There is something magical about the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, CA. Whether it’s the cloudless blue skies, the cool breezes that float through the Salinas Valley or the sweeping views from the hillside vineyards, there’s something truly intoxicating about the area.
During my last visit, I spent an afternoon at Paraiso Vineyards. Paraiso is one of the 13 or so tasting rooms located along the River Road Wine Trail, which is the main tasting route through the Valley.
Paraiso Vineyards is owned and operated by the Smith family – one of the first wine grape growing families in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The Smith family settled in the area in the early 1970’s and they’ve been crafting delicious, small production wines for 40 years.
Located high above River Road, the views at Paraiso Vineyards are absolutely stunning. We grabbed our first taste – a 2010 Chardonnay – and headed outside to sit on the deck and enjoy the gorgeous day.
Our tasting included 7 wines for a $5 fee. All the wines we tried were estate grown with the exception of a juicy 2009 “Irie” Zinfandel crafted from Paso Robles grapes by third generation Smith family member, Justin Murphy.
Not only were all the wines we tasted really good, but they were also surprisingly affordable with the most expensive bottle – the 2008 “Wedding Hill” Syrah – priced at $45. My personal favorites were the 2010 Riesling ($16) which is made of grapes selected from 35 year old vines, and the 2009 Estate Pinot Noir ($25).
We spent nearly two hours sitting outside at Paraiso and could have easily spent another two enjoying the gorgeous views. Paraiso Vineyards is a beautiful winery with beautiful wines to match.
38060 Paraiso Springs Road
Soledad, CA 93960
Phone: (831) 678-0300
Tasting room hours: 11AM – 4PM Weekdays; 11AM – 5PM Weekends