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Peta-Gaye’s Picks in Central Coast California Wine Region of Paso Robles & Los Olivos

I had a dear friend visiting from Canada that I introduced to California’s lovely Central Coast wine region of Paso Robles and Los Olivos.  I invited two other girlfriends, who gladly accompanied us on our two night get away.

If you have not yet visited this area, I highly recommend that you do.  It is so scenic, with rolling hills, vineyards, fields and has so many good wineries to choose from to visit.  The map below I know is a little difficult to read, but wanted to show the expanse of wineries in the Paso Robles region.  We stayed in Paso Robles, but stopped in the lovely town of Los Olivos on the way there and on the way back home.

LOS OLIVOS – such a cute downtown with several wine tasting rooms, the lovely Fess Parker Inn, and quite a few good restaurants and boutique shops. On the way to Paso Robles, we stopped for lunch at the Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe, which is wonderful.  They have an extensive selection of wines from Central Coast that you can have poured to drink there, or purchase a bottle to go.  The food and service were outstanding – I was just in vacation mode and forgot to take photos of the food for the blog!  Everyone enjoyed their meals – the steak cobb salad, Cafe turkey sandwich and burger were our choices and all were delicious.  They have a pretty patio covered with wisteria vines, or there is plenty of seating in their air conditioned interior at their long bar or at a table.  After your meal go walk and explore the cute stores and tasting rooms down the street.

On the way home, we stopped for lunch at Sides Hardware and Shoes – a Brothers Restaurant (the name cracks me up) – only go there if you are hungry, the portions are huge and very delicious! There signature item is their house cured, roasted, smoked, handout and maple glazed bacon steak – oh my, so good!  Again, everyone loved what they selected.

I chose their mushroom burger and asked for it to be lettuce wrapped instead of on a bun with a side salad – it was 1/2 pound of American Kobe beef with a delicious mix of different types of mushrooms, swiss cheese, Brothers signature Bacon Steak and caramelized onion.  Can’t imaging fitting it all in my mouth if it were on a bun – so, so tasty!  The accompanying salad of gem lettuce, paper thin slices of radishes and heirloom carrots, goat cheese, almonds and cranberries in a lemon vinaigrette was delicious as well.

Los Olivos eatery

Mushroom burger (lettuce wrapped by request, American Kobe beef with swiss cheese, mixed mushrooms, Brothers Bacon Steak and caramelized onions

My traveling companions chose :

  • Fried Chicken Sandwich, which also had the Brothers Bacon Steak on it and house pickled red onions.  The chicken was well cooked with a crunchy, well seasoned coating.
  • Cobb Salad, a huge salad with romaine, crumbled blue cheese, generous amount of avocado, bacon (not the Brothers Bacon Steak though), tomato and egg with a red wine vinaigrette.
  • The special of the day  – the tuna melt with a bowl of the seasonal soup, cream of cauliflower.  I was told the tuna sandwich was good, but that the soup was “heaven in a cup“!

PASO ROBLES

There are so many good wineries to choose from in Paso Robles and surrounding areas; too many to mention them all.  This trip we visited Rangeland Wines, Proulx (pronounced “pru” – my friend’s sister’s surname is the same, a good French Canadian name, so we had to stop), Opolo Vineyards (always a fun experience), Tablas Creek and Calcareous (one of the prettiest views is from their patio). Two of my most favorite are: Rangeland Wines and Tablas Creek Winery.  I also enjoy Lone Madrone and Adelaida.

Rangeland Wines is a family owned and operated winery and ranch.  They produce more reds than whites.  Their reds are all full bodied, each with their own unique nuances.  I have to say that it is hard to pick a favorite red of theirs as I enjoy them all.  In fact, it is the only winery that I have a wine club membership.  Their Rose is delightful and so refreshing on a warm day or night, as is their Sauvignon Blanc, which is crisp without being acidic.  In addition to growing their own grapes and making great wines, Rangeland also raise grass-fed cattle and sheep and sell the beef and lamb meats.  Their tasting room is located on the corner of Vineyard and Peachy Canyon roads, beside Opolo and is surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards with a beautiful lily pond behind the porch of the tasting room.  Such a peaceful and beautiful setting to enjoy their good wine.  If you want to do an activity while you sip, there’s a corn hole game on the lawn or if he is visiting,  the family dog Arrow will gladly bring you a ball to throw to him. Or maybe you might want to hike up the hill through the walnut orchard.

Tablas Creek makes Rhone style wines.  Their vines were started from clippings imported from France from Chateau de Beaucastel, one of Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s wine estates.  Their Cotes de Tablas red and their 100% Mourvedre are my favorite of their wines.  They do also make delicious white blends.  Their tasting room is on Adelaida, not far from Rangeland’s tasting room.

Besides wine tasting, there are several places that offer honey tasting, the honey is flavored with the local vegetation that the bees have feasted on.

Paso Robles Restaurants – so many good ones to choose from.  In the past I’ve enjoyed Il Cortile, La Cosecha, The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar, and Buona Tavola to mention a few.  This time we went to Firestone Walker Taproom one night and The Steakhouse another night; both places I’ve eaten at in the past.

The Firestone Walker Taproom is very casual and usually easy to get seating in either the large self-seating bar area or seating by the hostess in the dining area. Great for dining with large parties.  There are several televisions either playing sports, or a show and one was even playing a movie (not sure how anyone could follow that, as there weren’t any subtitles and the bar was too loud to hear it).  Their menu offers a good selection of reasonably priced salads, ribs, burgers, seafood, pasta, tacos and vegetarian dishes to please everyone.   They have a selection of local wines and of course a large list of their own brewed beers.  Firestone makes a good array of IPAs, stouts, ales and lagers and some with unique and interesting twists; such as their Rosalie, which is brewed with hibiscus and wine grapes, giving the beer a rose color and tasting notes similar to rose wine.

The Steakhouse is located in the historic Paso Robles Inn in downtown Paso. We were seated at a comfortable booth, which you get first dibs on if you make a reservation, otherwise you get a regular table inside or outside by  a little pond in the courtyard.  Certain nights of the week they run different specials and Sunday night was their prime rib special – prime rib with two sides for $28.  Their signature steaks come with a choice of two sides, steaks range from $29 up to $41.  Again, each of us enjoyed what we ordered.  I had the top sirloin, which was very tender, and the accompanying brandy peppercorn and gorgonzola cream sauces paired very well with it, as I am trying to eat low-carb, I chose the grilled asparagus and steamed seasonal vegetables as my sides, which were put both cooked perfectly and had a slight crunchiness to them.  One friend had the New York steak with mashed potatoes and baby carrots, the other the filet mignon with baked potato and grilled asparagus and the other the prime rib with mixed green salad with beets and grilled asparagus.   The two friends who indulged in dessert, the mini caramel apple cheesecake and an Italian Lemon Cream Cake, enjoyed them.

The Steakhouse does not charge corkage on your first bottle of local wine that you bring with you, which is such a nice feature!  So if you’ve been tasting wine in the day and have bought a good bottle, case or two, you can enjoy one of the bottles free of charge!

When we weren’t wine tasting or eating, we explored the area, hiked and enjoyed the beauty of the landscapes and made a half day trip to Cambria/San Simeon area to see Hearst Castle and the coastline.  If you haven’t been to the eccentric William Randolph Hearst’s dream castle on top of his Enchanted Hill with the 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains and pools, and heard his story; it is certainly worth the trip to see and visit.  It is only about an hour drive from Paso Robles.

If we didn’t have commitments to go back to for the Independence Day celebrations, we all would have happily spent another night or two in Paso Robles!

 

petagaye