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Paso Robles, CA

Photograph courtesy flickr/jimg944

Not every wine region can be like Napa. Or should be. Half the distance from L.A. and a lot smaller, Paso Robles has retained its 19th-century agrarian roots despite its booming popularity. Within view of an acorn-shaped copper clock tower, the oak-shaded park in the middle of town is a good starting point. You’ll find intimate restaurants like Il Cortile, where the zucchini blossoms it serves are grown up the road, as well as Vivant Fine Cheese, where you can pair the wares with wine on a sun-drenched patio. Next door is the Hotel Cheval, its 16 earth-toned rooms sporting an understated luxury. Sunday morning, join the brunch queue at Thomas Hill Organics, opened by farmers Joe and Debbie Thomas as a way to use up their leftover pomegranates and pluots. Then it’s off into the Santa Lucia Mountains to swirl and sip in the tasting rooms of the new Shale Oak Winery and Daou Vineyards as well as the venerable Justin and Adelaida.

 
 

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