behind the vine
by Karen Loftus
ith nearly 200 wineries, Paso Robles (the other
California wine country) is quickly stealing
the wine limelight from Napa and Sonoma.
Located in the heart of California, halfway
between Los Angeles and San Francisco,
the natural beauty of the central coast clearly explains
why early aviators flew in, silent film stars flocked and
folks like Hearst would build a castle here.
Santa Barbara couple Robert and Sherry Gilson and
first time hoteliers, used this beautiful country as
a canvas to create their equine-inspired castle--a
sixteen room, luxury boutique hotel. It is the first of
its kind in the heart of downtown Paso and, in equal
measure, appeals to a wave of discerning foodies and
wine connoisseurs hitting the Central Coast.
A ride in the horse drawn carriage by Cheval’s own
Belgian Draft horse Chester is intended to slow down
the visitor’s usual urban pace. Chester will take you to
the door of one of the three most noted restaurants in
town. Bistro Laurent and Villas Creek are the two long
standing restaurants that set the bar and foodie culture
in place to complement the divine local wines.
Bistro Laurent is classic upscale French Bistro. On this
site, duck breast with red wine reduction sauce is paired
with Paso Cabernets and French Bordeaux’s. Villa
Creek is California to the core with local, sustainable
and organic foods, excellent fish, charcuteries and
fillets as well as squash enchiladas for vegetarians at
the table. Go for Villa Creek’s own label, especially
their red Grenache.
perhaps Poalillo estate’s acres and flagship Zinfandels
where they serve up three Zins alongside their Syrah,
Petite Sirah and Chardonnay. If you’re into looks, Cass
winery has one of the best looking tasting and barrel
rooms on the coast.
The can’t miss is Justin, one of the first and finest,
has an excellent winemaker on site to give you a
tour and a deeper knowledge of their wines and this
booming region. For romance and local charm, dine at
Deborah’s Room. Their picturesque restaurant on the
stunning vineyard property boasts top noted chefs
from around the country, who take their turn in the
Of course, no stop to Central Coast is complete without
a stop at Hearst Castle, a stunning journey back in
The equine design is woven seamlessly throughout the The pleasures of country living do not stop with Cheval. time complete with home videos of Hearst, Chaplin
property, where no two rooms are alike. It is especially Artisan, a new restaurant in town, is also making some and friends enjoying the opulent property. Once back
celebrated in The Pony Club, a classic European spot culinary noise, reining in many local vintners to enjoy at The Cheval Castle, you can relax like a star in your
with a zinc horseshoe shaped bar where locals and their Kobe steaks, Dungeness Crab Cakes and Colorado own right, whether sitting by the fire in the closed in
guests pony up to the bar to enjoy the most celebrated Lamb Chops. Cheval also provides easy access to the courtyard, with a locally chilled Viognier in hand, or
wines of the region. Many of the guests on deck are 170 local wineries.
drifting off to sleep on their dreamy 400 thread count
the vintners themselves.
Aside from the obvious Tablas Creek, there’s a mix
Others pop in to experience precise cheese pairings, of wineries to hit while coasting through Paso. From Romance reigns at Hotel Cheval. Whether you’re there
courtesy of Danika Bowler from Vivant, a purveyor of the hidden gems of Pipestone, with their local and for your honeymoon, a romantic rendezvous or a wild
local and rare cheeses who deliver their cheeses right sustainable Rhone style wines (Viognier, Morvedre wine adventure, you are sure to fall in the love with and
off the truck each day to many of the local wineries.
and Syrah) harvested from their feng shui vineyard, or be inspired by the Central Coast--just as Hearst was.
2008 Launch Issue