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If you simply race by Paso Robles on Highway 101 while barreling south,


or use the city of 30,000 as a mere pit stop before taking the 46 East inland to Interstate 5, you’ll miss one of California’s best-kept secrets.


acres of Central California’s comely rolling hills, and produce more than 40 grape varieties, from Spanish to Italian, Bordeaux to Rhône, to the area’s heritage varietal Zinfandel.


P Paso Robles is wine...


aso Robles isn’t just the host of the California


Mid-State Fair. Paso Robles is Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2013 Wine Region of the Year. Paso Robles is a healthy


and thriving artisan com- munity, complete with good food, even better wine, the arts, and your choice of recreational activities, from horseback riding and camp- ing to hiking and golf. As Wine Enthusiast puts it,


“It’s not easy for a wine region to reinvent itself, but Paso is doing it with fl air. Put another way, it’s the region to watch.” Paso Robles vineyards canvas more than 26,000


Just 20 miles off the coast and a 45-minute drive from the world-renowned Hearst Castle, Paso Robles has quietly become the third largest wine region in Cali- fornia, trailing only Napa and Sonoma. Less than 20 years ago,


there were 30 wineries in Paso Robles. That number has exploded to more than 200, as winemakers have fl ocked to the warm and dry climate that boasts ideal daily tem- perature swings between 40 and 50 degrees. Curious to see how


many of those 200 wineries you can hit up? Personalize a tour with the Wine Wran- gler and discover vineyards tucked away deep along the back roads of Paso Robles.


See turn of the century architecture in downtown


Or be chauffeured down the Michigan Avenue of vineyards, the beautiful cor- ridor of wineries that lines Highway 46 West. Checking out wineries by land isn’t your style? Then hop in a hot-air balloon and view the quilt-like patches


of vineyards scattered throughout the area


from more than a thou-


sand feet high, as you fl oat along at 2-3 miles an hour with Let’s Go Ballooning! Or hitch a ride a ride


with Margarita Adven- tures and catch one of four ziplines that crisscross valleys, forests, rock out- croppings and vineyards for stunning panoramas of the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area. Want a more active wine


experience? First Crush Winemaking teaches the craft with its Art of Blend- ing Wine workshops. You can create your own quality Paso Robles custom label, and even return to bottle it. Thirsting for something besides wine? In addition to producing estate wines such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvi-


42 / NCGA.ORG / WINTER 2014


gnon, Merlot and Grenache, Villicana Winery uses free-run juice that would otherwise be discarded, and ferments and quadruple distills it to create vodka and gin. The label name cleverly captures the innovative and sustainable process: ReFind. A favorite axiom of the wine industry is, “It takes a lot of good beer to make good wine.” But you don’t have to be caked in fermenting grape juice all day to enjoy a couple of cold ones. The increasingly popular


Firestone Walker Brewing Company is headquartered in Paso Robles, and tours of its brew house and cellar are available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The fun and casual Barrelhouse Brewing Company offers a picturesque patio, complete with a ma- jestic white oak tree that was engraved by the Spaniards in the 1770s. Paso Robles is also emerg- ing as an elite producer of olive oil, as Pasolivo won gold medals at the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. Try more than 10 different fl avors at the Pasolivo tasting room, which is set on a beautiful 140-acre ranch.


PHOTO: TRAVELPASO.COM


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