Here we are, the third and final part of my Tin City blog series. It’s been a fun journey so far, and if we had actually walked it, we would have racked up quite a few steps. Before we hit the trail, I’d like to mention the food availability at Tin City. Sadly, with the COVID shutdown came the closure of Tin City’s only restaurant, Tin Canteen. However, they do have an on-site food truck offering delicious options for lunch. Each time I've visited, it’s been a different truck, so it's a fun surprise. I've noticed the trucks typically have at least one vegetarian option on the menu. There is plenty of socially distant seating at picnic benches under umbrellas, so you can sit back and enjoy your meal before you head out for your next tasting.
What they Specialize in: Al Lago specializes in Super Tuscan-inspired wines. They have a special place in their hearts for Sangiovese. Although they currently offer Pinot Noir, the Pinot on their property has since been grafted over in favor of Amarone varietals, with a plan to focus on Italian varietals.
COVID Adaptations: They try to have only one tasting party at a time, no matter their size, with a maximum of size of six people. In compliance with CA regulations, all tastings are hosted outside in two areas, which are about eight feet apart. Masks are required of both patrons and employees. All wines are poured in a flight ahead of time so that the bottle is never exposed to tasting parties. When revisiting a wine, the server can decant the sample in a clean water glass and use that to pour into their glass. There is 30 minutes allotted between tasting appointments to adequately sanitize every surface, including the bathroom, door handles, etc. Virtual tastings are also offered.
Curbside Pickups: Curbside pickups are available upon request.
Where they Ship: They ship mostly within CA, but have the ability to ship anywhere in the country where it is legally allowed.
Sales and Promotions: They always offer a case discount of 20%, which matches their wine club discount.
Contact Info: https://allagowines.com/ Phone: (805) 235-1947
*Photo curtesy of Al Lago
What they Specialize in: Levo specializes in Rhône varietals, but also makes a Petite Sirah and a Cabernet Sauvignon for their Wine Club.
COVID Adaptations: Right now they are only doing one group at a time, pre-pouring all their wines, and collecting credit card info over the phone before arrival so as to social distance during the tasting. Masks are required of their staff, and proper sanitization procedures are practiced between groups.
Curbside Pickups: Curbside pickups are welcome. They can accommodate masked guests for pickups and can deliver to the parking lot upon arrival.
Where they Ship: They ship anywhere it is legal to within the country.
Sales and Promotions: Wine club members receive two free tastings per year, as well as 15% off on all purchases.
Contact Info: https://www.levowine.com/ Phone: (805) 400-5994
What they Specialize in: Jacob Toft is known for producing small-batch, full-flavored wines. While studying under Stephan Asseo of L’Aventure for six vintages, Jacob learned that wines of quality begin in the vineyard. This mindset drives Jacob to source only the best fruit the Central Coast has to offer. These vineyard locations span from Santa Barbara to Santa Lucia Highlands, with deep roots in Paso Robles. In all, they are currently sourcing fruit from 13 different vineyards.
COVID Adaptations: They have converted their parking lot into a tasting lounge to host all of their tastings. They have individual fan/misters and an outdoor air conditioning unit for the warm days. They have hand sanitizer at the ready, and all the staff wear masks when hosting tastings. They can also host a virtual tasting via Zoom. Tasting kits include mini bottles of what they are currently pouring.
Curbside Pickups: Curbside pickup is available every day from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Orders can be placed on their website or you can order in person.
Where they Ship: They ship to most states. The only states they cannot ship to are DE, KY (this is changing soon), MS, ND, SD, UT, VT, and WT.
Sales and Promotions: Free ground shipping with promo code fitwineo.
Contact Info: https://www.jacobtoft.com/ Phone: (805) 550-1633
*Photo curtsey of @sarahkathleenphoto
What they Specialize in: Aaron Wines has specialized in Petite Sirah and Petite Sirah blends since 2002. Since 2012, Aaron has also been carving a place for himself among the coastal community with his central coast Pinot Noirs and aromatic whites. This brand is called Aequorea, meaning “of the sea” in Latin.
COVID Adaptations: With COVID, they have followed state sanitization and social distancing recommendations. They serve the wines in their open-air tasting room, sanitize carefully, and take small groups that are properly spaced apart by appointment. The staff wears masks when interacting with guests.
Curbside Pickups: Curbside pickups are welcome.
Where they Ship: They ship nationally and are always working toward obtaining new licensing to ship to different states. Currently, their exceptions include AL, PA, and UT.
Sales and Promotions: Their wine club includes six bottles in the spring and fall. Members get a 20% discount on all club shipments and wine purchases, as well as first access to new releases before they go public, annual allocation of small production wines, and complimentary tastings for the club member and three guests at the winery. To stay up to date, especially on limited and small production wines, sign up for their email list through their website.
Contact Info: https://aaronwines.com/ Phone: (805) 369-2037
Powell Mountain Cellars
What they Specialize in: Powell Mountain Cellars produces Bordeaux, Rhône, and Spanish varietals, as well as Primitivo and Zinfandel. They also produce five PMC blends. Their wines are made in an Old World styled tradition from native yeast fermentations. Their Estate wines are produced from non-certified organic fruit. They emphasize their winemaking to feature wines of wonderful flavor, structure, balance, and character.
COVID Adaptations: They are currently open for outdoor wine tasting. They follow the CDC and SLO County guidelines for safe protocols for winery tasting rooms and production facilities.
Curbside Pickups: Curbside pickup is available for phone, email, and online orders.
Where they Ship: They ship within CA via GLS/GSO. To ship outside of CA, click on the “Shop Now – VinoShipper.” These shipments will be sent via FedEx Ground.
Sales and Promotions: They currently offer a PMC Blend package and a PMC Library package at their Tin City tasting room, via email, or over the phone. Both packages require a promo code to purchase the wine at a discount; call to inquire further. Their PMC wine club receives complimentary tastings, member-only discounts, member-exclusive invitations, and access to their limited-release wines. Members also receive a 15% discount on all wines and an additional 5% off on case purchases.
Contact Info: http://powellmountaincellars.com/ Phone: (805) 434-8097
What they Specialize in: Union Sacré is an Alsace house and specializes in dry Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Sylvaner. They also make Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc for red wines.
COVID Adaptations: As we know, COVID-compliant operating regulations has caused wine tasting to be moved outdoors. Union Sacré thanks their California distributor, BURKE, for their survival—they have done a great job during these unprecedented times.
Curbside Pickups: Curbside pickup is available.
Where they Ship: Shipping is available across the country.
Sales and Promotions: They currently have half-case and case specials on their website. They encourage customers to check their website for the most-current specials.
Contact Info: https://www.unionsacre.com/ Phone: (805) 369-2777
Thanks for joining me on this three-part journey, visiting 19 wineries in Tin City. I hope you’ve discovered some new wineries that you feel inspired to visit on your next trip to Paso, or in the meantime, virtually via a tasting kit or bottles of wine shipped to your door. Why not include your friends and make it a virtual tasting party? Due to time and availability constraints, there are a couple wineries I wasn’t able to visit. Perhaps I can in the future and it will be something to look forward to.
As always, have fun exploring, report to me your feedback—I love to hear it—be safe, stay well, and let’s keep supporting our Paso wineries.