Midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo has more than 250 wineries growing 20 varietals and a wide selection of both urban and out-of-town wine tasting rooms to sample them. In addition to a handful of tasting rooms in walkable downtown SLO, the destination is surrounded by Central Coast wine country in nearby Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande, and Santa Maria Valley within a 30-minute drive.
Featured Photo: Edna Vines Vineyard
Central Coast Wines
712 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo
Wines: An extensive selection of fine wines sourced from winemakers in the Central Coast AVA
Why Visit: Located around the corner from Bubblegum Alley in the heart of downtown for over 20 years, Central Coast Wines is a welcoming place. Guests may order by the glass or choose a tasting flight of four wines while learning about the wines from the winemaker host. Sample hard-to-find Central Coast wines from the region’s vineyards. In-store shopping and tasting are open six days a week, 11am to 9pm, closed Monday. ccwines.com
SLO Wine & Beer Co.
3536 S Higuera St. Suite 250, San Luis Obispo
Wines: Boutique, single vineyard, family-produced wines from local and imported labels
Why Visit: Head for the bar to sip before you buy. In a no-frills setting, there’s a huge selection of curated wines chosen by a local restaurateur and wine broker. Well-informed crew members are on hand to answer wine questions from the guests. Watch for evening wine tasting events that feature live music by local acts or pop-up pairing dinners with local chefs. Open Monday through Thursday from 10:30am to 7pm and on Fridays and Saturdays until 8pm. Sunday hours are 11am to 6pm. slowineandbeerco.com
Ragtag Wine Co.
779 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo
Wines: Small batch and single vineyard wines that demonstrate the diversity of Central Coast terroir
Why Visit: This welcoming tasting room by a brother-sister team is in the heart of downtown SLO, accommodating guests both indoors and at the adjacent outdoor parklet. Sample five wines poured for a flight — new releases and fan favorites — from the Ragtag portfolio. Reserve a 75-minute tasting at $25 per person (light bites also available for purchase). Open daily, hours are 1pm to 8pm on Sunday through Tuesday and 12pm to 9pm on Wednesday through Saturday. ragtagwineco.com
Stephen Ross Wine Cellars
178 Suburban Rd., San Luis Obispo
Wines: Winemaker-owned for tasting and purchase of local, high quality wines
Why Visit: Four miles from downtown, and even closer to the famous Madonna Inn, this small tasting room is open Friday through Monday from 11am to 5pm. Winemaker Stephen Ross Dooley and his wife Paula source from their own Stone Corral Vineyard, exclusively planted to Pinot Noir, as well as partnering with several carefully selected producers in neighboring AVAs: Edna Valley, Paso Robles, Santa Maria Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands. Sip indoors or out, walk-ins welcome; reserve for groups of five or more. Open for tastings Friday through Monday 11am – 5pm, and for wine sales Tuesday through Thursday 11am – 3pm. stephenrosswine.com
Edna Valley Vineyard
2585 Biddle Ranch Rd., San Luis Obispo
Wines: Don’t miss this winery’s award-winning Chardonnay
Why Visit: Often mentioned as the top-rated tasting room in San Luis Obispo, this winery has a large open indoor space as well as a patio, both with panoramic views of surrounding hills, including the landmark Islay Peak volcano. Just seven miles from downtown San Luis Obispo and five miles from the ocean, Chardonnay styles reflect the cool climate of the SLO Coast. These Edna Valley vines create a flagship Chardonnay wine, plus five more varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Food pairings available. Open Thursday through Sunday, reservations required. ednavalleyvineyard.com
4910 Edna Rd., San Luis Obispo
Wines: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, including flagship Primera and single vineyard wines.
Why Visit: Six miles from downtown San Luis Obispo, Tolosa is a well-known brand (part of the Alpha Omega Collective) producing sustainable, award-winning wines where the specializations are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A contemporary tasting room overlooks the tank room and the outdoor terrace has views of the Monighetti Vineyards and Islay hills beyond. Some patio tables under the olive trees offer views of the crush pad, still others are set in the pretty sculpture garden. Knowledgeable staff guide visitors through flights and a $25 tasting fee is waived with a $50 purchase. Open 11am to 6pm daily; reservations required. tolosawinery.com
7525 Orcutt Rd., San Luis Obispo
Wines: Taste Edna Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir surrounded by the vines.
Why Visit: Taste straight from the source. This informal wine tasting room and patio is located right among the vines in a tranquil setting about 8 miles from downtown SLO. Chamisal is a charming and casual winery that provides spacious outdoor seating where guests may taste a zippy and bright sparkling wine. There are also current releases of the winery’s estate Chardonnay, as well as bottlings sourced from selected growers throughout nearby AVAs. The limited production signature Morrito Pinot Noir has been sought after since its 2003 introduction. Picnic boxes available for purchase. Open Thursday through Sunday 10am – 5pm for a 60-minute tasting of five wines or 75-minute experience; reservations required. chamisalvineyards.com
6238 Orcutt Rd., San Luis Obispo
Wines: One of Edna Valley’s first three vineyards, with handcrafted, sustainable production for four decades.
Why Visit: Cool coastal marine influence is a major factor for these 125 acres of vines just 4.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean. With an emphasis on artisan production, the ecologically friendly, certified sustainable property is family-owned and -operated. Primarily planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, several more acres are dedicated to Syrah, Petite Sirah, Riesling, and an uncommon Teroldego varietal. Tastings are held in a comfortable room, nothing fancy, where guests are likely to meet the owners in person. Guests may bring picnics to the outdoor terrace and flower garden decorated with bright sunbrellas. Open daily 11am – 5pm; reservations suggested. A $20 tasting fee is credited with a purchase of two bottles. wolffvineyards.com
Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive, Arroyo Grande
Wines: Originally known for Méthode Champenoise, now producing seven unique sparkling wines.
Why Visit: Open daily from 10am to 5:30pm, the tasting room at this winery has picnic areas, bocce ball courts, and a walking trail — all surrounded by remarkable views of the ocean and Arroyo Grande vineyards. While the 19-mile drive is a bit longer, Laetitia is a must-do for its well-loved sparkling wine. There’s an impressive lineup of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, too. The daily flight experience includes four current release wines to highlight the distinctive characteristics of the Central Coast. Or, bring some friends to sit around the fire pit for wine with s’mores, available daily at 12pm and 3pm. Open daily 10am – 5:30pm. laetitiawine.com