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.
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