Allegretto Vineyard Resort
The Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles, California transcends world travel with a collection of international art selected by owner Doug Ayers. The Piazza in this Tuscan style resort is where people come together. Here a statue from an old barn in Rajasthan welcomes all cultures. A first of its kind sound Labyrinth senses motion and sings in the Gardens while the sun sparkles colors from stained glass windows onto the walls like a kaleidoscope in the Abbey. Our guide, Linda Sanpei never tires of touring the grounds because “there’s always something fresh.” The chakras which are painted in colored trees on a wall hanging are duplicated in the lamps over the bar. A Brazilian artist painted “The Passage” relating a darker time with a ladder going down to doom. Doug asked him to create a complementary painting with a ladder up to the sky. Mr. Ayers passionately explains his sourcing of artwork on a video on their website.
Hunter Ranch Golf
Conveniently across the street, Hunter Ranch collaborates with Doug Ayers’ Allegretto. Steve and Marco just took over this World Class Golf Club. Says Steve, “If I had a nickel for how many people said they’ve driven by 40 times and wanted to play…” It’s quickly accessed from HWY 1 and now as part of the Highway 1 Discovery Route, it is turning into a destination course.
Paso Robles means “pass by the oaks.” Both vineyards and oak trees sprawl over the hilly landscape. Sometimes the robles get in the way even in the middle of fairways. If you’re not careful with your drives or approach shots on some of the holes you may be hunting for your ball at Hunter’s Ranch. It’s all happy hunting, especially on number 12 which has one of the most extraordinary forward tee advantages ever seen. Still 187 yards and really playing 200 to the green crossing a deep gorge, there are many hide and seek areas for errant balls.
We played with local cops from Atascadero and San Luis Obispo, full of competitive digs, local stories and political surprises for the “liberal” state. Music in the background sprung live from the nearby Amphitheater owned by Hans, the third richest man from Switzerland. Uncork your golf swing and stop by the restaurant to uncork some wine and enjoy fine cuisine. Sunday brunch is very popular with the locals, especially the mimosas. Here we were served Daou Cab, an introduction to the beautiful dry reds of the region.
At Allegretto, the wine tasting begins with their Tannat, a varietal that started in the Basque Country of Spain and we recognized from Uruguay production to pair with their red meat specially raised and grazed on the pampas. From there we moved on to Willow Creek and Sharps Hill Vineyard’s Cabernets. In the Cello restaurant our meal on the patio was again accompanied by Daou Cab. It turns out Fred Dame, neighbor of Allegretto works for Daou and it was Daniel Daou who was the brain behind the Cab Collective. The Cab Camp promotes the regional wines to buyers. It can’t be a tough sale.
David Parrish Winery
It was a real treat to have David Parrish join us for a historical tour of his vineyards which have been growing since 2012. The production barn has been in service for a year and the tasting room opened only three weeks earlier, but his granddaddy had vines since the ‘20s, planted by horses and mules. The Atascadero museum is his grandfather’s former house and he also owned a golf course in Atascadero. David has fond memories of working the course, mowing with this granddad. “There were seven boys in his labor pool and Grandpa loved them all, but we were close,” David shared with a smile. A putting green below the tasting room balcony, overlooking the vineyard showcases the original hole flags from that Atascadero course which is long gone. David grew up with the concept that to be happy you have to be on land you can sustain yourself. He worked with Mondavi and began a Napa trellising project in college right after winning awards in France. Attending Davis, he was going to be a wine maker, but his wife asked, “What can you do with this degree?” He now has a successful business selling trellises all over the world plus these vineyards. He is indeed a happy man. While David carries the wine torch, his brother Pat carries on the golf tradition as a pro in Monterey.
Downtown Paso Robles
The quaint plaza in Paso Robles is surrounded by shops and restaurants including the Thomas Hill Organics restaurant with an incomparable wine list to be paired by sommeliers with organically oriented cuisine.
Highway One Discovery Route
Along California’s Central Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Highway 1 Discovery Route connects beautiful beaches, wide open spaces, outdoor adventure, award-winning wineries and great golf courses.
Following the Highway 1 Discovery Route from Paso Robles north, Cambria’s downtown is also cute, and minutes from Stolo Vineyards and Moonstone Beach. Park in your car to watch the waves, hike along the boardwalk or descend to the beach. It’s all tranquil.
Cambria is famous too for Covells Clydesdales. Imagine 70 of these behemoths running down the hill to meet the owner when he delivers supper. He thought his daughter Tara was crazy when she suggested a trail ride on the Clydesdales’ backs, but he let her have a go at it. She carved out a group from the herd and successfully trained them for riding horseback. She also has to train each rider on how to uniquely handle the reins to drive the draft horses from the saddle just as if they were leading the Budweiser wagon before mounting these gentle giants with a step ladder. You don’t have to do a split to ride, but they are indeed wide and high for a beautiful bird’s eye view of the hillsides and ocean beyond.
Elephant Seals and More
More giants await up the coast at Piedras Blancas, home to the Elephant Seal Rookery where entertainment is guaranteed for as long as you wish, viewing the life and times of these whiskery surfers. In San Simeon, Hearst Castle is well worth the historical tour if you haven’t been. Zebras and Audats may still be spotted roadside from Hearst’s original zoo collection and by the beach below, the Hearst Ranch Winery yields another opportunity for fine tasting along with the best burgers at Sebastian’s next door. You could even rent a kayak here or proceed on to Ragged Point for a walk to view the phenomenal gateway to Big Sur before heading back to Paso Robles for more wine at Claiborne & Churchill Winery or Biddle Ranch or more golf in Nipomo.
Fly to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Monterey or wherever in California you want to start driving. Highway1 Discovery Route will never disappoint passing through Paso Robles and beyond.