By Shaena Engle
Paso Robles is about a four-hour drive from Los Angeles, making it closer than Napa but farther than the Santa Ynez Valley. The more than 300 wineries in this sleepy Central California town are uncrowded, affordable, and produce some of the best wines in the world. Here is a guide to a perfect weekend getaway in Paso Robles.
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Stop off midway at the beautiful Four Season’s Biltmore in Santa Barbara for brunch or lunch with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The gorgeous Bella Vista restaurant’s executive chef, Marco Fossati, created a contemporary Italian menu, which can be savored outside either on the marble terrace or next to large cozy fire pits or inside by the huge warm fireplace. Fossati cures his own meat for the charcuterie platter, and the huge Sunday brunch features a variety of seafood, salads, pastas, and desserts. Take some time to wander through the resort’s Spanish Revival lobby, built in 1927 with hand-decorated archways, antique furniture, and terra cotta tile floors. Stroll through romantic brick walkways and tropical gardens before heading back on the highway.
Settle into one of 171 spacious rooms and suites at Allegretto Vineyard Resort. The Tuscan-inspired peaceful hotel is the perfect spot to relax and unwind after a long day of winetasting. Nestled among 20 acres of fruit trees and vineyards, it houses an elegant 12,000 square foot courtyard, pool, spa, French chapel, Mediterranean gardens, wine bar, tasting room, restaurant, a breathtaking lobby with central staircase and huge fireplace and includes unique art and artifacts throughout the property.
Cello Ristorante & Bar, Allegretto’s signature eatery, features Mediterranean-inspired dishes utilizing locally farmed and foraged ingredients. Guests can choose from dining inside at cozy tables and booths with live music or al fresco around circular fire pits on the heated patio.
Menu highlights include a huge charcuterie platter, Australian rack of lamb, risotto with daily changing fresh ingredients; and Angus filet mignon and ribeye steaks. Specialty cocktails include the Campfire with Whistlepig rye, Averna, vanilla and chai tincture and smoke; Winter Around the World with pisco, brandy, yuzu, and limoncello; and Mr. Tom Pear with gin, lemon, Earl Grey tea, and pear.
Located in downtown Paso Robles, Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar serves farm-to-table organic fare al fresco in its European-style back patio or inside by the long narrow winebar. The atmosphere is casual and romantic with menu highlights including burrata with apples and cherry panzanella; short rib tacos with avocado and pickled watermelon; roasted branzino with lemon herb stuffing and garlic cauliflower, Thai chili salmon with coconut rice and seasonal cobbler for dessert.
Stop by the Brown Butter Cookie Company for a box of citrus, cocoa, espresso, almond, cinnamon or original brown butter cookies to go.
A few doors down is the Paso Robles General Store, providing unique gifts for the pantry and home. Pick up some local olive oil, coffee, or honey as well as blankets, coffee mugs, soaps and candles to remember your trip or as a gift for someone at home.
Visit Studios on the Park, the city’s nonprofit art center with six studios, four galleries, and a fine art gift shop. You can take a class, view exhibitions, or find a keepsake at their crafty gift shop.
Stroll through the peaceful Centennial Park to view the lighted gazebo, where the city holds concerts, pancake breakfasts, and wine festivals. Be sure to check the calendar.
Head to Parrish Family Winery’s tasting room while exploring the charming downtown area of Paso Robles. They serve seven of their wines and also offer chocolate ($10) and cheese ($7.50) pairings for a fun tasting experience. Sit inside or savor sips on their outside patio, perfect for people watching on a lazy afternoon.
You can spend an entire afternoon at the huge gorgeous DAOU Vineyards and Winery. The brothers (Georges and Daniel) produce delicious cabernet sauvignons as well as red blends. The tasting room features a huge rectangular marble tasting bar, large fireplace, and beautiful seating overlooking the DAOU vineyards and Adelaida mountains. Stay awhile and stroll through the elegant estate, enjoy the view and wines and order charcuterie or larger lunch plates.
If you want to get away for a weekend of wine tasting, longing for a romantic few days with your significant other, or want to leave the hustle and bustle of a big city, Paso Robles is the perfect place for a short escape, one of more than 100 options for a weekend escape in the United States.