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Paso Robles Goes Big-Time with Napa-Style Hotel Development

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New Paso Robles Development

Proposed Pine Street Promenade in downtown Paso Robles.

The Pine Street Promenade will fill a welcome niche in Paso Robles

Paso Robles has been primed for a big-time development downtown for sometime. The recession only postponed the inevitable. A large-scale hotel, shopping (public market) and performing arts center project that will extend the reach of downtown Paso Robles was unanimously approved by city planners this week. The Pine Street Promenade is to be built at Pine and 10th streets at the site of the old Hayward Lumber yard. The project received a 7-0 vote of approval from the city’s Planning Commission with no opposition. The performing arts centers will seat 500 and the public market is inspired by the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. The entire project is engineered to LEED standards.The second phase will include a much needed parking garage. This new jewel just a block off the square will be a welcome addition for locals as well. In fact much of the growth in the area is directly related to the burgeoning wine industry and all the delicious trappings that go with it: high-end restaurants, entertainment, art galleries, resort hotels and bed and breakfasts. Oh, and lets not forget the Beer industry! That is a subject onto itself and will have to be left for another blog. Cheers!

Tribune Full story

September 3, 2014 |

Wine Harvest is in Full Swing!

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Don't be afraid to get a little sticky!

Lend a foot to the wine harvest!

Autumn Wine Festivals in California

The 2014 Wine Harvest is underway! Beginning in early August and ending in late November, the time arrives for harvesting ultra premium wine grapes. This is always an exciting time for the wine enthusiast for one can experience up close, just how the process works and to see how the quality control may differ with each vintner, -who, as you know, are all competing for your available wine budget! For the pickers, tractor and truck drivers, winemakers, lab assistants and cellar rats it is long, hard days usually resulting in little sleep and little in the way of socializing. We call the spouses and significant others of winery workers “Harvest Widows/Widowers.” Unfortunately for them, but happily for us, the harvest season is also a fine time for a wine festival! Autumn in California features the best weather for wine tasting and stashing cases in your vehicle without boiling your wine. Events may include a winemaker dinner, special reserve/barrel tasting, blending sessions and discounts in the tasting room. Some even have grape stomping, and as Lucy showed us, you have to try it at least once! Many wineries will team up with local farms and restaurants so you can unleash the foodie within. Of course music should alway be part of a celebration; from relaxed acoustic soloists to reggae, country or blues dance grooves, there is a wide range of options to enjoy. Make your reservation asap, for these events book up quickly as does the lodging/dining options. -Pro tip: if you get a chance to chat with one of these overworked souls, Don’t judge them on their faraway look and mumbling replies, they are sacrificing their sleep for your appreciative taste-buds! So thank them and raise a glass to the 2014 Wine Harvest with new insights that will only deepen your love of wine.

Paso Robles Garagiste Wine Festival November 6 – 9
  California Garagistes

Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend October 17 – 19  Paso Harvest Wine Weekend

Amador: The Big Crush October, 4th – October, 5th  The Big Crush

Santa Barbara: Celebration of Harvest Festival October 11 Celebration of Harvest

Sonoma County Harvest Fair OCTOBER 3rd – 5th  Harvest Fair

Mendocino Beer, Wine & Mushroom Festival Nov 7 – 16  Taste Mendocino

Temecula Valley Wine Country Harvest Celebration November 1 – 2  Harvest Celebration

September 3, 2014 |

Explore Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries

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The Santa Cruz wine region is very spread out and a winery visit will may take you on several winding mountain roads. The trip is worth it as the combination of redwood forests and Monterey Bay views are an experience unrivaled by any other appellation. The wine is almost like icing on the cake, a very good cake!   -Part 1

Fun
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

400 Beach Street
Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060
831-423-5590
There are many family attractions in the region, but this classic beach-front boardwalk hits most all of a family’s entertainment cravings in one convenient location. Worth it for the Giant Dipper alone!

Provisions
The Summit Store
24197 Summit Road
Los Gatos, Ca. 95033
408-353-2186
Tri-tip sandwiches to sushi with snacks galore! This is a perfect place to stop on your way to one of the local wineries for your picnic. -Don’t forget cheese and some fresh fruit.

Wineries
Many Santa Cruz wineries located in rural area are only available on the weekend or by appointment. Please make sure the places you’d like to visit will be open before making the trek!  -Though a nice mountain drive is always a nice diversion, and by the way, the Summit Store sells local wine and has a patio.

Silver Mountain Vineyards 

269 Silver Mountain Dr.
Los Gatos, Ca. 95033
408-353-2278
Silver Mountain is a leader in organic and sustainable vineyard and winery practices. Primarily a Pinot Noir producer, they craft a refreshing food friendly Chardonnay as well as a Bordeaux blend and Syrah.
Open Saturdays from 12-5pm.
Yes, there is nothing like visiting the real deal, but there is also a tasting room in Santa Cruz at 402 Ingalls St open Th-Su 12-5pm.

Loma Prieta Winery
26985 Loma Prieta Way
Los Gatos, CA 95033
408-353-2950
Pinotage anyone? The Pinotage varietal is a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut grape and has historically been South Africa’s claim to wine fame. Here you can taste how Santa Cruz Terroir sculpts the grapes into wines with a delicate to intense resolution. The wine list here is extensive as is the quality.
Open 12-5pm each weekend.

Burrell School Winery
24060 Summit Road
Los Gatos, Ca. 95033
408-353-6290
Tasting wine in an old school room makes me feel a little naughty and I suppose that it adds to the enjoyment. The tasting room is inside the lovingly restored school originally built in 1854. The tasting list includes, (as one might expect in this region), Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but they also feature a fine Zinfandel and Estate grown Cabernet Franc.
Open Th-Su 11-5pm.

June 27, 2014 |

Taste Paso Robles History

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Pioneering Paso Robles Wineries
Historic wineries were just getting started nearly a century ago, dry farmed and producing wine under primitive (to today’s standards) conditions. But these early settlers knew something that it took most of us another 70 years to figure out; The terroir was perfect! Paso Robles was going to be a real player in the world wine market. These wineries have link to those trailblazers either in spirit or in bloodline.  Part 1

Le Cuvier Winery
3333 Vine Hill Lane, Paso Robles (one mile west of the Lake Nacimiento/Adelaida Road intersection)
805-238-5706
John Munch is one of only a few people I’ve met in my life that could truly be called a Renaissance Man. He is part mad-man, part genius and usually has his tongue firmly planted in cheek. The wine however, is serious and consistently delicious no matter the vintage. Wild yeasts and ideal terroir are the base that Munch gently guides to enophile perfection.  Munch is also the original winemaker/owner of Adelaida Cellars which was one of the modern wineries that showed the potential of the region. Le Cuvier is known for everything from seductive Pinot’s to ravishing Rhones and masculine Cabs.

Adelaida Cellars
5805 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446
800-676-1232
Situated on the Westside nestled in the Santa Lucia foothills, this winery has a lot of history. Featuring the oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in the region, the famed HMR Estate vineyard. The Pinot Noir is outstanding! They also make bold Bordeaux varieties, lively Rhones and a big Zinfandel. Starting with John Munch, they have employed a roster of rock-star winemakers including current winemaker, Jeremy Weintraub.

Zin Alley Winery
3730 West Hwy 46, Templeton, CA 93465
805-238-0959
Frank Nerelli is the grandson of Frank Pesenti who founded one of Paso Robles’ first wineries, Pesenti Winery in 1923.  The dry-farmed boutique estate vineyard features head-pruned vines which are grown in the old world tradition to produce a rich and very complex Zinfadel. Only 500 cases are created, so get the current vintage before it sells out! They also make a wonderful Zin-Port.

Wild Horse Winery
1437 Wild Horse Winery Court,Templeton, CA 93465
805-788-6300
Wild Horse Winery was one of the first Paso Robles Appellation wineries that showcased the diverse varietals could be made well in Paso Robles. Founder, Ken Volk had a passion for Pinot Noir and it is still their flagship. The reserves and single vineyard designated wines are amazing. They also make a fine Chardonnay, but there are plenty of heirloom varieties to explore, you may find a new favorite!

May 29, 2014 |

Dare to Try a New Winery

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new_wineriesRecently Opened Paso Robles Wineries Part 1
Microclimates abound in Paso Robles, as does winemaking style, tasting room offerings and architecture. Visiting wine country is not enough for some of us, we need to immerse ourselves in the business of winemaking ourselves. Not all of us make it, but these wineries have what it takes; quality and persistence to hoe the long row, vintage after vintage.

Brecon Estate
7450 Vineyard Drive, Templeton, Ca 93465
805-239-2200
These wines are fermented in small batches. Each as an individual story to tell and is sold exclusively through our tasting room. Try the Abarino or Cabernet Franc, if they aren’t sold out!  The kids may get to meet the family dog in this beautiful setting.

Hammer Sky Vineyards
7725 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles Ca 93446
805-239-0930
A lovely boutique winery with a cute hundred plus year-old inn. A Bordeaux centric nearly 100% estate winery with picturesque grounds where kids ran roam the grass and explore the quartz and whale fossil encrusted rocks.

J. Dusi Wines
1401 Hwy 46 West, Paso Robles, CA 93446
805-226-2034
Now here’s a newer winery with an old familiar name: Dusi! The Dusi family has been farming Zinfandel since 1924 and has only recently jumped into the commercial wine market. The vineyards were sought after by many big name wineries over the years so it was only fitting that a ‘Dusi’ were to bring the grapes to their highest potential. A true zin-lovers pot of gold!

Broken Earth Winery
5625 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles, Ca
805-239-2562
This is winery is personal family favorite for the numerous complimentary live concerts they offer. There is ample ground for kids to run around in and they are sure to make new friends rolling down the grassy slopes. Nice shady picnic area and the wines are a great value.

May 29, 2014 |

Family Tips for Event Season at the Wineries

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The vines are growing that grassy green first growth of the new season and that means special event season has started at the wineries! Sure, people get married at wineries, I did (and it was the best), but what I’m focusing on here are the events that are open to the public: Wine Festivals, Concerts, Cooking Demonstrations, Food and Wine Pairings, BBQ’s, Art Shows. even Plays and Melodramas. If you are lucky, you may find a winery or region that is showcasing many of these attractions on the same weekend.

20120506-b-paso-robles-wine-festivalFestivals and Concerts
Wine Festivals that are taking place at a central location are really more of an adults only event, but there is usually much going on at individual tasting rooms as well. These events sometimes cost a few dollars, but you can typically get a discount for the designated driver. Check FamilyFriendlyWineries.com in advance to find the wineries that are the most welcoming to kids and make the wines you prefer. Then you can pick and choose where you will eat and where you might want to stay for the live music. Many wineries have complimentary live music on the weekends. The kids really love concerts, the energy is palpable and we love to expose them to different styles of music. Get there early enough to find a spot under some shady trees. I suggest sitting near the back of the crowd. That way the kids can get loud and dance around and you won’t spend the afternoon apologizing. The businesses really appreciate the courtesy and you will have a more relaxing time of it.

Be Prepared
Always bring lots of water! Take snacks for the kids as well, you never know if they will like what is available to eat or when the caterer will run out of food. Keep some sweatshirts in the car just in case a cool breeze starts blowing off the Pacific. Hats and sunblock are mandatory at any outdoor event on the West Coast. Bring folding chairs, a blanket if the show goes into the evening. Is it picnic style? Some wineries allow you to bring your own sustenance. Just don’t bring your own wine! Speaking of, I aways buy a bottle to support the winery and if we really like it, more to take home. Remember, most wineries discount by the half and full case. I know of a few that take a little more off with a multiple case orders as well. If you are smitten, try their Wine Club. You’ll be given a heavier discount and receive wines delivered to your door (most states) several times a year.

It’s about Family Fun
          Don’t forget to stop by FamilyFriendlyWineries.com to make your winery event choices painless and easy. With a little pre-planning and preparation, you will create a memorable event for the whole family.

April 24, 2014 |

Paso Robles Wins Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of the Year Award

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Eberle Vineyards

A beautiful view of Eberle’s Estate vineyard in Paso Robles, Ca.

Congratulations are in order as the Paso Robles wine region has finally received the deserved recognition that many of us have acknowledged for years. http://www.winemag.com/Web-2013/2013-Wine-Region-of-the-Year-Paso-Robles/

The wine region grows over forty varietals in the fifth largest American Viticultural Area in the country. Blessed with a  long growing season peppered with hot days ensures peak ripeness and the cool evenings help retain the acidity ultra premium wine grapes require. Over the past year the region has added 11 sub appellations to better reflect the variance of climate and terroir. This demarcation can greatly serve both the winemaker as he knows what grows best in what location and the consumer, so one can focus the search for a favored varietal and flavors a specific terroir imparts.

Of course we care about quality and innovation, but we will always apply the family focus to Family Friendly Wineries, in essence giving the vacationing family the chance to visit an oasis on the sometimes bumpy holiday road. When visiting a winery tasting room we want to be welcomed as potential clients and not having to feel like we are walking on eggshells. Parents have enough stress in our daily lives without accruing more on vacation! Many of the Wineries in this innovative and creative region are very appreciative of visiting families and are happy to make sure the whole of the family is entertained, not just the adult guinea pig sampling the wine. Eberle winery, mentioned in the article is one such establishment. Gary Eberle was one of the first winemakers in the state to plant Syrah when everyone else was lost in a Cabernet/Chardonnay stupor. Younger and smaller wineries, many which are members of the Garagste (renegade small-lot wine makers) are equally inviting. The Vines at the Mary Crest encapsulates this renegade spirit with zestful charm.

As with many other wine regions, Paso Robles is endowed with a plethora of delectable eateries as well as a wide range of lodging options. There is a burgeoning craft brew movement as well, but we’ll save those details for another posting.

Whether you are on a family vacation or just passing through, make Paso Robles one of your destinations or pit-stops, you’ll enjoy the quality of the hospitality the Paso Robles wine region can offer.

November 14, 2013 |

Self-Guided Wine Tour Itinerary Napa Valley (St. Helena/Calistoga)

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Breakfast:

Gillwoods Cafe
1313 Main Street, St. Helena
Homestyle breakfast is available all day long at this charming Napa Valley favorite. We had the Breakfast Casserole, Huevos Rancheros, and the kids shared an order of Gillwoods Granola Pancakes and gulped it down scarcely taking a breath! Our portions were large enough to share, so no one went hungry.

Wine:

Castello di Amorosa
4045 N. Saint Helena Hwy 29, Calistoga, Ca. 94515
The Castello di Amorosa is built like an authentic castle, from real stone and hand wrought iron. Inspired to resemble a 13th century medieval Tuscan-style castle, the forty million dollars and thirteen years it took to build produced a remarkable place. Children are restricted to the early morning tours and must be over five years of age and are discounted for minors. Check their website for the schedule. The tour with tasting takes about two hours. While parents enjoy tasting Castello di Amorosa wines, the children can enjoy coloring and sipping grape juice. Kids misbehaving? Remind them that they do have a medieval torture chamber, hint, hint!

Recommendations:
For the kids: Castle Tour, Grape Juice
For the adults: Dry Gewürztraminer, Il Brigante Cab/Merlot blend
Warning: Keep the young ones close, this place is huge!

Lunch & Dessert:

Dean & Deluca 
607 South St. Helena Hwy 29 St. Helena, CA 94574

Ready for a gourmet picnic? Yes, you can make it kid friendly, this place has everything!

This specialty grocer features an immense selection of handcrafted products and artisan foods and many items are available for tasting. Whether it’s the cheese, chocolate, meats or baked goods; you will find plenty to awaken your appetite! Their deli offers sandwiches to order and freshly made soups.  Located within sight of Hwy 29 and having ample parking is a big plus.  They have some tables outside, but we went across the street to V. Sattui  to enjoy our picnic…

Wine:

V Sattui
1111 White Lane St. Helena, CA 94574

With over 100 years of family winemaking history, V Sattui combine traditional winemaking methods with technologically advanced winemaking equipment and techniques. The Preston Vineyard Cabernet may be the star here, but I found the Carsi Vineyard Chardonnay a classic Napa white and the Zinfandels made me yearn for a hearty lunch. Is the family hungry too? Well, they happen to have a dynamite deli that caters to all tastes at reasonable (for wine country) prices. With over 200 artisan cheeses, hand carved meats and locally baked breads, you will no doubt find what you are looking for. Dog friendly as well.

For the kids: Numerous picnic areas and food stuff
For the adults:  Preston Vineyard Cabernet, finish with the Madeira
Warning:  Can get very crowded with tour groups

 

A word to the wise: This attraction is privately owned and may be experienced as both a resource of natural beauty or as a tourist trap depending upon your expectations.

Old Faithful Geyser of California

1299 Tubbs Lane Calistoga CA 94515

The geyser goes off every 10 minutes and lasts for about 4 – 5 minutes, now it’s no Old Faithful, but it is fun and the back-drop is beautiful for pics.  There is also a petting zoo to take up the time between eruptions. See if you can cause a fainting goat to actually faint. No, that would be cruel.

Wine:

St Clement

2867 St. Helena Highway North

St. Helena, California

Hours: 10am to 5pm

866-877-5939

Url: stclement.com

A lovely boutique winery with views to match the wines therein. This property was once owned by famed vintner Charles Krug and later Sapporo Brewery, which is why their flagship wine is a backwards spelling of Sapporo. The tasting room is in a gothic Victorian built by Fritz Rosenbaum as a winery in 1878 and has historic status. Dog friendly patio is a nice place for the designated driving parent to hang outside with the kids and take in the view. Add a cheese and chocolate pairing to your tasting flight and share the spoils with your patient family!

For the kids:  Children’s play area complete with chalkboard walls and toys
For the adults: Orropas Bordeaux blend, the Cabs and Sauvignon Blanc
Warning: Small tasting room

Dinner: 

Pizzeria Tra Vigne

1016 Main Street, St. Helena, CA  94574

967-9999

Sunday – Thursday:  11:30 – 9:00       Friday + Saturday:  11:30 – 9:30

Url: http://www.travignerestaurant.com/

The pizzas have a thin crust and are finished to perfection in a wood-fired brick oven.  Piadines, oven baked flatbread with a salad on top are a nice alternative to traditional pizza. You fold and eat them like a giant flatbread taco. They also have a great minestrone soup and pastas.  Corkage is free here, so bring a bottle in from your day’s bounty to enjoy with your dinner.
After Dinner:
The White Barn

2727 Sulphur Springs Ave.

St. Helena, CA 94574
Url: http://www.thewhitebarn.org/

The White Barn is a performing arts theatre which resides in an 1872 Carriage House that was once part of U.S. Civil War General Erasmus Keyes’ home and winery estate. See their list of upcoming events to gauge whether your kids would like the current offering.

Lodging:

El Bonita Motel
195 Main Street (Hwy 29) St. Helena, California 94574
800-541-3284

Url: http://www.elbonita.com/

Conveniently located and priced right, this family friendly motel has all you need while staying in wine country: pool, jacuzzi and continental breakfast included. Tip: Request a room in the back as to lessen the noise from the highway.

Campground:

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

3801 St. Helena Highway North

Calistoga, California 94515

707-942-4575

Url: http://www.napanet.net/~bothe/
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, located in the heart of the beautiful Napa Valley wine country, offers camping, picnicking, swimming, and well-marked hiking trails for most skill levels that go through stands of coastal redwoods as well as forests of douglas-fir, tanoak, and madrone. Pool is open during Summer.

Next to the park’s visitor center is the Native American Garden which displays some of the plants important to the first people of this area.
Tip: Try and get a site along the creek. Beware: Lots of poison oak!
Other Attractions
Hiking:
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
-See details above
Day pass $8

Activity: Hike
Skyline Wilderness Park

2201 Imola Avenue

Napa, Ca. 94559

707-252-0481

Summer hours: 8a-7p

Located just minutes from downtown Napa, this large, rustic park offers miles of hiking and mountain biking trails and an intricate 18-hole frisbee golf course.
Day pass $5

Beware: Dogs are not allowed on the trails. Watch out for the horse manure!

 


October 3, 2011 |

Self guided “Day in Sonoma Wine Country” (close to Sonoma proper)

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Breakfast:

Breakaway Cafe
19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma, CA 95476
707-996-5949
This classed up diner sports a lengthy bounty of a breakfast menu fit for any appetite.

Cline
23355 Millerick Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
Cline is known for Zinfandel, of which they make many, as well as primarily Rhone varietals. Visit the California Missions Museum while you’re at Cline, this is especially great for kids at the 4th grade level for they will study the missions as a part of California state history.

For the kids:
Farm animals and the California Missions Museum
For the adults Zinfandel and lots of it!  The Rhone varietals are delicious as well.
Warning Can get very busy late in the day and on weekends. Go early and avoid the intoxication and the crowd!

Larson
23355 Millerick Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
This 70 acre organic vineyard is situated on an old rodeo grounds which really makes Larson Family Winery feel every bit like historic California.

For the kids Friendly dogs and farm animals. Bocce ball court.
For the adults Must try the Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Taste the Late Harvest Gewurztraminer to sweeten the deal!
Warning Bumpy road

Lunch:

The Sonoma Cheese Factory
2 Spain Street Sonoma California 95476
Open 8:30AM to 5:30PM 7 Days A Week
Phone:800-535-2855
The cheese itself is worth the trip, but The Sonoma Cheese Factory offers delicious sandwiches, salads and homemade fudge!  Order ahead and have a picnic in the park.  The beautiful 8.5 acre Sonoma Plaza park offers plenty of amenities and is the largest town square in all of California! However, in seeking a quieter setting, we chose to enjoy our picnic on the grounds of the Bartholomew Park Winery.

Dessert:

The Chocolate Cow
452 1st St E Ste F Sonoma, CA 95476
707-935-3564
Hidden in an alley on the east side of the plaza is one of the best ice cream/gelato experiences in all of California! Yes, they have chocolates and shaved ice too, but sometimes only a cone will do. Try one of their coffee drinks for the after lunch pick-up, I had an espresso shake that kept me going until dinnertime!

Sonoma Plaza Park
Address: Center of Sonoma
Sonoma Plaza Park is the historic, civic, and social center of Sonoma, not to mention the largest town square in California. Historic landmarks like the Sonoma Mission and Barracks surround the Sonoma Plaza. If you stay in Sonoma, chances are you will be within blocks of this large small town park. There are many great restaurants and delis to pick up fine food, cheese and wine for a picnic in the park. This is a great place for families and romantics.

Train Town
20264 Broadway Sonoma, CA 95476
707-938-3912
URL: http://www.traintown.com/
The kids have been patient, they’ve been supportive in your search for good wine, now it’s their turn! Who doesn’t love trains anyway?

-or-

Morton’s Warm Springs Resort
1651 Warm Springs Rd  Glen Ellen CA 95442
707-833-5511
This family focused establishment has three swimming pools filled with naturally warm mineral water, great for swimming and relaxing!

Bartholomew Park Winery
1000 Vineyard Lane Sonoma, CA 95476
Located at the base of the Mayacamas Mountain range, this slightly off the beaten track boutique winery excels in both its Sauvignon Blanc and their Cabernet Sauvignon.  I found the grounds gorgeous, perfect for picnics.  There are three miles of hiking trails to work off the uncontainable energy of the kids and the effects of the wine on the adults.

For the kids Hiking, ponds, museum
For the adults Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Warning Can get very crowded on weekends and there are some fragile items on display in the tasting room.

Dinner:

The Girl and the Fig
Address: 110 West Spain Street, Sonoma, Ca
707-938-3634
URL: http://www.thegirlandthefig.com/
Hours: daily 11:30 am – 10:00 pm, late night brasserie menu until 11pm Fri-Sat, Sunday Brunch from 10:00 am
A longtime local favorite, The Girl and the Fig offers California style French-fusion cuisine. The prices are fair considering your in one of the most sought after restaurants in Sonoma wine country.

After Dinner:

Sebastiani Theatre
476 First Street east Sonoma, Ca. 95476
Program info 707-996-2020
Office: 707-996-9756
http://www.sebastianitheatre.com/cgi-bin/home.cgi
Catch a movie! Situated on the plaza surrounding the downtown park, this historic theatre offers an eclectic blend of cinema and live entertainment! View classic and foreign films, magic, ballet, opera, musical theatre and even belly dancing!

Lodging:

Best Western Plus Sonoma Valley Inn
550 Second St. West
Sonoma, CA 95476
Ph: 707-938-9200
Fax: 707-938-0935
Two words best describe this Best Western property: Location and Value. Though not the most up to date hotel in Sonoma, its value is in the closeness (two blocks) to the Sonoma Plaza and price wise, it’s likely the best family bargain in the valley. Features hot tub, small pool and a continental breakfast. We grabbed a bagel on the way out to keep the kids happy on our way to our “real” breakfast at the Breakaway Cafe.

Campground:

San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA
20 Rainsville Road
Petaluma, CA 94952
Located only 14 miles from Sonoma, this well maintained family park offers 312 spaces with full hook-ups, cabins, tent sites and more amenities than I can list here!

Other Attractions

Beaches:

Salmon Creek
A wide expanse of beach at the point where Salmon Creek meets the ocean makes this a great spot for families. Surf, skim-board, or just splash in the calm waveless waters of the creek. Just north of Bodega Bay on Highway One.

Portuguese Beach
Three miles north of Bodega Bay on Highway 1, is one of the best beaches for walking and surf wading on a hot summer night. One of the Sonoma Coast’s most expansive beaches there is lots of sand between the steep interior cliffs and the ocean’s edge.

Hiking:

Jack London State Historic Park
2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, Ca. 95442
url: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=478
The park celebrates the writer of the famous works: “Call of the Wild,”  “White Fang,” “Sea Wolf,” among others. Great trails for all levels of hiking abilities.

August 22, 2011 |

Self-Guided “Day in Wine Country” Tour Itinerary (Eastside)

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Breakfast:
Margie’s Diner
1135 24th St, Paso Robles (across from the fairgrounds)
805-238-4305
Margie’s is a no nonsense American diner but this ain’t no Denny’s! With portions to satiate the most hearty of appetites, choose between their classic biscuits and gravy, traditional egg dishes or the delicious banana pancakes. Can’t decide? Get a combo. These portions are large enough that you may not have to order anything for the kids, just share your heaping plateful and save your dinero for the wine!

Starting on the Eastside…

Tobin James
8950 Union Rd, Paso Robles
805-239-2204
Walking into Tobin James tasting room feels like your entering a saloon out of the old West, in fact the site is on an old stagecoach stop. This is likely the least pretentious winery in the land! The main bar dates back to the 1860’s and there is usually a bandana clad dog looking for a scratch. They have been around for over 20 years and offer a large wine selection and a sparkling non-alcoholic grape juice for the kids and designated drivers. Keep a lookout for Jesse James’ ghost, as rumor has it, he enjoyed Paso Robles wine before it was trendy!
For the kids: Sparkling Grape Juice, free video games, fun Western ambiance.

For the adults Zinfandel and lots of it!  Ask if they have any of the James Gang Reserves open. Finish with the “Liquid Love” Late Harvest Zinfandel served with chocolate.

Warning Becomes party-central in the late afternoon, especially on weekends. Go early and avoid the intoxication and the crowd!

Eberle
3810 Hwy 46 East, Paso Robles
805-238-9607
Gary Eberle is known as the “Godfather” to local winemakers for good reason. He made his first vintage of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon in 1979 and was one of the first to plant Syrah in California. Though making quality wine is the focus, they know how to have fun and have a knowledgeable staff to make sure you feel welcome.

For the kids Rub the bronze boars nose at the entrance for good luck.  The cave tour. Bocce ball court.

For the adults Must taste the Cabernet Sauvignon. Ask if they have any Reserves open. The Syrah is great as well. End with the sweet but not cloying Muscat Canelli.

Warning There is fragile Italian pottery within little hands grasp in the tasting room. If you take the cave tour, beware of the the steps and potential hazards to touring a working winery.

Lunch:
Berry Hill Bistro
1114 Pine St, Paso Robles (on the square)
805-238-3929
Berry Hill Bistro is a French country-style restaurant that emphasizes fresh, seasonal ingredients and large portions. The Frites (authentic “French” fries) are a great appetizer and kid favorite, served with three dipping sauces. The chicken salad and portobello mushroom salad bring in the crowds. The children’s menu sports a grilled cheese sandwich that is suitable for adult appetites. Dessert? Try their own Olallieberry pie a la mode (when in season). There are a few tables outside with a view of the town square, great for when the kids are feeling rowdy!

Dessert:
Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
840 11th Street, Paso Robles (on the square)
805-239-1544
The kids have been patient, they’ve been supportive in your search for good wine, now it’s their turn! Got a sweet-tooth in the family? This place rocks! More candy than should be allowed in one location, they have brands I didn’t know were available anymore and all the usual suspects as well. Fill up bags from one of the many bins or go for the gelato and savor the silky sugar rush!

Firestone Walker Brewery and Tap Room (the rumors are true!)
1400 Ramada Dr, Paso Robles (near the intersection of Hwy 101 & Hwy 46 W)
805-238-2556
Beer me! Yes, there’s great beer made in wine country! True there’s not a whole lot for the kiddies at this stop, and as a functioning brewery, they must be closely supervised at all times. But, this can be the one chance for the beer fan in the family to get a taste or two while the rest of the family takes a little walk or tries some pretzels and artisan mustard. The restaurant has a wide ranging menu using fresh local produce and meats. This award winning brewery is always highly ranked among brew aficionados. They have a full range of beers from lagers to stouts, but the ales put them on the map. Try the double barrel ale (fermented in wine barrels!) and the Union Jack IPA, which is a local winemaker favorite. Free brewery tours @ 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30pm. Remember, it takes a lot of great beer to make great wine! New addition to the Firestone Walker compound: The Brewery Store! Home brewing set-ups, educational supplies and seminars!

Dinner:

Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ  -Cowboy up!
1125 24th St, Paso Robles (across from the fairgrounds)
805-238-6272
Alright, this is the place to get down and dirty and eat with your hands! Right across from the California Mid-State Fair, the location couldn’t be more appropriate. Yes, they have wings, onion rings, nachos and garlic bread to get you started. Then your off to cowboy land with offerings from the BBQ; ribs, tri-tip and pulled pork sandwiches to run the sauce up your arm! Sure they have salads and corn on the cob, but don’t fool yourself, this is an old fashioned meat palace complete with a mechanical bull! Come in on your birthday and your meal is on Bubba.

Free Concerts in the Park

Paso Robles and Templeton have free concerts in their respective squares throughout the Summer months.

Paso Robles’ is on Friday nights 5:30-7:30 at the park gazebo.

Templeton’s is on Wednesday evenings 6:30-8:30 in their park gazebo.

Both offer food for sale, but most families bring a picnic and yes, beer and wine is allowed.

Park Cinemas
Catch a movie! Situated on the square surrounding the downtown park, this THX certified theatre is great treat anytime for all ages!
1100 Pine St. Paso Robles, CA 93446
Movie info/times 805-2272172
http://www.parkcinemas.com/

July 20, 2011 |
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