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ibglowin

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Well be headed out to SoCal soon. Mrs IB will be turning the big Six Ohhh and will be punching her work ticket and officially retired as well. Will be staying with our kids and grand baby doing day trips in the LA area but we want to head North for 4-5 days looking at hitting up the Solvang- Buellton area as well as North up to SLO and Paso Robles. Anyone have any must see things to do or wineries to visit. We are all ears!

 

NorCal

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Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo grad here, along with both daughters. I was also an advisor for 15 years, so any excuse to go to SLO, the wife and I took the road trip.

Things to do in SLO

Avila Beach
Walk on beach/pier
Coffee place down walkway
Custom house restaurant, pretty good, bit expensive, good brunch
Sunset (not sure if you can see this time of year)
Bon Fire at night, cocktails required! Up the beach a bit, look for fire rings

Down Town SLO (Higuera Street)
Lots of neat shops, restaurants
Firestones restaurant, must have tri-tip sandwich and fries
Movie theater
Catholic Mission and neat creek area, places to hang out and have a beer
Must take picture with brass bear next to the mission
British car place (640 Marsh street, ok, this one is mine)
Bars; Frog & Peach, Buffalo, Down Town Brew

Wineries
Edna Valley (our favorite)
Bianchi
Tolosa
All near each other, $5 tasting fee, goes toward purchase


Cal Poly
Breakfast at Breakfast Buzz (295 Santa Rosa Street, near campus)
University Union, Book store
Cruise the campus


Near by
Hearst Castle tour, 40 min away, really neat daily tours
Shell Beach, 10 min away, Cliff Hotel, great happy hour
Pismo Beach, 15 min away, little beach town, can drive your car on the beach!
Pismo Beach, 15 min away, Splash Cafe best clam chowder in the world
Los Osos, 20 min away, Montana Del Oro, sandunes flat hiking next to ocean
Los Osos, 20 min away, Sylvesters, great burger place
Morro Bay, 25 min away, neat fishing town, Morro rock, kayaking

Hotels

Nice place in SLO. 1 mile to downtown and 1 mile to campus. Fifteen minutes to the beach. $$$

http://www.applefarm.com/


Nice place in Pismo Beach. walk to beach, 10 minutes to SLO downtown $$

http://www.pismolighthousesuites.com


Pretty nice place in Pismo Beach, nice sunsets (wine required), walk to beach, 10 minutes to SLO downtown. $$

http://www.cottage-inn.com/sitemap.php


Nice place in Avila Beach, on beach, 10 minutes to SLO downtown, 15 minutes to campus. $$$

http://www.avilalighthousesuites.com/
 

Kraffty

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Awesome list Norcal, I'd add a night at the Cavalier hotel if available. Sunset on the private beach around one of the bonfires with your own bottles of wine.
 

ibglowin

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Well we made it home this past Monday! What a trip! Left on Wednesday 9/4. Mrs IB officially retired and turned in her badge on 9/3 and we drove out so we would have a car for the whole two week trip. Didn't push it hard and spent the night in Flagstaff (6 hour drive) and about halfway to LA. That makes for an easy drive the next day into LA and get us in to town before the afternoon traffic starts to get bad. Our BFF's flew in on Friday and we all stayed with our oldest daughter, SIL and 18 mo old grand daughter. Mrs IB turned the big Six Ohh on Saturday and we celebrated with dinner and a show as they say. Kids have season tickets to the Hollywood Bowl Summer Concert series and that night it was Barry Manilow backed by the LA Philharmonic Symphony. We were all youngsters in high school when his music was all over the charts so it was a nice throwback evening. The Hollywood Bowl is an amazing venue with so much history (including the Beatles). If you ever get a chance to attend a show there I certainly recommend it. Beautiful setting. The kids have a 4 seat box and the Bowl allows you to bring in your own food and beverage (including alcohol) so you can eat drink and be very merry all courtesy of the LA County Parks and Rec who run the venue.

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We rested up on Sunday and headed out on Monday morning for San Louis Obispo which would be home for the next 4 days. Heading up we stopped for lunch in Orcutt, CA just outside of Santa Maria. Used the Google and found this amazing Cuban restaurant in a strip center mall. They also have a food truck. The food was to die for good. I think we started searching for recipes online before we left to recreate what we had just eaten. Fantastic all the way around. We had the Usual Cuban sandwich but then also got a Beef Picadillo plate as well as a Chicken and Potato dish (Fricase de Pollo) that was out of bounds to boot.

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Got into SLO around 3PM and checked in found out our standard King room was not available and they had upgraded us to a 2 bedroom King Suite with fireplace, full kitchen, 2 huge flatscreens, huge bathroom with walk in shower and standalone soaking tub. Dang thank you Wyndham Hotels........


We strolled from the hotel to downtown SLO that evening and saw much of the sites on Higuera Street. Popped into a little wine bar and could not believe my eyes. There right in front of me was a tap of a beer I had only read about and dreamed of one day finding as its like a Unicorn in the beer world and one of only a few beers rated at 100pts on the Beer Advocate. Pliny the Elder! It lived up to the hype. Easily the finest IPA's ever tasted and nearly impossible to find outside of CA.

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After a couple of pints of 8% ABV Pliny we were done for the evening and casually made the 10 min stroll back to our Hotel for the evening. We would head out the next day for San Simeon and the Hearst Castle........
 
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ibglowin

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Day two in SLO we departed after a quick breakfast at the hotel and made the short 50min drive north on Hwy 1 passing through beautiful Morro Bay along the way.




We had been to the Hearst Castle back in 2005 when our daughter was attending college at UCSB in Santa Barbara. There are many tours at the Castle and its impossible to do them all in one day. We had already taken the Grand Rooms Tour back then so we decided to take a new tour this time and we started off on the Upstairs Suites Tour where you get to explore the upper floors of Casa Grande—the formal name for the main house—and ascend its winding staircases to see how media mogul William Randolph Hearst and his esteemed guests lived at the Castle back during the day.

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After we finished the Upstairs Suites Tour we took the 10 min shuttle back down the hill to the visitors center and had some lunch we picked our second and last tour for the day. This time we chose the Cottages and Kitchens Tour. There are 3 separate cottages on the grounds and they are all incredible. They were more private and more spacious than the small guest suites in Casa Grande (main building). This tour included the Kitchen (amazing) as well as the underground wine cellar. Remember prohibition was in full swing during this time but it seems it didn't apply to everyone.


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More after the break.
 
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ibglowin

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It is well known that William Randolph Hearst kept a tight reign on the booze and watered down the hard liquor and didn't allow visitors to get completely inebriated. After this it was getting late in the afternoon so we headed back down the hillside and drove back into SLO. We stopped off at.... You guessed it. Costco and picked up some food and a few bottles of wine for dinner. Long day for sure.

Tomorrow we get down to business and head out to Paso Robles!
 
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Boatboy24

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What are the odds of walking into a Cuban restaurant and finding Fidel Castro there eating?
 

ibglowin

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I was tasked to plot our course for wine tasting for the day and I spent a couple hours pouring over places to see in the Paso area. I went to the end of the internet for a perfect day of wine tasting and even plotted the route in a nice circular pattern so that we could make a big swing and hit the top spots on my list as efficiently as possible. Only 5 wineries in one day. Perfect plan of attack.

We would Hit (in Order):

1) Eberle
2) Adelaida
3)Tablas Creek
4) Calcareous
5) Turely


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Should have been a pice of cake but then a wrench got thrown into the works of course. The women decided to go for an early morning walk downtown to retrieve a dress they had seen the day before. Unfortunately they did not return until mid morning which pretty much gutted my grand plan. C'est la vie was about all I could say at this point so we headed off to Paso post haste.

First stop was Eberle. Pretty well known old time winery in the Paso area and actually celebrating 40 years in business (1979-2019). Ebrle has mostly lower/mid priced wines ($20-$50). Incredibly they charge no tasting fee and they have a free cave tour every 30 mins. The wines were all good. Non knocked my socks off but we found a Chardonnay and a red blend "Full Boar" that we liked well enough to take home with us.

The cave tour was excellent, we went into the winery and the cellar rats were cleaning up after crushing some white grapes from the morning. Our server was polite, great sense of humor and really set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

This winery is Recommended if you are in the area.

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ibglowin

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Next up on the list was Adeliada. I have to admit that I had never hard of these guys before and they were not on my radar in the least. But they kept coming up as a must stop place in Paso. Went in with no expectations and came out a changed man.......

The winery is beautiful (like many in CA) High on a hillside with amazing views of the area and not only acres and acres of grapes but also walnut trees!

Tasting fee was $20. The server started us off with a Chardonnay. All stainless, no secondary fermentation. It was good, better than the previous stop by far. Then he poured us a Picpoul Blanc that was incredible. All stainless and amazingly good with loads of stone fruits and an explosion of flavors in your mouth Mrs IB said it was a must buy. I had to agree.

Now on to the reds.

They poured their 2016 Estate Pinot Noir ($35) Good. Really good. Next up 2016 Viking Red (Bordeaux blend). This was amazing. Out of body experience. Must own. Next up 2016 Anna's Red (Rhone Blend). Again amazing. Knock your socks off amazing. Must own. Next up 2017 Michael's Vineyard Zinfandel. And again I was just shaking my head at what I was experiencing. Another must own. Everything we tasted was very good to amazing and without hesitation we joined the (yet another) wine club. Case a year but we are splitting with our BFF's and I actually want to purchase more NOW.

Wines are again mid priced from $35 to $50. Our server was again helpful, knowledgeable and fun to interact with.

As I walked out I was still amazed at what we had just tasted. Really, really good wine.

This winery is HIGHLY Recommended if you are in the area.

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ibglowin

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After a quick break for some much needed food (to soak up some wine) in the parking lot at Adelaida we headed for the next stop on our list Tablas Creek which was just up the road a few miles. Tablas Creek was on my radar since their wines were featured at a local restaurant here in town for a special winemakers dinner one evening. Their "claim to fame" as they say is that they specialize only in Rhone Varietals and their cuttings all came from the Rhone growing regions of France so they spent 2 years in quarantine being monitored for disease before they could be planted permanently in the ground. The owners are the same family that own Chateau du Beacastel which is almost always a near 100pt WA rated Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine every year so in theory these people know how to make excellent wines from these varietals.

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Tasting fee here is only $15. Waived with a single bottle purchase. Started with the usual whites including a Rose'. Almost all the wines at Tablas Creek are a blend of Rhone varieties. There are a few single varietal wines however and if you are hankering to try something different like a 100% Tannat, 100% Counoise(red) or any other Rhone varietal this is the place to see. Our server was again excellent going into lengthly detail about the winery, the wines, how they are made, even down to the fact that they use llamas to keep the weeds down instead of any herbicides.

So how were the wines? In short very good. I am not sure if everything just didn't quite compare to Adelaida or what but I found myself spitting most of the wines (and there were quite a few). When we got down to their flagship wines the "Espirit de Tablas" and "Cotes de Tablas" which are the CdP and standard GSM varietals things picked up nicely. All of the final offerings where excellent but the 2016 Espirit de Tablas stood out the most for me and was a solid keeper.

All the wines at Tablas creek are in the low/mid price range from $25- $60 a bottle. We did not join the club but did take home four bottles in our group of four (2ea) We went home with one of the Patelin de Tablas (Rose) and of course the 2016 Espirit de Tablas. Our BFF's chose one of the 100% varietals the 2017 Counoise as well as the 2017 Espirit de Tablas (CdP) blend.

The winery has a big tub of ice cold water bottles just outside the door which was a nice touch. When we left it was 4:30PM and we are out of time as the wineries all close at 5:00 during the week with a few open later 6:00 on the weekends.

This winery is Recommended if you are in the area.

I was sad that we were not going to make it to the others on the list especially Turley but with both me and my wife now retired and our kids and now grandkids in LA as well as the fact that it really is an easy drive to get up to Paso from LA we knew we would be back to explore more wines and wineries in the area.

Tomorrow morning we pack up and head to the OTHER Los Alamos (CA) for a night and some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez valley.

But wait what about all those wineries that @NorCal had mentioned? If we actually get up and get everybody on the road at a decent time tomorrow we have plenty of time to hit a bunch of places just a few miles south of SLO in the Edna Valley! Now were talking!

Stay tuned!
 
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ibglowin

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We actually got the entire party up early, out for a quick 30 min walk around SLO after breakfast all packed up and on the road by 10:00AM. It was another beautiful sunny and warm day in the Golden State with temps in the low 90's by the afternoon in the area. I did some more research and went with several of @NorCal selections listed earlier. Our first stop was only a 10min drive out of SLO. We hit Edna Valley Vineyards bright and early in the day. Edna Valley Vineyards is one of the largest wineries in the area and you can find their wines or at least a few of them nationally distributed in stores like Kroger. The just completed a full remodel of their tasting room and it is (another) beautiful design.

We opted for the $20 (18 Barrel) tasting experience. No actual barrel tasting sadly. They have a host of different tasting levels some that include some light bites and well as others with all the reserves wines. As the winery had really only opened for the day we were almost the only patrons in a rather large tasting room. Our server was as usual very helpful, informative and congenial.

We started with some of the whites in the Winemarker Series. The usual Chardonnays, Sauv Blanc and Rose'. All were good solid wines. Then we went a slight step up to the V Series blends and they got a little better. We ended up with wines from the Reserve Series and they got even better yet.

A little side note when visiting a winery is that if you start asking questions about the wine club like your interested or even one person in the party says oh wow maybe we should join the wine club. Doors magically open. Wines not typically on a tasting routine get brought out, and instead of say 6 wines in a tasting flight now your being treated to 10 wines and you can revisit any of them if you wish.

I liked quite a few but I was holding out for another "knock your socks off" wine to hit me like yesterday at Adelaida. Our BFF's fell in love almost from the start with the V Series Blends and several of the Reserve wines. Mrs IB loved the V Series White Blend which was a weird kitchen sink blend of varietals including Marsanne, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Muscat Canelli, and Chardonnay. Our BFF's wanted to join the club so we agreed to help (twist my arm a little more please LOL). Club members get a nice hefty 30% off list prices, tasting fees are waved as usual and you can cancel after 2 shipments so you not locked into any long term contract.

We left with almost a full case. Lots of the V Blend White wines and quite a few of the Reserve Red's including The Cab Sauv and Syrah.

Wines depending on the series range from $15-$50.

By now I am getting a little worried as the car is getting pretty full. We drove our CRV out so plenty of room for four people and luggage but the back is getting full. Its early and we have more stops!

This winery is definitely Recommended if you are in the area.

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ibglowin

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Next up we opted for yet another winery that @NorCal had recommended and was only 2 miles from Edna Valley. Just a short ways down the road we stumbled into Tolosa Winery

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Little did we know that this would be another dream winery visit. The winery looks to be fairly new and while not as spacious as Edna Valley very high end inside. We soon found out the wines were equally high end as well.

Tasting was $25 waved with $50 purchase. We started out with 6 wines on the list. 3 whites and 3 reds. First on the list was a Sauv Blanc. It was good but by now we had tried many good Sauv Blancs at much lower price points so I wasn't moved very much. Then we moved on to the Chardonnays and things got interesting really fast. The first was an all stainless Chardonnay that was easily the best we had tasted on our visit. Mrs IB is not a huge fan of Chardonnay but she was all over this one. Next another Chardonnay. This one was a blend of stainless and barrel fermented Chardonnay. Equally as good but the barrel brought out a new layer and made it seem even more interesting. Crisp, tart and then just a hint of vanilla in the background.

From there life changed I think as they opened their first offerings of Pinot Noir. We started with the 1772 Pinot Noir and all of a sudden it was like the earth stopped spinning on its access. It was incredible. Amazing. Intoxicating. This is a blend from 5 different vineyards in the Edna Valley. It was loaded with ripe red plum, candied cherry, cocoa powder, cinnamon, white pepper and worn leather. You just wanted to dive right into the glass.

Next up was the 2016 Stone Lion Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir. Again, it was like everything stopped in the room and you had this momentarily ultra heightened sense of smell and taste. Incredible. Everyone was feeling the same thing. Dang, this is really good was heard more than once. It was at that point we started talking possible club membership and low and behold the doors opened and the higher end single vineyard reserve Pinots began to appear. Pours were getting more generous as well. They finished reeling us in by opening up one of their flagship "Primera" Pinot's It had wax seal and was pulled from a wine fridge so it was 55F and we had to hold the glass and wait for it to warm and open up.... It did. It was easily the best tasted by far but it was a factor of 2X more than the 1772 tiered wines.

Wines were mid to high priced ($38-$150) with 20% club discount.

This winery is HIGHLY Recommended if you are in the area.


This was a no brainer from my point of view. Must have. We joined the club (split shipment with our friends). Left with 2 of the Chardonnays (one of each) and 4 (total) of the 1772 Pinot Noirs (2 of each). I wanted one of the Primera but resisted it in the end ($150). We were all feeling very tipsy after this tasting. The wines were way too good to spit and they just kept pouring....... Luckily we had food and water out in the car. We went out to the parking lot and had grapes, cheese, crackers. No wine! After that all of us were not only very happy campers but we had decided that was enough wine tasting for the day and we headed back South towards Solvang for a fun night in Los Alamos, CA.

More wine tasting would be had tomorrow!
 
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Kraffty

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Really good job on sharing the whole experience, photos and stories are enjoyable, looking forward to hear how the rest of the trip went.
thanks!
 

ibglowin

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Heading South on 101 only 50 miles away from SLO is the very sleepy "alternative reality" town of Los Alamos, CA. It was pretty much a ghost town just a few years ago but the last 5 years has seen a resurgence in bringing the town back to life with several B&B's and quite a few wine bars and restaurants. We were directed this way by our daughter who pointed us to one of the quirkiest B&B's not only in the US but maybe worldwide. The "Vick" or Victorian Mansion of Los Alamos. A six bedroom Victorian Mansion built in 1864 by a Russian immigrant. In 2007 the house was purchased and restoration was begun turning all six rooms into unique fun "themed" rooms.

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You have to see the rooms to believe them. People come from all over just to stay here for a night or two changing rooms each night and each time they come back. There is a 50's Suite, a Gypsy Suite, a Roman Suite, an Egyptian Suite, a French Suite and a Pirate Suite. Each decorated with incredible detail. We booked the Egyptian Suite. You have to enter the bathroom through King Tut's sarcophagus. The front door to the Egyptian Suite looks like it might be part of one of the ancient Pyramids and easily weighs hundreds of pounds due to the weight of all the stone. Our BFF's opted for the Roman Suite. Each suite has a themed sunken tub, a fireplace and a unique bed including a bed in a Pink Cadillac convertible in the 50's Suite.

You can explore the individual Suites here:

http://www.thevick.com/suites.htm

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For Dinner we opted for what is the some of the best pizza you will find on the west coast. Flatbread Pizza. They have an amazing wood fired pizza oven and a wine list with loads of local wines from the area at very reasonable prices.

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They serve a really nice hot breakfast (brought to your room) at the Vic but we awoke early and decided to go for a walk down Main street. Towards the end of Main we stumbled into Bob's Bakery. It was packed at 7:30AM. We stopped in for a cup of coffee and to "look" at the offerings and of course it was like being a kid in a candy store. Everything being baked right in front of your eyes. All kinds of breads, pastries. We decided to give it a try and got a Cranberry Scone and a Chocolate Croissant. Both were heavenly. The coffee was equally on par. We learned from the Inn Keeper at the Vic that "Bob" is a retired (sorta grumpy) east coast banker that decided he was tired of the rat race and wanted to delve into his lifelong passion of baking and opened this place up a few years ago. It was crazy good.

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We made it back to the Vic just in time for "2nd Breakfast". This is a vacation after all and 2nd breakfast are completely legal.... The Inn Keeper brought up a lovely breakfast for two including OJ, more croissants, fresh fruit, coffee and a lovely ham and veggie quiche. All excellent but alas only nibbled on thanks to Bob down the road.......

We packed up once again a few hours later. Said goodbye to the "Vic" and waved to grumpy Bob as we drove past and headed out in search of some more fermented grape juice. We found some only a mere 8 miles down the road in Los Olivos, CA
 
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