Highway 1 Discovery Route
Along California’s Central Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Highway 1 Discovery Route connects beautiful beaches, wide open spaces, outdoor adventure, award-winning wineries and great golf courses. The Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles is the ideal spot to stay, Tuscan style. It transcends world travel with a collection of international art selected by owner Doug Ayers. The Piazza is where people come together, welcomed by a statue from Rajasthan. The Sound Labyrinth (first of its kind) senses motion and sings in the Gardens. In the Abbey, sun sparkles colors from stained glass windows onto the walls like a kaleidoscope. Our guide, Linda Sanpei never tires of touring the grounds because “there’s always something fresh.” Mr. Ayers passionately explains much of the artwork seen in the resort on a video on their website.
He partnered with Hunter Ranch Golf, across the street where Steve and Marco recently took over management. Says Steve, “If I had a nickel for how many people said they’ve driven by 40 times and wanted to play…” It is now a World Class destination course with vineyards and oaks sprawling over the hilly terrain. Paso Robles means “pass by the oaks” and sometimes the robles can get in the way, even in the middle of fairways. If you’re not careful with your drives or approach shots on some holes you may be hunting for your ball at Hunter Ranch. It’s happy hunting for all. Uncork your golf swings and then at the restaurant uncork some wine and enjoy the cuisine. Sunday brunch is popular with the locals, especially the mimosas. Here we were served Daou Cab, an introduction to the beautiful dry reds of the region.
Wineries are a huge draw to the area with overwhelming options. At Allegretto tasting began with Tannat, a varietal hailing from the Basque Country of Spain. From there we moved on to Willow Creek and Sharps Hill Vineyard’s Cabernets. In the Cello restaurant our meal was again accompanied by Daou Cab. Fred Dame, neighbor of Allegretto works for Daou and Daniel Daou was the brain behind the Cab Collective which promotes the region’s wine to buyers. That can’t be a tough sale.
Parrish Family Vineyard opened its tasting room only three weeks earlier than our visit, but David Parrish’s granddad had vines since the ‘20s, planted by horses and mules. He also owned the golf course in Atascadero where David has fond memories of working and mowing with him. “There were seven boys in his labor pool and Grandpa loved them all, but we were close,” David shared with a smile. A putting green below the tasting room balcony, overlooking the vineyard showcases the original hole flags from that Atascadero course which is long gone. While David carries the wine torch, his brother Pat carries on the golf tradition as a pro in Monterey.
Paso Robles’ downtown plaza is surrounded by shops and restaurants including Thomas Hill Organics where impressive wine listings are paired by sommeliers with organically oriented cuisine. Following the Highway 1 Discovery Route, Cambria’s downtown is also cute, minutes from Stolo vineyards and Moonstone Beach. Park or hike to watch the waves before visiting Covell’s Clydesdales, uniquely trained for trail rides. Riders are trained to rein the unique draft horse way before mounting these gentle giants with a step ladder. You don’t have to do a split to ride, but they are indeed wide and high for a beautiful bird’s eye view of the hillsides and ocean beyond.
More giants await up the coast at Piedras Blancas, home to the Elephant Seal Rookery where entertainment is guaranteed for as long as you wish, viewing the life and times of these whiskery surfers. In San Simeon, Hearst Castle is well worth the historical tour if you haven’t been. Zebras and Audats may still be spotted roadside from Hearst’s original zoo collection and by the beach below, the Hearst Ranch Winery yields another opportunity for fine tasting along with the best burgers at Sebastian’s next door. You could even rent a kayak here.
Proceed to Ragged Point for a walk to view the phenomenal gateway to Big Sur before heading back to Paso Robles for more wine at Claiborne & Churchill Winery or Biddle Ranch or more golf in Nipomo.
Direct flights from Phoenix to San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara airports make quick getaways or extended stays too easy to pass up. www.highway1discoveryroute.com