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Wine touring in Paso Robles with Coy Barnes – the Wine Wrangler

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By: Jonathon Reynolds


Just after breakfast Coy picked me up at the hotel (you don’t want to do a wine tasting tour and drive yourself) in a huge bright yellow Hummer. No chance of missing this car in the parking lot and if there are any roads washed out between us and the wineries we would still make it through. Coy started talking about the wine region as soon as we left and his knowledge of the area and the wine development in Paso Robles is truly encyclopaedic and infectious as is his obvious love of wine and people. He talked about the history of wine in the region and then broke down the history of each winery we visited and many we drove by.


We covered a range of wineries from small, totally organic and family run wineries through to bigger boutique wineries, all of which had a distinct style and flavour, from French inspired (and sometimes staffed) to edgy Californian rebellious wineries which push the edge on both wine making and style. One thing they all had in common was great wine. Zinfandel seemed to be the predominant grape varietal though by no means the only wine at the wineries we visited, and there is a proud tradition of blended wines throughout the region, which creates some truly remarkable tasting opportunities. One highlight at one of the oldest wineries is the wine cellars which were built by mining machinery under the vineyard. The tunnels wind into the hillside and are far larger and longer than one might expect, housing a huge amount of wine but also a dining area and other entertaining options.

After several hours, lunch and a multitude of tastings plus driving over a large area of Paso Robles, Coy dropped me back at my hotel. Right till the end he was telling me more information about every winery we visited and passed. I am sure that I forgot more than 90% of what he told me and even the 10% that was left gave me dozens of stories to pass on to my friends and the people I met at the hotel. In cases like this doing a wine tour with a guide like Coy is truly worth the investment – not only can the Wine Wrangler steer you towards the wines you will like best; he will allow you to understand so much more about the area than would be possible on your own.