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Authentic Paso Robles Gifts- Gourmet Delights by Tina Swithin, Travel Paso Robles Alliance

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
We've dedicated this blog series to some truly authentic Paso Robles gifts that will delight those on your Christmas list. How authentic, you ask?  They are grown right here in Paso Robles!  
Paso Robles is quickly becoming known as a producer of fabulous olive oils.  Just when I think that I know everything about Paso,I discover something new.  For instance, Niner Wine Estates produces more than just great wines.  They also produce  olive oil!  The  Niner Wine Estates Olive Oil is estate grown from their eastside Bootjack Ranch Vineyard property, carefully made and bottled in limited quantities each year. This vintage is a blend of Arbequina, a Spanish variety and Frantoio, an Italian variety. The Arbequina 
brings a buttery mouthfeel and a peppery finish, while the Frantoio offers fruity aromas and a sweet sensation which makes them excellent blending partners. The 2010 Extra Virgin is medium-bodied, mildly pungent and tastes overall very clean. It finishes with a light spicy almond note.  This would make a splendid stocking stuffer for the gourmet goddess in your life.  
While olives and wine seem to take the spotlight in Paso Robles, there is an amazing little farm in Paso Robles which deserves a place on the stage.  Bring in the holidays with the joy of gourmet treats from Limerock Orchards, Paso Robles' wine country walnut farm.  I had the pleasure of speaking to Olivia Wenger of Limerock Orchards who was happy to share her scrumptious Walnut HolidayTaster with Inside Paso Robles.  This delicious gift includes 4 lbs of organic, in-shell walnuts, 250ml roasted walnut oil and 8 ounces of creamy, raw walnut butter and a walnut oil recipe card. Yum!
Each product from Limerock Orchards is produced from their delicious, dryland farmed walnuts which are known for their sweet, buttery flavor. While you are doing your holiday shopping at Limerock Orchards, I highly recommend picking up some extra walnut butter for your own kitchen.  It's amazing on everything from crepes to hot cereal. 
Niner Wine Estates is located at 2400 Highway 46 West in Paso Robles                         or call 805-239-2233.
Limerock Orchards is located at 7210 Vineyard Drive in Paso Robles                 or call 805-238-6887 
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Holiday Magic on the Hilltop at Hearst Castle by Jim Allen, Director of Marketing for Hearst Castle

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
For the past 23 years, I have been fortunate to enjoy the holiday season and decorations at Hearst Castle from an insider viewpoint. As I made my way up the familiar winding hilltop road this past week, I was just as excited as the very first time I traveled the verysame route many years ago.  The extraordinary Christmas displays at Hearst Castle are something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.    
People often ask my advice on which tour I recommend for the holiday season.  The Grand Rooms Tour is a great way to see the houseduring the holidays as that tour includes the most lavishly decorated rooms.  You will be able to tour the Assembly Room, Refectory,and the Morning Room.  In my personal opinion, you really can’t go wrong when selecting a tour to see Christmastime at the Castle as there are decorations throughout the entire estate. 
What happens behind the scenes at the castle?  Well, decorating such a large house takes a great deal of time and a lot of very talented people. The Hearst Castle staff usually begins working to prepare for the holidays around the second week of November. Decorations remain up until around the 2nd of January.There is a small window of time to participate in this magical experienceand you do not want to miss an opportunity to see the Castle in its full holiday glory!
A bit of history: Mr. Hearst absolutely loved the Christmas season and decorated Hearst Castle in a grand and elaborate fashion. We continuing Mr. Hearst's tradition and the halls of Hearst Castle are decked with 10 Christmas trees, including two 18’ trees in the Assembly Room, scores of lights, poinsettias, wreaths, and a whopping 700 feet of garland.  Breathtaking is an understatementand we encourage you to visit during the month of December. 
Please note: Hearst Castle doesn't offer Christmas-specific tours per se, the entire castle is festive and is reminiscent of how Mr. Hearst would have preferred.  Hearst Castle is closed on December 25.
Jim Allen is the Director of Marketing at Hearst Castle where he feels privileged to be part of the team that preserves and interprets 
the many facets of the history of Hearst Castle and the life of William Randolph Hearst.
Photos are Courtesy of Hearst Castle®/California State Parks
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Wonderful Time Zipping through the Central Coast Countryside

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Paso Robles, CA Sunday, November 13, 2011

I thought I would share my experience with Margarita Adventures located at 22720 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita, CA .I and a group of my fellow employees from the Adelaide Inn Paso Robles were granted the pleasure and thrill to participate with this event on a  Sunday afternoon. The weather really cooperated with us, being sunny, warm, and just enough breeze to stir the air amongst the oaks of Santa Margarita Ranch. The Margarita Adventures staff of Mike, Matt, and Patrick were friendly, informative, helpful, and overall, just plain fun. You start off at Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita, CA where you can get free wine tasting either at the start if you need some liquid courage, and after where you can relax and talk over all the fun and thrills you have just come from.

The Zip Lines are all placed on Santa Margarita Ranch, which is one of the largest Mexican Land Grant Ranchos still in operation. On the drive up you will be given a nice background on the Ranch, how they strive to use sustainable growth in their agricultural as well as cattle raising. You slowly drive up the dirt track and go between various ecosystems. From acres for grazing to vineyards of various varietals, on through oak trees, until you get among the chaparral. The view at the start is breathtaking. The natural habitat of the Central Coast of California is evident in these hills. With hawks, crows, turkey buzzards in the skies above to the deer, bears, bobcats and the ever present cattle that stride on the ground. Rabbits, gophers, and other rodents dart in and out of the bushes and trees. Sage and a woodland earthy bouquet add to the ambiance.

The first zip line is Renegade, which stretches for over 1300 feet. This is not only the longest of the four stretches of cable where you will zoom along yelling and screaming in delight, but also one of the most breath taking for its view. Here you will gear up in your harness, gloves and safety helmet. The staff are here to assist you if needed as you start to psych yourself for your beginning run, but also will allow you to get some last minute water and leave behind any excess clothing and bags you may have.

I was the first of my group to go, and as the guinea pig for them.  The first step is a doozy, but if you just let yourself go and step off, you will get a wondrous rush as you fly down the cable and allow the harness and lines to guide you down. The sights as you glance about are a treat and when you get to the end, you almost want to go again. I helped to cheer on my other mates as they one by one came down the line. One of my friends was deeply afraid of heights, but then she allowed herself to take a leap of faith. Though her eyes were closed for the first run, at the end she was also browsing nature and having good times.

The next stretch was the 800 foot long Woodlander. This was one of my favorites, after the Renegade. You seem to go faster because of the perspective, as you will go between some huge oaks as you fly around their branches and turning leaves. I was later told that if you stretched out your arms and hands, you could actually touch them as you zoomed to your finish.

Third was the Hilltopper a short jaunt between two hills. Here you need to get a running start to get your speed. I tried to be a little more daring and go freestyle. I ended up tripping over my own big feet. I still had a blast and laughed it off by bungling of the start. My friends all joined in with the laughter and we continued to just have take in the zips, each others company, and the banter of the staff. Even as a couple of us did not quite make it to the end, the guides quickly stepped off with a secondary rope that you could grab and they pulled you on to the landing stage.

 The last line you zip the finish line is the Archway. There is an actual arch that you will sway back and forth as you start to straighten out for the finale of your flying through the air. The wooden ramp is angled to allow you to lift up your legs and allow your body's adrenaline to subside.

Once your group has wrapped up their own fun you will remove our gear and the guides will drive you through more of the ranch and tell you more on how they grow some of the wine grapes. I had the pleasure to see a herd of does who were grazing along the cattle. They did not get spooked as we drove along. Just slowly worked their way up a hill side as the cattle ignored us. At most the various mothers would stare us down as we tried to drive past them, only to stride away as we got close enough.

The overall experience for my group and I was just fantastic. I will highly recommend then to any who want to have fun, try something different, and still have a nice glass of wine to relax to. For a cost of $99 and 2-3 hours of your time, I think this is a great treat. No matter if it is a guy with his friends, a bachelorette party wanting a unique experience, or a family wanting some bonding time, this tour may well be for you.



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The Four "S's"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
To many people, wine is a magical thing. Some consider it a beverage, others a hobby, but to many, it's art. How do we get the most out of our tasting experience? Whether drinking at home, out for a meal, or in a tasting room, there are 4 easy steps for the wine lover to remember to get the most out of the experience.
(Note - You may find that some recommend 5 "S's" or that they may be in a slightly different order. Never fear. There is flexibility in the process.)
~ Swirl ~
Why the swirl? Does it stir the wine? Maybe it just looks really educated and classy. Could moving the wine around in a glass really make a difference? Actually, yes. Swirling the wine infuses oxygen into the glass (just as an aerator would.) This allows the wine to breathe, which in turn slightly alters the bouquet and the flavors. If the bottle is young or has been opened recently, this can help to soften the wine. Also, it gives the consumer an idea of the density, type and quality of the grape as well as the age & condition of the wine, all revealed by the hues and colors in the glass.
~ Smell ~
Go ahead. Put your nose right into the bowl of the glass & inhale deeply. It may seem strange, but the aromas (aka the "nose" or "bouquet") that we detect are directly linked to our taste buds. We can identify certain notes & hints to the flavors of the wine just by breathing in the scent. Smoke? Leather? Blackberries? Grassy notes? Yum. Beware of a wet cardboard smell however - this usually means there is trichloroanisole (TCA) present, & the wine is no good, or "corked".
~ Sip ~
Ah yes, the fun part. Indulge. Take a small sip. Identify flavors, and take another sip again. See how the flavors are different the second time! If you are brave, take a bite of peppery pork, a bit of cheese, or a piece of chocolate and take another sip. Sometimes it is fun to identify the acidity, tannins, residual sugar and structure of the wine. Other times, it's just fun to drink good wine.
~ Savor, or Spit, or Sniff again, or...? ~
Depending on the situation, you can do any of the above. Or add in your own S. Or start again at the beginning. Either way, wine is meant to be enjoyed and consumed, so please, drink responsibly and enjoy the process!


Fine Art Workshops are the latest draw for Paso Robles

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

by Guest Blogger Sasha Irving, Studios on the Park

Greetings Art Lovers! 

 "We thought they were just coming for the wine but Paso Robles is now changing the lives of its visitors through Art." Yes, Paso Robles offers a one of a kind destination experience for tourists from around the world. They come for the world-class wines, innovative cuisine, pastoral scenery, and charms of our small town. And now they are also coming to change themselves from the inside out!

Fine art workshops are the latest attraction drawing out-of-state and international visitors to the heart of the Central Coast. Since opening in May 2009, artists at Studios on the Park have offered more than 300 classes and workshops. One such artist is Heidi Franscioni.  Best known for her encaustic photographic paintings, her sought-after encaustic workshops teach the art of applying layers of hot molten beeswax with photographic images.

I recently stopped in and spoke with two of her visiting students and asked them about their experience. Like many visitors, Elizabeth Marks from San Fernando Valley originally came to wine taste in Paso Robles and the two day encaustic carving and painting workshop motivated her to return.  During her three-day stay, she enjoyed complementing her “relaxing and inspiring” art studies with meals at Artisan and Robert's and shopping downtown, to rave reviews. But best of all for Elizabeth was that  “when class ends at 4 pm, you can go and taste wine to your heart’s content!”

It was Heidi’s status as one of the premier encaustic instructors in the nation that appealed to Becky Collinsof Cincinnati, Ohio. She signed up for a six-day course to jumpstart her adventures in beeswax.  Of her firsttrip to California and time in Paso Robles, she said “It was very impactful… I enjoyed every moment.” She gave beaming reviews of Heidi’s skill as a teacher and the soulful experience her workshop provided.

 Becky is not alone in her sentiments. The life-changing quality of destination art education is a frequent result of the student experience at Studios on the Park. And that is Heidi’s intention. The space and serenity of Paso Robles motivate an introspective creative journey. Heidi explains, “Within the context of a beautiful environment where they are exploring the beauty of what our town has to offer, my students are also able to discover the beauty within themselves.”

A few spaces still remain for Heidi’s October workshops. Students can pick from workshops emphasizing carvingand texture or photography and collage. They can also participate in a mixed media studio day or a brand newworkshop in Encaustic Monotyping. Remember no experience is necessary. All that is needed is your creative self!


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~ Put a cork in it (?) ~

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"To cork or not to cork..." seems to be one of the many topics floating around tasting rooms lately. Often, the perception is that a corked wine is of higher quality than one with a screw top. Why do some wines feature a REAL cork, and others use plastic? Does it really matter all that much?

Real corks (harvested from a cork tree) come from a renewable resource, as the tree does not die when the bark is stripped to make the corks. The bark is stripped by hand every 9-12 years and the trees can live up to 300 years ( They are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. They also support thousands of families as a main source of income. However, corks can often go bad and leak oxygen into bottles. They can also be somewhat frustrating to remove (ever been with a bottle and no corkscrew?)

An alternative to the natural cork is the synthetic, or plastic cork. Synthetic corks are immune to cork taint and cheap to manufacture ( These can be recycled, but according to, less than one percent of them ever are. If a plastic cork is not recycled, they can be a much bigger threat to the environment, as they are not biodegradable. Plastic corks are poor choice for wines with a long shelf life, as plastic often loses elasticity over time and will not prevent oxidation. Plus, there is still the trouble of opening the darn thing.

The third option is a screw-top. The argument for screw-tops is that it saves wine from being "tainted". Only about 2% of screw-top wines are tainted (compared to the estimated 5 - 10% of cork wines that encounter this problem). They can provide a better seal than natural and synthetic corks and are becoming increasingly popular with producers. They are easy to open and require no special equipment. However, the screw-top is not recyclable and has been argued to be harmful to the environment for this reason.

In closing (pun intended), it seems that both natural corks and screw tops are viable options for wine. Don't discriminate against the screw-top option, but keep in mind that natural corks support a trade and are a renewable resource. And whichever type of bottle you decide to open that evening...Cheers!

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Paso Robles, Ca Celebrates Labor Day Weekend with Classic Car Show Excitement.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The Paso Robles Classic Car Show Weekend serves as a fun activity for locals as well as out of town visitors.This year will feature more cars, more fun, with the addition of a Sunday Poker Run, BBQ, and Live Music.September 2, 2011 - September 4, 2011.
The Weekend will feature three days packed with car show excitement including a Friday cruise in the
historic downtown, a Saturday car show in the City Park, and a Sunday Poker Run. The Cruise and Car
Show are FREE to attend for spectators and enthusiasts.
Friday Cruise- September 2, 2011 Kick off Labor Day Weekend Friday night with a preview of the gorgeous
classic show cars when they roar through historic downtown Paso Robles. Be a part of the excitement
by attending the cruise on Spring Street. Bring a chair and enjoy a free show or call for special VIP seating.
Saturday Car Show-September 3, 2011
The Classic Car Show opens Saturday morning in the beautiful Paso Robles City Park from 9 am to 4 pm.
The Show will feature  legendary cars from 1979 and prior. Automotive vendors will also be on site to
help you turn your own car into the car of your dreams. A full day of shiny classic cars, great vendors,
music, and fun!
Sunday Poker Run- September 4, 2011 Conclude the weekend as car enthusiasts will drive through Paso
Robles Wine Country participating in the first annual Poker Run starting at 11 am. Participants will
check-in and begin their route at Pioneer Museum where they will receive a map with stops and directions.
Additional stops include Silver Horse Winery, Vina Robles Winery, Estrella Warbird Museum with a tour or
Dick Woodland’s car collection and the final stop at Le Vigne Winery for a BBQ and Live Music by local
favorite, Rhythm Method. Participants will receive randomly drawn poker cards at each location stop.
Prizes will be awarded for the best hand, worst hand and more. The Poker run is included with Car
Registration, $25 without Registration or $20 for BBQ only.
The 2011 Paso Robles Classic Car Weekend will be packed with car show excitement, food, wine, shopping, and Poker Run Fun!
Hosted and organized by the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, Golden State Classics Car Club and the
City of Paso Robles.For more information, call 805.238.0506 or to register your vehicle, go to
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Paso Robles, CA Garagiste Festival Uncovers Emerging Artisan Winemakers

Friday, August 12, 2011


Influential, but under-recognized, the Paso Robles ‘garagiste’ winemaking community to converge for

first-of-its-kind event in Paso Robles, November 11 – 12, 2011


Paso Robles, Ca – August 1, 2011 –, the first and only multi-media site dedicated to

the community of emerging underground winemakers, today announced that the first annual Paso Garagiste Celebrating the Artisan Winemaker will be held November 11-12,2011 at the beautiful 724-acre Windfall Farms in the heart of  California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles, one of the one of the world’s most exciting wine regions.


Featuring high-quality, cutting-edge, small production wineries that produce fewer than 1,200 cases a year, this first-of-its-kind festival brings together many of the best and most innovative winemakers in California,pouring their hard-to-find wines and sharing their knowledge with passionate wine consumers.


“The mission of the Paso Garagiste Festival is to focus on the undiscovered artisan producers who are making some of the most thrilling wine on the planet right now,” said Co-founder Doug Minnick. “Our event is unique in the industry because it gives a home to the smaller, trail-blazing wine producers who don’t have huge marketing resources, while also introducing wine lovers to winemakers on the cusp of discovery.”


Hailed as the source of some of the country’s best winemaking by leading tastemakers (including The Wine Spectator, who named a Paso wine as the #1 wine in the world for 2010), Paso Robles has emerged as the go-to region for innovative winemaking and is the perfect venue for the premiere Paso Garagiste Festival. Already,over twenty-five of the region’s hottest emerging winemakers, including Alta Colina, Caliza, Jalama and Vineson the Marycrest, have signed on to share their wines at the festival.  


“The Central Coast garagistes are one of the best-kept secrets in the wine world and their excellent wines canbe almost impossible to find — unless you know the right people and places to go,” added Co-founder Stewart McLennan.  “The Paso Garagiste Festival will have forty of them, gathered in one place forthe first time ever. The festival is the place for passionate wine consumers to come face-to-face, wine glass-to-bottle, with the undiscovered future rock stars of the wine world.”



Artisan winemakers slated to showcase their wines at the festival include Aaron Wines, Alta Colina,

Bodegas M Winery, Brochelle Vineyards, Caliza Winery, Cloak and Dagger Wines, J Dusi Wines, Giornata Wines,Grizzly Republic Winery, Hammersky Vineyards, Indigene Cellars, Jalama Wines, La Filice Winery, Nicora Wines, Per Cazo Cellars, Poalillo Vineyards, Ranchero Cellars, Red Zeppelin Winery,

 Rendarrio Vineyards, Stanger Vineyards, Symbiosis Wines, Tassajara Cellars, Vin Alegre Winery, and Vines on the Marycrest. 



Situated in the heart of beautiful Central Coast wine country, Windfall Farms is a spectacular 724-acre horse farm with one of the finest equestrian facilities in the Western United States.  It features stunning brick buildings with glass and copper steeples and is surrounded by vineyards, fenced pastures, green sprawling lawns and panoramic views of the majestic, oak-studded rolling hills of the Central Coast.



Garagistes (gar-uh-zhe-stuh) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.


Founded by Garagistes Stewart McLennan, Doug Minnick and Dan Erland Andersen, brings together the artisan wine industry - from winemakers to growers, to equipment suppliers, to wine consumers – in a collaborative and passionate online community. In addition to its annual flagship event, The Paso Garagiste Festival, provides videos, insider info, winemaker forums and access to hard-to-find small production wine.





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~ The Proper Care & Feeding of Wine ~

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer is a time of warm weather and celebrations. What better time to gather with friends and crack open that bottle that has been set aside and saved for a special occasion?
Break out the boomerang, uncork the wine and pour a glass, ready to savor each sip from start to finish. But wait? What's that smell? And ugh! That taste? Sorry to say it... but you probably have a corked bottle!

And of course, with this warm weather (undoubtedly!) upon us, it is the time to really consider that valuable wine collection you are building. What is the best way to ensure that your wine will be good for years to come?

The best temp. to store red wine at is between 52° & 65°F (45°-50° for white wine). Often, it's worthwhile to invest in a wine fridge. Sunlight and heat really compromises the integrity of the wine (the heat will cause wine to age prematurely) - and freezing wine will cause the liquid to expand & break the bottle. Big fluctuations in temperature are equally as important to avoid - it can damage corks and ruin wine.

Be sure that wine is stored horizontally if it is not going to be consumed within 30 days. This will keep the cork moist and avoid cracking, which allows air into the bottle. For white wine, it's fine to chill it before serving - however, leaving it at a temperature below 45° for a long time may cause the wine to lose flavor and aromas.

Alas, once in a while a seeping bottle is unavoidable. If you can catch the problem before the wine has gone bad - never fear. Just open the bottle & enjoy with a friend or by yourself. Sometimes a really good wine is reason enough to celebrate! 
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Enjoy Paso Robles Summer Concerts in the Park with a picnic, blanket and dancing shoes!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The bright, checkered blanket is gently spread out on the lush green grass. The trusty picnic basket is opened to showcase an assortment of cheeses, crackers, olives, tapenades and other artisan goodies that are patiently awaiting my palate.

A bottle of Paso Robles wine and two glasses complete the ensemble while creating a picture perfect setting. Oh! I can’t forget my dancing shoes- also known as my black, strappy summer sandals. This could only mean one thing: Paso Robles Concerts in the Park.


There is no place I’d rather be in the summertime. Each and every Friday night I pack a picnic dinner, lawn chairs and the ones I love for a relaxing evening under the stars in the Downtown Paso Robles square. The warm air, smells of delicious foods and the moonlight create an ambiance that is hard to top. The sound of music drifts through the crowd- rock, country, soul, jazz, swing or world fusion…Paso Robles Concerts in the Park has it all.


As the music fills the air, the worries of the past week seem to be miles away. Those worries are now replaced by dancing, laughter, positive energy and just plain fun! What a way to truly welcome the weekend! I have thoroughly enjoyed all that the summer concert series has had to offer thus far but I must say, I eagerly await all that is still on the horizon for July and August. In July, the local favorite, “Mighty Croon Dogs” will be followed by country act, “Steve Sturgis and Roadhouse”. My personal favorite, “Truth About Seafood” is rounding out the end of the month along with “Mariachi Alma de Jalisco”. That is just July! August brings with it a whole assortment of jams, fancy beats and good old fashion rock and roll. Grab your dancing shoes and picnic basket or have dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants in the Downtown Square while enjoying the our amazing local musicians and warm summer nights. I'll see you there!


The schedule for August is:

August 5 Monte Mills Band – Western; Food by F. McLintock's Saloon

August 12 Unfinished Business – Rock; Food by Level 4 Restaurant and Lounge

August 19 Royal Garden Ochestra – Swing; Food by Thomas Hill Organics

August 26 Incendio - World Fusion; Food by Chubby Chandlers Pizza



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