Earlier this week on D: The Broadcast I did an overview of some of my favorite spots if you decide to get out of town for a Central Coast vacation In Paso Robles. I had a chance to travel to the casual California community just a few weeks ago for the first time, and fell in love with the comfortable lifestyle, community driven environment and gracious people.
Click the link above to see the segment, or check out the tips below on my favorite spots.
The Wine – it is incredible. A favorite it Hope Family Wine and sister brands Treana, Troublemaker and Liberty School. Owner/winemaker Austin Hope along with winemaker JC Diefenderfer elevate the quality of wines coming from the region, using non-traditional methods to create stellar wine at reasonable costs, especially with their Liberty School line. They are just introducing the Pinot Noir and Merlot, mainly to restaurants to start, but both prove that you can create high quality, finessed and elegant wines without costing a fortune.
The Music – along with the wine comes great music with the introduction of the new Vina Robles Winery concert series. Just launched in July with the completion of their 3300 seat amphitheater, everyone w/in 150 feet of the stage – this summer includes Lyle Lovett, Tony Bennet, Darius Rucker, Bonnie Raitt and Marc Cohn – bonus, you get to drink really good wine while enjoying the show.
The Food – A huge portion of all lettuce and an abundance of vegetables that Americans eat comes from California’s central coast, mainly San Louis Obispo County. Additionally, the Pacific Ocean lies just 20 miles from the heart of Paso Robles, making the farm to table movement, coupled with the tail to snout focus is huge here with incredible dedication to sustainable farming, fishing and ranching. Nature’s Touch Nursery is one example of a what started as a whim from small farm owner Melanie Blankenship working with other local farmers to provide sustainably farmed produce to restaurants and individuals. This is carried through to local restaurants like Thomas Hill Organics and Artisan that specialize in products sourced from the dozens of local purveyors in the area. And they sit just around the main Paso Robles square, which holds free evening concerts every Friday night starting at 6pm for locals and tourists – a great way to see your neighbors, relax with a glass then head to dinner afterwards.
The Beer – Firestone-Walker started by two brother-in-laws (one of the famous Firestone company known as much for wine as they are for tires) who knew little about beer, and a lot about wine – so opted to make their wine country beers using 6o gallon oak barrels for fermentation…result…a completely unique way to brewproduce rich and complex ales. The brewery was started in 1996 with the goal to passionately pursue the creation of the perfect beer. Every bottle is date stamped, as they believe all beer should be consumed within 120 days of bottling to ensure optimal taste, and they believe their beer should always be stored at 44 degrees or less to maintain its taste and freshness. Standouts – their Double DBA – Double Double Barrel ale, double aged in oak adding richness, depth and intensity to their hoppy, bitter ale; Parabola – incredible, barrel aged Russian imperial stout – chocolate, bourbon, espresso and toasted oak; Solace – seasonal wheat beer with citrus, sweet spice and crisp malty flavors
The Olive Oil – Kiler Ridge olive oil started by a former engineer with his wife who traveled to Tuscany and fell in love with both the lifestyle, the countryside and the oil. They came home to Paso and created their own little Tuscany, planting a blend of Tuscan olive trees and began finding a way to produce the cleanest, most pure and healthiest olive oil from their estate trees. The result, incredibly fresh, spicy and green oil that is unlike most you have tasted…even the best from Italy. The estate offers both olive oil tastings or you can enjoy lunch on their veranda overlooking acres and acres of flourishing olive trees. And, the best part, at the end of lunch or your tasting they will give you a treat like I have never had…olive oil on vanilla ice cream with a pinch of flake sea salt….I wrote about this sweet treat a few weeks ago and can’t say enough how much we love it….perhaps one of the most unique, and most delicious tasting treats I have ever had.