If you are taking a Paso Robles wine tour, check out the new Rabbit Hole opened by  Rick Rivas and Rabbit Ridge Winery

Wine tasting downtown paso robles

General Manager and partner Rick Riva and tasting room associate Sarah Brooks stand behind the bar of the newest tasting room in downtown Paso Robles. Photo by Heather Young

Downtown Paso Robles’ newest tasting room, The Rabbit Hole, opened Monday right after it got the OK from San Luis Obispo County’s alcohol beverage control office. The tasting room at 1244 Pine St. — where Pithy Little Wine Co. was located — is now open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with later hours on Friday and Saturday.

General Manager Rick Riva said the tasting room will stay open as late as his employees want to stay and if there are people coming in.

“We’ll let the business dictate how late we stay,” Riva said.

Riva was the general manager at Veris Cellars until Castoro Cellars purchased the Templeton winery. At that point, it was uncertain what would happen so Riva set out to buy a winery. But he didn’t want just any winery, he wanted a winery on the west side.

“[Available wineries] were getting picked up pretty quickly,” he said. So he took his business plan for a downtown tasting room to Rabbit Ridge Winery. That winery is located on the west side, but up near San Miguel. “I thought a fun tasting room in downtown would be good.”

He said it took Rabbit Ridge owners Erich and Joanne Russell five minutes to say yes to partnering with Riva. Riva and the Russells have known each other over the years through the wine industry and Riva said they told him they’ve been wanting to work with him. Before his year and a half at Veris, he’s worked at various other wineries in the tasting room.

Riva’s goal is to make The Rabbit Hole a fun place for people to come and hang out. There are nine Rabbit Ridge wines currently available for tasting. Riva choose four whites, four reds and one dessert wine, though he said there are many more wines to choose from. A feature of the tasting room is a sparkling wine bar with six different wines to choose from: Brut, citron, peach, raspberry, pomegranate and procecto, which is being imported from Italy for Rabbit Ridge. All wines will be available to taste or purchase by the glass or by the bottle.

Not only is the sparkling wine bar a bit different for a downtown tasting room, it’s theme is a little different. Riva brought in “Alice in Wonderland,” with its decor keeping pace with the popular story. Sayings from the book as well as photos of Alice and other characters adorn the wall, along with bright purples and blacks. He described the feel and style of the tasting room as “classic with an edge.”

“The room will bring you in, the wine will keep you,” Riva said. “We don’t sell wine, we sell a reason to drink wine.”

-By Heather Young

For a great wine tour of Paso Robles, call Paradise Limo at (805) 610-2724