Oh, how I love Paso Robles! Paso Robles is a delightful wine haven located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. For food and wine lovers, it’s a dream. We started going about eight years ago and each trip we discover more—and get even more intoxicated than the last time! Seriously, the alcohol content in many Paso wines is higher than what you may be used to. I digress…
To me – Paso is perfect! There are so many things to do, foods to eat, and wine to drink. I could provide a detailed list on it all (send me a request if you would like a list); however, I will keep it simple(ish) and walk you through my idea of a perfect weekend in Paso Robles.
Our adventure starts in my home of Los Angeles!
Leave work – yay!!!
Head up the 101 along the coast – so beautiful….do this in spring or summer when it’s still light out.
Stop for dinner at the Hitching Post II in Buellton. Yes, the same Hitching Post from Sideways! I have been going to the Hitching Post since 2006. People make fun of me for always going. People say I should try new things. People should leave me alone! I legitimately try to go every time I am in the area. Why would I stop when it’s delicious each time, the service is lovely, and it makes me so happy just being there? So, you do what you want, but I am stopping at the Hitching Post! I’m ordering a bottle of the Highliner Pinot and I am having steak with the rice pilaf – simple as that. It also comes with soup, salad, and garlic bread. I’m not a huge dessert person – don’t judge – but, if pressed, I would share a piece of their chocolate cake with you.
Ok – get back in your car and keep driving up to Paso Robles. Check into your hotel and get a good night’s rest. I know I said I wasn’t going to do a list, but here is a list of suggestions for hotels for your trip:
Allegretto Vineyard Resort - Good resort option!
Hotel Cheval – This has a perfect location in Downtown Paso so you can walk to the restaurants and bars.
Chanticleer Vineyard B&B – I’m not a huge B&B fan, but I’ve heard this was a nice one.
Best Western Black Oak – Affordable and convenient location.
Ok – so I forgot to say that before your trip you need to plan a few things…Reserve your tour for the Hearst Castle, book a few winery appointments, and, of course, make your dinner reservations.
Assuming you did your homework, you should head over to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon for your tour. It's about a 45 minute drive from Paso Robles. If you have never been to the castle, I would suggest the Grand Rooms Tour. If you have already done that one, go with the Cottages and Kitchens Tour—I love a good kitchen, so it’s my favorite.
In close proximity to the Hearst Castle is Sebastian’s! It’s a cute little burger spot next to the Hearst Ranch Winery Tasting room. It’s a great place to grab a burger and prepare yourself for the wine.
Head back towards Paso Robles and hit up the wineries below. Now, four wineries may sound like a lot…and that’s ok. Go to three of them, or two of them – whatever you are comfortable with! If you only want to stop at one of them, though, stop reading right now. It’s fine if you do not want to drink that much wine, but I wouldn’t plan a Paso trip for you if that was the case.
HammerSky – This place is so beautiful! Sit outside – you won’t regret it. Unless it’s raining – then go inside, please (also, plan a future trip to go back on a nice day).
Whalebone – I love this family-run winery – such great people! Certain weekends they cook chili and share that with everyone and it’s delicious (grab a cup if you aren’t too full from the burger you had at lunch). I’m a fan of their Estate Cabernet and their BOB Wine which is a beautiful blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Petite Verdot. Also, they have the cutest dog, Bentley! Make sure to ask how the winery got its name.
Kiamie – I love this wine and the people here. Greg and Aram are the best! We like to just sit outside for the afternoon with a bottle of wine. Bonus: they have dogs and goats!
Bodega de Edgar – They have a small tasting room on Adelaida Road, but they have a newer tasting room on the East Side as well! For this trip - I would do Adelaida for the sake of logistics. The wine is beautiful! I love the Tempranillo and the Albariño. If Edgar is there, you should talk to him – he has such a fascinating story!
**Disclaimer – After Hearst Castle, you may want to stop at your hotel and then get an Uber/driver for the wine tasting. Or, share tastings at the wineries. Or, bring a saintly friend that doesn’t mind driving and not drinking**
Sooooo – If you are feeling a little tipsy, go to Firestone Brewery. There is no need for reservations and it has legit bar food and great beer, of course!
But, if you are feeling good and planned accordingly, then check out one of these spots in Downtown Paso:
Hatch Rotisserie – I love this place. Get the crispy potatoes! You won't be sorry! Hatch is a great place to meet wine industry people and get the Paso scoop.
Fish Gaucho – It’s perfect if you’ve been drinking wine all day and are ready to switch to tequila! Their California Mexican fare is top notch as well.
La Cosecha – Fun place to share a multitude of delicious Spanish and Latin American dishes.
Check out of your hotel and go to one “appointment only” winery to get that VIP customized experience. Here are the ones I would suggest:
L’Aventure Winery – Splurge on the private tour and tasting experience where you get to go through the caves and taste wine in the private library room.
Denner Vineyards – I love this wine - especially the Ditch Digger and Dirt Worshipper! Drink some wine and then ask for a tour of the Barrel Room!
Law Estate Wines - Gorgeous views, lovely wine. Check out the Sagacious - a lovely GSM that I took home with me after our last visit. (GSM = Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre)
ONX – While ONX has a tasting room (which is fine), you want to go to the actual vineyard and book an “experience.” Trust me!
Then you will head back down the 101 for lunch. Ok – this is going to sound a little crazy, but you are going back the Hitching Post! Please don’t stop reading…This time, you are going to go to the Tasting Room at the Hitching Post. The tasting room is in a different building from where you had dinner on Friday night and it has a completely different menu, including THE BEST BURGERS. My advice: One person orders the food while another person goes inside the tasting room to purchase a bottle of wine. After your purchases, grab a table outside and wait for your food. Lunch will be amazing, and you will not want to leave.
But then you must leave.
One Last Stop
On your way out of town, stop at Folded Hills Winery! Delectable wine and great people, including a talented female winemaker. Make time after your tasting to visit the Farmstead across the street. They sell beautiful produce and fun snacks that are perfect to bring back to LA. They also have animals: pigs, goats, miniature donkeys, and llamas. This would be a great spot to bring kids! However, we’ve gone through this entire trip without considering children, so maybe take them on a separate Paso Robles adventure…I’ll have a guest writer suggest some family-friendly options for this area.
Get back in your car and reminisce about what a fantastic trip you had while you sit in traffic all the way back to LA!