Winters in Paso Robles

Field of Lights, Bruce Munro (Photo Credit by Dawn Garcia)

Paso Robles winters light up the imagination …

Someone once said that art can save the world. I don’t know where it originated from, but I do know there is so much truth behind that statement. As we continue to evolve and push forward towards progress and unity in the wake of a global culture hungry for it, there are exquisite escapes that lend to the idea that magic does indeed still exist, self-care is mandatory to thrive, and taking a few days away to play is utterly essential for our overall well-being. This winter, California has one region that continues to beckon: Paso Robles. Spending two nights at the sustainably conscious Allegretto Vineyard and Resort this season is one way we’re gearing up for what should be a very promising year.

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Part One | ARRIVE

Driving up the coast to Highway 146 in a radiant red 2023 Chevrolet Traverse RS All Wheel Drive sets the tone for luxury and reliability. The roads from Southern California to the Central Valley are rich in rolling green hillsides, seascapes, and an abundance of agricultural terrain reminding you that we are a plentiful state. The Chevy Traverse made the drive a drive to remember. The Traverse is outfitted with an interior of jet black and spice red, seats with extended comfort and flexibility, a synced navigation system by Onstar, a dual skyskape sunroof, multiple safety features including surround vision, rear cross traffic alert, enhanced emergency breaking system, and it even has a forward collision alert. So how does it drive? Like a dream. The Traverse RS hugs every curve, handles well in heavy traffic, and on those brisk Paso winter mornings, the steering wheel and seat warmer become your favorite feature. Driving up to Paso in this SUV made the trip one that was worry-free.

Pulling up to the valet at Allegretto, my luggage is loaded onto the carrier, and I am greeted with kindness and warmth that extends from the valet staff on in to the front desk waiting to check me in. Once all checked in, I head to my room which is located down the ornate, artistic hallway that has wooden carved entries from India, beautiful Hindu and Buddhist statues, Italian sculptures, contemporary paintings, and natural elements that give you the rare sense of belonging. My room (king bed, first floor) patio faces and opens out to the monolith and vineyard and a courtyard that is there for guests to utilize. The property has bocce ball, a human sized chess board, swings, a pool and jacuzzi, a labyrinth, a beautiful chapel where you can meditate, pray, or even do yoga, and it also has an on-site spa, restaurant, fitness room, and wine tasting room.

Winters in Paso Robles

Part Two | WINE TASTING

It’s four o’clock and time to head to Allegretto’s Wine Tasting Room where Rory and Sheila introduce me to the latest Allegretto wines, and educate me on local cheeses and meats. The tasting begins with their 2021 Cello Grenache Blanc to cleanse the palate, a 2021 Chardonnary produced in the Santa Lucia Highlands, a cheese plate with Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper (sheep milk cheese), Alp Blossom (dressed in a coat of dried herbs and colorful flowers), Mimolette (French hard cheese), gluten-free crackers, and locally sourced charcuterie from Alle-Pia Fine Cured Meats. Joined by my dear friend, we laugh and catch up, and sip a plethora of wines to follow, each with their own flavor profile, complexity, appeal and nuance. My favorites are the 2017 and 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon’s. Both are big, smooth, ruminating with a lovely finish, and paired perfectly with the curated meats and cheeses.

When you come to wine country, it is customary to schedule several wine tastings and when you stay at a resort as welcoming as Allegretto, a wine tasting here is like drinking with people you’ve known forever. Service is impeccable, conversations are engaging, and the bustle of guests and wine lovers coming in and out of the tasting room—or the occasional visit from owner Doug Ayres—makes the visit all the more memorable.

Wine Tasting | $20 -$30 per person | www.allegrettovineyardresort.com/wine-room
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Part Three | EXPLORE MAGIC

I finish the tasting and arrive just in time to settle in and then bundle up to head to one of the most magical outdoor art exhibitions I’ve ever experienced: Field of Light and Light Towers by Bruce Munro at Sensorio. The interactive light installation is the kind of all all-encompassing serenity one dreams of. With thousands of lights installed over multiple hillsides surrounded with trees, Field of Lights is where your mind goes to play, feel inspired, find a sense of serenity, and feel connected to nature, art and technology simultaneously. It’s the intersection of curiosity and communication. When you arrive at Sensorio and check in with the staff, you’ll enter into a main area where you’ll be enticed by a food truck or three (smells delicious), beer and wine, a live musical performance (depending on the day), a grassy area with plenty of Adirondack chairs, and signs pointing you towards an experience that will leave you completely mesmerized. Having been to Sensorio when it was still being put together to now seeing it in all of its splendor, it is even more spectacular than I imagined it would be.

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Comprised of over 100,000 light spheres with fiber optics, Field of Light covers multiple acres of land with guided paths to experience it in its entirety. The Light Tower exhibition features 69 light towers made using 17,000 wine bottles and fiber optic lights woven within the tower domes. The towers pay tribute to Paso Robles’ extensive wine country. As you walk along the designated pathways, the reflective nature of both the lights and the stars in the sky above becomes a synchronistic journey to ones center.  Once you’ve walked the entirety of both exhibitions, admiring the movement of light amid the stillness of night, grabbing a glass of wine (or beer), some locally made food from the food truck on-site, and cozying up with a blanket on the lawn or the Terrace will set the tone for the rest of your evening.

Sensorio is a collective of love, a place where troubles cease to exist, wars are nonexistent, and the beautiful diverse field of lights encapsulate the joy we often contain … and it’s breathtaking.

Tickets $49 Adults, $28 Children | Terrace Experience $87-$112 | www.sensoriopaso.com
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Part Four | DINNER, A SWIM + BOCCE BALL

Driving back from Sensorio, seat and steering wheel warmers on full blast, defrosting me after a chilly outdoor excursion, I head back to Allegretto Resort to dine at Cello Ristorante. With the greatest server, LaVae, I am taken down a culinary road beginning with gluten-free calamari (made crispy per my preference) and a wedge salad. The calamari is the indulgence I was craving; the breaded outside housing the perfectly cooked calamari tentacles and rings within. The wedge salad seems so simple, but to do it right, the iceberg lettuce must be ice cold and upright, bacon must be broken into perfectly cooked bits, crumbles of fresh blue cheese should be generously dispersed, vine ripened cherry tomatoes halved and resting atop the firm cut of lettuce, and blue cheese dressing drizzled methodically atop it all. It’s a dance often overlooked. For the main course I order the filet mignon (medium rare) with gratin potatoes, mixed vegetables topped with micro-greens. The meal is just right, the service from LaVae is superb, and I finish with an espresso and raw sugar.

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After dinner, I stroll the property and it’s such an experience at night. The courtyard is lit, the central focus of the cobalt blue fountain and sculpture is gently illuminated, fire pits on, guests happily crowding around the warmth, as the crispness of winter California air rests against my cheeks. I decide it’s too perfect of an evening to pass up a late night swim and dip in the jacuzzi. Best decision ever because once I arrive at the pool and jacuzzi, two people were there, we immediately start talking and before long several guests show up, including my friend from the wine tasting, and we spend the next hour talking, laughing, making new friends and enjoying time together under the stars. To follow, we wander the labyrinth until we find the right path that leads us to the place of peace and then we meander to the bocce ball court where we engage in a few rounds of competitive, joy filled outdoor play.

This is the first time staying at the Allegretto where I experienced every aspect of the property, including the spa. I did get a facial the following afternoon and while it was relaxing, my suggestion would be to offer more service options, a quiet room, a terrace to relax on while sipping hot tea or refreshing water, and perhaps a glass of wine or bubbly. I will certainly give it another try next time around, as well as finally booking a vineyard tour! The property is gorgeous and I’d like to continue to explore all it has to offer.

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Part Five | TIN CITY

The things I love about Paso Robles are so vast, it’s a list that grows ever long. From the art to the cuisine, the wineries to the distillers, this is a genuinely special place, but Tin City forever holds a spot in my heart as my tried and true must-do.  On this trip, I was pressed for time so I stopped by Barrel House Brewing Company to pick up some IPA’s to take home and I went to see the gents at Tin City Distillery where I had an unbelievable hand-crafted spicy margarita cocktail made with their chili infused vodka. That’s when I learned about their cocktail kits, so I reached out to Patrick to get the lowdown.

What inspired tin City Distillery and Wine Shine? It was inspired by a desire to make world class brandies that showcase the beauty of west side Paso Robles fruit!  That passion has translated into our whiskey, vodka, canned cocktails, and more.

How many cocktail kits do you have? We have margarita kits, old fashioned kits, garden gin kit, and custom ones available!

What’s on the docket for 2023? (Rumors of that Members Club perhaps?) You bet!  Yes, expanding the club and new fun vodkas and canned cocktails are coming out, as well as a single malt whiskey.

To learn more and purchase delectable brews and distilling excellence, visit www.barrelhousebrewing.com + www.tincitydistillery.com
Winters in Paso Robles, Tin City Distillery

Part Six | The Drive Home

The drive back through Ventura County is an effortless few hours. The scenic route in the Chevrolet Traverse RS made for an adventurous, ease-filled, sensory-satisfying experience. While you round the winding roads, the roads that lead to vineyards or beaches, take in as much as you can because the surroundings are among the many reasons why living in California sometimes feels like you’re traveling the world—and winters in California wine country are picturesque. Whenever the urge strikes, pull over to take in any of the numerous scenic views available to you and should you be looking for a weekend winter wine getaway, head to Paso Robles!

VisitCalifornia.com |  AllegrettoVineyard + Resort | TravelPaso.com | ParkerSanpei.com