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SLO Wine and Beer Region

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.Discover what locals have long known – that something exciting is brewing in the San Luis Obispo wine and beer scene.

SLO, as locals call it, is wine county as it’s meant to be, with scenic, vineyard-lined country lanes, friendly, uncrowded tasting rooms and world-class wines. The culture, the terrain and of course the wines are all shaped by the Pacific Ocean, which lies just a few miles west.

Cool-climate wines are hot right now, and the wineries in San Luis Obispo are as cool as it gets, boasting the most pronounced coastal influence of any region in California. Foggy mornings, warm afternoons and a long, even growing season come together to produce wines of uncommon depth and balance.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive in these coastal conditions, making up the heart of the SLO wine region. But winemakers are also turning out aromatic whites such as Albariño and Riesling as well as cool-climate Rhône varieties. Despite being an intimate region with two small growing areas — Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley — visitors will find a range of complex flavors due to the diversity of volcanic, marine bed and sandy soils, often in one vineyard alone.

Within close proximity, visitors can also discover a range of tasting experiences, from epicurean wine-and-food pairings in posh wineries to casual pourings on a plank set atop a couple barrels. Educational seminars, lively festivals and intimate winemaker dinners are among the many ways to experience SLO wine country. Plus, the majority of vineyards are Sustainability in Practice (SIP) certified, reflecting a shared community respect for the environment, social equity and financial sustainability.

For those who favor grain over grape, fresh, hand-crafted beers flow from the taps at more than a half-dozen breweries sprinkled throughout town, including some Great American Beer Festival winners.

Each spot offers its own distinctive atmosphere and brews, as local brewers continue to push the boundaries of what a simple combination of yeast, barley, water and hops can yield. Wild ales, experimental brewing techniques and emerging hop varieties are all part of the mix.

Sample several with a guided or DIY brewery tour, or snag a table and some pub fare to wash down with a fresh pint. Find a speakeasy vibe that’s strictly for the grown-ups or bring the whole crew along to the several kid- and dog-friendly spots offering outdoor seating, games and live music.

And remember, that friendly face behind the bar may also be the one behind the beverage in your hand.

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