Tag Archives: Paso Robles

Central Coast Wine Trip Itinerary

Lori and I just completed a short trip to the Central Coast of California (Santa Barbara through Paso Robles) to celebrate our anniversary. While more details about each winery will be provided in future posts, here’s the itinerary we followed:

Monday 13 July

Drive from home to Paso Robles
Lunch at Basil, Paso Robles (on the main square)
Chronic Cellars, Paso Robles
Presqu’ile Winery, Santa Maria
Dinner at Succulent Cafe, Solvang
Kronborg Inn, Solvang

Tuesday 14 July

Qupé, tasting and lunch at the winery in Santa Maria (not tasting room)
Mosby Winery, Buellton
Dierberg / Star Lane, Lompoc
Dinner at Industrial Eats, Buellton

Wednesday 15 July

Zaca Mesa, Los Olivos
Foxen Winery, Santa Maria
Lunch at Los Olivos Café, Los Olivos
Harrison Clarke, Solvang
Dragonette Cellars, Los Olivos
Dinner at Ballard Inn, Ballard

Thursday 16 July

Lunch at Cold Springs Tavern, Santa Barbara
Carr Winery, Santa Barbara

For a wine tasting trip like this, I highly recommend the sniff/swirl/spit technique. Although all tasting rooms have dump buckets for extra wine, these can be awkward for spitting, so bring a paper cup (one for each day) for spitting. Doing this will keep you able to drive, keep your taste buds fresher, and leave you with more energy at the end of the day.

Wine on the floor of the hotel room

Wine on the floor of the hotel room

Some of the places we had visited before (including 25 years ago when we lived in the Santa Barbara area), some of the winemakers we had met at the Wine Bloggers Conference last year (WBC posts), some we had tasted wine from at some time in the recent past, and some were chosen just on reputation. We had set ourselves a budget for the wine we were going to buy on the trip, not in terms of dollars but in terms of numbers of bottles. With a budget of 2 cases, we bought 2.75 cases (33 bottles). It will be tight, but I know I can fit the extra 9 bottles into our wine refrigerator.

When we had previously lived in the area, our favorite restaurant was the Cold Springs Tavern. This is a 100+ year old stagecoach stop at the top of San Marcos Pass, between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. It looks essentially the same as 25 years ago, which is probably pretty much the same as 100 years ago. They have a reputation for game meats. Lori had the venison sausage burger, which was great. I had the chili sampler, which included cups of their original chili (beef/tomato), pork chili verde, and black bean and game (buffalo, rabbit, venison) chili. Wonderful. One of those rare places that was just as good revisited as it was in our memory.



Whirlwind Trip to the Central Coast

My head is still spinning! We are back in Dublin, getting back to our regular routine after having a whirlwind 5 day trip down to the Central Coast wine region. We left last Thursday morning and drove about 2 hours south and found our first winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands wine growing region of Monterey County. We stopped at Pessagno Winery in Gonzales just outside of Salinas. Then we drove about 10 minutes farther south to Hahn Estates in Soledad. Both of these tasting experiences will be written in a future blog. We stopped for lunch in Soledad and had a delicious Mexican meal.

We then hit the road for our destination of Buellton which is about 1/2 hour south of Santa Maria and about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara, smack dab in the middle of the Santa Barbara Wine Country. We checked into the Marriott Courtyard and had just enough time to unpack and change into something nicer for our anniversary dinner we were about to venture on.

We went to Mirabelle Restaurant located at the Mirabelle Inn, just off the main highway in Solvang. Larry and I were celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary a couple days early due to the fact that we were going to be busy at the Wine Bloggers Conference on the actual day of our anniversary. We looked at the menu and decided to go with the Chef’s Tasting Menu with with the wine pairing. This turned out to be a very delicious meal, and however great the service was, it was a bit rushed and we found ourselves done with our 4-course meal in 1-1/2 hours!

It turned out to be alright since we still had quite the agenda ahead of us with registration and expo with wine tasting back at the hotel. We even had an excursion at 10:00 that evening to Standing Sun Wines where there was a wine tasting of that winery but also over a dozen other wineries were represented there from the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association. They had a beautiful display of desserts of which I passed on since we had just had dessert with our meal. After we sampled wines for awhile we then sat outside around their fire pit and enjoyed meeting fellow wine bloggers.

The next two days were filled with wine tastings, both from the U.S. and from around the world; food pairings, seminars, workshops, keynote speaker, excursions to wineries, blog awards, etc. When Sunday morning came around and we finished the last 2-hour workshops we were ready to start heading back north. We only had to go one hour as we were heading to San Luis Obispo. We were going to be staying right in town at a very nice boutique hotel, the Granada Hotel and Bistro. Our room was ready and they let us check in at 1pm! We ordered in room service to our room and watched the final game of the World Cup. We enjoyed this very much as we had been watching a great deal of the games throughout the world cup series. After the game was over we walked around town, did some shopping and found a nice restaurant, Luna Red, where we ordered happy hour snacks and sangrias.

The next morning we left to head back to Dublin with stops at 3 wineries in Paso Robles, lunch and a massage. The wineries we stopped at were Niner Wine Estates, Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden and Derby Wine Estates. Each of these were very different from each other and we really enjoyed our experience at each of them. We had lunch at Berry Hill Bistro in the square. We left Paso Robles around 4pm strategically planned so we would miss most of the work traffic up in San Jose. We got home around 7pm. All the animals were good and very happy to see us. We brought in all the literature and business cards that we acquired over the long weekend and now need to decipher through it all. That will take some time. Keep posted as I will be writing more details about the specific wineries, restaurants and highlights from the Wine Bloggers Conference, #WBC14.



Wine Tasting in Paso Robles

Last weekend was a special weekend.  We celebrated my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday.  My husband Larry, and his father Al, spent a number of months consulting and doing research as to where this event would take place.  Half of the family lives in Southern California and the other half lives in Northern California.  So, the final plan was to meet in Pismo Beach, which is just about half way in between.


Some of us started this weekend by meeting in Edna Valley on Friday afternoon where we went wine tasting.  Larry is going to write a blog about that so all I’ll say is that we went to two entirely different wineries with totally different tasting experiences.  Both nice.  After wine tasting we went and checked into the Seacrest Hotel.  Then we all met at the Chinese Restaurant Mei’s.  They had 2 large tables all set up for us, as there were 21 of us including our 3 grandchildren.  The four generations sat down and started the gift of gab.

Throughout the weekend the family did different things during the daytime within our individual families like 4-wheeling in the dunes, or walking around the Cal Poly campus or taking a stroll along the Pismo pier and having clam chowder.  Larry and I just went down to the beach with our children and enjoyed watching our 3-year-old granddaughter run in and out of the ocean and play in the sand.  The two little ones, 5 months and 2 1/2 months, stayed close to their parents. 


We met up again for dinner on Saturday night, this time up in Avila Beach at a restaurant called the Custom House.  It was very nice.  We sat outside and had steak or fish for dinner.  Some of us brought a bottle of wine that we had brought from home and some had purchased mixed drinks.  It was a lovely night, we sang happy birthday to the birthday girl and gave her presents and cards.


The next day was spent mostly by the pool.  Elliana, our 3-year-old granddaughter was in the pool 2 separate times.  She had a blast.  The more time she spends in the pool the braver she gets.  Our sons Brandon and Jacob went to play tennis with their younger cousins Alex and Daniel.  They have been trying to do this for years.  Larry’s sister’s family left before dinner.  The rest of us went to Steamers.  We had a nice dinner and especially enjoyed watching the dolphins swimming in the ocean.  We were looking for whales as Brandon had seen some from his hotel room earlier that afternoon.  But no luck for us.  After dinner Larry’s brother and family left to go back home.  So that just left our family with Larry’s parents.  We were down to just 11 of us.


The next morning after hugs and kisses we separated from the in-laws and started to head north.  We treated our kids to a nice breakfast in San Luis Obispo called Big Sky.  We had some good grub.  From there we went to Paso Robles and all went to Peachy Canyon Winery. 

            Peachy Canyon tasting room at the Old School House

This is where Brandon and Kim used to work and got married seven years ago. Their grounds are perfect for picnicking and running around and have gorgeous views of their vineyards.  After walking around the beautiful grounds we went into the tasting room and did some tasting.  We had a great experience.  The tasting room is full of nice items to purchase.  They have a refrigerator with a few picnic items in it.   We started off tasting their Chardonnay and Rosé.  Then we tasted a number of their Zinfandels and a couple red blends.  They are known for their Zins.  We all bought a couple bottles of wine before leaving there.


From there Brandon and family and Jacob and family left to drive back home since they still had a 5-hour drive.  Larry and I continued to go wine tasting while we were in Paso Robles.  The next winery we went to was Calcareous. 

                          Beautiful views from Calcareous Winery

It is way up Peachy Canyon Road.  They have a beautiful tasting room and a very large outdoor area with beautiful views of the valley and quite a number of tables and chairs to have an amazing picnic.  For a $10.00 tasting fee we tasted 5 of their wines from a 2012 Lily Blanc to a 2012 Vin Gris of Malbec to a 2009 Grenache-Mourvedre to a 2010 Tres Violet which is their signature wine and finally a 2010 Lloyd Bordeaux blend.  Our favorite was the Tres Violet, which is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache.  Anna was the one pouring for us.  She was very nice and informative.  They produce about 10,000 cases with two labels.  The tasting room opened in 2007 and their first harvest was in 2006.  Going back to the outdoor area, they have a pizza oven; bocce ball courts and they sell picnic supplies in the tasting room.  Their supplies are limited to salamis and cheeses.  I would bring my own picnic lunch next time I went there.  They have a nice selection of books, garments and other goodies for sale in their tasting room.  It’s a great place for kids to run around.


The next winery we went to was just up the road about a mile.  It is called Minassian Young Vineyards(MYV). 

                The tasting room at MYV and their wine making facility

This tasting room and property were so different from Calcareous.  The winery and tasting room are on the same property.  They produce about 5,000 cases and have about 5 acres of grapes right there at the tasting room.  They use about 5% of their estate grapes in their wine.  Allison was the one pouring for us and her 8-month-old son Wyatt was wrapped up and on her back the whole time.  They have a pizza oven outside, but not much room for sitting and picnicking.  They didn’t charge for tasting.


We shared a tasting of 2010 White, which is a Roussanne and Grenache Blanc blend, a 2011 Field Blend which is Mourvedre and Grenache Blanc, a 2009 Mourvedre, a 2010 Estate Syrah, a 2010 Estate Zinfandel and a 2008 Cabernet.  We bought a bottle of their Estate Syrah.  We enjoyed the wine tasting experience.  They didn’t have any music playing but their views of their vineyards and others across the canyon were just beautiful.  No dogs are allowed as they have a couple that like to greet you when you arrive.  Their tasting room opened in 2005 and all their fruit is dry farmed.


We then drove back down Peachy Canyon Road through downtown and went out to Hwy 46 heading east and we found Derby Wine Estates. 

                      View of Derby tasting room and water feature

They have a few tables out in front for picnicking, but they are right on the highway so it is a little bit noisy.  They have a cute tasting room and Victoria and Seth took care of our tasting needs.  They produce 2,000 cases of wine, which is even smaller than MYV.  They have a nice selection of items for sale in their tasting room.  We started off our tasting with a 2010 Pinto Gris, which we really enjoyed.  Then went to their 2010 Fifteen Ten White Rhone, which is a blend of four different grapes.  Then we had the 2009 Fifteen Ten Red Rhone, which is a blend of four grapes.  We then tried their 2010 Pinot Noir and their 2007 Pinot Noir.  After that we sampled the 2007 Implico, which is a Cabernet blend, then the 2009 Syrah and finally their 2009 Petite Sirah.  We left there buying a bottle of their Pinot Gris, the White Rhone and the Red Rhone.  We had another great tasting experience.  They have a $10.00 tasting fee.

It had been many years since we had been to Paso Robles.  It is always enjoyable going there.  We went out to lunch in the square at Basil Thai and remember that restaurant as always being consistently good.  I would highly recommend going to Paso Robles for their wine tasting.  We will go back someday in the not so distant future.