Spring is in the air! The hills of Paso are greener than ever, and I'm (enthusiastically) hauling my shorts, sandals, and other fair-weather clothes out from the hidden depths at the back of my closet. In addition to rearranging my wardrobe, I'm also gearing up for all of the exciting Paso Robles events that accompany the coming of spring.
First up on the calendar is Chocolate Fantasia, happening Friday, February 26 at the Centennial Park Ballroom. Given that I have the most insatiable sweet-tooth ever, this event is definitely one I've been looking forward to. There will be fountains of chocolate, chocolate martinis, chocolate and wine pairings and more! Admission is only $12, and all proceeds from the event will go to the Paso Robles REC Foundation, which strives to provide beautiful parks and recreational facilities throughout the Paso Robles community. So go ahead and indulge - it's for a good cause!
Also coming up in March is the Zinfandel Festival! This annual celebration of Paso's "heritage varietal" is a weekend filled with events you don't want to miss. Wineries throughout the Paso Robles AVA will be pulling out all the stops; offering up free-tastings, discounts, barbecues, and winemaker dinners galore!
The "main" event - the Zinfandel Grand Tasting - will be held at the Paso Robles Event Center Saturday, March 20 from 5:30 - 7:30 PM. Here, over 50 different wineries will be pouring their Zins for you and your palate's sipping pleasure. Tickets for the Grand Tasting can be ordered through the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance's website. You'd better hurry - pre-sale tickets for this event went on sale as early as January 31, and the Grand Tasting does tend to sell out! I'd also recommend making your hotel reservations early as well, since Zinfest brings people from far and wide to our friendly city. Fortunately, Paso Robles has plenty of beautiful, high-class hotels for you to choose from!
As for me, this week I'm heading down to sunny San Diego to pour at the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour events. If any of you out there live down South, stop by for some tasting! It's not every day Paso Robles brings its wine country directly to you. I'll be posting updates from the event here on the blog, as well as information about hotel discounts, travel promotions, and other great Paso Robles events, so check back often!
Until then, I'll be home - happily organizing my sunglasses and flip-flops.
Forget the flowers and candy for Valentine's Day this year -- grab your sweetheart and head to Paso Robles for a unique, romantic getaway, and create memories that will last much longer than those heart-shaped boxes of candy will. This year especially, Paso Robles is greener and more beautiful than ever, and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to grab a bottle of red wine and share the beauty of the Central Coast with someone special.
There are plenty of different events to suit anyone's interests. Many of our premiere Paso Robles wineries are recruiting the talents of many of Paso Robles' finest chefs to host winemaker dinners in their beautiful tasting rooms and barrel rooms: Eberle, Cass, Mitchella, and Pomar Junction, just to name a few. If you're looking for an activity to fill your afternoon hours before heading back indoors and snuggling up with your sweet heart, there are tons of special tastings and events for you to choose from.
On February 13, Eos Winery is hosting a Lover's blending seminar and luncheon where you and your partner can create the perfect blend for you to sip and share that day, or save it for your Valentine's Day dinner - many Paso Robles restaurants are serving up special "romance"-themed menus (fresh oysters and black truffles abound!). On the sweeter side, First Crush Winemaking is teaming up with Roxo Port Cellars to host a port and chocolate wine appreciation class. Guests will learn from winemaker Jeff Steele the difference between producing port wines and traditional table wines while munching on delicious artisan chocolates and cheeses at the beautiful Meritage Tasting Lounge in downtown Paso.
If wine isn't your thing, you can opt for a more traditional "date-night" activity and attend the annual Valentine's Movie Night at Park Cinema in downtown Paso Robles. This year's film selection is "Send Me No Flowers", starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Tickets are $12 a person, and include your choice of complimentary popcorn and soda or champagne and truffles.
And if this isn't enough to send your heart a-flutter, things just get even sweeter. Some of Paso Robles' beautiful hotels are offering special lodging discounts right now, to make your lover's weekend as comfortable (and affordable!) as possible. Whatever your budget and taste, we can accommodate!
This year, forgo the typical, shrink-wrapped Valentine's Day fare, and experience something unforgettable with that equally unforgettable someone in your life. A night to remember with your sweetheart will leave you saying "we'll always have Paso!"
In honor of my co-worker's birthday, we decided to venture out onto the back roads of Paso Robles wine country (which are breath-takingly green and gorgeous at the moment), and do some wine tasting. We stuck mainly to wineries located on the East-side of Paso Robles wine country for this trip, which features many wineries located slightly off the beaten path of the 46-East that are still well-worth visiting.
After a few stops we eventually found ourselves at Cass Winery, nestled amongst the beautiful hills of Paso on Linne Road (a small road off of Geneseo -- trust me, you'll want to bring a map). After a couple of hours of wine tasting, my colleagues and I were definitely craving some sustenance, but weren't quite ready to make the long trek back into town.
Fortunately, Cass is one of few Paso Robles wineries that offers a full-service cafe. They even have an on-staff cheesemaker, Lindsay Dodson-Brown. She's the genius behind Cass Creamery's one and only cheese (although more are in the works), their decadent, fresh truffled goat cheese. Packaged in small, 6 oz. containers - although they should probably be smaller, since I could eat an entire tub of this stuff in one sitting - this cheese alone is more than enough reason to make a trip out to Cass' beautiful tasting room, but their delicious selection of wines helps, too!
So dare to take the path less traveled and discover Cass Winery along with the many other fine wineries hidden amongst the back roads of Paso Robles Eastside Wine Country.
This weekend First Crush Winemaking Experience kicked off its innovative series of educational wine workshops and classes with its Sip and Learn: Tasting 101 wine appreciation class.
"We really wanted to create a fun way for locals and visitors to Paso alike to experience and learn about winemaking and the winemaking industry here in Paso," says First Crush owner and founder, Becky Zelinski.
The Berry to Bottle Univserity is a year long program consisting of various one day classes and blending seminars; each focusing on a different aspect of wine appreciation, viticulture, or enology. These classes allow wine lovers to enjoy a taste of what it might feel like to be a winemaker or a vineyard owner here in Paso Robles' burgeoning wine industry.
The Sip and Learn Wine Appreciation class began at In Vino Veritas, the custom crush facility that houses the wines of many Paso Robles winemakers, as well as all of the vintages from the 2009 First Crush Harvest Experiences. Following the barrel sample tasting (pulled by winemaker Aaron Horn of Nacimiento Lake Cellars), guests then moved to the Kaleidoscope Lounge in downtown Paso, where they tasted wines provided by Ecluse winery, and enjoyed appetizers and cheeses expertly paired with the wines by Chef Andre Averseng of Dining with Andre.
Don't let cost keep you away from discovering your 101 wine side! Whether you are on a budget or looking for a luxury getaway, Paso Robles offers the value of quality accommodations at any price, with a wide range of amenities. Located mid way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso is an easy drive for most Californians and visitors. Enjoy!
It's a slightly cloudy mid-week afternoon in Paso Robles, as I walk into the dining room at the historic Steakhouse at the Paso Robles Inn to meet with head Chef, Kelly Wangard.
The dining room is filled with the calm, quiet conversations of the early lunchers gathered around a table situated in front of the large stone fireplace. There's a comforting, familiar elegance about the dining area, like a fond memory of a large family feast you enjoyed at a favorite relative's on a winter's evening.
Chef Wangard joins me at my table, and fills me in on the menu she created for January's Restaurant Month, and the other exciting things she has in store for the restaurant.
Growing up in Paso Robles, Chef Wangard first became interested in pursuing a career in cooking after working for Lisa and Jim Subject of the renowned Paso Robles catering company, Cahoots Catering. After working at some of the most innovative and exclusive clubs and restaurants across the country, Kelly returned home to revamp the menu at the Steakhouse. Chef Kelly has filled her menu with classic, timeless favorites, invigorated with her own creative finishing touches.
Stop in any time and find a spot by the fire while you enjoy Kelly's Paso Robles-inspired cuisine. Want to learn more about Kelly? Check out the video of my interview with her on our Youtube Channel!