Wine Country Experiences: SLO Wine Country/Paso Robles

Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo County.

Published: 8/11/2016

IT’S RARE TO FIND a county with two separate wine regions— let alone two regions that are as different as the ones you’ll find in San Luis Obispo County! In the southern portion of the county, San Luis Obispo Wine Country begins not even a mile from the shore. Coastal marine air streams into the Edna Valley, caressing the vineyards and providing a steady climate for aromatic white varieties and elegant reds. In the county’s northern portion, Paso Robles lies inland, farther from the sea. This robust region enjoys a long growing season of hot days and cool evenings that yield vibrantly ripened fruit with dynamic flavor profiles. Together, these regions offer more than 280 wineries and 40 different grape varieties. Make sure to experience both.

Just Chillin’ One of the region’s best coastal spots for watching the sunset with a drink and appetizer in hand is The Cliffs Resort. At Happy Hour, locals mingle with resort guests on Marisol Restaurant’s terrace, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After the sun sinks into the horizon, no one is in a hurry to leave. It’s a sunset you’ll always remember. There’s a healing property in the water at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. It is sourced from more than 100 acres of natural, underground resources. As a resort guest, you can soak in an in-room hot tub, or opt to reserve one of the 23 open-air naturally heated hot tubs tucked into the hillside. The hillside hot tubs are open to the public and reserved individually by the hour. The Barton House, a farmhouse-turned-stylish tasting room at Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines, is a great place to enjoy lunch and a glass of wine. But don’t stop there. Behind this tasting room you’ll find another, KROBAR Craft Distillery. Sample spirits crafted by two winemaker buddies, Steve Kroener and Joe Barton, and just hang for a while. Everyone should experience a concert in the vineyards at Vina Robles Amphitheatre. Completed just a few years ago, the outdoor venue is one of the largest in the region, but it’s still boutique-size compared to most venues that attract leading artists. Various seating options are available—all within 150 feet of the stage. The concert season runs from April through October with top-tier acts in all genres. The lounge-like atmosphere of Treana Tasting Cellar is an inviting addition to the town of Templeton. You’ll feel right at home whether you stop in for a regular tasting or a special winery event. Pop-Up Thirsty Thursdays offer live entertainment and other events, such as Paint & Chardonnay-nay, give you a chance to stretch your creative muscles.

Foodie Alert In wine country, the most important meal of the day is breakfast, and you’re sure to get a good one at Apple Farm’s Wine Country Inn. To complement your eggs, check out the bakery’s breakfast pastries including bear claws with almond paste. And don’t forget to pick out some cookies and brownies for your picnic later on. Zinfandel pairs beautifully with chocolate. Located on Paso’s west side, AronHill Vineyards is a welcome sight for hungry wine tourists. The charming tasting room is open daily for lunch with tempting freshly made salads and delicious Panini. Taste through the wines, then choose a table on the terrace where you can savor your lunch and a pristine view of the vineyards. Setting the stage perfectly for a romantic getaway, SeaVenture Beach Hotel is Pismo Beach’s only full-service hotel and restaurant. That means you don’t have to go anywhere to have an amazing dinner overlooking the beach. The restaurant graces the hotel’s third floor, providing panoramic views from large picture windows and outdoor decks. The menu emphasizes local wines and ingredients sourced from nearby farms and the sea.

Terrific Tastings In the Edna Valley, Claiborne & Churchill offers a blind tasting of aromatic wines. This fun experience gives you a chance to test your palate while you taste through the boutique winery’s magnificent portfolio of wines—many inspired by the dry Alsatian dinner wines. While you’re there, notice the tasting room walls. They’re made of bales of rice straw. It was the first straw bale structure built in California. In this region, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is as big as a winery operation gets. But this pretty little tasting room doesn’t give that fact away. Complimentary tastings are standard in this beautifully renovated farmhouse in east Paso Robles. So is a knowledgeable staff and an impressive line-up of excellent wines. An unassuming industrial park has recently taken on a new persona in Paso Robles. Dubbed Tin City, this 20-acre enclave features more than a dozen small wine producers, a distillery, a cider house, and more to come.The owners of these artisan businesses are eager to welcome guests, but since many tasting rooms are open “by appointment or by chance,” be flexible when you visit. You’re sure to make several great new discoveries. On a winding stretch of Vineyard Drive on Paso Robles’ west side, Pasolivo Ranch offers a different kind of tasting. The beautiful property is home to more than 45 acres of olive trees and a tasting room where you can sample olive oils, vinegars, salts, and more. Recipes are free for the asking, and there’s an inspiring selection of cookbooks, housewares, and artisan foods to ponder over and purchase. Beyond wine and olive oil, there are brandies, grappas, port wines, and other distilled delicacies to experience all around San Luis Obispo County. The distillers of SLO County have developed the Distillery Trail and offer a trail map for you to follow. They also host many fun events where you can taste their latest recipes.

Zzz’s and B&Bs The Farmhouse @ Pelletiere Estate, an elegant nineteenthcentury farmhouse, sits amidst 10 acres of vineyards. Here, guests can fully immerse themselves in wine country with quiet vineyard walks. After a day of wine tasting, they can enjoy a private couples’ massage followed by a real treat: the winery’s signature Italian-style wines paired with rustic cheeses. New to Paso Robles, Allegretto Resort & Spa offers 171 guest rooms and suites. The resort’s hallways are bedecked with unique artwork collected from around the world by its owner, Doug Ayres. Large French doors open to a massive courtyard where you can linger by the fountain or fire pit.

As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2016 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.