When I picture a rest stop, I imagine 18-wheel trucks, a grimy bathroom, and the last of a bag of road-trip snacks. Not the rolling hills of Paso Robles. Green like Ireland in the spring, and tawny golden in the summer months, the pass of the oaks, as it was named by natives who settled the area before the Spanish ever set foot upon the Camino Real, offered rest for travelers of the historic trail. Franciscan priests from the neighboring mission in San Miguel were responsible for the first mineral baths in the area, and so it became a lush respite on a dusty trail.
Located on the Salinas River north of San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles hosts the California Mid-State Fair, and is known widely for its ranches, vineyards, and orchards. Today, it produces some of the finest wines and olive oils in the state and is home to more than 200 wineries and fine restaurants making it an exciting destination for any oenophile. Just over three hours from Los Angeles, and three more to San Francisco, there’s very little reason to stay away. From hop-on-hop-off wine tasting tours to Hearst Castle to the Studios on the Park gift shops and more. Beautiful city parks (and waterparks!) await if you’re visiting with the whole family. If it’s a quiet weekend away that you’re looking for, search no further than the Allegretto Vineyard Resort (allegrettovineyardresort.com).
A drone is the only way to capture the full scope of this pristine gem, tucked into the heart of wine country on 20 sprawling acres of vineyards and olive and fruit orchards on Paso Robles’ idyllic east side. From the ground, walk through a peaceful sanctuary inspired by Mediterranean architecture and the Italian “dolce vita.” Drawing from wine country’s original heritage in the rolling splendor of Tuscany and the south of France, the resort feels like a sweet plunge into refreshing waters. Lovely gardens, a gorgeous Tuscan-style courtyard, beautifully appointed rooms, relaxing cabanas at sparkling outdoor pools, a French-inspired Abbey and labyrinth sound garden are among the many amenities designed to give each guest a luxury experience they’ll never forget.
Relax in the Spa as you rejuvenate body and mind, take a walk around the vineyard and celebrate in the event spaces; including but not limited to the Veneto Ballroom. If you’re a foodie, walk through the organic gardens with Chef Justin, or simply indulge at Cello Ristorante and Bar. The local bounty lands fresh upon your table in a celebration of every farmer, rancher, chef, and server that makes each dish possible. Combining both domestic and international flavors, Chef Picard marries only the freshest ingredients with artisan cookery. Hop on a tandem bike and ride off into the sunset: at a rest stop you’re not likely going to want to leave behind.
Sip, savor, celebrate DAOU Vineyards
My husband and I initially discovered DAOU wine when a friend brought over a bottle for a gathering at our home several months ago. Over the years, this friend has introduced us to several pretty spectacular varietals and DAOU’s 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was no exception. So when we realized that DAOU Vineyards and Winery (daouvineyards.com) was located in Paso Robles, we were excited to indulge in its offerings firsthand.
Standing alone at an elevation of 2,200 feet in the heart of the breathtaking Adelaide District (10 minutes from downtown), DAOU’s Wine Tasting experience more than delivered. The reserve and estate-tier vintages (our favorite was the 2017 DAOU Unbound, which the web site describes as “Petite SIrah, Tannat and Tempranillo Blend shows an inky, violet, aubergine color with a warm, rich nose of blueberry pie, boysenberry jam and crushed mulberries. Cedar shavings with graphite and dried flowers are accentuated by vanilla creme highlights and a subtle hint of mint.” As a novice aficionado, I just know it was lovely and further enhanced by the beautiful mountain overlook terrace, cozy fireside, European-inspired furnishings and impeccable grounds with sweeping panoramic vineyard views.