Taking a limo when wine tasting in a region is always the best way to go as everyone in your group can relax, enjoy the wine and not have to worry about who is going to drive.
When you venture to an area you are not familiar with, having a knowledgeable transportation service and guide are paramount to having a great day.
If you venture to the Paso Robles area, do yourself a favor and get hold of The Wine Wrangler.
The product of the husband and wife team of Coy and Sarah Barnes, The Wine Wrangler is the definitive wine tour company in the Paso Robles area.
My initial meeting with Coy came not long after Wine Wrangler opened. In fact, his fleet consisted of the Barnes family car.
My wife and I were heading to Paso for vacation and wanted to do some wine tasting. I talked with Coy on the phone and he asked me a series of questions relating to the types of wines we liked so he could plan a great day for us.
On the day of our reservation, Coy picked us up at our hotel in the family mini-van and off we went. In our previous conversation, Coy had suggested some wineries with some fine Zinfandel, but I declined as I had a bad experience with Zin and wanted nothing to do with it.
At this point, I was just getting into the world of wine and had no idea how strong an area Paso was for Zin. Towards the end of our time, Coy said he felt like I needed to taste some good Zins and that he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t help me get over this dislike.
He offered another 1-2 hours on his dime, complete with tasting fees if we would agree to take in another few wineries. We agreed, and it was incredible.
A friendship was born that day that we carry forward to this day. I had taken limo services before, but had never been before, nor since taken one with a service that took such an active interest in the tastes of their customers.
That was around 2004 and the service today is the same. Coy and Sarah started the first authentic wine tour company in Paso Robles. The have grown with the times, once boasting as many as 10 vehicles, with their current inventory standing at six vehicles.
I recommend them to everyone I know that is headed to Paso. This summer, one of our sons honeymooned in Morro Bay and my wife and I sent them on a tour with The Wine Wrangler. They loved it.
The Wine Wrangler has given tours to over 100,000 people in the last 15 years for one simple reason – they are the best.
The mission statement says it all: Our mission is to share the treasures of the region with our guests through our tours and our wine club. We demonstrate our passion for wine, and our community, and we’re committed to excellence. We strive to sustain the highest level of integrity and customer service by being attentive to our guests’ interests and desires, as well as being informative, educational and dependable!
“Our guides get to know our guests,” said Barnes. “They find out what they want. We take input from everyone as we want our drivers to have an idea what each customer likes.”
It’s certainly been a changing industry in the Paso Robles area. Just 20 years ago, there was 35 wineries. Then 10 years ago, that number had grown to 120 and the total stands at 300 wineries today.
But despite the growth, the region maintains its charm.
“At least 270 of the wineries produce less than 5,000 cases,” explained Barnes. “Most are less than 1,500. It’s always been a more hands on region
On our initial venture into the area, there were a couple of lodging options, but those have increased as well. According to Barnes, there are going to be another 1,000 rooms available in the next five years. There are also plans for more resorts to open.
As the region and The Wine Wrangler has grown, so has Barnes stature in the wine world.
He is known as an oenophile and educator, and has appeared in numerous publications including, USA Today, Travel and Leisure, as well as Guest Speaker for Cal Poly, Crush and Roll, and the annual Wine Tourism Conference. He makes wine and grows his own zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah on the family’s property in Paso Robles. When he’s not escorting visitors through the wine country, he’ll be rustling up wines from some of his favorite Paso Robles wineries and sharing them with the world through the Paso Robles Wine Club.
For more information or to book a tour with The Wine Wrangler go to www.thewinewrangler.com. It’s a decision you will be glad you made.
By Dennis Miller