Along California’s Central Coast, agriculture and winemaking reign supreme, and their bounty is a defining feature of Paso Robles’ world-class cuisine. Amber hills of tall grasses are studded by oak trees, their majestic size giving way to rolling fields of vineyards, picturesque farms growing a variety of seasonal produce, and fertile pastures where horses and cattle graze.
Allegretto Vineyard Resort (2700 Buena Vista Drive) is conveniently located just off State Route 46, a 10-minute drive from downtown Paso Robles. The Mediterranean-inspired resort is a AAA Four Diamond designee.
Surrounded by drought-tolerant lavender groves, rose bushes, and olive trees, the resort also boasts a working vineyard. Sip on estate-made wine inside Allegretto’s tasting room or at its Cello Ristorante, which features northern Italian cuisine and award-winning wines.
Thomas Hill Organics (1313 Park St.) is housed in a historic stable barn downtown and offers quintessential farm-to-table cuisine.
Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ (819 12th St.) pays homage to Southern and Texas-style barbecue but with a wine-country flair. The locally sourced menu includes smoked tri-tip and pulled pork. Sides like mac and cheese, paella, and house-made potato chips round out a meal best enjoyed in the open-air courtyard.
More than 200 wineries make up Paso’s 11 American Viticultural Areas, many of which are family-owned and operated.
Epoch Estate Wines (7505 York Mountain Road) sits on the grounds of the former York Mountain Winery—the Central Coast’s first, built in 1882. Its 2014 Zinfandel is a standout, with delicious notes of dark berries, subtle herbs, vanilla bean, and a hint of spice.
Parrish Family Vineyard (3590 Adelaida Road) has been producing wine in the region since before Prohibition. Its a rich legacy evident in the grapes grown by winemaker David Parrish. Try the Petite Syrah, a sumptuous knockout with rich berry, plum, and chocolate notes.
Take advantage of free parking downtown and walk the tree-lined streets, where you’ll find a variety of local boutiques, art galleries, tasting rooms, mom-and-pop cafes, and eclectic restaurants. Then make your way to City Park and relax under the shade of its numerous oak and pine trees. Small-town Americana never felt better.
Duck into Pasolivo (1229 Park St.) to sample some of the region’s best olive oil. Free tastings are available daily.
Check out some local art at Studios on the Park (1130 Pine St.). The nonprofit showcases Paso’s creative community in neatly arranged coworking, co-exhibition spaces.
Let the bells along the 400-mile-long El Camino Real Mission Trail be your ambassador as you cruise up US Highway 101 to SR 46 east to Paso Robles. While you can save time by taking Interstate 5 north to SR 46 west, the natural beauty and rugged landscape of the Central Coast is best experienced along the 101.
Drive 25 minutes out of Paso Robles through backcountry roads engulfed by rolling hillsides and ranchland inhabited by horses and cattle, and graced by the region’s iconic oak trees to get to Lake Naciemento. Stretching out more than 5,000 surface acres, the lake is surrounded by untouched wilderness beckoned to be explored. Whether by land or by water, the landscape offers a myriad of activities to enjoy in a tranquil setting.
Hiking trails and leisurely paths offer picture-perfect vistas of the lake and the far off mountains. Take the 5K walk which ambles along the shoreline and up through the vast pine and oak forests home to deer and other native wildlife. Out on the water, family pleasure boats, pontoon and patio boats to ski, and deck boats are available to rent by the hour or for a full day. Fishing for white bass is popular as is kayaking, wakeboarding, and stand-up paddle boarding.
Grab a bite to eat at Orange Cat Organic Cafe (2190 Heritage Loop Rd.) where sandwiches are made fresh daily using locally sourced and farmers market ingredients. Homemade treats including yummy chocolate chip cookies are not-to-miss, as is the coffee featuring Baronet Coffee Roasters.