Crush and Roll West is an annual event held in Paso Robles, California. This was my fourth year attending the event and I wanted to chronicle my experiences from this year. Here is a quick introduction of the event from their site:
For the 7th straight year, cigar connoisseurs and wine enthusiasts will gather in Paso Robles for the Central California Coast’s premiere festival, Crush & Roll West. This celebration of premium cigars, premium wine and the good life, takes place Aug. 28-29, 2015 in the heart of the wine country in San Luis Obispo County. In addition to sampling world-class cigars and wines, attendees will learn the finer points of both from expert vintners and cigar manufacturers.
This year once again, both the Friday evening and Saturday events will be held at the Paso Robles Event Center, which is home to hundreds of events throughout the year, including the yearly California Mid-State Fair. The Event Center is right off the 101 freeway and is easily accessible from any of the fine Paso Robles hotels and motels. There will be separate pricing for Friday-only, Saturday-only, Social Tickets (non-cigar), and an Early-bird specials. Activities include complimentary cigar and wine tasting, cigar rolling demonstrations, seminars, raffles, auctions, poker tourney, music, and much more.
Here is a recap of my experience broken down into each day.
The first day of the event was Friday and it started at 6PM. As usual, I like to arrive a bit early, so I got in line at a quarter to 6. This was a very hot day as the temps topped out at about 104, so there were just a few people in line when I arrived and we all tried to huddle in the small amount of shade available to us near the entrance gate. Gates opened right at 6 and we went through registration to get our arm band, drink glass which came with a door prize raffle ticket.
Once inside, there were two tables setup for cigars. At one table you received a Davidoff bag which contained their Nicaragua and the new Escurio. The second table was setup with cigars from Leccia Tobacco. You had your choice of the White, the Black or the Luchador. I grabbed the cigars right after entry and then went looking for the beer vendors. This year, the vendors pouring beer were Barrelhouse Brewing, Ballast Point and Stone. Ballast Point was also pouring rum, which was new to me as I wasn’t aware that they were into spirits.
Not long after getting my drink, dinner was being served which consisted of tri-tip, salad, beans and garlic bread. I ate and then went ahead and sampled some more beers and ports that were available while listening to the live music performed by the AJM Band. This is the first time that I have seen them and they played great music and kept the evening flowing.
During the event, there was a silent auction going on. The auction items were a mix of cigar, wine and other items that would be of interest to the people attending. The also did some ad-hoc live auctions for items that were being donated by the vendors at the event, so that added some excitement during the breaks from the band.
They also have a poker tournament that runs during the Friday event. I don’t think it came down to as bad a beat as last years tournament, but it did wrap up right around the close of the event at 11PM.
Day 1 was great. The weather was pretty hot at the start but cooled off quite a bit into the evening which made it very pleasant. I smoked the Davidoff Nicaragua and the Leccia Black and found two beers that I really enjoyed, the Barrelhouse Sunny Daze and Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm. Both are Ale’s but with very different profiles from each other. I tasted a few wines, but that really isn’t my libation of choice, but I will always give it a go. The event staff was fantastic as everything ran smoothly.
The second day of the event started at noon. Today, I arrived a bit later than the start due to some early morning wine tasting with the group I was in town with. Arriving a bit later meant no line and we breezed through the gate and got our cigar lanyard, drink glass and a tote bag which contained a large Ziploc with a Boveda pack to be used to store the cigars being handed out that day along with some literature from various vendors. The lanyard is used to show the cigar vendors who would put a punch in it once they gave you a cigar.
Once I was beyond the registration desk, I headed towards the cigar vendors. Like last year, they were setup under a large tent with wineries and other lifestyle vendors mixed in. I definitely like this setup as it provided variety and allowed you to see other things in between cigars along with being able to taste some wine along the way. They also mixed in Barrelhouse Brewing under the tent, so that was a bonus. There were fewer cigar vendors in attendance this year, 11 instead of the typical 20 in years past. There were a large number of wineries and lifestyle vendors. Along with the breweries from Friday night, they added Tent City Beer Company and a whiskey manufacturer, Bowen’s. So, as you can see, there was a great mix of cigars and libations.
Lunch was served early on, which consisted of grilled chicken, garlic bread and salad.
Similar to Friday, there was a silent auction going on and even more live auctions popped up with items constantly being added from the various vendors in attendance. All of the proceeds from the auctions were going to the Honor Flight Network.
Throughout the day, there were also seminars being put on. This year, they consisted of a seminar discussing hard ciders and a couple discussing cigar and beer pairing. I did not attend any of the seminars this year, but I was able to see that they were all at full capacity for attendance.
Day 2 was fantastic as well. The weather was warm, but there were large coolers used in the main tent which kept things at a nice temperature and plenty of shade elsewhere. A nice breeze came along a bit later as well. All of the vendors are great and you are really able to interact and spend some time with them. If you want to geek out and talk tobacco, grapes or brewing with them, everyone I have seen has been more than happy to do so. If you just want to BS with them, they are up for that too. I really can’t say how much of a friendly environment it is. It’s really geared towards having a great time.
After the event wrapped up at 5PM, there was an official after party at Barrelhouse Brewing which ran from 6:30 to 9PM. There is a nice section outdoors there where you can smoke cigars and enjoy their beers and the food vendors they had which were tacos and pizza. The cigar brands that came to the event were able to sell cigars at the after party which was a very nice addition. We got to meet some new people and also chat with other that we had met at previous years events along with the various manufacturers and reps that were attending. This after part really capped off a great two day event in Central California. I’d highly recommend making a trip out to attend one of the future events.