Sunday, January 3, 2010

Paso Robles

Paso Robles, CA, November 28, 2009:
My mum came down from Vancouver to visit over the Thanksgiving week and here’s one of the trips we shared during that time. While we were gone, Mireya enjoyed the peace and quiet of our house to complete some serious studying.

Paso Robles lies 140 miles south of San Jose in the Salinas River Valley. Driving south along the 101 for about 2.5 hours, you pass through the towns and abandoned missions of the Salinas River Valley until you see the oak trees or robles, as they’re known in Spanish, embedded into hillsides lined with grape vines and grazing pastures.

The Spanish named Salinas after a salt marsh close to the modern day town site and El Paso del Robles after the oak trees. When we first moved down here, I was pronouncing Paso Robles as I imagined it would sound in Spanish, only to find that the locals have anglicized the name into Paso “Robe-uls.” Not a unique concept: consider Versailles, KY pronounced “Versails” and Detroit, which is actually a French word for straight.

“Those French!... they have a different word for everything!” Steve Martin

Like many towns in California, Paso Robles has its “ancient” 19th century buildings and comes close to being truly civilized. Folks, Canadian Maple Syrup, come on, now. ;-)

These modern buildings remind me of the “town scapes” I’ve seen at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai (shown above), the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and its carbon copy in Macao.

Paso Robles is wine country and several of our favorite wines come from this region. The J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon sells in San Jose for $16 full retail and $8.99 when it’s on sale. Everyone with whom I’ve shared it likes it.

The label has shows oak trees on the hills. The closest oak tree to the tasting room appears above.

The tasting room has a beautiful oak door with medieval wine making scenes carved into its panels. We ate at a restaurant in town, Bistro Laurent, but could have brought sandwiches and sat outside with a glass of wine at these tables. Most wineries offer outside seating and encourage you to bring your own picnic. Maybe a little too cold for that this time of year.

I went through the wine list at the bistro with a free wine map that we picked up at the town library to plan our tour of the wineries.

What are the house wine at the North Dallas Hyatt? Why, its Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. I stay at that Hyatt when I visit our Cisco team members in Richardson, TX.

This harvest scene at Eos winery was cute.

In addition to seeing the wineries themselves, another true pleasure is tasting and taking home unusual varietals. Wild Horse, named after a nearby canyon, offers a Negrette, a deep red vinted from grapes grown near Tres Pinos (3 Pines) in the Panoche valley. I’ve have fond memories of seeing the mountain plover (image source) with my brother-in-law, Mark and my niece, Jessica while on a Christmas bird count in Panoche.

The Blaufrankisch, is an Austrian grape, its German name is Lemberger, but according to the lady at Wild Horse, they thought that sounded too much like Limburger cheese. Being on my tenth or twelfth tasting of the day, naturally I asked if the Blaufrankisch went well with Limburger cheese. She didn’t know, but we’re going to find out over Christmas! Many wineries in Washington State offer Blaufrankisch, but only two in California do. (post script: tried the wine with an Alsation Muenster cheese, they went very well together.)

We arrived too late at the JanKris winery, named after two daughters, to taste anything. However, I’d had enough to drink for the day at that point, so I took this late twilight image of the buildings and its oak trees. Notice the oak barrels lined up to the right of the tree? It was 5:00 and with 140 miles driving ahead of me, I pulled over and took a nap.

There is a rose garden at Eos, and despite how late we are in the season, a few blooms were still on the roses.

Copyright © 2009 David G. Kelly

No comments:

Post a Comment