California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 43

19

Central Coast Wine Tour
Head north from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles and
you'll encounter rolling hills, amazing food,
and some of the best wine in the world

T H R O U G H R O L L I N G H I L L S E TC H E D BY V I N E YA R D S , U.S.
101 leads into the ascendant Central Coast wine country. Along
with fine wine, you'll find inventive restaurants in relaxed towns that
balance a growing sophistication with enduring ranching traditions.
From Santa Barbara, drive north on U.S. Highway 101 and soak in
more than 20 miles of fresh ocean air. The highway turns inland as you
pass through the tunnel in the craggy Gaviota Pass before reaching
Buellton, the gateway to the Santa Ynez Valley. In what was once an
industrial area, you can now dig into wood-fired fare in the cavernous
confines of Industrial Eats and sample celebrated wines at the modern
Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards tasting room.
From Buellton, Highway 246 leads east past the Hitching Post II,
the steakhouse featured in the film Sideways, and through a long allée
of towering deodar cedars on the way to the Danish-heritage village
of Solvang, which has become a destination for tasting, including at
the contemporary Sante Wine Bar & Lounge.
Part of the Santa Ynez Valley's charm is the distinctive character
of its towns, and in just a few miles you'll get a sense of the region's
cowboy culture. A major equine center with a downtown of Westernstyle buildings, Santa Ynez has a Mediterranean side too, especially at
S.Y. Kitchen, where chef Luca Crestanelli serves such delectable Italian
dishes as spinach ricotta gnocchi in a duck ragu.
Past the farms and vineyards, you'll reach the once sleepy ranching

SA N TA YN EZ VA L L EY

town of Los Olivos, which now has perhaps the area's highest
concentration of tasting rooms. Opened in 1987, the venerable Los
Olivos Tasting Room & Wine Shop remains your best bet to discover

Head inland on Highway 227 and you'll reach two mostly cool-

Los Alamos, another ranching town transformed by food and wine.

weather wine regions hidden from Highway 101: the Arroyo Grande

Helmed by a former entertainment executive, Bob's Well Bread

Valley and the Edna Valley. Stop into the low-key Kynsi Winery for its

Bakery often sells out of such favorites as its chocolate-almond

acclaimed Pinot Noirs and Grenaches before taking in the sweeping

croissants. While many Central Coast wineries have humble tasting

panoramas from the impressive tasting room at Edna Valley Vineyard.

rooms, about 15 minutes north, the contemporary Presqu'ile Winery

Follow Price Canyon through the hills and you'll quickly return to

features a dramatic roofline and hand-laid sandstone walls. Ocean

the coast at Pismo Beach. But soon 101 again turns inland on the way

breezes flow in through floor-to-ceiling retractable windows, a

into San Luis Obispo. Beyond SLO, the highway begins a steep ascent

sublime pairing with Presqu'ile's wines.

up the Cuesta Grade before descending again, bound for Paso Robles.

Highway 101 continues through Santa Maria before crossing the

PHOTOGRAPH: RON THOMAS

tasting rooms, including leading winemaker Bob Lindquist's Qupé.

varietals from small local wineries. Back on 101, you'll quickly reach

Just off the freeway, stop into Tin City, an industrial-style complex

typically dry bed of the Santa Maria River. In places, vineyards come

with a collection of boutique wineries, plus the BarrelHouse Brewing

down to the edge of the highway before you exit for Arroyo Grande.

Co. and Tin City Cider Co. It's both the perfect culmination of your

With a central village of stalwart stone and brick buildings, the city is

road trip and a great prelude for further explorations into the Paso

also becoming a wine destination, thanks to a growing collection of

Robles wine country.

2-3
days

S TA R T Santa Barbara
F I N I S H Paso Robles

155
miles

I N S I D E T I P If you're
more serious about a
particular varietal, target
that wine and try it at
different tasting rooms.

B E S T V I E W I N G S P OT Edna Valley Vineyards

43



California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover1
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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Contents
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