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Central Coast Living: Tour underground wine caves in Paso Robles

Eberle Winery is planning to build more caves
Posted: 5:26 AM, Jan 09, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-09 08:36:58-05
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It's good luck to rub the bronze boar's nose when you visit Eberle Winery in Paso Robles.

"Eberle" is German for "wild pig," but here, Gary Eberle is known as a pioneer of the Paso Robles wine region.

"We try to show people the whole wine-making process," Gary Eberle said.

Every half hour, visitors can take a tour of the winery. It starts overlooking the sprawling vineyards, then visitors learn about the crush pad, fermentation facility and finally, the unique wine cellars.

Tasting room associate Kirk Smith leads visitors 24 feet underground into Eberle's famous wine caves where important chemistry is happening inside hundreds of wine barrels.

"New oak will introduce naturally occurring chemicals into the wine for about three years," Smith explains to the tour group.

Eberle Winery is one of few in California to use this subterranean environment to age red wine. Eberle says he got the idea to use caves from his trips to Europe.

"The wine industry [in Europe] has taken over every existing cave," Eberle said. "A lot of people think that all the caves in Champagne were built for the wine industry. They were quarries from the limestone that built Paris."

"[The caves] turned out to be one of the most spectacular ways of aging your wine," he said.

The Eberle Wine Caves can be a venue for your next big event or VIP private wine tasting but their main job is to create award-winning wine.

"You want [the wine cellar to be] cool, you never ever want it hot and you really don't want it warm to be honest," Smith told visitors. "The caves do that. There's no air conditioning."

The tunnels maintain a temperature of about 60 degrees. Even on Paso Robles' hottest days, Smith says there's usually no more than a ten degree temperature change in the caves.

Eberle finished constructing his tunnels in 1999, spanning over 16,000 square feet. Within the next five years, he plans to expand the caves.

"We're looking at adding about another 9,000 square feet of tunnels."

Eberle Winery offers free tasting and tours. It is located off of Highway 46 East, just past Airport Rd. and is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.