If you ever find yourself in search of a get-away in California, give the lovely town of Paso Robles in the Central Coast of California a try. Located a little more than 3 hours via car from Los Angeles, this is a charming, sun-soaked, wine country respite, where you will find the food just as good as the celebrated wines. I’ve been coming to Paso Robles for more than two decades now. Back then it was a sleepy, agricultural hamlet with Zinfandel vineyards planted along dusty roads. Since then, Paso’s celebrated Rhone style blends have been winning awards right and left. Now there are over 300 wineries! Check out some of my favorite food and wine tips from this region.
I’ve been a member of this winery for several years now. Villa Creek was one of the first wineries in this region to make remarkable wines, in particular those big, jammy GSMs (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) that I’m so in love with. We stopped by their newly remodeled wine tasting room and tried some of the library wines. If you have time to visit a few wineries in Paso, make this one of them.
The owners of the winery also own one of the best restaurants in town! It’s all about farm to table eating here—and this is not just a buzzword. The produce really is grown just a few miles away in this agricultural hotbed. This salad with local greens, strawberries and pecans with a local olive oil vinaigrette was just…so…good. There were lots of plant-based items on the menu. I followed this up with a risotto with fresh peas and asparagus.
This is another one of my favorite Paso wineries. It’s quite historic, as Tablas Creek brought many of the vines from France to start the production of wine in the Paso region. Their wines are so French and unique, and they have so many varietals! Where are you ever going to taste a Vermentino or Tannat? I bought a Tannat vine to plant in my garden at home.
I have stayed at many different hotels and inns in Paso over the years. This time, we tried Allegretto. It was very comfortable with a pretty pool and grounds, along with all the amenities of a resort (spas, restaurants, bars). The breakfast menu was a delight. Dandelion salad with citrus vinaigrette as a side for breakfast!
I visited this winery for the first time—it’s located to the west of Paso, where the microclimate is cooler. It’s in the historic York Mountain property, and the wines are simply gorgeous. The winery is newly remodeled with bits of the old buildings peeking through.
Wine Cats, Epoch Winery
You’ve heard of wine dogs…how about wine cats? I want their lives!
I just had to stop for lunch at one of my favorite farm to table restaurants! These lentil tacos with carrot puree were so fabulous. Lots of plant-based items on the menu to choose from.
Of course, I had to start my meal with a glass of sparkling wine and local olives with preserved citrus.
We had a picnic lunch at Mt. Olive Organic Farm, one of my favorite farms in the region. I have been buying their produce at local farmers markets for years, so it was such a pleasure to get a private tour of the farm. If you have time, come visit the farm for lunch.
The farming style is so unique at Mt. Olive Organic Farms. They practice these main concepts. One of the most striking is the mixture of planting—no distinct rows, everything mixed together, ground covered with weeds and cover crops.
Greenhouse, Mt Olive Organic Farm
Isn’t this pretty? A lot of their edible greens and flowers are cultivated in the greenhouse.
Fresh Garlic, Mt Olive Organic Farm
They have a really cute shop on the farm, which offers local goods and healthy menu options. I loved these farm fresh garlic bulbs—took some home with me, too.
Vegan Persimmon Muffins Mt Olive Organic Farm
We bought one of these for our picnic—so good!
Fresh Mulberries, Mt Olive Organic Farm
My first taste of mulberries, so sweet, fragrant and tender.
We also enjoyed a meal at Artisan, the award-winning local restaurant. It’s all about farm to table here (a refrain in Paso), and my plant-based dish of farro with roasted vegetables showcased this theme.
Look at this beautiful vista! No, it’s not Tuscany, this is the gorgeous Paso Robles Central Coast region. They are well suited for olive cultivation, some of the best olive oil in the world is coming from this region. Kiler Ridge Olive Farm is among the best producers.
We did an olive oil tasting at Kiler Ridge and I brought home two bottles. Yum!