When we were driving to Cambria last summer, we passed through the vineyards of the Paso Robles wine region. Now we like wine, but stopping was pretty much out of the question because even though it was 65-70 degrees in Cambria that week, it was 100+ over the hill Paso — and with Penny in the car, that was obviously a non-starter.
Of course, in winter, it’s a completely different scenario. Temps in both Cambria and Paso Robles were working to break 60 last week, so it was easy to imagine partaking in couple of tastings while Penny relaxed in the car (and by relax I mean stare out the window for us until we return). And in some places, she might not even have to stay IN the car because there are even several dog-friendly wineries in the region.
The drive over the hills separating the two areas (along CA-46) was beautiful and provided some gorgeous views of both green hillsides (that were decidedly brown in August) and back to the ocean and Morro Bay in the distance.
We’d thought we might do several tastings, but the first place we stopped (Opolo) was so inviting and treated us so well that we were there for almost 90 minutes. After that, we took a drive up to the hilltop winery, Calcareous. We chose that one because friends had gone there and said it was dog-friendly, so the Beloved and I enjoyed their wines, but we all got to have a walk around the grounds and see the stunning vistas from their grounds.
After grabbing lunch, we decided to switch gears and head up “the 101” to the Mission San Miguel Arcangel. We both really love visiting the Missions of California. Growing up on the East Coast, they were barely mentioned in my education, but this string of 21 outpost churches created the foundation of European settlement along the West Coast.
I’d never heard of the Mission San Miguel Arcangel in particular, so I had zero expectations. Unlike some Missions which are now more historical sites, San Miguel is still an active parish and portions of the grounds are off-limits because the Church uses the it as a training site for Franciscan novitiates.
The grounds are simple, but clean and pretty, with a long and distinctive arcade (with different sized arches). But I think what’s probably most impressive about the Mission is that the chapel and its artwork are all originals from the colonial period (because of that, it’s now a National Historic Site) — most Missions have been refurbished/repainted at various points, several had fallen into ruin in the post-colonial period.
All the Missions I’ve visited are different — some simple, some grand — but this one was a real unexpected treat.
Well worth sacrificing the chance for a couple glasses of wine the next time you’re in the area.