Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Paso Robles, California

Looking down at Morro Bay on our way back from Montana de Oro
It's an easy connection onto Route 1 north.  And then we take a GPS suggestion of Old Creek Road towards Paso Robles.  Maybe we should pay attention when you see signs limiting the weight to 7 tons (our weight).  Yes, we drove around, up, over, and down those hills.  Lady Blue handles it well.
Old Creek Road brings us to Route 46, a much larger road, and many scenes similar to this. Vineyards after vineyards with some smaller and some larger estates.
Our first stop is Peachy Canyon winery.  Our connection for this goes back to Jan and I working summers at North Truro, Massachusetts.  While there we would often go (in the off season) to Wellfleet, (both towns at the end of Cape Cod)to the Bookstore Restaurant.  Webpage for Bookstore Restaurant. On a cold, damp April afternoon, we headed to the restaurant after closing the office. Sitting in the bar area(very quiet) with a great view of the harbor and the oyster beds, we ordered a dozen fresh Wellfleet oysters on the half shell(raw).  The recommended wine was Peachy Canyon Zinfandel.  Perfect!
The servers were very welcoming.  We tried a number of wines , some which were grown right here and some including grapes from their vineyards further north.  There actually was another Lazy Daze here when we arrived.
One of the servers indicated he was heading to Boston the next week for a wine convention of sorts. That, of course, led to other travel discussions and so forth. Very enjoyable.
A common sight, or similar, in California and the west coast.
At the winery parking lot , a Tesla electric car charging station.
From Peachy Canyon, we head into Paso Robles and up to Stacked Stone Cellars.  Only about one mile from the center of town.
Lady Blue is parked out of sight on the left. This is one of our Harvest Hosts wineries.  That means we are invited to stay here on the property overnight for free as a guest. The expectation is that you will buy wine or other products while you are here.  
Lady Blue fits right in beside the oak barrels.
This is the owner and host Don Thiessen.  Known as a "character" around town , he has been here with his family for over 35 years.
We had a great conversation with him He was eager to share his interest in water RVing.  He has a 40 plus foot boat now and wants to pursue the "loop". This involves using the Intercoastal waterways to travel around the country. One was from the Great Lakes through the Intercoastals and down the Mississippi River.  He is also a great reader with interests in history and historical novels. He gave us a few titles about the gold rush ,the California settlements, and the Panama Canal.
Jan adds a pin to the map.  When we do this, we usually indicate Cape Cod, our last full time address.
Even though close to town, the vines are planted on terraced steep hillsides. These vines are grown by the heading method.  There are no long vines tied to strings. You see no stakes or fences to train the vines .  This way there are fewer grapes with more intense flavor.
Don also uses the "no irrigation" method or "dry".  This means that the grapes rely totally on natural rainfall.  The last few years meant some late harvests waiting for full mature grapes. But the reward is full flavor for the wines.
For more about Don's wines 
 The Stacked Stone property is a mini farm of various animals. There are two families of pigs, both of which just multiplied.
Don says these are a very tame variety.
Got to admit, they were fun to watch!
When we arrived, the goats were up on the hill behind. Don said they were excellent eaters of poison oak.
The quarter horse was a handsome animal.
In addition, Don and his wife have a number of chickens roaming the yard. He insisted on collecting about 8 fresh eggs from the laying boxes--they were delicious.
He also had a number of owl houses. Jan and I noticed a number of what looked like large bat houses, but Don indicated they were indeed owl houses ----which became obvious that night when we were serenaded by a number of owls. The owls would not eat the many ground squirrels, but they do take care of gophers.
From Stacked Stone Cellars, we headed into town.
We had our mail sent to the post office which was an easy pick up. Paso Robles is an easy town for us to maneuver. 
We also had to print some tax forms and mail them. That was accomplished at the library--also very helpful since the printing was complicated. And then we did some grocery shopping at Albertsons, which had a wonderful selection of everything.
Rio Seco , a vineyard we had stayed at on our first trip, was also very close to downtown Paso Robles and an easy drive from Albertsons.
At Rio Seco, you can see that there are posts and double strings for the training of the vines--unlike the headed plants at Stacked Stone Cellars.  Different technique but still some great wines, zinfandel, syrah, merlot, cabernet.  These wines were older wines. One of the new releases was a wonderful 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. All the wines we sampled were from 2008 to 2011.
A link to Rio Seco Wines
Also check the olive oil. Jan bought a bottle after enjoying the tasting sample
Some of the many olive trees on the property. They had started producing specialty stuffed olives and similar, but there were too many business problems with a product that has a shorter shelf life.
The olive oil pressing is a much better business model.
A few pictures from the area.  You could wander the local roads for weeks .  Right now, lots of yellow blossoms on some of the hills.
One of the entertaining birds from back at Lake Margarita. Noisy, but entertaining with their landings, and diving, and calling.
Our last issue from Morro Bay is below--just published a day ago.
Yosemite National Park will follow soon!

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