April 13, 2011


Wine Country Without The Crowds

Have you been to Paso Robles? It’s not far from the coast in central California. If you love wine, a small town feel and spectacular scenery, then you should make a point to visit this wine growing region. We first stayed here about eight years ago. Drawn to the area by J’s favorite winery-Tobin James Cellars-we immediately were struck by the absence of crowds and the abundance of good wine. Back then we stayed out in the midst of a vineyard in a gorgeous replica of a Tuscan villa. Unfortunately this inn was a victim of the economy and had since closed its door. On a better note, the number of wineries in the Paso area has exploded since our first visit and the town itself has been spruced up with a variety of new shops.

This time we stayed right in the center of Paso Robles (which was perfect for walking to dinner) and traveled out to the countryside to visit wineries during the day. Highway 101 divides the wine growing area in half-on the eastern side the land is flatter with few trees. The western side has rolling hills dotted with California oak trees and the road runs out to the coast, just south of Cambria. The scenic back roads are full of small wineries and there’s even a farm producing olive oil (Pasolivo) where you can sip and compare their various oils.

One of the most stunning places that we visited was Niner Winery (pictured above). The tasting room has only been opened about a year and the building and grounds are really incredible. The Sangiovese that I sampled was pretty good too.

I only have one recommendation for dining in the area-Artisan which is located in the center of town. I can’t begin to say enough good things about this eatery. From the menu to the service, this restaurant doesn’t miss a beat. There were eleven of us there celebrating J.’s birthday and all I can say that at the end of the evening, there wasn’t a morsel left on anyone’s plate! My only wish that this great spot wasn’t five hours from home.

6 thoughts on “Wine Country Without The Crowds

  1. What a beautiful winery-hope all of you had a great time and J enjoyed his birthday surprise!!

  2. This sounds great! Visiting little towns is always a personal preference over cities. This would be a great place to take my parents because they love vineyards and the olive oil tasting would be something different. My father used to be the president of an olive oil company so I know that would be on his list of things to do!

  3. So glad you like Artisan! Hope J. had a great birthday celebration.
    Buon viaggio!

  4. Wow, thanks for all these recommendations! I am always looking for new wine country areas to explore. Unfortunately, Napa is getting way too crowded…so to the South I will venture šŸ™‚ Thanks!

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