In our first three reports on this Paso Robles road trip we described the absolutely wonderful time we experienced at great Paso wineries, restaurants and hotels. Officially ‘El Paso de Robles’ and translated “The Pass of the Oaks”, is located in San Luis Obispo County. Day four of this adventure began in Paso but then headed north to the city of Monterey where other activities and pleasures ensued.
You recall, we were leading a party of eight and on this, our departure day, we had selected Calcareous Vineyards located in the western hills where the highest elevations (2,200’) occur. We were in for another very pleasant surprise.
Calcareous was founded by father and daughter, Lloyd Messer and Dana Brown, in 2000 when they realized their dream of finding a place to express their passion for wine. The property is one of the highest limestone plateaus on Paso Robles’ westside just 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Originally from Iowa, they recognized the westside of Paso Robles had potential to produce world class wines. The property includes 442 acres of calcareous rock reaching 1,800 feet above sea level with about 28 planted acres. Although Lloyd passed away in 2006, Dana has pursued their mutual vision of making exceptional wines.
The beautiful site saw the addition of the winery/cellar in 2006 and the comfortable tasting room in 2008. We were guided in our tasting by a knowledgeable team of hospitality specialists under the guiding hand of John Teeling. The tasting room offers wine and food pairings most weekends from 12–3pm most weekends (reservations are advised) while the tasting room is open daily from 10am – 5pm. Aside from the pairings, they offer other premium seated tastings.
We were very fortunate to get a winery tour from winemaker (winemaker since 2010) Jason Joyce. Jason, a dashing CalPoly grad, worked as an organic pharmaceutical chemist after graduating. He entered winemaking in 2007 and has released wine under his own label since 2016, Slope and Intercept. Jason expressed the challenges of making high elevation wines but it is just that challenge that keeps him juiced. “Come for the wine ~ Stay for the view!“
After our delicious visit to Calcareous our group split up and we headed north with our destination being Monterey for an overnight. The drive north up Hwy 101 to Monterey was only 116 miles (~2 hours) with a hard left on Hwy 68 to get from Salinas to the Monterey Peninsula.
Monterey is one of our favorite destinations to just relax and play. It is not that far from the Bay Area (2 hours/120 miles north to San Francisco) and it offers the best of seaside vacations with playful sea otters and kelp forests in abundance. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a unique and beautiful place to learn about the Bay and the fish and other marine life that dwell there.
The food and lodging here run the gamut of very fine (and expensive) to creative and delicious local fare down to the fairly generic tourists/chain food along the Cannery and Fisherman’s Wharf. Arriving after 3pm we decided to do the tourist things and walked from our hotel, the Wave Street Inn (more about this delightful spot later), through the nearby Cannery Row area window shopping and people watching. One of our favorite things.
We had made a reservation for dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf at a reimagined restaurant named Scales, a seafood and steak restaurant on the northside of the wharf overlooking the small boat marina. Scales (opened 2015) is owned by the second generation of the Shake family who has operated the Old Fisherman’s Grotto for over 60 years.
We found Scales to be a step or two above the food we were used to on the Wharf. Everything seemed fresh and inviting and very tasty. The wine list was extensive, the ambiance was a bit more upscale than anything else on the wharf and the views, day or night, were eye-catching. It was fun to watch the sail boats, large and small, working their way into their slips in the marina as the winds were picking up and sundown approached. As the marina was being cloaked in darkness, we were reminded that the Super Wolf Blood Moon was rising and we had front row seats. The food and the view made for a memorable night.
The next day we skipped breakfast and took a walk along the bike path (old rail bed) to Schooner’s at the Monterey Bay Plaza Hotel. You just cannot beat this perfectly placed Bar and Restaurant for the views including cruise ships, sea otter rafts, bird watching, kayakers and so much more. The drinks are colorful and the food is more than good. Certainly, one of the best restaurants in the Cannery Row area.
Where to Stay in Monterey: We have stayed at numerous hotels along Cannery Row, off of Light House Street and even up close to Highway One. The Wave Street Inn, fairly new addition to the Inns of Monterey, is so perfectly located it is now our favorite location for a good night’s sleep and walking distance from everything (see above).
The décor is sleek, modern and a treat for the eye. Parking is underneath which is also a plus in a town with very little of this scarce commodity. The outdoor garage top patio offers fresh air and a fun place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine (BYOB – look it up!). Do not expect a restaurant or breakfast on site.
Nearby Monterey Highlights: Carmel, Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach and Pt. Lobos
Where to Stay in Paso Robles: The Oaks Hotel because of the service, room quality and location. The Oaks (not to be confused with the Black Oaks Motel, also in town) 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. (805-237-8700).
This concludes our wonderful escape to Paso Robles including our tasting stop at Wrath Vineyards on day 1 as well as Calcareous and Monterey.
Stay tuned for more posts to learn where we will go next and what Bites, Flights and Sights are in our future!!