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  • Writer's picturePaul and Teresa Lowe

Welcome to the Wine Country of Paso Robles!

Paso Robles;

One of the coolest places to spend a day or a weekend just might be Paso Robles. It's surrounded by gorgeous rolling hills lined with vineyards and oak trees There are also great places to eat along with friendly and charming people. Take a 3 and a half hour drive north of Los Angeles or about half way to San Francisco, off of Highway 46, and you'll find El Paso de Robles. This mini slice of wonderful is a must do One Tank Getaway.

Generations ago the area was known for cattle, cowboys, oaks trees and small farms. Today wine and distilled spirits and a unique hard cider house are king here. In the early 1980's there were only a couple dozen or so wineries in the area. Now the community has close to 200 ranches or farms raising high quality grapes. Viticulturists are making world class and award winning vino, brandy, vodka and premium natural apple cider. Paso Robles is also home to a rapidly expanding IPA Brewery. (Firestone 805 is the most notable).

While sitting and chatting a bit with Chris Taranto, Communications Director with the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, you learn why this part of the state is so special for wines. The topography and multiple micro climates help make for optimum growing conditions. On the eastern side of the hills the air is warm and dry or aired. On the western side of the hills the temperatures are a bit milder because of overnight coastal fog and occasional light drizzles and sprinkles. This kind of California diversity helps to create amazing grapes for wine making. Wines from this region are not quite like the French or European varieties that tend to be more austere or tannic of tastes. Sommeliers say California wines are a bit fruitier with a more rich flavor. Folks of this wine growing community seem to be very close and cooperative. Alliance members often get together for bar-b-ques and to share their brands of wines with others. These gathering are far from the often times stodgy “let's talk shop networking business meetings.” These event are sometimes held in a clearing near a vineyard. Folks are relaxed, and the food is awesome. The members even compare notes about what's being grown where in Paso Robles and how everyone can best market their greatest commodity - wine, spirits and tourism.

Paso Robles; Play.

The Fall months in California mean wine tasting season and Paso Robles has become a mecca for fine wine and peaceful scenery. Paso Robles and its surrounding communities offer world class and award winning wines. But this area of central California is not only about tasting wine. There is plenty to do. Some outings like taking a walk through a vineyard are tranquil, while others are truly exhilarating. Just south of Paso Robles along Highway 46 is the town of Santa Margarita. Nestled among vineyards and El Camino Real, the main stretch of road in this community, you'll discover 'Margarita Adventures.' The folks who operate the tour adventures take you to local lakes to float away part of your day in kayaks and experience the region's ecosystem. To experience the vineyards up close you can take a walking tour. For a literal top of the world tour of the countryside there's nothing like soaring along a ripping zipline -- whoa! The Pinot zipline is one of five lines of the tour. You might be a bit fearful initially but you won't regret the leap. When you daringly step off its 125 foot platform and glide 18-hundred feet across the rows and rows of vineyards (once the Mondovi label wines) your likely words are “Oh My” and “Wow.!” This ride is a real adrenaline rush. You land at the base of a rustic looking mining camp replica for a cool refreshing drink. Be prepared to chuckle and laugh on these adventures. The tour guides are hilariously entertaining. Just across the street from Margarita Adventures is the Ancient Peaks winery where guests can tastes delicious samples of the wine made from the local vineyards. This brand is a local favorite and is featured in many of the region’s restaurants and stores.

Adalaida Cellars

Unpretentious and relaxing is perhaps the best way to describe taking a tour at the Adalaida Cellars family owned vineyard just west of Paso Robles. From the moment you set foot on this massive property you're greeted warmly by the staff and tour guides, and you instantly feel welcomed. Glenn Mitton is the chief guide who has extreme knowledge of the wines and history of the land, and he's also extremely charming and friendly. By the way he hails from Great Britain, so his spoken queen's English seems to resonate with a different kind of believable authority. Adalaida is a little more than a dozen miles from the Pacific Ocean. Some of the vineyards rests on hillside that receive the effects of the moist marine layer and light showers. Other vineyards line hillsides that are a bit arid and the growing method is known as dry farming. The micro climates of Paso Robles allows for precise production wine flavors. While taking the scenic route of the vineyards, that includes stops for samplings of wine, cheeses and meats, property guide Glenn shares with guests that Adalaida Cellars produces a couple of dozen varieties of wine grapes. The offerings include cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, zinfandel and Rhones. The Tour, Taste and Tailgate excursion is super fun and is a must do when visiting Paso Robles.

Lone Madrone and Bristols Cider House

Hard Apple Cider is the hottest selling beverage hitting stores and bars these days and a place to enjoy some of the best samplings are at the Lone Madrone Vineyard in Paso Robles and Bristols Cider House in nearby Atascadero. Lone Madrone wines are featured in many California restaurants and stores. It's a tasty and popular seller in the state. When it comes to hard apple cider owners Neil Collins, his wife Marci and his sister Jackie Meisinger use locally grown apples, hops and yeast to produce wonderfully blended and very tasty hard cider. Presently their bottled offerings have fun and catchy pirate themed names such as Anne Bonny, Black Bart, Blackbeard and Calico Jack. Some of their popular hard cider mixes, made with 100 percent apple juice, have an alcohol content of 13 percent so it would be wise to go easy. This is a popular place to sip cider, relax and enjoy great conversation and live music with other guests. Be sure to order a meal. Everything from paella to chicken masala are on the menu. The Bristols Cider House gets its name from the town of Britol, England where Neil and Jackie were born. On the walls of the Bristols Cider House are beautiful murals depicting the history of that part of England and the Collins' family tree. When you sit and talk for a few minutes with Neil, Marci and Jackie it becomes crystal clear they have an extremely strong passion for making very high quality cider like the variety that Brits have coveted and enjoyed for generations. They're really fun and charming people to hang around. Bristols Cider House has a feeling much like the “Cheers” TV show. Neil, Jackie and the rest are truly glad when you come in and really do want to know your name.

Whine Shine.

The Whine Sine is a treasure for folks who enjoy out of this world smooth but full flavored brandy. This kind of brandy is made from locally grown grapes, fruits and a mix of liqueurs. After speaking with the partners of Whine Shine you'll learn of their focus for a fine making tasting product. They have put together their visions of what good brandy distilling should be. After a few samples you'll kinda agree that their visions and formulas for this kind of brandy are unique. These guys are a lot of fun to be around. On the day of our visit it was non stop joking between the owners and guests. It's kind like a Las Vegas act where the comedian interacts with the audience. The laughter inside the Wine Shine could be heard all the way to the nearby 46 Highway. Have you ever wondered what a cinnamon, caramel and toffee or orange flavored brandy tastes like? Whine Shine will line 'em for you to sample. The Whine Shine is newest gem distillery in Paso Robles. It's a different and very fun place to spend a afternoon. It's located in the off the beaten path Tin City area of Paso Robles. When you visit Paso Robles,be sure to make this stop just east of the highway and pop into the Whine Shine. It's truly worth your while.

Folksy is perhaps the best description of an outing in the older part of downtown Paso Robles. Walk along the park square and surrounding streets and you can't help but be reminded of TV's fictional town of Mayberry. There are cozy benches in front of darling shops and restaurants and at any moment you might expect to see the friendly faces of Sheriff Taylor and his deputy Barney walking up to you to say hello. During the warm summers and mild fall months folks love gathering for early evening concerts in in park that features not only local talent but bands from across the country. The city's social calendar is always full.

Paso Robles; Estrella Restaurant

If you're feeling a need to slow down your life a bit why not pause to eat, drink and experience Paso Robles living in central California. Latin meals featuring authentic tastes and the atmosphere of a South American holiday await you at Estrella Restaurant in Paso Robles. This destination is just a One Tank Getaway drive from Los Angeles. The quaint spot is located in downtown, along 12th street, directly across from the city's park square. The chef and co- owner is a rather warm fellow. Tasting one his creations you'll notice that special care seems to have been taken to preparing menu dishes for guests. Many of the dishes are truly alive with unique palate pleasing combinations of zesty spices, vegetables, meat textures and pretty presentations. The salmon dish will have your taste buds dancing on the ceiling with delight. This fish is prepared with an aromatic chili Colorado cream sauce, heirloom tomatoes, white wine, pickled onions, carrots and jalapeno peppers. It's all beautifully served to you on a plate of palenta, bacon and chilies... oh my, delicious! You could choose to pair your meal with the mellow house special Sangria or one of Estrella's IPA beer offerings and then end your evening with a smile on your face and your belly quite full.

The Fish Gaucho

The Fish Gaucho corner eatery and bar is a pretty cool place to pull up a chair for lunch, happy hour and especially dinner. It's located in the middle of downtown Paso Robles. Owners stress the point of serving hearty, tasty and truly fresh daily menu items along with house specialty cocktails. The raw oysters on a half shell with jalapeno mignonette sauce appetizer and fish enchiladas and scallops are to die for -- indescribably delicious! The Fish Caucho has cozy indoor and outdoor dining with an open kitchen and the service staff is genuinely friendly. The Fish Gaucho is quite a popular spot for locals. On weekends the place can get a bit crowed but it's well worth the wait for a table and flavorful food. The meals here are top tier terrific. The word is out about this place. It has become a destination stop for travelers and vacationers spending time in Paso Robles. You'll feel right at home in this restaurant.

Enoteca Restaurant at the Las Bellasera Hotel

Decadently delicious and beautifully presented American and seafood dishes await guests dinning at the Enoteca Restaurant. You'll find it inside the wonderfully decorated Tuscan style La Bellasera Hotel in Paso Robles just off of Highway 46 as the road veers west toward Cambria and the Hearst Castle. One of the first things you'll notice or hear when you're seated for dinner at Entoteca is the beautiful décor, the soft live music and Dennis. This guy is a wonderful stand out server and bartender. He has a booming baritone voice that's matched only by his big sparking smile. Ask Dennis or any of the other servers about about the daily menus and their descriptions of the meals and wine pairings will have your mouth watering with anticipation. The guava glazed baby back ribs are so tender the meat falls off the bone with flavor. The Halibut with pineapple curry cream is incredibly light and delicious. The lemon grilled certified Angus Ribeye steak cooked to your desired perfection and served with scallion mashed potatoes tian with goat cheese is awesome. The portions of the meals at Enoteca are so wonderful and large that you could take home leftovers. It'll be like “Deja Vu all over again.”

Buno Tavola

Tastes of northern Italy come are alive on your at the Buno Tavola restaurant in downtown Paso Robles. This restaurant located along 9th and Spring Street in Paso Robles. The place is a bit small but Buno Tavola is big on charm and coziness. Everyone from the greeters, to servers, to kitchen cooks are friendly and seem eager to make certain that your night out of dinning is a wonderfully memorable experience. Many of the menu offerings are large portions with explosively delicious tastes. A lot of restaurants serve chicken dishes but not like the free-range chicken breast and wing stuffed with Asiago cheese. This chicken dish is finished in the oven with a white wine reduction that seals in flavor-wow! The servers say another very popular dish among locals is the veal scaloppine. The dish is offered with braised Portobello mushrooms and roasted garlic in a veal reduction and marsala wine sauce-awesome! Many of the dishes served at Buno Tavola are paired with local wines that are really wonderful. After tasting and experiencing the meals and the wine you're encouraged to take one of the fascinating tours of the farms and vineyards that produce the products served at the local eateries and stores.

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