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Every visit to California should have at least one winery on the itinerary. And if you’re in San Luis Obispo County, you may want to make your stop the beautiful Halter Ranch, where you can get a taste of wine country as well as fine wine.

The Excursion Tour, in a restored 1984 Land Rover Defender 110, is a great adventure through the vineyards that cover the hilly terrain. With 281 acres of vineyards, plus a wildlife corridor, there’s lots to see. The day I visited, it was raining, so we got to do a little 4×4 driving, splashing through potholes along the trail. We still made it to the ranch’s highest elevation though, so I could gaze out over Lion’s Ridge and take photos.

Truck for winery tour at Halter Ranch in California

Truck for winery tour at Halter Ranch in California

Stopping under the famed Ancestor Tree at the top is a highlight of the Excursion tour. And what better way to toast the incredible view than with the Halter Ranch’s current vintage?

Vineyards in the rain at Halter Ranch in California.

Vineyards in the rain at Halter Ranch in California.

Halter Ranch Winery Tours

The vineyards at Halter Ranch date back to the late 1880s, while the current owner, Hansjörg Wyss, purchased 900 acres of the original ranch in 2000. Although Hansjörg was born and raised in Switzerland, he dreamed of producing world-class grapes and wines in California. When he found Paso Robles, he decided it was the place to make his dreams happen.

Wine barrels at Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, California.

Wine barrels at Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, California.

And Hansjörg dreams big! In fact, the winery and cave tour takes you through 20,000 feet of barrel caves. That’s a lot of rows of barrels stacked just two high. As we moved through the caves, Kevin Sass, the winemaker, told us all about the production process from the way the fruit is handled to the 21 different types of barrels they’re experimenting with to produce the finest flavored wines.

At one point a frog–a very noisy frog–even added his voice to the story.

Inside these caves the temperature must be kept constant at 61 degrees, which can be a challenge in California. Even the humidity is controlled. The ranch uses a night flow air systems that sucks out the day’s air and brings in the cooler night air.

Inside winery at Halter Ranch in California.

Inside winery at Halter Ranch in California.

There’s also a barrel tasting tour available through the caves. And its main perk, of course, is getting a taste right out of the barrel! Indeed, we sampled wines from three different barrels. Even I could taste the different grapes and barrel influences and I’m much more of a beer and cider taster than wine expert.

Wine Tasting Room

Even if you don’t have time to tour the property or the barrel caves, do make time to check out the tasting room. It’s an experience in itself, although the wines are pretty memorable too.

My favorite? The 2016 Rosé. But what’s not to love about aromas of wild strawberry, watermelon and guava, along with a crisp taste?

Video: Tour Halter Ranch Winery

Visiting Halter Ranch Winery

Halter Ranch Winery
8910 Adelaida Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446

During my visit to San Luis Obispo County I stayed in Morro Bay, so you may want to make this seaside town your focal point for exploring this area too.


I visited Morro Bay on a post trip to the NATJA (North American Travel Journalists) annual conference in 2016. My thanks to tourism in San Luis Obispo County for hosting my visit.

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About the Photo

The photo above was taken at the Halter Ranch at 8910 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, California.

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Halter Ranch Winery, Paso Robles, California

Halter Ranch Winery, Paso Robles, California

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