Women Owned Businesses
Support Local Paso Robles Women
Paso Robles is home to an enviable mix of restaurants, boutiques, resorts, wineries and other venues. Local women launched and lead many of the most noteworthy businesses. This community of smart, hardworking entrepreneurs brings fresh perspective and countless job opportunities to the local scene, while welcoming visitors with open arms.
From downtown retailers to up-and-coming culinary stars to the brains behind some of California’s biggest wine brands, this is your guide to women run businesses in Paso Robles.
Carole MacDonal — Il Cortile
Carole MacDonal was a producer and writer for some of Hollywood's biggest hits, including shows like the Amazing Race and the Biggest Loser, as well as several independent films. Her longtime interest in food and wine eventually led to a new career path. Since 2009, MacDonal and her husband, Chef Santos MacDonal, have operated two of the most creative and popular women owned restaurants in downtown Paso Robles.
At Il Cortile Ristorante, named for the Italian translation of "the courtyard," the MacDonals put a California spin on Italian fine dining. Fresh Central Coast ingredients shape house-made pastas and sauces, seafood dishes and grilled meats. A Wine Spectator-recognized bottle list offers pairings for full meals and flavorful cheese plates.
Brooke Johnson — Brunch Paso
Like so many success stories, Brooke Johnson's big idea started with wine. She was clinking glasses with friends when the conversation turned to the idea of a brunch place that served fun favorites daily – not just on Sundays. Johnson couldn't shake the thought, and within a few months she left her 9-to-5 to plan her first restaurant. The concept was an instant hit. Six months after opening Brunch, she'd already outgrown the original location and was outlining a bigger site for her woman owned Paso Robles business.
When it comes to breakfast, no place is more exciting than Brunch. The indoor-outdoor jewel takes traditional dishes up a notch, topping breakfast pizza with spicy chorizo, amping up hash plates with braised pork shoulder and pickled jalapeños, and making s’mores French toast more decadent with chocolate ganache. Build-your-own mimosa flights are a favorite, and you'll also find scrambles, biscuits and benedicts to please the whole family.
Maggie Cameron — The Hatch and Della's
Maggie Cameron has always loved hospitality. She studied food and beverage in college before going to work in East Coast restaurants, and eventually moved west to break into the wine industry. Cameron met her husband, Eric Connolly, while they were both with Justin Winery. Together, they’ve channeled their mutual interests in food, wine and welcoming service into two of the top restaurants in downtown Paso Robles.
The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar occupies the historic Grangers Union Building. It's known for wood-fired entrees and creative cocktails, with hearty entrees like seared salmon, shepherd's pie, burgers and mushroom fettuccine. The restaurant's fried chicken special typically sells out, and the pies are an absolute crowd pleaser. Cameron and Connolly also operate Della’s, a dinner spot that puts playful pizza toppings on slow-fermented dough. From flavorful crust dips to sundaes featuring house-made vanilla ice cream, dishes here offer whimsical takes on the traditional.
Libby Ryan — Just Baked Cake Studio & Bakery
Libby Ryan took an unconventional path to pastries. When her son was turning nine, he wanted a skateboard cake. Ryan worked in retail and had limited funds, so she turned to YouTube. After watching a few videos, Ryan made a custom cake herself, shared some photos on social media, and was overwhelmed by the response. By 2016, Ryan merged her budding business with a local cookie company founded by friends Annie Farrell and Meghan Hoetker. Just Baked Cake Studio and Bakery was born. Ryan recently competed on Food Network’s Chopped Sweets show, placing second in the "Bejeweled and Bedazzled" episode.
These days, Just Baked Cake Studio & Bakery concentrates on wedding and special occasion cakes, dessert buffets, and small-batch, made-to-order treats. The beautifully decorated cakes feature fresh fruits, house-made custards, Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, and other decadent elements made with real butter, pure cane sugar and responsibly sourced chocolate. Just Baked opened in the Paso Robles Market in 2020 and ships goods to hungry customers nationwide.
Alexis Negranti — Negranti Creamery
As Alexis Negranti dreamed of ditching her desk job, she thought about how to make a career from her love of animals and her passion for quality food. Though nobody had done it before, she decided to launch a sheep dairy and spin that milk into ice cream. Within a month, Negranti and her husband selected a starter flock, learned to milk ewes, and started developing recipes. A dozen years later, the enterprise is one of the most noteworthy female owned businesses in Paso Robles.
Negranti Creamery Scoop Shops are a hit in downtown Paso Robles and at Tin City, a hub for pioneering local food, wine and spirits producers. Treats are churned with milk from pasture-raised sheep, creating ice cream that's higher in protein and lower in saturated fat than traditional recipes. Negranti Creamery sources ingredients from local farms, so the menu of 16 fresh flavors often includes seasonal surprises. Flavors range from strawberry basil to salted brown sugar to smooth vanilla bean, with ice cream sandwiches and pies that are as tasty as the scoops.
Christa and Traci Hozie — Brown Butter Cookie Company
"I don't think there's anything better than creating something that people love," Christa Hozie once told the San Luis Obispo Tribune, describing the company she's built with her sister, Traci. The siblings got their culinary start with a small coastal California deli. Over time, they noticed that a house-made shortbread cookie was selling out regularly. So, in 2018, the sisters closed their deli and launched Brown Butter Cookie Company. They have since earned notice from the New York Times, Sunset Magazine, The Today Show and others.
Christa and Traci Hozie's original brown butter sea salt cookies still steal the show. The menu also features spirited flavors that are baked and boxed by hand – including chocolate chunk, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, coconut lime and espresso. The team puts out thousands of cookies a day, and true fans join the brand's cookie club for sweet savings and sneak peeks of special flavors. In Paso Robles, look for Brown Butter Cookie Company across the street from Downtown City Park.
Kate Smith — AMSTRDM Coffee House
Kate Smith and her partner, Corey, took on the challenge of launching a small business during a pandemic. With AMSTRDM Coffee House and Piano Lounge, they have carved out a welcoming downtown destination serving local coffee and cafe bites by day. On weekend evenings, the space opens for live music. The lounge builds on a long history of local music linked to greats like the Polish-born pianist, composer and politician Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who lived and worked in Paso Robles in the early 1900s.
AMSTRDM Coffee House and Piano Lounge brings a unique community and event space to downtown. The cozy spot has a classic coffee shop menu with lattes, espressos, cold brew, drip coffee and plenty of tea, along with pastries and brunch items like burritos, bagels and oatmeal. But don't overlook the grand Steinway piano in the corner. Corey grew up locally and worked as a professional pianist and composer in Los Angeles. The couple schedules local and traveling musicians to play for guests, creating an atmosphere unlike any other in Paso.
Erin Stuck, Jillian Waters and Joeli Yaguda — General Store Paso Robles
Three friends teamed up to open General Store Paso Robles in a century-old downtown Paso Robles building. Erin Stuck, Jillian Waters and Joeli Yaguda have a collective 25 years of culinary and retail experience in the region. Together, they've created one of the most talked-about women owned stores in Paso Robles. Guided by a shared interest in highlighting creative local producers, this trio brings some of the region's most exciting products to a stylish space across from Downtown City Park.
General Store Paso Robles stocks pantry provisions, picnic basics, home goods and gifts, with a focus on small businesses and local purveyors. The selection is carefully sourced and seriously impressive. You'll find everything from coffee beans to spices, olive oil to granola, kitchen tools to tableware, and cookbooks to puzzles, along with candles, bath products, jewelry, tote bags and locally made dog treats. "Every item in this shop sparks joy, including the women behind the counter," says the San Francisco Chronicle.
Anne Laddon — Studios on the Park
Professional artist Anne Laddon created silkscreen prints, posters and cards while working at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a studio space outside of Washington, D.C. Her experience there inspired Studios on the Park, the pioneering nonprofit that Laddon founded in a former downtown Paso Robles auto building in 2007. This woman owned endeavor features exhibitions by national and regional artists, and it also brings classes, children's events and galleries under one roof.
Studios on the Park is home to 6 studio spaces that house 15 working artists, plus 4 galleries and a gift shop selling fine art and crafts. In addition to supporting professional artists, the nonprofit holds classes and workshops that explore painting, printmaking, drawing, mixed media and more. Children's programs and parties connect youngsters with new skills, and year-round exhibitions and events engage community members and visitors, alike.
Julie Fischer — Paso Robles Wine Merchant
Julie Fischer developed a taste for wine while in Italy as a college student. She later landed in San Francisco, working as a retail buyer for Macy’s and Ross, and dreamed of opening a cozy wine bar like those tucked around the city. Eventually, her husband, Justin, traded a finance career for culinary work in Los Angeles and the couple later moved to Paso Robles. During the pandemic, they opened Paso Robles Wine Merchant at the Paso Market Walk. The small business has quickly become a popular Paso gathering spot.
With Paso Robles Wine Merchant, the Fischers created a friendly neighborhood go-to for wines by the bottle or the glass, California cheese plates, and dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. It's all about community in this unique venue. The menu features Etto Pastificio pastas made in Paso and other plates paired with sustainable wines from neighboring producers. Special events like winemaker talks and chef pop-ups draw an enthusiastic audience. With good food and friendly service, there’s no better place to get a true taste of Paso Robles.
Deborah Baldwin Mann — Paso Market Walk
Deborah Baldwin Mann has extensive hospitality experience and continues making her mark on the Paso Robles community. Mann co-founded the legendary Justin Vineyards & Winery in 1981, and helped the brand earn notice for Bordeaux-style varieties. More recently, she created Paso Market Walk on the grounds of a former community nursery bordering downtown. This vibrant gathering spot highlights local producers and small-scale businesses, all in a walkable setting that has revitalized this thriving corner of town.
The lofts at Paso Market Walk put travelers at the heart of the local culinary and shopping scene, with six modern rooms and suites set among a cluster of specialty retailers. The mixed-use destination is home to independent coffee shops, bakeries, cafes, wine bars, flower stands, boutiques and more. The pedestrian-friendly market is anchored by an 1890 Victorian home and a newer glass-walled stone building with soaring ceilings. On every visit, you can chat with locals, sample Central Coast flavors, and experience the true Paso Robles good life.
Lori Foster — Spice of Life
Lori Foster was born in a Boston-area Italian community, and her family moved west when she was a child. She and her husband settled in Paso Robles, and as she cooked for her young family, Foster remembered fondly the family meals of her childhood. Inspired by those personal experiences, and a memorable vacation stop at a Florida spice shop, Foster launched Spice of Life as a farmers' market business in 2009. Her premium blends from around the world have become a staple in Paso Robles kitchens.
Foster spun her mobile business into a brick-and-mortar Spice of Life location in 2013. A decade later, the downtown Paso retail space is a hidden gem that provides an unforgettable experience. The snug shop is packed with single-origin spices, flavorful blends, herbs, salts and other goodies, plus a dizzying variety of loose-leaf teas. Pause at the tasting bar to sample olive oils, vinegars and other tasty surprises, or stop by for lunch. Seasonal salads, toasts and sandwiches headline the menu, and the crew serves coffee and tea, as well.
Jennifer Golden — The Vreamery
Jennifer Golden is a trailblazer with an excellent sense of taste. In 2018, the Paso Robles entrepreneur turned her passion for plant-based cooking and science-based nutrition into a groundbreaking small business. The Vreamery Vegan Cheese Shop and Melt Bar started as a farmers' market regular. By 2020, Golden opened a public market storefront at the Paso Market Walk. Her shop is just the third vegan cheese shop in the United States, and it's a must-visit for anyone interested in vegan menus and raw foods.
The Vreamery showcases the nation's top small-batch, plant-based vegan cheesemakers through cheese flights, grab-and-go selections and custom-made grazing boxes. Vegan cheese making kits let enthusiasts create their own flavors, and the shop's in-house cafe serves an allergen-free and 100% plant-based menu of bagels, salads and signature pressed sandwiches. Staffers here are happy to chat and help customers select fresh treats and gifts.
Dana Brown — Calcareous Vineyard
Dana Brown and her father, Lloyd Messer, founded the winery in 2000 with a singular purpose: to craft elegant wines that purely express the delicious complexities of this wholly unique estate. Calcareous’ unwavering dedication to this mission has forged a legacy of excellence and continues to earn the winery numerous awards and accolades, including the esteemed Wine Spectator Top 100.
Calcareous Vineyard produces exceptional small-lot wines from its high-elevation estate vineyard on Paso Robles’ Westside. With expansive views of the coastal Saint Lucia Mountain Range, Calcareous is located on Peachy Canyon Road minutes from Downtown Paso Robles and just 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The 442-acre estate stretches 1,800 feet above sea level and is home to an unrivaled convergence of sun exposure, overnight marine layer, and its namesake – calcareous – the snow-white limestone-rich soil that is a key component to its critically acclaimed wines.
Venus Lai — McPrice Myers
Venus Lai's road to McPrice Myers ran through the biotechnology industry, where she used a Ph.D. in molecular and medical genetics to develop therapeutic medications. Lai has always had a passion for wine and spirits, though. After signing up for the McPrice Myers Wine Club during one chilly December visit, she eventually became a winery partner. Today, Lai is enhancing the McPrice Myers experience for club members and casual fans, while also elevating the brand's position as one of the top female owned wineries in Paso Robles.
Since McPrice (Mac) Myers produced his first vintage at a local cooperative in 2002, he, Lai and the McPrice Myersteam have worked to spotlight standout central California grapes: grenache, syrah, mourvèdre, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and more. The Adelaida wine region destination has a family- and pet-friendly tasting room surrounded by rolling hills, and there's a well-appointed luxury guesthouse available for overnight stays. A hospitality and tasting facility opening soon will provide new ways to engage with the wines and winemakers.
Janell Dusi — J Dusi
Janell Dusi grew up trailing her grandfather, Dante, in the Dusi Vineyard. He shared details on her great-grandparents’ traditional farming practices and old-world Italian winemaking techniques. The family just grew grapes at the time – winemaking wasn't their focus – but after entering an amateur winemaking contest at age 13, Dusi was hooked. She worked in an Australian vineyard, returned to Paso Robles in her mid 20s, and launched J Dusi wines. These days, Dusi is one of the area's respected female winemakers. She oversees eight vineyards and the production of more than 10,000 cases a year.
The Dusi Vineyard roots reach back to the early 1920s, when Sylvester and Caterina Dusi moved from northern Italy to Paso Robles and planted some of the region's first zinfandel vines. Subsequent generations expanded that work. Today, the 100-acre Dusi estate in the Templeton Gap, south of Paso Robles, produces old vine zinfandel for several acclaimed wineries. Tastings experiences at the J Dusi Winery & Tasting Room explore the family's story against a beautiful vineyard backdrop.
Maggie Tillman — Alta Colina
Maggie Tillman stands out as a Paso Robles woman in wine – in fact, she was named Paso Robles’ Master Wine Marketer of the Year in 2021. Tillman has led marketing and sales at Alta Colina since 2011, bringing attention to the sustainable-minded vineyard that her father, Bob, founded in 2003. Before supporting the family business, Tillman attended New York University, earned an MBA in wine management from Sonoma State University, and worked with other high-profile area wineries.
Estate-grown Rhône-style wines star at this Westside Paso Robles operation. Alta Colina occupies Adelaida District real estate at 1,800 feet in elevation. Bright days, cool nights, and Pacific Ocean proximity give character to fruit grown in the fractured shale soils here. The brand's estate vineyard is hand harvested, and visitors learn about processing techniques during tastings and member events. Sunset Magazine has named Alta Colina's Trailer Pond, an overnight campsite with five vintage campers, a “Best of the West” travel destination.
Stephanie Terrizzi — Giornata Wine
When it comes to Paso Robles’ women winemakers, Stephanie Terrizzi stands apart. She fell for wine while working in an Illinois wine bar and moved to Sonoma County to gain industry experience. Terrizzi then studied enology, chemistry and plant science in Fresno, where she met her husband, Brian. They discovered a mutual love for Italian wine and culture, and later co-founded Giornata Wines and Broadside Winery. Through Etto Pastificio, the market and pasta company that the couple also established, Terrizzi supports school lunch programs and has fed families facing pandemic challenges.
Giornata brings a slice of Italy to central California. Stephanie and Brian Terrizzi have immersed themselves in old-world winemaking techniques and Italian grape varieties, and the result is a portfolio of vibrant, limited production releases. Sample the subtle, balanced wines by appointment at the label's Tin City women owned wine tasting room, which runs on solar power and welcomes guests with indoor and outdoor seating options.
Neeta Mittal — LXV Wine
Neeta Mittal of LXV Wines is one of the first Indian women to own a winery in the United States, and she's expertly blended elements of various cultures and culinary traditions. USA Today named LXV one of the country's top-10 tasting experiences thanks, in part, to the creative vision and quality of this minority woman owned business. Neeta, her husband, Kunal, and the entire LXV team work hard to create contemporary blends recognized by Wine Enthusiast, the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.
LXV spotlights Bordeaux and sangiovese grapes, sourcing much of its fruit from an estate vineyard in the Willow Creek Appellation. Team members pour LXV blends in a downtown Paso Robles tasting lounge with traditional flights and the popular Wine Tasting & Flavors Flight that pairs wines with carefully curated spices. Seating here ranges from a cellar space to the elegant Blue Room to an open-air patio, so guests can tailor each visit experience to their liking.
Dina Hevert — Vinyl Vineyards
Florida natives Dina and Jeffrey Hevert moved west to work in television – sales for her and production for him. During their time in Los Angeles, they road tripped to Paso Robles and dreamed of owning their own piece of paradise. When Jeff started working on a show about restoring vintage campers, Dina started making plans. Soon, the couple bought some land, updated some trailers of their own, and launched a glamping resort. Since then, they've expanded into wine with their Vinyl Vineyards launch.
As one of the newest up-and-coming wineries on the Paso Robles scene, Vinyl Vineyards started with a few limited releases and some have already sold out. Early headliners include cabernet sauvignon, Bordeaux blanc and rose. It’s all part of a wider project called Windwood Ranch. Here, among rustic meadows and forested landscapes, the Heverts welcome overnight guests in a vintage farmhouse, a cozy casita, a-frame cabins, and beautifully restored Airstream, Streamline and Spartan trailers.
Monica Villicana – Re:Find Handcrafted Spirits
Monica Villicana and her husband Alex planted the roots of their small winery, Villicana Winery, in 1993 while she was the West Coast Marketing Director for Reebok. Each weekend they would commute from Pasadena, CA to plant and farm the vineyard before returning to the office on Monday morning. In 2002, she left her corporate career and moved to Paso Robles to open their tasting room on Adelaida Road. In 2011, they launched the county's first craft distillery, Re:Find Distillery creating a whole new industry in Paso Robles. Monica manages the hospitality, sales, and marketing for both Re:Find Distillery and Villicana Winery. RE:Find Distillery was born from sustainable roots in that they handcraft memorable vodkas and gin from the prized free-run juice from premium Paso Robles red wine grapes that aren’t being made into wine. This includes red wine grapes they farm from their estate vineyard. RE:FIND Distillery is one of a kind in that they also collaborate with brewers on the Central Coast to craft local, California whiskeys. The Villicanas are innovators who have achieved unparalleled quality in their spirits by using all natural, premium local ingredients, and distilling 100% of their spirits in Paso Robles. It is a truly sustainable California vineyard to bottle distillery.
Katie Hayward — Uncorked Wine Tours
Katie Hayward was working in commercial lending at a community bank when a snowboarding accident landed her on extended leave. As she recovered, she reconsidered her career. At the same time, her husband was trying to sell a small van – and when that sale fell through, Hayward deleted the listing and launched her own business. She founded Uncorked Wine Tours in 2010, and the captain's hat she donned for her first tour has become a symbol of the successful tour and transportation business that now carries guests on San Luis Obispo County adventures.
With Uncorked Wine Tours, Hayward created a women owned small business that makes exploring Paso Robles Wine Country easy and accessible. Packages combine transportation, tour guide services, custom itineraries, and personal connections to esteemed wine producers. In addition to classic vineyard tours and tastings, Uncorked Wine Tours can tailor experiences to include horseback rides, zipline excursions, wine blending workshops, tastings that feature spirits, beer or olive oil, and other special surprises.
Jill Tweedie — Breakaway Tours
Lifelong Central Coast resident Jill Tweedie started Breakaway Tours in 1995, introducing guests to the grapes of the Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara regions. From the start, she's centered her outings on education. Guests learn who grows the grapes, how vintners enter the industry, what distinguishes different growing regions, and how to make the most of a wine tasting excursion. Tweedie’s enthusiasm and thoughtful approach make each of the company's tours unforgettable.
Known for its deliciously fun and educational wine outings, the Breakaway Tours team draws on more than 25 years of experience and connections to the area's most respected industry professionals. From intimate private tours to splashy corporate events, the female owned operation personalizes outings to include barrel tastings, blending trials, vineyard walks, cellar dinners, cooking classes, and even harbor cruises. Breakaway Tours welcomes novice wine enthusiasts and experienced collectors alike, crafting engaging outings for every interest.
Noreen Martin — Paso Robles Inn and Piccolo
Noreen Martin has built one of the most dynamic women owned hospitality businesses in the region. She and her late husband, Tom Martin, established Martin Resorts in 1998. She grew the company as a widow and young mother, creating a portfolio of standout boutique hotels while cultivating a community-minded culture that prioritizes philanthropy. In addition to supporting several Paso Robles civic organizations, Martin is an active leader in the state's tourism industry and was a 10-year commissioner for Visit California.
Martin’s accomplishments include leading two highly regarded female run businesses in Paso Robes. Established in 1889, the 98-room Paso Robles Inn overlooks Downtown City Park. Expect spa tubs, private balconies, in-room fireplaces, an on-site steakhouse and other upscale features, along with easy access to local boutiques and wine tasting rooms. A beautifully restored 1891 ballroom transports guests to another time, while lush gardens and century-old oaks set a serene backdrop for outdoor events. The Piccolo, located just around the corner, has a more modern sensibility and Instagram-worthy architecture. This contemporary boutique hotel features 24 chic rooms, a rooftop bar and a buzzy wine lounge, along with unexpected touches like a Moët & Chandon champagne vending machine.
Women's History Month
In celebration of Women’s History Month & International Women’s Day, At Her Table will bring together over 250 San Luis Obispo women-owned and co-owned businesses. This 7-day county-wide event features inspired menu items, classes, and deep discussions amongst female industry leaders and more.
At Her Table’s mission is to bring awareness and support to women-owned and co-owned businesses in the food, beverage, and lodging industry on the central coast. We are committed to creating spaces of celebration through impactful events, education on women’s health initiatives, fostering of diversity and equality in the workforce, and promoting inclusivity within our community.