Saturday of the 4-Day Trip to Paso Robles in search of good red wine for our tin cup chalices,,,,,starts the same way every saturday that we can be in Paso Robles,,,,,a can’t miss event, no matter what: Templeton Farmers Market. I am partial, but I have to say I think this is one of the best farmers markets I’ve ever been to and my wife agrees. Selling everything from produce to fresh juice to farm to market cheese and olive oil, this market has just about everything. What a treat,,,early morning in a place that’s cool and clean (the big central park in Templeton), with friendly, healthy people looking for their weekly or daily foodstuffs. Just the memory of two weeks ago brings back a smile, as I remember the wafting smell of the fresh brewed coffee from one stand intermingling with the bakers truck next to it,,,,while just down from there the tamale stand was in full operation with breakfast tamales and fresh tortilla’s. Turning around the other way, I pass the sausage maker selling the Alle-Pia brand and another stand just there selling giant cookies. Next comes the endless fruit and fresh veggie stands, with everything fresh. I stopped and bought a bottle of fresh pressed hand-made ultra virgin olive oil and my wife found her favorite giant tomatoes that go so well with her Buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. Mix that with a very fresh piece of bread we bought at the farmers market and it’s an instant picnic. Too bad the fresh cheese maker wasn’t there; the cheese is good, but one time he suckered us into buying an entire 1/4 wheel, which was impossible to completely eat. Hate to waste cheese, but some of it went bad,,,sorry. Favorite thing about this particular farmers market,,,,,most if not ALL the stands allow you to try before you buy, whether it’s cheese, olive oil, sausage, fruit, bread or veggies,,,,that’s awesome. After an hour browsing stands, it was time to pull the children away from the nice lady in the grass selling puppies and move on to our last day of wine tasting. We were heading for wine tasting when my wife mentioned how much she missed a particular kind of salt we found up in the area last time,,,,a cinnamon salt mix that’s so very good with fresh french toast,,,that happens to be at one of my favorite places to buy fresh olive oil, Olivas de Oro Olive Company. So, we diverted to Creston in search of the salt. On getting there, we found it, but we also found a quiet perfection of a place with 110 acres of 100-year old olive trees and a friendly staff that allowed the girls to go run the property in search of sheep dogs and allowed us to taste the 40 different kinds of olive oil till we were ready. Of course, we left with several different kinds, and directions to wine tasting.
- August Ridge– This was our first winery of the day and was recommended by the staff of Olivas de Oro. Yep, I’ve been waiting on this part of the blog so I can introduce it to Vinny and Weird Guy with the Dog,,,,hoping they pull a big truck into this winery, as I think he might like it ALOT. See, this winery is a bit unique in Paso Robles in that they grow and make Italian Varietals with california grades, but italian varietals and italian style. This one was a surprise, as I’m not a huge fan of italian wines and tend to like the California styles more, but this ones good. I’m not talking california wines made in a fake italian style, I’m talking about good wine made with the highest quality italian clone varietals and hand-crafted in an Italian style. We bought several bottles and were impressed with the quality.
- Stillwaters– We had been here our first time to Paso Robles and not been back for several years. We arrived with hangry children and were in search of a picnic spot to have lunch and a great bottle of wine. We found it. Stillwater Vineyard had a great grassy area and tables for us where my wife and family set up the fare we found at the Farmers Market and we tasted the variety of whites and reds they had. There was even Champagne! After tasting, we learned that Stillwater produces red wine grapes for a few other wineries in the area, including famous names like Chateau Margene, DAOU and Brecon. I was curious, and pressed the nice gentlemen behind the tasting bar to let me taste some of the rarer wines, of which he opened two for me and poured them for both of us,,,,him and me. They were both Cabs,,,,and they were spectacular. Wow, spectacular Cab and a great Chard,,,,I was pretty happy. Then the nice gentlemen behind the bar pointed out that EVERY white wine was on sale for 30% off that weekend and EVERY red wine was one sale for 20% off also. Needless to say, we had to add to our already grown collection of wines from Paso Robles. We had a great lunch and soon had to move on. By the way,,,,the Vineyard offered us all that hospitality while they were preparing for a major wedding that night,,,,,,and the nice gentlemen behind the bar who served me and my wife and opened those bottles for me,,,,,was the owner of the whole place and the vintner. You won’t get that in Napa!
- DAOU– Spectacular Winery and Wine that we took my brother and his wife up to in order to relax for a sunset glass of wine in the afternoon. Have to say I was not impressed with the whole staff attitude toward “regular folks” like me and my wife and we may choose to skip this experience in the future for smaller, friendlier wineries, sans the view. Even so, I chose to buy several “small lot” bottles that we know are excellent,,,and it’s carried in Costco in certain places. If you find DAOU Cab in Costco, we think it’s excellent and has a great price for that level of wine.
Sunday was drive home day. After 6 hours of driving through the desert on a horse with no name, it was time to come back home. We shifted the entire contents of the back of the car into the children’s laps to make room to pick up the Great Dane from the kennel,,,,and back to reality we came.