MM and I drove my car from San Francisco to San Diego yesterday – a first for all three of us! We’re staying here for the weekend for one of MM’s triathlons (did I mention he is a successful triathlete?). As part of my involvement in the trip, I selected the route; opting to take 101 S to Paso Robles where we would stop for lunch and maybe a quick wine tasting, then head East to take the 5 S for the rest of the way to Carlsbad. The drive to Paso Robles on 101 was beautiful, with winding roads, Eucalyptus trees, mountains, vineyards and crops – much better than the “cow concentration camps” on The 5.
When we arrived in Paso Robles we had lunch at Artisan, under the personal recommendation of Panini Girl. MM ordered the cheeseburger with russet fries and I ordered the shrimp B.L.T. I can’t speak for MM, but my sandwich was fantastic! I also ordered a side market salad with beets, cucumber, pine nuts, pickled onions and some kind of lemon vinaigrette – very fresh tasting and I loved the dressing. I had a glass of the Silver Horse Albarino; crisp and fruity and paired nicely with the B.L.T. The service was very quick and friendly, and their dessert menu was tempting but MM was being careful about his diet before the big race.
Since our lunch took much less time than expected, and we were already making great time due to our earlier-than-anticipated departure from SF and zero traffic, I convinced MM to let me make a quick stop at Bianchi Winery. After all, it was right off Route 46 and on our way out of Paso Robles. I promised the tasting wouldn’t last more than 20 minutes, so I had some speed tasting to do (and lots of dump bucket usage since I was the driver). We arrived at the tasting room and the space was beautiful, with an expansive deck and a little man-made pond. I had very small tastes of several of their wines: 2010 Pinot Grigio, 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Pinot Noir, 2006 Syrah, 2006 Sangiovese, 2006 Refosco, 2008 Zinfandel, 2006 Syranot (75% Syrah, 25% Pinot), 2010 Moscato (MM’s favorite) and their sparkling wine. I devoted about two minutes to each wine, and MM shared most of the tastes with me.
I didn’t really care for the Sangiovese or Zinfandel (both were too acidic for my taste), but my favorites were the Pinot Grigio, Refosco and Syranot. The Pinot Grigio had a nice depth to it that you don’t normally get with that grape. The Refosco is a rare Italian grape and Bianchi is only one of two wineries that produces it, so I couldn’t pass that up. The Syranot was a rare blend that turned out deliciously – very smooth and full of fruit and spice. I also really enjoyed the Moscato because it wasn’t too sweet and had a lot of potential for light food pairings. I opted to purchase those four, and in the last minute added a bottle of the Pinot Noir to the lot. The prices before my 30% industry discount ranged from $24-$35, so the total was under $100 – hard to resist!
I would love to go back to Paso Robles some day and spend more time visiting the wineries and the downtown area. The town was “legit” in the words of MM, “not in the boonies of Central California.” It was definitely the perfect break for us in the drive, even if it was just a small taste. And now I have quite the selection of wine to enjoy for the rest of the weekend!