Last weekend, my husband and I visited Paso Robles to celebrate his birthday. We both enjoy wine, and having visited many areas in California famous for wine such as Napa, Santa Barbara and Temecula all the way to the Tuscan regions of Italy, we figured a three hour drive up the road would be another fun adventure. In addition to the many wineries in the region, Paso Robles is also home to Firestone Walker, a brewery who makes some of my husband’s favorite craft beers. I was looking forward to seeing how easy or difficult it would be to eat vegan in Paso Robles.
We drove up on Saturday and arrived in the afternoon, just in time to check in at The Oaks Hotel, where we were staying, and make it to J Lohr for a tasting before they closed. After picking out a few of our favorite wines, we made our way back to the hotel for a tasting with Kiami Wines and then a dip in the jacuzzi.
Afterward, we found a local restaurant, Red Brick Pizza, place to grab dinner. Having researched some restaurants on yelp ahead of time, I was under the impression that Paso Robles was not a very vegan-friendly town. So I was very surprised when I ordered a pizza with no cheese and the guy behind the counter mention that they had a nondairy cheese available! My pizza had tomatoes, artichoke hearts, black olives, red onion and red bell peppers and was absolutely fantastic!
The next morning, we decided to see what the hotel was offering for breakfast. I has happy to find soy milk available, which I put on top of my frosted flakes (because I seriously never have sweet cereal and this was a vacation!). They offered oatmeal but for some reason decided to put dairy in it so I skipped that and opted for some fresh fruit. My most exciting discovery was the peanut butter, which I spread on a whole wheat english muffin with some banana slices.
After breakfast, we drove a mile down the road to Firestone Walker to take a tour of the facilities, which were very impressive! My husband, who has been learning to brew beer next door with our neighbor, was excited to get a behind the scenes look and I was excited to try a few samples of the different beers they have to offer.
After the tour, we stopped in their restaurant for a bite. The menu was not very vegan friendly – every single one of there 4-5 salads had either meat or cheese or both! This is one of the things I find most annoying in restaurants – not even salads are vegan by default! I could have ordered one anyway and left off the non-vegan ingredients but instead, we decided to order a trio of fries and save our appetites for dinner later on.
Next, we travelled a little further down the 101 to a winery that our neighbors recommended, Castoro Cellars. This vineyard is so magical, with relaxing atmosphere and gorgeous scenery!
There was a Harvest Festival going on in Paso Robles all weekend, which we hadn’t even known about when planning the trip. When we arrived at this winery, there was a bunch of festivities going on including live music, an opportunity to taste the different grape varietals, barrel tasting and grape stomping!
During our wine tasting, we got to chat with one of the guys who helped start the winery 31 years before. He explained how the vineyard was named Whale Bone because that’s what they found when they broke ground – whalebones and other marine mammal fossils! He even let us check some out, as seen in the picture below.
In addition to the wonderful surroundings, people and tasty wine, another thing I loved about this winery is that they are SIP certified which means sustainability in practice. Also, many of their grapes are grown organically.
After our tasting and purchasing a couple bottles to bring home, we sat outside for a while overlooking the rolling vineyards before making our way back to the hotel. We ended up ordering food from the hotel restaurant for dinner and I was so hungry I forgot to even take a picture! Though there were limited vegan options on the menu, I made due with tempura mushrooms(yum!) and a green salad (hold the cheese).
The next morning we got an early start so we could make our way home at a decent time. We stopped in San Luis Obispo to check out a vegan restaurant, Bliss Cafe, which I found on yelp. It was so nice to walk into a restaurant and know that everything on the menu was vegan! It was a hard decision with so many delicious sounding options, but I decided on the Baja Chipotle Tacos and a green juice. My husband ordered the breakfast burrito which was also delicious.
After lunch, we made our way home before traffic hit too bad in LA. Though I do love to travel and experience new places, I always miss my cats and just relaxing at home on my days off work so it was nice to get home. Overall, we had a wonderful trip to Paso Robles wine country and we look forward to returning in the near future.
Have you been to Paso Robles? What are you favorite wineries and restaurants to visit? I’ve love your feedback because we will for sure be going back again. Please let me know in the comments!