Paso Robles. Perfect and simple Paso Robles.
Napa. Sonoma. Monterey. Alexander Valley. Carmel. Santa Cruz. These are just a few of the amazing wine regions within a couple hours of where we live in the Bay Area. Recently we decided to go a little further south, to Paso Robles, for a long weekend of wine tasting, dinners, and hiking.
Paso Robles is considered the central coast of California – about halfway between LA and San Francisco. There are more than 200 wineries in the Paso Region. It is located about 30 minutes East of the Pacific Ocean and just up the road from Cal Poly University in SLO.
Let’s brag on Paso a little first. Maybe not as well-known nationally, yet, as the other wine regions listed above, Paso Robles Wine Country was honored as Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 2013 Wine Region of the Year. JUSTIN Vineyards was named the American Winery of the Year at the beginning of November. Paso was No. 16 on Travel and Leisure magazine’s America’s Best Towns For the Holidays review. The Seattle Times recently said it was “California’s other wine region” in jest in this article.
Enough about Paso – let me get to our weekend! We put our BMW’s top down and drove down 101 South Friday afternoon. There was a lot of Darius Rucker blasting, bright sun, and smiles during the drive! Arriving in Paso, we exited on 46 East and went straight to Barr Winery. I enjoy chatting with the owners, Tealy and Greg; and that’s one of the reasons I am member there. Read more about their family here.
I highly recommend their reds and not because the price point is wonderful – try the Jubilado ($28) and the Malbec ($27). It’s even less if you are a member of the wine club. While I purchased six (or eight) bottles, we noticed a lot of commotion outside. Tealy laughed and said they were adding an outdoor pizza oven, which they hope to have ready for their March pick-up party. My husband’s eyes glowed with this news.
We moved on to Steinbeck, which is one winery up from Barr. The owner’s family has been farming on the land for seven generations and making wine for 125 years! While I tasted the delish wine, my husband read about the B-26 airplane that crashed in the vineyard on April 11, 1956. (read more about the crash here). They made a movie about the vineyard, the crash, and the rescue. Appropriately, I bought a bottle of the Crash ($43)!
We then headed to the bed and breakfast where we staying for two nights. Normally we rent a VRBO or Air B and B so we have our own kitchen, but this weekend we decided to stay at Seven Quails Vineyards, Winery and Bed and Breakfast. Thank GOODNESS!
It was love at first sight – the 360 views of Paso Robles and the country-side were amazing. We watched the sunset while sitting on the porch. It was really romantic!
David and Karina treated us better than family! Their bed and breakfast features amazing views, fresh flowers in the bedroom and bathroom, and an amazing soaking tub. The walk-in closet was the perfect place to dump everything we brought and the views from the room were just breathtaking!
We stayed in “A Room With the View”. The pictures don’t do it justice! Friday night we had a little happy hour with David and Karina and talked for almost two hours! We honestly would find it hard to stay anywhere else next time we go to Paso!
The next morning they fixed an amazing three-course breakfast in the Great Room with more gorgeous views. Left, was the “sweet” they served after eggs and ham. In my husbands book, you can’t go wrong with berries and cream with some chocolate sauce. After breakfast we went out and hiked the road and trails, taking in more of the view.
I am not that girl who likes to try to taste every drop at every single winery along the way until they throw me out or I throw up. I pick a couple and then throw a wild card or two in there! I planned to taste (and join) Halter Ranch, eat lunch at JUSTIN Vineyards, and then hit a couple wineries on Adelaida Road.
Our first stop was Halter Ranch. It was recently named Sunset magazine’s Best Vineyard / Brewery Experience. Sunset magazine is one of my mainstay reads on California living ($12 a year!) and they were spot-on with Halter Ranch. Gorgeous property and even better wines!
My husband rolled his eyes when I quickly joined the wine club. But after we walked around the grounds and checked out the “Member House” – he was sold! With wine club prices, the Syrah ($28) and the CDP ($25.60) is a real deal!
After we left Halter Ranch, we went to JUSTIN Vineyards to eat lunch. Because we made a reservation on Open Table and got there a few minutes early, we beat out the two trendy couples from LA for the best seats outside. My man and I are quirky foodies. We both want what’s on the others plate, so we split a salad and the best burger!
After JUSTIN, we drove through the Paso Robles countryside for awhile, enjoying the sunshine. We made an unplanned stop at a spirited winery, Whale Bone. I am glad we did. There I bought some olive oil (two little bottles packed with flavor) and a bottle of Boneyard ($34). Boneyard is a scary name, but a very good red that is 60% Syrah, 25% Petit Syrah, and 15% Grenache.
We drove around some and finished the day at Adelaida Winery. A friend of mine, Scott Hendrickson, recommended it. He should have said, “GO THERE FIRST!” The man who poured the wine, I can’t remember his name, was fantastic. Super friendly, helpful, and not pushy. I will go back there again and again! I wanted to buy a lot more wine, but settled on two bottles: one of Syrah ($40) and one of Pinot Nior ($48). We also bought a large bag of homegrown walnuts ($10).
We made an early reservation at Thomas Hill Organics and planned to walk around downtown Paso Robles after dinner. A pleasant surprise awaited us after dinner. We walked out the door and found out the town had come alive with music, dance, and all the stores open late.
Everyone was in such a festive mood everywhere. Downtown Paso Robles reminds of the Sonoma Plaza because it’s also built on a square with a pretty park in the middle. We enjoyed walking through the stores and listening to the different high school bands perform outside on the closed-off streets. We sampled a few of the deserts they had set out, bought a Christmas gift, and looked at a bunch of cookbooks. Everyone was in such a good mood. What an amazing way to end a fantastic day!
When we woke up Sunday morning, it was pouring down rain. JOY! In California when it rains, we smile. We opened all the blinds and laid in bed, listening to the rain.
While we got ready for breakfast, the sun came out!
David prepared a wonderful brunch for six of us. We were joined Sunday morning by Hong Kong residents Bo and his new Bride. They also brought her parents, visiting from China, on this part of their Honeymoon trip. The two newlyweds spoke perfect English and it was fun to talk to them about their travels in the U.S. While her parents didn’t speak English to us, they understood it because at times her mom’s eyes would light up when we talk about something she enjoyed.
When we left, David gave us a couple little sachets of homegrown lavender. What a perfect departure gift! I am beginning to think I want to write a book on a weekend in Paso Robles – it was that amazing!
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.