New wineries, restaurants, event venue and more don’t detract from the small town feeling of Paso Robles.
posted by Xochitl Maiman November 4, 2013
Half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco in the Central Coast of California lies Paso Robles. The area, known these days primarily for it’s burgeoning wine country, is true to its name, “The Pass of the Oaks.” Gorgeous, huge, age-old oak trees share the landscape with the rolling vineyards, in an area once known for its mineral hot springs. The last 10-15 years have brought huge progress and growth to the Paso Robles wine making industry, and appropriately the restaurant scene has grown right along with it. And yet, with all this growth, Paso Robles manages to keep its small town feel, all revolving around the charming Downtown Park.
Recently I took a trip to Paso to see for myself what’s new – here’s just a taste…..
The newest winery to join the over 200 existing wineries, is still under construction, (hoping to open by end of year), but they have been pouring their wines at tastings around the country creating a buzz and much anticipation over the inaugural releases. LAW Estate Wines is the dream of proprietors, Don and Susie Law. They have brought on one of Paso Robles’ top winemakers, Scott Hawley to head up the wine program, and have acquired a 45 acre site for the winery, (up to 10,000 case production capability), and 260 acres for vineyard plantings on the west side of Paso Robles off of Peachy Canyon Road. Their inaugural vintage, (2010 with a 1500 case production), of big, lush red wines, is set to be released to their allocation list this Fall.
Tablas Creek Vineyard, a well established and very popular winery, has, in their constant pursuit of a vineyard complete with all thirteen Châteauneuf du Pape varietals, planted this year half an acre of a relatively unknown white Rhone varietal called picardan. According to Jancis Robinson, there is less than one acre of this grape planted in all of France. At the time of my visit, Jason Haas, the son of Tablas Creek Vineyard founder, Robert Haas, and general manager, wasn’t quite sure how they were going to use the grape, but I look forward to tasting whatever they come up with. Read more about the nearly decade long process to complete the varietal collection on the acclaimed Tablas Creek blog. More on this story to come….
Out on the wine trail there are many wonderful Bed & Breakfasts to stay in for the most complete wine country experience. The newest of these is Sundance B & B, perfectly located among the rolling, vineyard covered, oak studded hills of Paso Robles’ East side. The proprietors, Neil and Alma, have transformed the one-time private home on 10 acres into a Tuscan-style villa overlooking gorgeous gardens and vineyards, some mature and some newly planted. Alma paid great attention to every detail in designing the three guest rooms, each uniquely decorated, and all luxuriously appointed with fine bed linens, antiques, art, Aromatherapy toiletries, large closet with plush robes, refrigerator and spectacular views! Private gourmet dinner packages are offered on Saturdays, and breakfasts are delicious as Alma is an accomplished cook as well as host. This is the kind of place you’ll want to return to again and again, knowing it will feel familiar, warm and welcoming. Read my complete post about Sundance B&B with images here.
Back in town, there’s lots of “new” to talk about…..
Taste wines from four of Paso’s hottest winemakers in one place at the Paso Underground. Located right across from the downtown park, this unique tasting room used to be a garage. Now it’s the place to taste the outstanding wines of Edmond August, Turtle Rock Vineyards, Aaron Wines and Clos Solene. Enter through the back off of Railroad St. via a nice patio space where gnarly, twisted grape vine samples hang on the walls and, along one fence, planted vines represent the varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Grenache, Mourvedre and Roussanne. The Paso Underground is a “not to be missed” wine tasting experience during a visit to Paso Robles wine country. Plan ahead as their hours of operation are limited, but they do take appointments. This is one “underground” you’ll want to tell everyone about!
From the folks that brought Il Cortile to the downtown area, comes their newest restaurant, La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, located near the also new location of Artisan Restaurant. Spanish for “the harvest”, La Cosecha focuses on the cuisine of Spain and South America. This place offers a small but awesome outside seating area perfect for watching all the happenings and people in downtown as is it directly across from the park. Food is yummy – cocktails are creative – wine list small but mighty.
There is a new cookie store in town too – Brown Butter Cookie Company, the hugely popular Cayucos cookie store, has opened a second location at Park and 12th Streets in downtown Paso Robles. Think Brown Butter Sea Salt cookies….. I missed it on my last trip, but it’s at the top of the list for the next one.
Perhaps the biggest new thing in Paso Robles this year is the Vina Robles Amphitheatre. Located off of 46 East and adjacent to the Vina Robles Tasting Room/Hospitality Center, the 3300 seat, (the furthest being a mere 150 feet from the stage), “boutique” amphitheatre was host to some very big names in entertainment during its 2013 inaugural season – Moody Blues, John Fogerty, Tony Bennett, Bonnie Raitt and Steve Martin, just to name a few. There is a wide array of seating options from casual lawn seating to luxury boxes, concession areas offer a wide variety of food and beverages, and of course the sound system is “state of the art”. Their 2014 concert schedule will be announced in the spring, but you can stay up to speed with updates on their Facebook page.
With everything there is to see, do and taste in Paso Robles, isn’t it time you planned a visit soon?
I’d like to thank Oliver Esparham, General Manager, Law Estate Wines, Jason Haas of Tablas Creek, Neil and Alma of Sundance B&B, Simone Michel, Director of Customer Relations & Marketing at Vina Robles and the winemakers at the Paso Underground, (who opened up special for our group), for taking the time to show me around their beautiful sites. Cheers!
I’LL DRINK TO THAT!