Last summer, to celebrate our first wedding anniversary among many other wonderful things to come, we made the roughly 2-hour drive down to Paso Robles, California. Unfortunately for us, Route 1 along the coast south of Big Sur still wasn’t reopened – but the good news for you, should you make a similar trek, is that it reopened literally the week after we made this drive. I guess that means we need to do it again, huh?
Anyways. The drive down 101 between Monterey and Paso is pretty nondescript, mostly dry and rural land with a few small towns sprinkled along the road. There isn’t much to look at outside of those small towns, though it was fun to watch the temperature readout in my car climb from the 70s up to something like 115. We have a pretty serious lack of seasons, and therefore lack of temperature variance, in Monterey – clearly that is not the case here. Really, really glad I packed lots of shorts!
We arrived in Paso and checked into our airBnB, a really cute little house in a neighborhood within walking distance of downtown. The house had a guide to the neighborhood deer, of which we were lucky to catch a few glimpses of around sunset just casually walking along the streets. I will never not be amazed when wild animals just appear around you.
Our first stop for the weekend was Firestone Walker, one of my favorite California breweries. I’m a big fan of their beer, and also of their slogan “Beer Before Glory,” because beer. We each had a couple drinks – a couple IPAs for me, a stout for hubby – and one of their pretzels to tide us over until dinner. We ended up leaving with a 6-pack of their Luponic Distortion IPA series, a rotating hop series which I have come to love since moving to California. Last July they were on iteration #10, a beer in which “the lead hops…include new varieties from the Pacific Northwest, Germany and the Southern Hemisphere, which combine to provide distinct qualities of mango creamsicle, peach ring and ruby grapefruit.” (More info about this and past beers at the website).
After our trip to Firestone Walker, we headed to Target (such a great destination) to pick up some snacks and supplies for the weekend, and then back to the airBnB to get ready for our dinner. We had reservations to celebrate our anniversary at Bistro Laurent, now known as BL Brasserie, right in downtown Paso Robles. It looks like their menu has changed pretty significantly as they’ve rebranded themselves to be more of a brasserie style restaurant, and a bit more casual, than the semi-upscale French restaurant it was when we went. The struggles of waiting 6+ months to blog about a trip means that sometimes things change. Their food was pretty great when we were there, so if you’re in Paso, definitely check them out! Next time we’re in town, we’ll stop by and I can give y’all a better sense of what it is now. 😉
But I digress. Last July, when we went, we both ordered their chef’s choice tasting menu – a 6 course affair with wine pairings for each course. This doesn’t look like it’s an option anymore, unfortunately, but it was quite delicious. We even had the option to add a cheese course before dessert, which my cheese-loving self obviously agreed to wholeheartedly. Cheese + wine = happiness, am I right? Especially after somewhere in the vicinity of 8 glasses of wine…
On Saturday morning, we somehow managed to rustle ourselves out of bed and over to meet up with the rest of the group we were hanging out with for the weekend – altogether, four couples – to prepare for the big draw of the weekend: a wine tour! Because when in Paso…if you’re not drinking wine, I’m not sure what you’re doing. We went through Central Coast Jeep Tour Adventures and I cannot say enough wonderful things about Sal and his crew. I highly, highly recommend them if you are looking for a wine tour in Paso. Their cost covers the open-air Jeep (seats up to 6!), lunch, and tasting fees at tons of wineries in the area. Bring a tip for your driver – they will absolutely deserve a huge one! You can pick your wineries from their list of partners – we managed to squeeze in four wineries, which was the perfect amount.
Our morning started at Midnight Cellars Winery, where I struggled through my hangover as a result of the evening prior (#realtalk I don’t recommend trying to drink like you’re still in college when you are decidedly not in college anymore), but the wines were really delicious and the scenery was beautiful. It was HOT, as previously mentioned, but their back porch was shaded and had plenty of seating for our group of 8. We enjoyed a tasting there, and some of us enjoyed the company of the winery cat (I adore winery cats) when it appeared.
We followed up Midnight with a trip to Dunning Vineyards, a big estate with a beautiful guest villa that you can stay in. I was still struggling, so I only tried one or two wines but what I did have was delicious – so delicious, in fact, that we joined their wine club (sorry not sorry).
I managed to get a snack and rally en route to the third winery, Kiamie, where my brother-in-law is a member. Good thing I did,