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Pinot in Paso?

While this notoriously fickle grape is more prevalent locally in the cooler climate of Edna Valley, the ocean breeze that flows through the Templeton Gap makes for a few good spots around Paso to sample this trendy varietal.

Pinot noir is the flagship at Templeton’s successful Wild Horse Winery (1437 Wild Horse Winery Court, 805-434-2541), which also offers other good reds and some offbeat varietals. It’s one of the area’s larger wine producers, but the tasting room is small and cozy, with plenty of room for picnics outside.

Head over to the west side, where just off Highway 46 West, you’ll find the pinot-exclusive Windward Vineyard (1380 Live Oak Road, 239-2565), started by a couple who adore the varietal. Their passion for pinot and a debate about its ultimate food pairing led to the June "Pinot and Paella Cook-Off," an event that has grown in three years to include a dozen chefs from around the state, a dozen Paso wineries and about 400 guests.

Loop around north on Vineyard Drive (the scenic route) or Highway 101 (the faster route) to Adelaida Cellars (5805 Adelaida Road, 805-239-8980). Perched on a hilltop ranch, Adelaida is gaining renewed attention recently, and its pinot is among the reasons why. The winery was among the handful in SLO County given a mention in the June issue of Wine Spectator.

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