March is an absolutely wonderful time to visit California’s Central Coast and Paso Robles is the perfect wine country to visit during this shoulder season. We did exactly that a few weeks ago for 3 days, leaving our perch in northern Sonoma County.
Paso Robles, or officially El Paso de Robles, is in San Luis Obispo County. Translated it means “The Pass of the Oaks.” The City’s elevation averages 740 feet above sea level (between 675’ and 1,100’). The proximity to the Pacific Ocean (a 20-minute drive west) adds to the interesting climate and terroir of the area. The highest elevations are on the west side of the City with the heat focused on the East side of Highway 101.
The drive from San Francisco to Paso Robles (Paso) is about 3 hours (~200 miles). Add another hour and a half (90 miles) from our house. Coincidentally, Paso is about the same travel time (3 hours/~200 miles) from Los Angeles making it a real gathering spot for northern and southern California.
But I am getting ahead of myself. We were traveling with a group of six friends from our Sonoma County area and had to consider that in making our plans. (Note: Most wineries want a reservation for parties larger than six sour party of eight required advanced planning.) In addition, our long drive, over 4 hours, made a stop along the way desirable. With that in mind, we arranged to stop in the Soledad vicinity at Wrath Wines.
Wrath produces about 7,000 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc from their estate vineyard and respected properties in the neighboring Santa Lucia Highlands. Production is small, distribution limited and the wines reveal their terroir.
Aside from their normal bottlings, Wrath also produces wine in cans, the perfect answer for poolside, picnics and at the beach where glass is not particularly welcome. We sampled the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc in cans. Quite delightful and crisp! Our tour guide and tasting host was Nicole and she knew her stuff. If you arrange a visit, be sure to ask about their ‘haunted house’ which is visible from the property. Interestingly, Wrath also produces a Falanghina, an Italian grape varietal known for its very bright, racy acidity. Their version is balanced with lush fruit flavors and a pronounced bouquet of ripe apricot.
Onward to Paso.
Where we stay: We arrived in Paso around 4pm and immediately checked into our hotel. We had chosen The Oaks Hotel. Linda and I had stayed there at least 3 times before and returned because of the service, room quality and location. Only about 7 years old, The Oaks has large suites and significant amenities (robes, slippers, a pool, happy hour and complimentary breakfast). The Oaks is a member of the Ascend Hotel Collection.
We have always been impressed with the personal service and kindness of the Oaks team. Located about 1.5 miles north of the central Paso Robles Park, you wouldn’t want to walk into town but with free parking and driving into the area, that should not be an issue. Additionally, there are several restaurants (and a Starbucks) within walking distance if you would rather walk.
We walked to Rustic Pizza for dinner. Convenient to the Oaks, Rustic has more than Pizza but not much to recommend it. We have been here before and our experience was a bit better. This time the service was slow and tables were hard to find, and this was during a slower season.
Getting to Wrath Wines: From the north, take U.S. Highway 101 south from San Francisco to Soledad – about 3 hours (~130 miles). Wrath is only about 50 minutes/40 miles from Monterey.