Rick Rivas partners with Rabbit Ridge Winery
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.
A partnership is born
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.
Fun place for wine tasting
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.
The sparkling wine bar – a feature of the tasting room – is set up to offer the six different wines: Brut, citron, peach, raspberry, pomegranate and procecto, which is being imported from Italy for Rabbit Ridge. All wines are 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.”
Mimosas & football
The Rabbit Hole is currently featuring Mimosas all day, every day for $5 with $2 refills. In addition, Sunday football is being shown on the big flatscreen TV inside the tasting room.
“We have become a regular stop for many locals,” Riva said. “We encourage folks to stop and pick up food or have it delivered and enjoy breakfast or lunch here with a Mimosa – and we hope to have more visitors to our city join us as well.”
Discussions are currently underway to expand into the empty retail unit next door, according to Rivas, and install a door from the Rabbit Hole into a larger retail and gift area.
For more information and news on upcoming events at The Rabbit Hole, call (805) 286-4692, go to rabbitridgewinery.com, or check out the tasting room’s Facebook page.