Tuesday, May 25, 2010

California Part 3: Zinbitch and other amazing wines in Paso Robles

One of the biggest highlights of the trip so far though is our 2 night stay in Paso Robles on Sat and Sun night (22-23 May). Although we had to head inland again, it was so worth it!! Paso Robles is home to over 200 wineries – the major wine region of the central coast. We arrived into town having no idea that the Annual Wine Festival was on and we had just missed the Grand Tasting (unlimited wine) in the park!! We were bummed to say the least. As it turned out, we weren’t concerned about that after the experience that was to come!

We wanted to get an early night ready to hit the wineries the following day but had no idea where we were going to park. The town was so busy because of the festival and the local RV park office was closed so to cut a long story short we ended up in the middle of suburbia tucked away in the least conspicuous place as possible. Pity our van is just a little bit on the conspicuous side! We rose and left early on Sun morning before any movement in the homes surrounding us! Who would have thought we would ever be doing this!! Another night of dossing!

Among a couple of other forgettable wineries, there were two that we visited that we definitely won’t forget. Changala where we tasted amazing reds….but what was so brilliant is that they food matched all of their wines with different types of chocolate! And really weird flavours – pink peppercorn, lavender, raspberry and garlic!! We received really warm hospitality, got to meet the wine makers – Heidi and Jean and exchanged email addresses. Our initial reason for visiting? Tacos for lunch! What we got was so much more!

The biggest highlight – Four Vines winery. We had seen it on ‘Oz & James Clarke’s Big Wine Adventure’ DVD series. This winery is doing things a little different – a bunch of bikers who are going against the grain with their winemaking. Not so traditional, not so ‘upper class’, just down to earth and a little rough around the edges, but making amazingly brilliant wine! The names are a little different too – Zinbitch (their prized Zinfandel), Heretic, Anarchy, Maverick, Peasant, to name a few and wine bottles with funky, ‘alternative’ designs. We met the winemaker – Christian who we found out later is extremely anally retentive about his wine making, but that’s what makes it so good! After chatting to him for 5 minutes he had to leave, but before doing so led us into the tasting room where he requested VIP complimentary service for us. WOAH!! We were blown away by his hospitality. For the whole arvo, we received a personalised tasting session both from the bottle and directly from the barrel, hosted by two gorgeous girls – Katie & Kristie who we hit it off with instantly.

The arvo turned out to be a very long one – we ended up meeting some people from LA, sharing food and wine with them into the early evening when they had to go. We happened to mention to them that we were having trouble finding somewhere to park/stay in San Francisco….within minutes one of them was on the phone to her sister who lives there and had organised for us to stay with her. WOW!

The winery staff were also kind enough to let us stay over the night in the carpark and they even forgot (on purpose) to lock the toilet! We had breakfast in the winery café next door and hung out for the whole morning (yesterday) which gave us time to really reflect on our experience thus far.

Since we have left LA on Thursday, we have discovered that no plan is a good plan! We have experienced nothing but kindness, openness, genuineness and hospitality from the Americans we have met. A lot less ‘cheese’ and ignorance than we expected and more healthy food as well! The countryside is stunning as is the coast. It’s so easy to be relaxed here (when you leave the city). Surprisingly easy to let go as well, especially when you’re surrounded by nothing but beauty. This is definitely THE LIFE!!

We drove the Big Sur coast yesterday arvo and have stopped to camp at the Big Sur State Park. This morning it’s raining!! Come on! We have already had our fair share of rain! Hopefully it will be short lived.

Stay tuned for more soon!



Anonymous said...

Glad you're having fun guys! We loved San Fransiscio and it's illegal to sleep in your vehicle (apparently) so it's great that you have somewhere to stay. Just a word up, although the distance between yosemite & san fran (if that's the route you're taking) looks short, it's hairpin bends for ages just outside the park. We got caught out - I was determined to see the sunset in Yosemite and we had to negotiate the windy roads in the dar, and then arrived too late in San Fran to stay with our host (a friend of a friend who we didn't want to disturb at 3am - got it all sorted the next day, phew).
Anyway - HAVE FUN - sounds like you are anyway...
Miss you, C & A xxxxxxxxx

Post a Comment