Paso Robles: High & Dry

Grateful to have spent the weekend in Central Valley’s wine country with 3 of my closest girlfriends. Can’t lie, I was slightly uneasy going into a weekend of wine and delicious food while on my sober/Paleo stretch. I was determined to stay true and proudly stayed on track! Plus, in the end, I went for the real soul food: QT with my hetero life partners, gorgeous scenery and sinking into a comfy bed for 10 hours each night.

We stayed at Hotel Cheval, which is situated right in the town center and a beautiful (and short!) walk across the park from adorable boutiques and great restaurants. We didn’t have to stray that far - 1-2 blocks down Pine we would hit cute shops and dining spots we’d heard we must try. The hospitality at the hotel was fantastic. It truly was like staying at a B&B where you have gotten to know everyone. Each room is differently arranged and named after a racehorse. Rob at the front desk took the best care possible of us, arranging for spa treatments and helping arrange any detail of our stay we hadn’t thought through.

Worth noting that Hotel Cheval does a tremendous job partnering with local business to expand its services. They partner with Vici Spa Management to bring spa services to the hotel, which does not have a spa on the premises. (Mila got kinks out of my back muscles I’d been battling for weeks!) While the hotel does not have a restaurant on the premises, complimentary breakfast is available to guests each morning in the Pony Club. We’re talking fresh fruit, granola, lox and delicious omelets made-to-order.

Not quite realizing just how amazing our breakfast would be, we hit farm-to-table Artisan on am #1 for brunch. No complaints. Being on my protein kick, I needed to beef up our otherwise shared plates (how we do) with some extra pork. Bottom left you’ll find my duck confit huevos rancheros.

We probably walked half a block before stumbling into AndBe Boutique, where we met sweet Eve, the lady in charge that day. AndBe carries a variety of men and women’s accessories and clothing, as well as housewares. We quickly realize just how much of the merch had global charitable ties, from proceeds aiding women in Ethiopia to being crated from recycled or sustainable materials from around the world. This made my new work bag purchase (made of Ethiopian leather and driving $ back to its native country) a no-brainer.

I’m a sucker for a general store, and Paso’s very own did not disappoint. Fortunately we were kind of on a winery schedule, or the linens and spices would have eaten a good portion of my afternoon.

Onto the wine! I never realized how much you could “taste” by merely smelling. I wanted to come away from the weekend with a case of new wines to enjoy after 6 more weeks had passed and relied on my girlfriends to thumbs-up or -down my options. We started at Zenaida Cellars. We fell in love with the Cab AND the idea that members get to stay in one of the gorgeous upstairs units at a steeply discounted rate. Naturally, one of us joined. I will confirm the former in 6 weeks.

After a phenomenal meal at Villa Creek, we woke up to hotel-based breaky and an unrelenting plan to see the famous views from Daou Vineyards. (Note: I failed in food photography this go-around, but the “not nachos” with mole and tuna ceviche are a MUST at VC.) My folks and boss had just visited Daou and stressed making the 20-minute drive from town. Worth. Every. Minute. The Moorish style of the tasting room gives Daou a fresh, rich and warm feel. It’s incredibly spacious yet cozy. Numerous french doors lead your eyes to the valley views beyond. I splurged and snagged a bottle of the 98-point Soul of the Lion Cab. Again, 6 week rule. Let’s see how these assertions hold up then.

Our last stop was Oso Libre, recommended to us by a few friends. With beautiful grounds and an eclectic, almost desert-type style tasting room, Oso is primarily known for their reds. I rounded out my weekend collection with a Cab blend and a Viognier everyone who tasted loved.

Always sad leaving homies who live elsewhere. So we made sure to book our return before we had to part. Best part? I’ll no longer be dry. ‘Til next time, pretty Paso!

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Hotel Cheval accommodations range from $330 per night midweek and in between seasons and up to $440 per night during more popular, warmer months. Of course, rates vary over time and with seasonality, so please be sure to check their site! Note that all rooms have just one (very comfy) bed.

Raven & Lily is the brand of the gorgeous hand-/workbag I bought at AndBe ($220). They have a home-base in Austin, which I look forward to visiting over July 4th weekend!