For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Over the summer I stepped out of my comfort zone. A happenstance blurb on a social networking site caught my eye, and I thought, what the heck? Free wine tasting in Paso Robles, a free gourmet organic lunch, and the chance to check out one of San Luis Obispo County's newest wine tasting services—The Wine Line. What was the catch? I had to get in front of the camera and "act" like a wine taster having fun while they filmed a commercial. I didn't hesitate to volunteer for this cool blog opportunity. And fun it was!

This entertaining day started mid-morning for me and three other volunteers. One of The Wine Line's friendly drivers shuttled us and the owner, Jason Westfall, to meet the filmmakers. For the next few hours, the camera followed us hopping on and off the comfortable touring van while we explored the creations of two wineries; one on the west side of Paso and one to the east. Not much acting was required as we naturally had a blast hanging out and sipping vino.

Our first action stop of the day began at a small, boutique winery on Highway 46 West, at the home of Caliza Winery. Spanish for the word "limestone," Caliza's tasting room is surrounded by their beautiful 20-acre vineyard that grows in rich soils that are a combination of fractured shale and clay loam. Located in the heart of the Templeton Gap region of Paso, the warm climate is tempered by cool marine air that swings through the gaps of the Santa Lucia mountains, providing budding grapes the opportunity to glow in the warm sunny days and recover during the cool nights; resulting in optimal acid levels. After tasting their 2008 Kissin' Cousins—aptly named for its lovely mouthfeel—this gentle, sexy blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Roussane quickly caught our attention. Due to the filming schedule, we only had time for one more taste and moved to Caliza's 2009 Pink (you guessed it—rosé), which was a hit and made us realize summer was here.
Next up: a short drive to the east side of Paso where we hopped off to find the beautiful grounds of the grandiose Vina Robles Winery & Vineyard beckoning. Founded in 1996 by a Swiss entrepeneur, Vina Robles is surrounded by vineyards and boasts a 14,000 square foot hospitality center. We proceeded to the tasting room and delighted in meeting Martin Columberg, the Director of Hospitality, who guided us through an incredible tasting tour of reserve wines paired with artisan cheeses. Martin hails from the German region of Switzerland and trained there professionally as a chef. Not only did he provide excellent advice on which wines to pair with the cheeses, he gave us copies of some of his recent recipes that incorporate Vina Robles wine. (Look for his possible food and wine classes in the future). My favorite pick of the day: the 2006 Ryan Road Syrah. With a rich, velvety texture, it paired properly with "barely buzzed," a full-bodied cheese hand-rubbed with coffee and lavender. Unusual, but intriguing.

After the filming festivities finished, we sat in Vina Robles' lovely courtyard and enjoyed a fabulous lunch from Farmstand 46, arranged for us by The Wine Line. "Gourmet, healthy food made from organic, estate-grown vegetables and herbs. Farmstand 46 promotes and supports local, organic, sustainable farming." Need I say more?

For the remainder of the afternoon, Jason offered us the chance to take advantage of The Wine Line's shuttle service. So, we hopped on for a west-side stop at Kenneth Volk and Lone Madrone's tasting rooms for our last fun sips of the day before being shuttled home. The Wine Line offers stops at 60 Paso wineries; guests have the opportunity to choose where they'd like to go throughout the day and create their own touring adventure at their own pace. This stellar, much-needed, wine tasting shuttle service is the only one of its kind in SLO County. Click here for more details about their flexible service, pricing information, and winery options.

And don't forget to check out the final edit of the video promo!

Hop on. Hop off. Have fun!

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