Member Postcards

Traveling the California Coast

Indagare member Ashton Keefe recently traveled to California and discovered some of the best new wine coming out of the area. Here are her impressions from the trip.

In between Santa Barbara and Monterey and equidistance from LA and San Francisco lies an arid stretch of land specializing in Rhone varietals and undervalued wines (the two biggest being Granache and Syrah). A small cowboy town, Paso Robles is reminiscent of 1970’s Napa; it's wine country with breathtaking views and superior wines, without any pretension.

California’s Highway 101 passes directly through downtown Paso Robles and intersects with winery-dense Route 46 West, which creates a westbound obtuse triangle intersecting back to Highway 1.

Driving Times Los Angeles to Paso Robles – 3 hours Santa Barbara to Paso Robles – 2 hours San Francisco to Paso Robles – 3 hours

Here are Ashton’s top dining recommendations:

Il Cortile One of Paso’s most established restaurants, Il Cortile specializes in Italian farm-to-table with handmade pastas and seasonally driven menus. White table clothed and professional, the vibe is undoubtedly fine dining, but is still very much a locals’ restaurant focused on Paso wine. 608 12th St; 805-226-0300;

Law Estate Wine An innovator in the Paso Robles wine world, winemaker Scott Hawley is one of the most modest and charming winemakers along the California coast. His eco-structure designed winery is not only green and energy efficient but clean and contemporary in style, and still manages to turn out some of the best wines in the region. As an indicator, Scott’s personal wine club, Torrin, has a dense, high-profile clientele and very long wait list – even fellow winemakers have trouble tasting his superior vintages. 3885 Peachy Canyon Rd; 805-226-9200;

Halter Ranch Vineyard This stunning, self-sufficient modern ranch processes grapes ranging from Rosé to Syrah in an environmentally friendly way, maximizing energy in water usage, material, cooling and winemaking. The property also houses a large pond for swimming and the largest living oak tree in California. Property tours in a Jeep and tastings are available on weekends with winemakers. 8910 Adelaida Rd; 888-367-9977;

J.Lohr Vineyard and Wines Notably the most well-known and widely distributed of the Paso Robles wines are those from J.Lohr, a family-operated-and-run winery housing the first and largest solar energy system in the area (solar energy supplies over 90% of the vineyards energy.) Business-centric, smart and approachable, J.Lohr is at the forefront of taking Paso wines into a competitive market. 6169 Airport Rd; 805-239-8900;

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