Top 10 North American Wine Destinations…#6 – Paso Robles, California

Top 10 North American Wine Destinations

#6 – Paso Robles, California

    With the luxury of time, there would be no better place for a wine lover to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s than Paso Robles.

     Smack-dab between Los Angeles ad San Francisco in California’s Central Coast winegrowing region, Paso Robles places you in a Norman Rockwell painting one minute, and in the lap of luxury the next. And everywhere you turn, it seems, there is wine.

     Any visit to Paso (as the locals call it) should begin with a walk around downtown’s City Park. On its perimeter, you’ll find inviting bistros offering tantalizing wine country cuisine, satellite tasting rooms where numerous local bottlings can be sampled, and eclectic boutiques packed with clothing and giftware.

     Following a filling lunch and stroll around the park area, it’ll be time to check into your room. If it’s a “total immersion” wine country experience you seek, be aware that several local wineries have B&B-style inns adjacent to their vineyards.

     The Wild Coyote Winery B&B has five casitas with panoramic views of the wine estate from their hilltop perches.

     The Inn at Opolo sits in the middle of Opolo Vineyards and boasts three gorgeous suites.

     On the “west side” of Paso Robles, the Summerwood Winery & Inn has nine guest rooms that overlook the 46-acre vineyard estate.

     But the gem among gems is Justin Vineyards’ aptly named JUST Inn, where the four luxury suites are named Tuscany, Provence, Sussex and Bordeaux.

     The tariff is substantial ($379-$395) per night), but it includes a full breakfast, a winery tour and a bottle of award-winning Justin wine.

     There’s also a small restaurant on-site, and that’s definitely the place to be on New Year’s Eve when a multi-course extravaganza – each course paired with an appropriate Justin wine – is planned.

     If you can’t make it to Paso on such short notice, plan a trip around one of the concerts in the SLOFolks series at Castoro Cellars. They provide all-too-rare opportunities to see and hear legendary folk music figures in an intimate setting.

     On January 23, Castoro will welcome Rosalie Sorrels, whose voice has been described as “an instrument as mellow and finely aged as an antique viola.”

     Spring ushers in a pair of wonderful festivals, and a memorable vacation could easily be built around either one.

     The 18th annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival is scheduled March 19-21, and it’s a real Zin lover’s paradise. Although the Paso region produces a wide array of outstanding wines, Zinfandel has emerged as one of its signature varieties.

     If you’d like to sample a more diverse selection of wines, attend the 2010 Paso Robles Wine Festival, which takes over the aforementioned downtown City Park May 21-23. Wineries from all over the region staff booths and offer samples of their wares.

     No matter when you go, the wining-and-dining possibilities are numerous.

     For a gourmet lunch, head to the Cass Cafe at Cass Winery. For a great selection of local wines and microbrews to accompany a menu that stresses locally grown produce, check out McPhee’s Grill in Templeton.

     And for the best wine list in San Luis Obispo County, make a reservation at Paso’s Level 4 Restaurant & Lounge.

     Great wine.

     Gourmet grub.

     Eclectic accommodations.

     Soul-warming music.

     Paso Robles offers a wine lover plenty of incentive to plan an extended visit.

     Tomorrow: The countdown continues with #5.

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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