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Paso Robles Wine Festival set for this weekend

Paso Robles wineries joined together in May 2015 to showcase their wines at the Grand Tasting in downtown Paso Robles City Park. Linda Parker Sanpei, pouring for the Paso Robles CAB Collective, pours a cab franc for Rosemary Canilao and Russell Manuyag of East Valley, California. Sanpei paired all their wines with a special cheese.
Paso Robles wineries joined together in May 2015 to showcase their wines at the Grand Tasting in downtown Paso Robles City Park. Linda Parker Sanpei, pouring for the Paso Robles CAB Collective, pours a cab franc for Rosemary Canilao and Russell Manuyag of East Valley, California. Sanpei paired all their wines with a special cheese. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Pop-up seminars and sensory stations are joining the lineup at this weekend’s Paso Robles Wine Festival.

The festival is a long-standing tradition, started 34 years ago when 17 wineries plunked planks over barrels in Paso Robles’ Downtown City Park and poured their wines to celebrate the formation of the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area.

“It’s like the birthday of establishing the AVA,” said Chris Taranto, communications director for the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.

Over the years, the festival has expanded to four days of events, 140 wineries, more than 3,000 attendees and $2.14 million in economic impact.

Friday’s Reserve Tasting is sold out, but tickets remain for Saturday’s Grand Tasting in City Park, where 70 wineries will be pouring, with white canopies replacing the planks and barrels of earlier days. Winemaker dinners were being held Thursday night.

Among the wine booths, visitors will find three new sensory stations, where they can try their nose at identifying smells common in wine and qualify to win prizes.

Attendees also can sign up to get text alerts for three new pop-up seminars that will happen at some point during the day: one on rosé, a hands-on blending workshop with Chronic Cellars winemaker Josh Beckett, and a session on the growing practice of distilling from wine grapes.

“We’re always trying to find ways to educate folks about wine,” Taranto said.

Not all the action is at the park. Wineries throughout the region are holding special events and tastings all weekend, some with specials for Grand Tasting ticket-holders.

“The wineries are doing some cool things,” Taranto said. “And some that are usually open only by appointment have open house hours.”

Get tickets and learn about parking, shuttles and winery events at www.pasowine.com.

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