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 4x4 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.
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?
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.
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.
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: Halter Ranch – A Year in the Vineyard
Visiting Halter Ranch Winery
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.
About the Photo
The photo above was taken at the Halter Ranch at 8910 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, California.