Award-Winning Tours

Many of you have been to our tasting room on Adelaida Road in the west hills of Paso Robles. It sits on the edge of our 2,000-acre property situated next to the historic Victorian farmhouse. Very soon we will be moving into our new tasting room. You will venture across the covered bridge, cruise up the hill and find us in our new digs next to the Winery and Wine Club Member Lounge. In addition to our tasting room, we now offer three unique tasting and touring experiences and invite you to join us on an adventure.

Sunset Magazine named us Best Vineyard Experience and Touring & Tasting selected our tours for their Platinum List 2016. Here is a preview of our tasting experiences:



Want to learn more about the winemaking process? What does the inside of the barrel room look like? Why are caves important in winemaking? The Winery and Cave Tour takes you though the multi-level, gravity flow building and showcases 22,000 square feet of caves that run deep into the limestone hillside.  This complimentary, one-hour walking tour is offered daily. You’ll start at our tasting room, view the vineyards and head up to the winery. During the tour, your Halter Ranch guide will give you an overview of the Ranch’s history and describe our sustainable farming and viticulture practices. Once at the winery, you will follow the path a grape takes through our winery, from the crush pad, into the tanks, through fermentation and finally into barrel and caves.



Available on Saturday and Sunday at 10 am, the Barrel Tasting Tour starts outside the winery where your guide will give you an overview of the Halter Ranch history as you peer over the vineyards.  Walking through our modern winery, you will see first-hand the step-by-step processes involved in the making our wines. Your tour then drops into our subterranean cave, the largest of only four cave systems in the Paso Robles area. Here, you will sample wines from three different barrels, learning the varietal and barrel differences. The one-hour tour concludes with a private tasting of our current release wines in the Member Lounge. Hang out and enjoy a relaxed, seated tasting on the mezzanine with a bird’s eye view of the working winery.



Take an extended journey of Halter Ranch’s property and vineyard on the Excursion Tour. This one-of-a-kind tour is offered Saturday and Sunday at 10 am (weather permitting). Hop into the restored 1984 Land Rover Defender 110 as you tour the historic property. During this three-hour excursion, you’ll see the wildlife corridors and explore the 281-acres of estate vineyards, the largest contiguous vineyard in west Paso Robles. After a stop at the pond, you’ll experience first-hand the unique topography of Halter Ranch that sees nearly a 500 ft. change in elevation. At Lion’s Ridge, the vineyard’s highest point, you’ll take in the views and taste a special selection of estate wine. The next stop is at the famed Ancestor Oak tree to taste the estate’s flagship wine, Ancestor Reserve. This Coastal Live Oak tree is a Champion Tree – the largest of its kind on record, and is estimated to be nearly 500 years old. Following the vineyard tour, the excursion continues into the winery, production facility and underground caves. The tour ends in our beautiful Member Lounge, overlooking the production area and barrel storage, where you’ll enjoy a private tasting of our current release wines.

Join us for one, or all, of the many tasting and touring experiences at Halter Ranch. Please call us at 888.367.9977 for availability and to reserve space on the tours. We look forward to seeing you!

A Sneak Preview


Visitors who have ventured across the bridge or visited our Wine Club Lounge recently have seen a new structure emerging just east of the Winery. As part of our long-term strategy to get all of our visitors across the covered bridge and into the vineyard, we are building a new Tasting Room just below Block 1. We love the Victorian and the Barn Yard area, but we have woefully outgrown our current Tasting Room. We are hoping for a late September move in.  Enjoy this sneak preview.


Our Timeless Barnyard

Though the function and look of the barnyard at Halter Ranch may have changed over the years, the experience of peace and tranquility remains constant. A sense of timelessness exists amidst the old barns, the orchard and open space that extend across Las Tablas Creek to the vineyard and surrounding oak woodland. Preservation of this space is of paramount importance to us, a task that receives a lot of attention from the team here at Halter Ranch.

In years past the big barn, now known as the “Event Barn” housed farm animals. The dirt floor had 2 levels; the center section was higher than the outer sides, which allowed easy access for tending animals. These photos show the cattle loading chutes, which were in front of the barn, the old tack room and hitching post. All of these old buildings have been renovated, a job which was a major labor of love. Restored to their former beauty, these barns serve an important function in this modern day business.

big barn barnyard1tack roomBigBarn_before

Celebrating Cycling History at Halter Ranch

L'Eroica at Halter Ranch

L’eroica is an annual bike ride in Chianti that since its inception in 1997 has celebrated cycling’s history. Participants ride vintage bikes and dress in historic attire. For the first time ever, on April 11, L’eroica crossed the Atlantic and brought their show to Paso Robles, CA. L’Eroica began as a foundation for the protection and preservation of the last gravel roads in Tuscany. A portion of this year’s ‘proceeds of the event will be donated to Hospice SLO. Hospice of San Luis Obispo County is a comprehensive resource center providing nonmedical support through group and individual counseling programs that are free of charge.’
Halter Ranch was selected as a rest/refueling stop for this fantastic event. Cyclists stopped to have a sandwich and taste a little Halter Ranch wine. A total of 680 cyclists stopped by to refresh and have their ride passport stamped.

Sharing Experiences

Open seven days a week and almost 365 days a years (minus a couple of holidays), Halter Ranch is able to share what our staff believes to be a very special property and some delicious wines here in Paso Robles.   We feel honored when our guests share what they have encountered during their visit and/or the wines they have enjoyed.  We would like to share some of these experiences with you.  Cheers!





A not-so-typical President’s Day Weekend

We just experienced the most amazing Presidents Day Weekend. The combination of a holiday weekend coupled with Valentines Day and the warm weather makes me think Halter Ranch is just the perfect spot to be. It’s not always 70 degrees here in February though. Since the inception of Halter Ranch in the year 2000, there have been two snow storms. Oddly enough they both happened on President’s Day weekend – once in 2006 & then again in 2009.

Enjoy the photos of Halter Ranch under a dusting of snow.

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We need to do a rain dance!




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Let’s hope we don’t have to repeat this scene from summer 2004. Cal Fire (previously CDF) dipped into the Halter Ranch pond during a small wildlands fire here in the Adelaida neighborhood. During an event firefighters will use any available water source to fight the blaze, including your swimming pool if it is most convenient. The 2004 fire was minor and there was no structural damage or injury to people.

We have received the 9″ of rain here at Halter Ranch this season starting July 1, 2014. Nine inches was the total rainfall last year. We need to do a rain dance!

Halter Ranch History in Photos


This aerial shot from the late 1950s shows the unpaved Adelaida Road on the right, and the driveway leading into the barnyard. Look closely at the barn toward the top of the photo. This is the barn we call the “Silo Barn”. The photo was taken prior to the installation of the big red silos that distinguish this barn today. The silos, which are old oil containers, were used for grain storage. In 2012 we restored this barn and the grain storage system was left intact.


The Victorian Farmhouse is shown here in this aerial shot looking south. The small building in the back is the “bunkhouse” which now serves as the restrooms for our tasting room. It looks like this was an excellent rain year, with lush winter grasses everywhere. This neighborhood was quite isolated and very rural in those days. The phones were shared “party lines” well into the 1960s.


Jump forward to summer or fall season also from the late 1950s. This view is looking north over the barnyard onto the hills which are now planted with wine grapes. During those days ranchers produced dry farmed barley during the winter and grazed cattle.

Winter in the Vineyard

The vineyard is beautiful after the welcome December rains. The cover crop is sprouting and the hills are green with winter grasses. WinterSunrise GreenVineyardFog Over Vineyard

2014 Harvest Reflections

The 2014 harvest is officially behind us. Rain is hitting the ground and we are preparing for the December bottling of our 2014 Rose. The rest of the 2014 wines are completing malo-lactic fermentation and we can now start reflecting on the harvest.


  • Warmth- The warm weather started early. In January many regions in California reported bud-break 2 months earlier than normal. Although we had bud-break in March here at Halter Ranch, I firmly believe that the vines’ metabolism jump-started in January. Grapevines have an internal clock which dictates the amount of energy the vines need to ripen fruit.  Once this clock starts ticking it can’t be stopped. Weather patterns may accelerate or slow down specific growing stages (ex. warm weather will speed up veraison- the changing of color from green to red in red wine grapes), but the overall growing cycle of vines is difficult to stop. Harvest was the earliest I’ve seen in my 15 years of winemaking. This was the first year I spent Halloween with my kids instead of worrying about a fermenting tank. The grapes were harvested because they were ripe. Inclement weather never forced our hand. We had a small amount of rain on Halloween, and then nothing until late November. The grapes could have stayed out longer, but their internal clock struck twelve in late October….


  • Dry Ground- The last three years it has felt quite different when stepping into the vineyard. The ground is dry, grasping for any moisture available. There is no “bounce”, no sponge type feeling that comes when you get good rain. I think the effect of this lack of rain is a much bigger problem than most realize. We have plenty of water in our wells, and yes we can irrigate. But a grapevine’s root structure spreads underground. Think of it like an oak tree. An oak tree’s root structure is roughly the size of its crown. Grapevines’ roots spread underground in the same way. Irrigation emitters on a drip-tube drop water in one place on each side of the vine. The water percolates but never reaches a lot of the roots that are outside the linear line of the drip tube (as compared to rain which acts like a shower and soaks everywhere) . Those roots then have a harder time up-taking nutrients. Lack of nutrients results in less canopy growth (less leaves). Each leaf on a vine is a photo-voltaic energy source for ripening the vine’s grapes. Low rainfall equals fewer leaves, fewer leaves equals less energy, and less energy equals less fruit that can be ripened. I’m glad it’s raining outside right now….


  • Early is good- 99% of the time, early harvests are good harvests. And I’m not saying that because I like Halloween. Winemakers like to pick grapes at optimal maturity (and each winemaker has their own idea of what that is, and that’s a whole different Blog Post…. and a controversial one!). Optimal maturity can never be achieved if our harvest decisions are forced by mother nature. In cooler vintages there are two obstacles to reaching optimal maturity. First is the scary question –“are we going to get there?” As the season progresses the days get shorter, the weather gets cooler and those little photo-voltaic leaves produce less energy. Ripening slows, and everyday seems like an eternity. This was the case in 2011. Cooler parts of our Ranch, cooler parts of our region, and cooler parts of California struggled to achieve sugar and flavor development. The second obstacle is rain. We all know that the later we get into Fall, the greater the chance for rain.  In cooler vintages grapes ripen at a slower rate, potentially extending harvest into late October and early November. If rain is forecasted, winemakers are forced to make a decision—harvest before optimal maturity, resulting in potentially “green” flavors, or risk leaving the grapes on the vine. If the latter is chosen you could face the following consequences:

o    Dilution- Rain is an unnecessary irrigation. Water at this stage of maturity results in the grape absorbing the water like a sponge, and consequently in the dilution of acid and flavors.

o    Spoilage organisms- Moisture and sugar are prime nutrients for all types of yeast, bacteria and molds. All of these buggers live on the grape skins and thus in the fermenting tank and wine and can ultimately cause problems in the cellar during ageing.

o    Loss of crop- Weathermen aren’t always right. One storm can turn into more. Muddy ground prevents tractors from getting in the field  to harvest, and eventually the crop wilts away. Now you have a lot of explaining to do…..

Early harvests are usually the result of warm weather. Warm weather results in complications as well, such as vine shut-down, due to water stress, and dehydrating fruit. Water stress can be dealt with by the proper use of irrigation, and sorting tables at the winery can remove dehydrated fruit before it reaches the fermentors. Early harvest complications can be resolved, whereas late harvest complications make you lose sleep….


Overall 2014 was a huge success. The quality is exceptionally high.  We processed record tonnage for Halter Ranch and had a team that executed our winemaking plan to perfection. There is rain outside my window, we will have Rose to drink within a month, and my kids plastic pumpkins are filled with candy….and I got to help them fill them. That’s a good 2014!


Kevin Sass


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