph Hearst, who had an impeccable wine collection whom locals say he kept the keys in his front pocket at all times during Prohibition in the U.S. Along the coastline are sandy beaches and towns of Avila and Pismo that draw beachcombers, surfers, and fishermen, adding to the inherent beauty and relaxed culture.

Here, cool climate and coastal influence go hand-in-hand with vineyards located at an average of five miles from the Pacific Ocean. Slow burning fog melts away to warm sunshine and reliable coastal breezes, making San Luis Obispo Coast home to one of the world’s longest wine growing seasons and with the natural ability to produce crisp Chardonnays, and juicy and earthy Pinot Noirs by producers such as Sinor-Lavalle, Oceano, Cutruzzola, and Niner Estates. Also commonly found in the area are Rhône varieties, such as Syrah, Grenache, Viognier as well as aromatic whites, including Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. San Luis Obispo is leading the charge in producing Albariño in the New World, with producers such Tangent, Croma Vera Wines, Peloton Cellars, Stephen Ross Wine Cellars, among others accounting for more than 20 percent of all of California’s Albariño. Pronounced marine conditions are ideal for coaxing essential qualities out of locally grown Albariño fruit.

The soils in SLO Coast emerged from the collision of tectonic plates causing a commingling of ancient seabed, marine shale, sand, ocean-carved sandstone, fossilized shells, calcareous clays and volcanic soil from the areas dormant chain of 20+ million year-old volcanoes, called the Morros. Together the patchwork of soils often varies within areas smaller than a hectare, giving more diversity to the region’s wines.

Wineries to visit

Stolo Vineyards

A picturesque drive along the coast leads to Stolo, located in the seaside town of Cambria. The Stolo team, headed by winemaker Nicole Bertotti Pope, strives to maintain the integrity of the grape and vineyard by crafting wines that represent the unique terroir of this cool growing region with small-lot, estate wines ranging from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

  • 3776 Santa Rosa Creek Rd, Cambria, CA 93428
  • Estate tastings: Daily. For up to 8 guests no reservations required. For groups over 8, advanced booking of 48 hours needed.

Croma Vera

Croma Vera, specialises in Spanish varieties and sources its Albariño from SLO Coast’s Spanish Springs, a vineyard known for its…

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