We just spent three days and two nights in the Paso Robles wine country. Once again, upon our return to this wine region, we find new and interesting places to visit. From our very enjoyable experience this past week, we have two wineries and two restaurants to highly recommend next time you visit Paso Robles.
Lodging – Paso Robles Inn
Nothing new to report here! We always stay at the Paso Robles Inn in the newest section of the Inn built after the earthquake in December of 2004. The Paso Robles Inn is comfortable and very reasonable and, best of all, within easy walking distance of several of wine country’s best restaurants. During the week and off-season, the rates are just around the $100 mark per night.
Wineries – Venteux and Calcareous
The names of these two wineries both have to do with the terroir (climate and geology) of the wine region west of Highway 101 in the Paso Robles area. In the case of Venteux, the word means windy in French. The wineries in this western portion of Paso Robles are in the Templeton Gap corridor. Each day in the afternoon winds from the Pacific Ocean roar through this area bringing cooling temperatures to the vines. Calcareous is an adjective describing rock composed of calcium carbonate or limestone. This is the predominant soil type that is found along the rolling hills of this beautiful area. The geology of this area is similar to the same soils found in the famous wine regions of Champagne and the Rhone Valley in France.
Venteux Vineyards is located on Las Tablas Road. Best way to get there is to take the Cambria exit from 101 and turn left at S. Bethel Road as though you were heading to Castoro Winery. Head straight up the hill until you come to Las Tablas Road and then turn right and watch for the signs leading to the winery. This winery’s focus is Rhone style wines. We enjoyed all the Venteux wines; they are bold but balanced wines. We especially liked the Mourvedre and the Petit Syrah, but all their wines were delightful. There is also a beautiful B&B on the property that accommodates up to four guests. You can even hire a cook if you don’t want to venture into town for dinner.
Calcareous Vineyard has one of the most spectacular views in this western area of Paso Robles wine country. It is located on Peachy Canyon Road, which is accessible from 6th or 7th Street in downtown Paso Robles. Take Pacific Avenue which then becomes Peachy Canyon. The tasting room is very spacious and the picnic area is one of the biggest we have seen, with terrific panoramic views. On a beautiful clear warm day, a picnic lunch is the way to go. Grab yourself a glass (you can purchase wines by the glass here) of the Viognier/Marsanne or the Marsanne and enjoy your picnic. It is one of life’s great pleasures. Like our tasting at Venteux Vineyards, we found the wines to be very balanced and deep with flavors. Our favorites were the Viognier/Marsanne and the Tres Violet, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.
Restaurants – IL Cortile and Thomas Hill Organics
Both of these restaurants have opened in the last couple of years, and along with Artisan on Park Street are as good as any restaurants you will find in California wine country. You should always call ahead for reservations especially between Thursday and Sunday nights. At IL Cortile, the Italian menu is filled with fresh pasta dishes (I had the homemade pappardelle with wild boar) and seasonal fresh vegetables. Each Wednesday night a winery is featured and the chef prepares a mystery three-course dinner to match one of the featured wines. A representative from the winery will come by your table and pour a wine sample for you.
At Thomas Hill Organics, the menu changes weekly depending on what is in season and available from their farm. Everything is farm fresh and all meat and fish is sourced from local high-quality purveyors. The thin crust pizza is delicious! Thomas Hill has a great local wine list at reasonable prices.
Note – The Paso Robles Albertsons Market
When you find yourself in the Paso Robles area be sure to stop by the local Albertsons. They have an amazing selection of local wines at discounted prices. Read more about the Albertsons wine department at GoodCheapVino.com.