Beyond the grape, there is a new flavor emerging in Paso Robles. Although, great wineries still dominate tourism conversation in this central coast valley town. New tasting rooms and famous name vineyards continue to draw visitors from all over the world. As the country roads fill with wine tourists there is an extra added attraction beyond many other wine country destinations.
This surprisingly sophisticated little town has a notable food and shopping scene.
The same laid back streets of Paso Robles that gained notice for restaurants a few years ago are now bringing another "A" game in strong shopping vibe. Casual, friendly and pristine storefronts gleam with upscale offerings from top name designers, handmade jewelry and unique accessories. Camilla Burns of Bijou on the Park says "a good number of these stores are owned by women."
Olive oil is building a following and local olive tree orchards are a visible landscape addition to the rows of vines. The Pasolivo Store offers any wine loving foodie artisan olive oils, basil infused olive oil, gorgeous olive wood bowls, linens and cooking accessories. The design of this store is like an enviable custom kitchen with honed stone counters and open shelves filled with sculptural wood bowls.
On the next corner, is the amazing Brown Butter Cookie Company. Put diets aside, just head to the counter and taste the magic here.The business is owned by two sisters, Christa and Traci Hozie, who run the company and honestly make the most addictive shortbread butter cookies on the planet. They offer several flavors of sweet, salty, buttery mounds that explode with dense goodness when you bite into one. I send the packages of these cookies directly from the store to family and friends as gifts. Because.. I can't be trusted to travel alone in a car with these.
Scattered throughout town are abundant tasting rooms; Cypher, Asuncion Ridge, Justin and many others. I happened to come across a brand new space and was struck by this gorgeous design anchored by a stunning wood table and corrugated steel bar. Copia Winery owners and winemakers, Varindar Sahi and Anita Kothari, were just opening this warm intimate space on Pine Street in time for The Paso Robles Wine Festival. Indeed, they will be pouring this weekend.
At the center of town is a broad park. This green rectangle has old growth shade trees to cool off sunny events, like this weekend's annual Paso Robles Wine Festival There is a charming old library converted into the Paso Robles Historical Society and it is surrounded by modern play areas and sweeping lawns perfect for picnic tables and frisbees.
Cafes and storefronts surround the park and overall create a laid back vibe that evokes the same lifestyle reminiscent of places like Jackson Hole, Healdsburg or Telluride.
A number of Paso Robles shops have mastered western poshness. The fusion of this curated ranch style makes any wine getaway more interesting and calls for
serious strolling time around lunch and dinner.
At Ambiance, the perfect metaphor for this retail scene is the display of a hand painted vintage Louis Vuitton cross body bag featuring an iconic steer skull wearing a crown of flowers. The store features brands like Caleen, Hammit, Free People and Vince.
There are more boutiques and gallery shops scattered throughout the downtown with notable offerings like Sugar, AndBe, Kaya and others in blocks around the park.
Waiting for the wine festival to begin? Get into the side streets of Paso Robles and explore a town worth discovering. These clickable images open links to the stores, wine and festival information.