Our most intrepid Staffer Andrea gushes about one of California’s best kept secrets- Templeton.
As a native Californian, I’ve been trying to spend more time to get to know the areas of this beautiful state that I am less familiar with. One recent weekend was spent in the gorgeous rolling hills of Templeton and Paso Robles, an area that is emerging as a world class wine producer. Many of the wineries with the Paso Robles appellation are located in unincorporated Templeton and there is a growing number that are flourishing in this Mediterranean climate. There is a growing production of olive oil, and there are many small groves growing excellent olives for oil and table olives.Some of the better known wineries are Castoro Cellars, Peachy Canyon and Wild Horse Winery, but there are many more to discover that are off the beaten path. On my short trip, we visited Wild Horse (and tasted some fabulous Pinot Noirs and a great Syrah), which began as a Senior project by local Cal Poly students in 1981.
We had a memorable meal at Thomas Hill Organics, a lovely restaurant in downtown Paso Robles that serves fresh and delicious organic food. Featuring gourmet salads, artisan pizzas and seasonal selections, the menu changes regularly based on the availability of produce and ingredients. We enjoyed a creamy burrata appetizer that came with mandarins and caramelized onions (to die for!) and a lemony yogurt and fresh pita (hot from the oven) dish as starters. Main courses consisted of a fresh Sea Bass entrée, flavorful flank steak and an Asian inspired Shrimp salad with fine rice noodles, limes and cucumbers. Everything was excellent and we were (to our great dismay) too full for dessert!
On Sunday, we spent the day wine tasting our way to our final destination- Starr Ranch Winery at 9320 Chimney Rock Road in Paso Robles. Starr Ranch is not easy to find and is worth the drive. When you reach the entrance, you drive up a hillside road lined with persimmon trees and reach the summit of the driveway. You then wind down through shady trees until you reach the tasting room and picnic area, overlooking a beautiful valley. This peaceful place is perfect for taking your time and breathing in the beauty of the area while enjoying the wide range of superb wines. The Winemaker herself will greet you and guide you through each sip, and it is an intimate and special way to spend an afternoon. Our California Delicious pick was the Starr Ranch Red- 2010 Marriage, “Like a good marriage, the equal contributions of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon bring out the best of each. Oozie cherry pie filling, cream soda with a touch of fresh tobacco leaf lead to a perfectly balanced finish bolstered by elegant tannins”. This would pair wonderfully with the California Delicious Classic California Cheese Picnic Gift Basket.
It was difficult to leave. In fact, Starr Ranch now offers lodging in a fun Airstream trailer, available for rental by those who truly do not want to leave! Set on a bluff overlooking the vineyards, fabulous sunsets and morning fog over the hills are yours to enjoy after a day tasting great wines.
Under 4.5 hours from Sacramento
Under 3.5 hours from San Francisco
3.5 hours from Los Angeles