California wine tasting, fine dining and a couple of active adventures thrown in for good measure. Is this your idea of travel fun? If you think that this article is going to be about visiting the wine country of Napa or Sonoma, you are wrong. While both are worthy wine destinations, I want to introduce you to central California, where wine, food, history and ranching culture combine to make a western blend of wine travel fun when you visit Paso Robles.
Alan and I stopped in Paso Robles at the beginning of a coastal California sports car road trip. With the luxury boutique hotel, La Bellasera, as our headquarters, we spent four days exploring the area. What did we find?
With more than 200 wineries located in Paso Robles, enthusiasts will find it impossible to visit every one. How do you choose? We started in the heart of the city at Paso Wine Centre. The plan? Sample a few wines, then route an itinerary based on the wineries that we liked.
Zipping around in a sports car on curvy Adelaida Road is a fun way to explore the wineries on the west side of town. The scenic drive also makes an interesting bicycling adventure. In the tasting rooms of the boutique and family owned wineries that you’ll visit, the person pouring the wine might very well be the winemaker or vineyard owner. Listening to his or her passion for developing a fine wine will add to your understanding of the winemaking process.
Now that you’ve heard about winemaking, it’s time to learn about grape cultivation. On a visit to Paso’s east side wineries, save time for the Crash Course at Steinbeck Wines. Cindy Newkirk, a fifth generation grower, shares her family’s knowledge, experience and history in Paso Robles.
The Food Scene
If you’re looking for locally produced food, raised with care and served with flair, this is the place. Experience a lively Saturday morning at the farmer’s market in Paso Robles City Park. Browsing the fresh produce will make you want to stop in for lunch at Thomas Hill Organics Market Bistro and Wine Bar, located just a few blocks down the street from the farmer’s market. The innovative dishes that are on the menu focus on the organically raised produce served fresh from the Thomas Hill Farm.
Gourmands will find any number of choices for dinner. We enjoyed dining on seasonally inspired dishes from Artisian, located in downtown Paso. For a quiet dinner, the patio at Enoteca at La Bellasera Hotel and Suites can’t be beat.
Spanish conquistadors and Franciscan missionaries introduced grape growing to the region in 1797. You can still see the fermentation vats at Mission San Miguel a few miles north of Paso Robles. Combine the visit into a day trip with a drive to Mission San Antonio de Padua located on Fort Hunter-Ligget Army Base. The beautiful drive provides a rest from all that wine tasting unless you brought a bottle along to accompany the picnic lunch from DiRaimondos Italian Market.
With ranching a prominent part of Paso’s history, there’s no better place to learn about the cowboy life than Harris Stage Lines. Tommy and Debby Harris are committed to keeping the cowboy culture alive through various horsemanship and entertainment programs. On our visit, Alan learned how to drive a stagecoach. Wait till you see the video.
Since its early history, Paso Robles has been known for hot springs and mud baths. Lodging guests in the Deluxe Spa rooms at Paso Robles Inn have access to the famous waters. Or, plan a day of rejuvenation at River Oaks Springs Spa where you can soak inside or out in the mineral hot springs tubs.
Read the entire collection of Coastal California Road Trip articles. Boomer fun guaranteed.
Did you visit Paso Robles on a California road trip? Post a comment to tell us about your favorite activity. Since we didn’t have time to try everything, we’ll add your suggestions to the list for our return trip to Paso.
Discolsure: This travel experience was provided by the Travel Paso Alliance