Poalillo Vineyards — Wine Tasting and Story Telling with Charlie Poalillo


Written by:

Joe Becerra

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There are over 200 wineries in Paso Robles and they come in many sizes and shapes but one winery that is uniquely different is Poalillo Vineyards. Charlie Poalillo is the owner, the winemaker, and the storyteller. Charlie first came to Paso Robles in 1969 as an amateur winemaker to buy grapes and bring them back to his Southern California home. He and his wife Joyce fell in love with Paso Robles and made the move in 1978 and purchased vineyards and their home.

The winery is about as low key as you can get. There is no Poalillo Vineyards Website, the winery is open by appointment only, the tasting room is part of the barrel room, and less than 500 cases of wine are made annually. Word-of-mouth and being part of the Far Out Wineries of Paso Robles group garners enough visitors to the winery to keep Charlie busy and sell 90% of his wine out of the tasting room.

We visited with Charlie on our recent trip to Paso Robles. It was our second time there and like the last time we visited, Charlie entertained us with many stories and his good wines. Charlie makes six wines, two whites and four reds that include his estate Zinfandel. In between tasting each wine Charlie tells us a story. In 1978 when he purchased his vineyards there were only three wineries in Paso Robles, Pesenti, York Mountain, and Rotta. Today, there are over 200 wineries in the County. This is Charlie’s third career change. He was a commercial photographer, real estate agent, and finally a winemaker. Poalillo Vineyards became bonded in 1995 and Charlie’s first vintage of Zinfandel in 1992 won a gold medal at the Orange County Fair.

charlie-poalillo More stories and 45 minutes later, we finished tasting all the Poalillo wines. All are good wines, particularly the red wines. All of the Poalillo reds are big and robust but very well balanced. Although the wines are somewhat high in alcohol, you would never know it tasting these pleasant wines.

When is Paso Robles wine country make it point to visit Poalillo Vineyards. The ride to the winery on Willow Oaks Road may be the most beautiful in all of Paso Robles and then of course, there is Charlie Poalillo. See our Hidden Wineries of Paso Robles

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.

13 thoughts on “Poalillo Vineyards — Wine Tasting and Story Telling with Charlie Poalillo”

  1. I was never able to leave my vehicle when I pulled in. There were to aggressive dogs circling my Jeep. When I told the man standing there, ( no one else there), I would not get out because of the dogs, he blew up. Turns out he was the son-in-law. He became abusive and threatened me. Later in the day I was told by others that they would not go there either because of this very same treatment.

    Now I will say this: I have a bottle of their wine signed by Charlie that I got from him> I met him at another office where he works. He seemed like a nice old guy, but maybe he does not know what is taking place when folks come to his newly opened wine tasting room on Vineyard Drive. Pass them buy and go up the road to Osolibre instead. You will be happy you did.

    • I am sorry to hear this news. Charlie is such a great guy and I am sure he will not be happy when he read this information.

  2. 3yrs ago when I first arrived in America I traveled to Paso Robles and met Charlie. I knew I had found one of my favorite Americans.
    I make sure I visit him and the Poalillo vineyard each year to stock up on his lovely wine!
    His Estate Zinfadel is truly amazing, and Charlie is a gem of a gentleman. I love tasting wine while hearing his stories and listening to Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra.
    On some visits I’ve even spent time meeting the rest of the family. They were all charming people who graciously shared the experience of tasting the first of the new season’s wine with me. Gladly I haven’t had the experience involving the dogs and hope that was a once off experience. Charlie’s legacy deserves so much better.

  3. I recently had a wonderful experience at the new Poalillo Vineyards location on Vineyard Dr west of Paso Robles. The dogs were very friendly as were all of the winery people. The setting is fabulous and the wines are even better. By the way, the new winery is owned by Mr. Poalillo’s daughter Susan and her husband Dave. Live music was very enjoyable. This is a gem, don’t miss it.

  4. My wife and I visited this winery with some local friends we were visiting. We had a wonderful time tasting wine with Susan and ended up impressed and buying several bottles of their Zins. Susan was charming and the wine and time we spent there was marvelous! As we were leaving we met her husband who had just come out and was playing some great guitar background music. Wish we could have stayed longer.

    Worth the trip!

  5. The comment above by Local Taster is not a true depiction of what happened at the winery. First the man drove up very aggresively onto the property startling the dogs and the musician (son-in-law) who immediately got up put his guitar down to calm the one dog that was barking (by the way this dog is a rescue dog that has a keen sense about people). The man in the jeep immediately started yelling that he would not get out, all the while son-in-law Dave was guiding the offending dog away. The taster was so beligerant that he never gave Dave a chance to aplogize for the dog’s barking.

    • Thanks for giving us this information. It is always good to hear both sides. We have always had a terrific time here.

  6. I just returned from a vacation in Paso Robles, and one of the highlights of my trip was Poalillo Vinyards. Susan was just fabulous! The wine was delightful! And the dogs were as friendly as can be, even though we got there very early in the morning when no one was around, they just came up and greeted us very slowly and peacefully, and made us feel at home. Susan was just starting to open and went out of her way to show us around and make us comfortable. As it turns out, a relative of theirs… I believe Susan’s uncle… has a Lodge here in the Pocono Mountains, in Pennsylvania, where I live, and I can’t wait to look him up and tell him what a lovely family he has, and of my visit with Susan.

    You just must stop at Poalillo… you will love the visit, love the people, and especially love their wonderful wine! I only wish I could have been there for the music and stories.

  7. My wife and I first encountered Poalillo in November 2004. We were given a tip by Jeff Pipe of Pipestone Winery that Charlie happened to be open that day and that we should give him a visit. As others have mentioned, Charlie was very hospitable and regaled us with stories as we tasted his wine. His Zinfandel was some of the best we had ever tried and we left with two bottles of it….saving them for very special occasions.

    Fast forward to 2010. Although we have been back to Paso Robles many times since 2004, we never seemed to find the time to try to get back to visit Poalillo. Until finally during a visit to Paso Robles in October, we once again visited Pipestone Winery (who incidentally makes excellant Rhone style wine). We asked about Charlie and if he might be open. We were told that Poalillo had just opened a new winery on Vineyard Dr. We hurried over eager to once again taste the wines and enjoy Charlie’s storys.

    Neither Charlie or his daughter happened to be at the winery that day, but we were delighted with the new tasting room. The lady who was pouring the tastings was very friendly and congenial. And again, the wines were excellant. Since our method of travel from Paso Robles didn’t allow us the luxury of taking wine with us, we instead decided to join Poalillo’s wine club, and we a looking forward to our first shipment.

  8. I want to thank (most) all of you for your very kind words regarding our winery, I wish my Dad or I could be in the winery to personally greet all of our tasters. My Dad Charlie is here quite a bit and loves greeting new and previous tasters and of course regaling all with his great stories ( See his Hollywood Photos in the tasting room ) I am in the tasting room most every afternoon and my husband Dave and friends are usually playing music after he is finished with the vineyard work !!!!! Please call me at the winery to request Charlie be here when you visit, he only lives 3 miles away and loves coming over. 805-238-0621 or e-mail me at susan@poalillovineyards.com Also we are now open daily at 11:00 am and serve up FUN, FOOD and FINE WINE………………again, thank you for your kind words………………..Susan Poalillo

  9. My husband and I just spent the weekend in Paso, we’ve been going there for 10 years, and had the great pleasure of meeting both Susan and Dave at their winery. We had a wonderful time there! Beautiful wine and beautiful people. And the dog was very sweet 🙂 Highly, highly, highly recommend going there.

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