Archive for the ‘Paso Robles’ Category
True story: I left my heart in Paso Robles. With its pleasant Mediterranean climate, 200 plus wineries dotted throughout the surrounding hillsides, abundance of locavore eateries and hospitable inhabitants, it’s no wonder.
The best part? “Pass of the Oaks,” as the City’s Spanish name translates to, is only 4.5 hours from Sacramento – making it the ideal weekend destination for couples. Follow my guide below for a three-day trip that will leave you madly in love with Paso (not to mention your lover)!
Check in: La Bellasera Hotel & Suites (labellasera.com). With easy access to all of Paso’s hot spots, complimentary wine tasting on Friday and Saturday evenings, and luxurious rooms that come complete with all the comforts one would expect from a AAA Four Diamond rated property – plush robes and towels, spa-quality bath amenities, premium linens, pillow top mattresses, and turndown service – Bellasera vaunts charm and elegance.
Check Out: Downtown Paso and meander in and out of the locally owned, specialty shops. Vivant Fine Cheese (vivantfinecheese.com) and We Olive (weolive.com) both offer samples aplenty and promise to tease your taste buds until dinner.
When hunger hits, INDULGE at Thomas Hill Organics (thomashillorganics.com). The restaurant’s moniker comes from the owner’s farm where much of the dishes’ ingredients originate; what isn’t grown on the property is purchased from local farmers’ markets and ranches…ensuring ultimate farm-to-table freshness.
The menu changes daily, based on what’s in season, but never disappoints. Each item prepared by Chef Julie Simon – whether Tamarind Glazed Halibut Cheeks with bok choy, roasted shitake mushrooms and coconut cream or a Vietnamese BBQ Pork Belly and Fried Egg Sandwich – is teeming with flavor.
After, gallop a few blocks to the über-chic Pony Club (hotelcheval.com/food.php) for a glass of Port and their notorious S’more dessert.
Once the sun rises and it dawns on you that you’re hungry, ENJOY Breakfast at Enoteca Restaurant & Bar (labellasera.com/dining.php), the hotel’s on-property eatery.
The eggs benedict is egg-celent, as is the homemade almond granola served with yogurt, natural wildflower honey and fresh fruit from the region.
Post meal, JOURNEY through the serene Central Coast to Hearst Castle (hearstcastle.org). If you’ve never had a chance to tour this California State Park and impressive estate before, I recommend you plan a trip.
Rewind to the ‘30s and experience lifestyles of the rich and famous while you learn the history of the Grand Rooms, wander through the exquisitely manicured grounds and enjoy unparalleled ocean views.
On the drive back toward Paso, SIP the selections at the brother/sister-owned and operated Lone Madrone (lonemadrone.com), specializing in dry-farmed wines as well as a refreshingly crisp apple cider. In the summer months, the adjacent Fat Cat Farms nursery decorates the property with herbs and colorful flowers.
Stroll across the street to the state-of-the-art tasting room at Niner Wine Estates (ninerwine.com), which prides itself on estate-grown wines that are produced using traditional winemaking methods and cutting-edge technologies. Take my word when I tell you their vinos will leave you drunk with delight.
Quiet your buzz by EATing a hearty dinner at one of Paso’s newer fine dining yet not-too-stuffy establishments, Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar (robertsrestaurantpaso.com). Chef Ryan Swarthout executes classic American dishes with a fresh flair and emphasis on local ingredients. For dessert (which I advise you save room for), be naughty and nice with a slice of their Heaven and Hell Cake. Peanut butter mouse rests between layers of angel food and devil’s food cake, resulting in a sweet ending that is purely heavenly!
Don’t Miss: What would a romantic weekend away be without a spa EXPERIENCE? Enter River Oaks Hot Springs Spa (riveroakshotsprings.com), the perfect last stop before the trek home.
Although numerous Special Packages are offered, you and your plus one can’t go wrong with the Winemaker’s selection. Just reading the description – a 60-minute couple’s massage and an hour soak in the mineral springs while you sip a bottle of red or white wine – makes the tension melt away.
Sparks flying, my special someone and I returned home refreshed and ready for reality.
Blog post by Managing Editor, Megan Wiskus.
Photo Credits: Heart’s Castle photos courtesy of California State Parks. Thomas Hill Organics photos courtesy of Thomas Hill Organics. The Pony Club photo is courtesy of Hotel Cheval. Niner Wine Estates photos are courtesy of Niner Wine Estates. River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, Enoteca and La Bellasera Hotel & Suites are courtesy of Travel Paso Robles Alliance.
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Typically we like to cover individual resorts for our Mini-Moon posts. After a recent visit to Paso Robles, we were so taken by the charming town we felt it necessary to share our entire weekend experience. Paso Robles is one of those places you might travel through on your way from Sacramento to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles or San Diego when taking the coastal route.
Many don’t realize what they’re missing when they take the needed gas stop along the 101 and hit the road again for their big destination. We’re here to tell you that Paso Robles IS a destination, and one you’ll be hearing about over and over again in years to come. The once sleepy town is experiencing a cultural and epicurean boom as hundred of wineries and a handful of first class restaurants pop up in and around the area. We suggest you check it our before the masses do. There’s something enchanting about a destination on the verge of discovery, and Paso Robles is certainly one you will not want to miss.
Recommended Destination: Paso Robles. Centrally located, the city is easily accessible by car from Sacramento, San Francisco and Southern California. Mostly a farming community, the rolling hillsides and valleys are covered in gorgeous green this time of year and fragrant with the smell of apple, cherry, pear and peach blossoms. Amid the almond and walnut trees scattered throughout the hills, the original agricultural product that put Paso Robles on the map, are the vineyards certain to buoy the area to its next claim to fame…wine. There’s already buzz amongst food and wine aficionados that this will be the “next Napa.” With 300 plus wineries taking root in recent years, this unassuming town may very well give the California king of grape juice a run for its money.
Check In: Despite its growing tourism, Paso Robles is still pretty low-key on the accommodation front, not yet up to speed with its growing reputation as a weekend getaway spot. However, there are a number of wonderful accommodations, from the clean and modest to fancier fare. The historic Paso Robles Inn (pasoroblesinn.com), pictured above, is a great spot for travelers in search of comfort and charm. The 100-year-old inn is located right in the heart of downtown and boasts an oak lined setting, gardens and convenient coffee shop on property.
A little farther south, just off the 101, is La Bellasera Hotel and Suites (labellasera.com), pictured above. With some modern flourishes and villa-esque vibe, there are plenty of comforts to be found here, including one of the most popular restaurants in the area, Enoteca.
If you’re looking to splurge, check out the JUST Inn Bed & Breakfast at Justin Vineyards and Winery (justinwine.com), pictured above. Though a bit further inland near Cambria and the coast, the cozy, beautifully appointed venue is sure to please. Best of all, its in the backyard of all the great wineries in the region, including its own!
Check out: The Wineries. So many to mention that we’ll just go over the highlights. First, the region is known for its Zinfandel, so if you like that grape you’re in luck. We signed up for a great wine tour courtesy of The Wine Wrangler. Our driver and guide Bruce took us on a five-stop winery excursion that included a box lunch and tastings at Justin (pictured above), Robert Hall Winery, Whalebone, Tolo and Hearthstone. All had great a variety of bottles and a friendly staff. A little tipsy by the end of the day, we were thankful to have Bruce and his van to escort us back to our hotel with our precious new cargo. Check out the tour at thewinewrangler.com.
Don’t Miss: The food! While Paso Robles is slowly becoming known for its fantastic wines, credit should also be given to its excellent gourmet dining options. One standout is Thomas Hill Organic Bistro (thomashillorganics.com), pictured above, right in the heart of downtown. Owned by Jon Thomas and his wife Debbie, the restaurant designs its seasonal menu around the produce grown on its nearby farm, pictured at the very top of this post. We were lucky enough to tour that farm in the afternoon and tasted all the exploding winter greens and witnessed the early blossoms of their varied fruit orchard. We we’re even luckier to enjoy the fruits of their labor at the restaurant that night and relished in the fresh ingredients and delicious flavors. The menu changes so often we would be remiss to tempt you with our favorites. It’s all so good!
An option for night two is Artisan (artisanpasorobles.com), pictured above. This is a sleek, modern eatery just around the corner. With a full view of the busy kitchen, we were mesmerized by the crew cooking up a storm, admiring their skill and efficiency. How did it taste? Perfect! We started with amazing local burrata and a meatball and gnocchi dish to die for. We then scraped our plates of sassafras braised pot roast and Alaskan halibut before moving on to fresh baked cookies and homemade sorbet and ice cream. We left Pasos Robles full, satisfied and eager to return. We’ll gamble you will too.
Plan your own trip at travelpaso.com.
Blog post by Always a Bridesmaid Columnist Darren Elms.
Photos courtesy of the respective organizations.