A few weeks ago I wrote about Cypher Winery, a biker-friendy winery in the Paso Robles area of California’s central coast.
If you’ve never been there, or have only ridden through, you need to spend at least a weekend in Paso Robles. Unlike the Napa Valley, Paso Robles offers a lot of bang for your buck, and although there are plenty of fancy restaurants and ways to spend money if you’d like, the town really isn’t pretentious at all. It is more of a biker/cowboy town than anything else, and the people are friendly and welcoming. Great restaurants, fun bars, friendly people, and plenty of wineries and tasting rooms where you can drink for next to nothing, make this a great place to spend a few days. Of course, if you are riding up there, plan to spend the night. There is way too much booze flowing in this town to make this a day trip. And take it from a motorcycle accident lawyer — an accident or a DUI is the quickest way to ruin a great trip.
The biker-friendly Cypher Winery was one of the highlights of our trip. But in the interest of full disclosure (and since I wasn’t bribed with free wine to only say good stuff) here are the highlights of the Good and Bad from our visit to Cypher.
The Good: We upgraded our wine tasting with a barrel tour for just $5 each. There, we were able to taste grapes from the same vines, straight out of the various barrels they use (i.e., American, French, and Hungarian, if memory serves me correctly). It was interesting and fun to taste how different barrels affect the tastes of the wine. Our tour guide Mike was fun and knowledgeable. The wines were great, and we even got suckered into joining the wine club. The attached cafe, “Farmstand 46,” offered delicious cheeses and meats, and one of the best pot pies (fresh from the oven) that I’ve ever tasted.
The Bad: Difficult to find too much to complain about at this winery, but there was one small thing that bothered me. The price of the wine tasting was just $10 per person. A fair deal, with plenty of wine poured for your ten bucks. On top of that, the price included your own wine glass that you got to chose and take home with you — an $8 value. Now, if you joined the wine club — meaning, if you agreed to purchase three bottles, three times per year, the cost of the wine tasting was waived. So why am I complaining? Because they waived the cost of the wine tasting, but then you didn’t get to keep your wine glass. So if you decided you wanted the glass — which they kind of got you hooked on by having you pick out one you liked, and telling you it was yours to keep — then they would still charge you the $8. In other words, joining the wine club really only saved you a whopping $2. Okay, I sound cheap, I know. I just hate the old bait-and-switch.
Despite the minor complaint about the wine glasses, we had a great time, and look forward to our next trip to Paso Robles. After a day of sampling the local exports, we may even hit up the Pine Street Saloon again for some tequila shots and karaoke. But that’s a story for another time.