Now that it's prime wine country visiting season, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Mendocino and closer to home, the Central Coast, are all vying for tourist dollars.
Paso Robles, though, stacks the deck with its new PasoWineApp (free at the Apple App Store). Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance put it together to give Paso Robles wine fans an easy way to plan a trip to the wine country and capture their favorite wines and wineries for future reference. Don't expect ratings or candid assessments of the wines or wineries, just the facts.
It's not that you can't find all the information collected here elsewhere, but the app just makes it so easy to keep track of it all. Winery map? Check. But with this one you won't be left poring over the tiny lettering, hunting for that one elusive winery that makes your favorite Syrah. Through the magic of an app, you can search 160 wineries, filtering by location or varietal. From the map view, you can also click a nifty button in the bottom left and find all of the wineries listed alphabetically.
Each winery entry includes all the info you'll need to visit — address (with link for directions), phone, hours, tasting fee, etc. Click "amenities" and you can see whether, for example, the winery has a picnic area, restaurant, bed and breakfast, RV parking, tasting room, winery tours, and is pet friendly. Click "variety" and you can see whether this winery makes sparkling wine, Roussanne, Mourvèdre, Rosé, etc. You can search for Chardonnay, but not oaky Chardonnay.
Events can be easily added to your calendar. And for the very forgetful, there's a favorites tab where you can save the wines and wineries that impressed you, so you're ready to whip out the information at a wine shop or restaurant.
A day trip to Paso Robles doesn't quite work for most Angelenos, so it's a good thing the app also includes lodgings, as more and more hotels and bed and breakfasts pop up in the neighborhood. Restaurants are included too, with just the basic information, no real rating. This is where the app is lacking. Right now these entries read like they were written by a robot.
Poking around the app brings up a listing for my favorite wine shop up there, 15 Degrees C Wine Shop & Bar in Templeton, and for Paso Underground, a group of four garagiste winemakers with their own tasting space in downtown Paso. And I didn't know that winemaker Alex Villicana had started Paso's first distillery called RE-FIND with tours and tastings daily.
To install the free app (compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch), search for PasoWineApp by Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.