Paso Robles boasts a bounty of farm-to-table cuisine, 200+ wineries, and an extensive variety of activities and experiences that appeal to couples, girlfriend getaways, and families as well. Scenic wineries, rolling hills, grand oaks, historic ballrooms, and even a nearby California Mission make Paso Robles a wedding or family reunion ready city. It’s no wonder how this little town is booming with tourism and putting it’s name on the map. Here are a few stops on my recent media tour, each and every one being something that I want to return to with my loved ones and friends!
Villa San Juliette
From reality television’s So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick came into the wine business blind. But, since 2008, the duo have successfully grown their stunning 168-acre, 14,000-square-foot Tuscan-style estate and tasting room into a sustainable and environmental responsible wine stop in San Miguel, the northern most tip of the Paso Robles AVA.The views will take your breath away, the tour will educate you, the wine (loved the 2012 Chorum White) will tempt you, and the food will have you coming back for more! A wedding here would be stunning with this backdrop!Their artisan pizza flatbreads are phenomenal and their dessert divine, you’ll be hooked and want to become a wine club member to come back again and again. If that’s not enough they’ve recently launched helicopter tours to experience the property from a bird’s eye! I’m not a member yet, but a fan of the proprietors and the amazing day we had, this will be the first place I return to when heading to Paso Robles with my husband or girlfriends!
Brock & Michelle Waterman’s little hill in west Paso offers wonderfully flavored wine, the grapes speak for themselves! Their 3 year old gorgeous tasting room on Tuley Ct. is stylish and and I was completely mesmorized by this elegant yet simple chandelier hanging over the bar!We enjoyed a 5 wine and cheese pairing starting with their 2013 Chardonnay with piave vecchio cheese finishing with a 2012 Estate Petite Sirah and a wild boar salami bite! We had the opportunity to meet Brock and admired his love and passion for winemaking. Brochelle is known for their 2012 Estate Zinfandel which was my favorite as it was spicy with just the right balance of acid. Belonging to their wine club will get you $9-12 off retail prices depending on the varietal, stop in and try it out!
BarrelHouse Brewing Co
Maybe it’s beer you crave, well look no further because the ambiance and beer at BarrelHouse Brewery is top notch! Check out these outdoor spaces! We dined al fresco here just before heading in for a round of beer tasting and can you imagine bringing a bunch of friends out for $1 pizza night or to listen to some jams (offered a few nights a week)? Such a neat place, co-founder Chris Vaughn took us through a full beer tasting-my favorite being the hoppy and tropical Poor Man’s blonde, brewery tour and we even sampled some beer from the barrels and one that resembled a white wine! I’m new to craft beer so the tasting is perfect to find out what you like!
Thomas Hill Organics
In the charming Park district of Paso Robles, Debbie Thomas brought her produce from Thomas Hill Farms to create a local-driven fresh market bistro with bold imaginative dishes and the space has expanded to include a wine bar. Offering amazing dishes, the restaurant recently debuted a new cocktail menu featuring sake as the star in many concoctions. During our visit we all enjoyed the sake mixology with creations like The Margarita, The Mojito, and my favorite, The Ginger Grant.With the cocktail tasting, we enjoyed Stuffed Peppadew peppers stuffed with local goat cheese mousse, olives, micro greens with min oil. Not a huge fan of goat cheese I wanted to try one anyway and I love a good sweet pepper, I was pleasantly surprised how much I loved this tasty bite. In fact, I ate 2 more!
Our meal was beyond spectacular as we paired wines starting with an amazing Rock Crab Cake over risotto and a 2011 Lone Madrone Rhone White Blend. Next up was Ras al Hanout Seared Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast with quinoa tabbouleh. The meat was so tender and I loved the texture of the tabbouleh and the tartness of the pickled cherries. Third course had us enjoying a Pistachio Crusted Lamb Sirloin over a sweet potato mofongo that was delicious, summer squash my favorite, paired with a 2011 Tablas Creek Rhone Blend. Finally, I went to heaven with a Chocolate Marquis with macerated fruit. Out of this world I tell you!
The Kobayashi brothers brought their dream to reality in central California with vibrant dishes, craft cocktails, and a knack for hospitality. Their produce and herbs are organically farmed within a few miles of their restaurant and their menu is phenomenal.
Artisan is built upon chef kobayashi’s attention to detail, focus on locally sourced ingredients and fervor for refined cuisine.
Wood fired pizza with garden chard and pesto, pickled beet salad with arugula, roasted cauliflower and quinoa, and meatballs with a ricotta gnocchi started us off. Cedar planked shrimp and grits, boar tenderloin, and white sea bass and andouille followed. Cocktails with templeton rye and vermouth or elderflower and grapefruit will have you curious for a sip. The desserts will definitely have you back salavating for another taste. We’re talking cookie dough tart with oatmeal and chocolate chip crust and black cherry ice cream, blueberry crisp with apricot creme fraiche, a grasshopper sundae with walnut brownie and mint, and a s’more with cacao sherbet and chocolate fudge. This was our last dinner of the trip and my palate exploded with so many flavors and I just have to go again with friends to make sure I wasn’t living a dream!
General Store Paso Robles
Open daily from 10am-7pm on 12th Street, General Store Paso Robles owners have been artisan producers of items from letterpress stationery to pottery, and even olive oil. Shopping in their store, you’ll find a selection of home goods, kitchenware, and even toys!
If you sample the great selection of local cheeses and salamis, nuts, crackers, fresh baguettes and baked goods, you’ll fall in love. Pack up a picnic basket with goodies for an outdoor lunch or to take on your wine tasting tour and don’t forget the almond brittle! It’s one of those things that you wish you can have delivered to your door monthly like a wine club membership! No joke!
Vivant Cheese Shop
I never wanted a sheep before heading to Vivant Cheese Shop! All cheeses fall into six different categories: fresh, soft ripened, washed rind, semi hard, hard, and blue. The sheep milk’s cheese (Ewenique from Central Coast Creamery) in the semi hard category was so sweet and savory at the same time, I knew I had to buy some, and that I did! Over 150 local cheeses and those from around the world can be bought as well as paired with wines, beer, or along side a delicious panini in downtown Paso Robles.
Pasolivo Olive Oil
Did you know the health benefits of olive oil? It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, prevents cancer, contains antioxidant qualities, and improves cognitive function! Now everyone can use a little shot of olive oil, right? As in some people take 2-3 teaspoons of it just for their health each day, never mind cooking with it!Visiting Pasolivo’s tasting room will have you driving a while on a winding road, but the tour is worth it. Hand-picked just steps from the olive oil press from the 45 acre orchards, Pasolivo makes award winning olive oil with unique flavors that include basil and tangerine! Grab a baggie of bread and a plate of their spices and salts and test out each flavor.
Fruitiness, bitterness and pungency are the three positive attributes of fresh olive oil, while light and heat can damage it. For more information and recipes, visit their website http://www.pasolivo.com/.
Meals, tastings, and tours were all a part of the Experience Paso FAM, all opinions are my own!