New tasting room opening in historic Avila Valley Schoolhouse

The sign for Argot Cellars and Silver Horse Winery outside the Avila schoolhouse.
The sign for Argot Cellars and Silver Horse Winery outside the Avila schoolhouse.

Two wine labels — one new and one longtime Paso Robles brand — are set to open a tasting room in the historic Avila Valley schoolhouse, with plans for a high-end deli and

electric-bike rental to join the space in coming months.

Silver Horse Winery and Argot Cellars will take over the space occupied most recently by Biddle Ranch Vineyards and, before that, Salisbury Vineyards, which closed in 2014.

The move marks a new home for Silver Horse following the Kroener family’s 2014 sale of the San Miguel vineyard and winery they bought in 1996. In the meantime, son and winemaker Stephen Kroener produced small amounts of Silver Horse wine out of borrowed space at Barton Family Cellars on Highway 46 West, where he also collaborates with Joe Barton on Krobar Distillery.

Kroener is taking the opportunity to debut a new label, Argot Cellars, to be available in the tasting room only. The Argot label, costing $25 to $35, will focus on blends of Edna Valley fruit. Grapes for Silver Horse wines, selling for $30 to $40, will come from the region at large, including a new pinot noir from Santa Rita Hills’ La Encantada Vineyard.

“Before, I had 80 acres to pull from,” Kroener said. “Now I can pick and choose.”

Kroener, who hopes to open by September, is aiming for a wine-bar vibe, with themed flights rather than a traditional tasting menu. The back patio will feature live music and events, with plans to spruce up the front outdoor space with landscaping, Adirondack chairs and lawn games.

Compass Health, which owns the property, will set up and run the deli, offering sandwiches, gourmet snacks and picnic provisions.

“You’ll be able to pick up some wine, some lunch, ride out to Avila Beach and have a picnic,” said Kroener, who also hopes to eventually offer local produce boxes and meat portions for pickup at the schoolhouse.

Biddle Ranch — co-owned by Compass Health CEO Mark Woolpert, AJ Contractor’s Supply owner Led Fortini, local attorney John Ronca, Roy Rawlings and Jerko Rendic — is building a new tasting room on Biddle Ranch Road that’s expected to open in the fall.

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