The Central Coast of California is well-known for its natural beauty, as well as the bounty of its vineyards, farms and coastline. For travelers drawn to “green” destinations, the region offers a host of attractions; and its central location, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, makes it an ideal get-away from either city.
For outdoor activities, San Luis Obispo, one of several counties comprising the Central Coast, boasts superb hiking trails, horseback riding and camping. Kayaking and viewing elephant seals from the coast are also popular. For visitors looking for biodynamic produce, Windrose Farm, a small family-run farm east of Paso Robles, is a gardener’s delight, offering biodynamic fruits and vegetables, mostly from heirloom seeds. http://www.windrosefarm.org/p/come-visit.html.
The rolling hills of the region are dotted with olive groves, and a tasty stop is the family-run Pasolivo Olive Oil Tasting Room and Olive Mill in Paso Robles (http://www.pasolivo.com). Pasolivo is organically and sustainably farmed, and their award-winning olive oils are available in the tasting room.
With about 200 wineries in the Paso Robles AVA (American Viticultural Area), the region is the fastest growing in California. For visitors seeking sustainable wineries, a top choice is Halter Ranch Vineyard, on the west side of Paso Robles. Halter Ranch, a historic 1,000+ acres property (275 acres under vine), produces 100% estate-grown wines, specializing in Bordeaux and Rhône-style varieties, with a Paso twist. Winemaker Kevin Sass emphasizes quality and sustainability from vineyard to bottle, and the wines bear California’s prestigious SIP Certification (Sustainability in Practice). Halter Ranch inaugurated a stunning new winery in 2011 and welcomes visitors to its tasting room. Go to www.halterranch.com for more information and directions.
Finally, at the end of touring and tasting, there’s nothing more relaxing than a spa, such as the River Oaks Hot Springs Spa (http://www.riveroakshotsprings.com) in Paso Robles, where visitors can rejuvenate in healing waters, or the bucolic Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort (http://www.sycamoresprings.com), where the waters have been known for their curative effects since the 19th century.
Compiled by Kevin Sass, winemaker at Halter Ranch Vineyard.