Wine sellers gear up for host of events

The Paso Robles Wine Festival, San Luis Obispo County’s largest wine event, has passed for this year. But many local vintners and tasters will be busy attending smaller summer events that offer a more intimate and less costly way to connect with potential consumers.

“We’re in a hospitality game,” said Martin Croad, owner and winemaker of Croad Vineyards on Vinedo Robles Lane in Paso Robles. “It’s not just the wine — it’s the experience that comes along with it.”

Croad’s is one of about 40 wineries and breweries pouring this evening at Barrel to Barrel.

Held at The Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach, the event is part of the four-day Wine, Waves and Beyond fundraiser for the Association of Amputee Surfers.

“That goes into our decision of whether or not we pour, who is benefiting,” Croad said. “This is relatively on the less expensive side, but it really gives you a chance to talk to people.”

When deciding which events to attend, wineries factor in costs such as fees, travel, labor and how much wine will go for samples.

Since Croad produces only 1,500 cases annually, the amount of inventory an event consumes is a key consideration. The winery attends about 10 festivals each year.

As a newer producer focusing on direct sales, tastings are a valuable way to build name recognition, let drinkers try the wines and hopefully woo them to Croad’s tasting room off Oakdale Road.

“It’s a beautiful facility with awesome views, but we’re kind of tucked away,” he said. “We don’t do hardly any advertising at all, so we’re primarily promoting through word of mouth.”

Here’s a sample of events this month featuring local flavors.

Barrel to Barrel — From 5 to 8 p.m. tonight. It also offers food, live music, a silent auction, art and a fashion show. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. See for details.

Afternoon of Epicurean Delights — Sunday from 11:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Chapman House by the Sea in Shell Beach. This 24th annual event benefits the Community Action Partnership Health Services. Nearly 30 wineries and more than 20 restaurants and caterers will serve, along with live music. Tickets are $85, available at the Crushed Grape, chambers of commerce in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande or by calling 544-2498.

Roll Out The Barrels Weekend — The San Luis Obispo Vintners Association’s 21st annual celebration begins June 23 with Barrels In The Plaza, a 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. wine and food tasting in Mission Plaza. Tickets are $30. The four-day event continues with winemaker dinners, events and tasting at the group’s 28 wineries. For details, visit

Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival — June 25 from 4 to 8 p.m., about 80 wineries will pour at the Atascadero Lake Park to benefit the Charles Paddock Zoo. Food, live music and an art show will also be at the 16th annual event. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the gate. See for information.

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