Here are some of our favorites.
1. Talley Vineyards. Drive through a third-generation farm producing fields of cilantro and bell peppers to get to this winery, known for its Rincon and Rosemary's Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 10:30-4:30 daily; $4 tasting fee. 3031 Lopez Dr., Arroyo Grande; 805/489-0446.
2. Alban Vineyards. John Alban's winery isn't open for tours or tastings, but his wines are well worth searching out. Find Alban wines at Central Coast Wines (712 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo; 805/784-9463) and De Palo & Sons Fine Wines (2665-L Shell Beach Rd., Shell Beach; 805/773-1589).
3. Domaine Alfred. Makes two Chardonnays, a California style (lots of oak) and a French style (crisp, clean, with lots of minerality). Its Pinot Gris is an Alsatian-style wine with rich fruit flavor. 10-5 daily; $6 tasting fee. 7525 Orcutt Rd., San Luis Obispo; 805/541-9463.
4. Edna Valley Vineyard. Best known for Chardonnays with a peachy character and sea-salt finish, but the Pinot Noirs, with dark, tar characters and meaty fruit flavors, are coming on strong. Jack Niven Hospitality Center has an extensive selection of wine-related books, clothing, and gourmet foods. 10-5 daily; no tasting fee. 2585 Biddle Ranch Rd., San Luis Obispo; 888/390-9463 or 805/544-5855.
5. Baileyana. Winemaker Christian Roguenant's soft, silky Pinot Noirs are laced with lots of black cherry and a touch of sage. The Chardonnay always has hints of pear and, in warmer years, pineapple and tropical fruit. 10-5 daily; $3 tasting fee. 5828 Orcutt, San Luis Obispo; 805/269-8200.
6. Stephen Ross Wine Cellars. Stephen Ross Dooley's winery does not have a tasting room, but visitors can purchase wines on-site. Call for hours. 4910 Edna Rd., Ste. A, San Luis Obispo; 805/594-1318.
7. Tolosa Winery. Garnet-colored Pinot Noirs with plush, spiced berries and flinty Chardonnays are typical of the valley's taste profiles. 11-6 daily; $4 tasting fee. 4910 Edna Rd., San Luis Obispo; 866/782-0300 or 805/782-0300.