Tag Archives: Paso Robles

Paso Robles: Top Wine Country Travel Destination

One of the older established online travel sites, Orbitz, has a list of places their editors say are the top destinations. This year, they have 17 different regions to visit and only one is in a wine country vicinity: Paso Robles. In fact Orbitz listed Paso as the number four most exciting and amazing places to travel to … in the world.

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Yes, the sleepy little town I fell in love with decades earlier is now a wine enthusiast’s nirvana. Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Paso’s small town feel has largely been kept intact. Nestled in the eastern hillsides of California’s Coastal Range, this Central Coast diamond has become a highly sought after travel destination. Orbitz states the over 400 wineries now spread all over the northern reaches of San Luis Obispo County:

“Produce some damn fine varietals”

From it’s many tasting rooms to Victorian style buildings to “a perfectly walkable downtown”, there’s certainly plenty to enjoy in this remarkable vacation destination. Rolling hills may obscure the many wineries, but being in close proximity to town yet offering a faraway feeling, are some of the many reasons to visit Paso Robles, according to Orbitz’s expertise.

Hotels range from luxury accommodations to the more typical arrangements. Also, foodies shouldn’t be alarmed because this town has more than its fair share of great restaurants. So the next time you’re looking for that unique cozy charm of a small town, yet the extra amenities of a larger city, Paso Robles should be number one on your list of amazing places to travel.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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California Needs Drag Strips: The Answer? Central Coast

The fact that Paso Robles has become a destination resort location with wine at its focal point, doesn’t mean it should rest on its laurels. The Golden State is where drag racing was born, yet there are very few drag strips left. You can count on one hand how many quarter-mile tracks are left in Southern and Central California. Famoso, near Bakersfelid is the loan representative in the Central part the of the state. The region could use another drag strip and Paso Robles could use another reason to come attract new and unique visitors. The answer?

The Nest

In a state where drag racing was born due in part to dry lakes racing and the regions fervent support and love of the automobile, there seemed to be a quarter-mile drag strip in every corner of California.  Starting with the innocuous Goleta, there may have been nearly 100 drag strip facilities dotted throughout the state from Fremont to Fontana and Saugus to Santa Ana (pictured).Santa-Ana-drags

Population up, drag racing down

However, with the onslaught of population and the crush of urban development – along with noise activists – tracks disappeared.  Everywhere you looked, there were abandoned strips that sometimes sat vacant for decades afterwards.  Famed tracks like Orange County eventually became a plot of commercial highrises while Irwindale turned into a brewery and Lions, well, sadly it’s just a storage yard.

In a century of growth, the greater Los Angeles area in Southern California went from roughly 200,000…

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Trading Day In Paso Robles

As we head into June and the summer months, the arts and craft shows at the Downtown Park in Paso Robles are heating up. Check it out.

Trading Day - Paso Robles

UPDATED

This is a quick note that Saturday, June 20th will mark the first weekend of summer as well as Trading Day at the Park in Downtown Paso Robles. What’s even more important …

Trading Day In Paso Robles.

Recycled Treasures – Take Two

At this time last year was a humbling experience with the loss of a dear friend, which caused us to bow out of what would have been our first show. However, this year, we will actually be at the first big arts and craft show at the Downtown Park in Paso Robles. Officially it is called, get ready: 8th Annual Vintage Sidecar Rendezvous, Recycled Treasures, Antique Motorcycles & British Vintage Car Club. Yes, that’s a mouthful. It’s on Saturday, April 25th between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.

We just call it Recycled Treasures and essentially it is an arts and craft show with classic motorcycles and cars (pre-1950s). Geared as a family event, there will be vendor booths throughout the historic park. The event is produced by the Main Street Association and their information booth will be at the park water fountain on 12th Street where Park Street ends.

The spring setting is idyllic and the show offers an array of wares including furniture, memorabilia, arts and crafts … and of course wine barrels. Yes, we will be there on the corner of 12th Street and Spring, offering Decorative whole and half barrels as well as used barrels including our popular half barrel planters – ideal for this time of year. We will also have individual staves available at a ridiculously low special show price.

This kicks off the arts and craft season for Paso Robles as well as for us at Paso Wine Barrels. The temps will be mild with a high of about 70, which is perfect for strolling through the Park Downtown. Wine country is bristling with activity this time of year with all the wineries blooming with refreshed vineyards. And remember, there are many tasting rooms surrounding the event.

So no excuses, come on out and don’t forget to visit us at our booth.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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PS: What a great event. We missed last years but this year, even with a somewhat blustery wind and on-and-off sprinkles all day, we had a terrific day and took several orders to boot. These events are a great way to view what we have. Hope to see more folks next time out.

Cuesta Grade – North South Divide

Anyone who lives in California finds out fairly quickly that there’s a north and a south – and the two regions are different in many ways. The primary reasons for the differences has to do with weather, cultural and geography. The latter is significant, what with mountain and deserts along with a large valley making the divide muddled at best. Geographically speaking, the southern part of the state is drawn by 35° 47′ 28″ north latitude. However, this isn’t necessarily how it works in reality.

Central California is used to designate areas in the middle of the state to differentiate between the two giants to the north and south – the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles. However, it’s generally regarded that the state is of two parts: north and south. Here on the Central Coast, the line is partly drawn through the center of San Luis Obispo County with the Cuesta Grade. First used as part of the El Camino Real (The King’s Highway) to connect all the Spanish missions, it is a sliver of a crevice that was used by the railroads and eventually became an opening for a major north south highway (101).

Dividing line

This seemingly arbitrary ridge – part of the Santa Lucia Range – is the physical dividing line between what is called the ‘North County’ and the southern portion of San Luis Obispo County. It also could be a cultural divide as well.

The southern part of the county tends to be from a laid back typical California attitude that includes mild weather and beaches – not unlike SoCal. North is a different way of life. Much of this land north of the Cuesta Grade is wine country and the deep diurnals with definitive seasons are some of the differences that break these two regions up.

SanFranciscoGiants-trophy_tour-Paso

And sports. Boy, did I learn quickly. When I first moved here from 250 miles away in SoCal, I soon learned that this was San Francisco country, and to some extent, a Bay Area sports enclave, especially in Paso Robles. I knew that the schools in the locale mostly played Southern California programs in sports – I played a football game some 40 years ago at War Memorial Stadium here in Paso. However, that’s where the commonality ends.  I even contacted the local sports guy on TV – you can do that here – and he said what I had noticed: the Cuesta Grade divided the region.

North to San Francisco

Walk into a barbershop, real estate office or even a grocery store in Paso Robles and there are San Francisco Giants’ pennants, signs et all wherever you look. As a lifelong and true-blue Dodger fan, this made me a little ill. And they’ve been making championship trophy tour appearances around here of late … well, ugh is all I can say. No matter, it is a way of life and tells you a lot about the mentality of the region.

The El Camino Real is a trail that connected the Spanish missions in California. The site pictured is on the Cuesta Grade dividing Northern and Southern California.

The wine culture is big in Paso and although the area thinks of itself as much different than Napa, there’s no denying the similarity in the influence of vino in the North County. And politically there’s a variance as well. The city of San Luis Obispo has a long-standing tilt to the left, while North County is a bastion of conservatives.

The Cuesta Grade pass maybe only 1,500 feet in elevation, but it might as well be the Himalayas. The grade divides the state on the Central Coast and the county as a whole is united when it comes to helping out each other, such as commerce, tourism platforms and the same local television station. Still, much is divergent in regards to the culture of the Central Coast as the Cuesta Grade indeed divides the Golden State into the a north and south.

Additional sources: El Camino Real & The Route of the Daylight

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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http://pasowinebarrels.com/

Water Update: The Good And Not-So-Good

The three-year drought that has ravaged California and locally on the Central Coast, not only has the lack of water affected normal life, but also the politics have torn apart this otherwise quiet part of the Golden State. There are recent changes.

Legal rights restored … for now

First off, the good news is that property rights have been somewhat restored to landowners here in San Luis Obispo County. This week, the County Board of Supervisors has voted to let the temporary ordinance expire in August. The controversial law had banned property owners from drilling for their own water without an offset. This forced wineries to discontinue planting additional grapes. It also didn’t allow landowners to drill deeper when their wells went dry. Before this, they held the legal right to drill for water. Water rights restored is a start.

Nonetheless, the county is still moving headlong into forming a water basin district in the Paso Robles area. Last week, the same supervisors decided to continue proceeding with plans of creating a water district to control use of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, which is one of the largest natural aquifers in the country. In concert with the State Water Resources Control Board, the district is set to be formed by the summer of 2017 – this new groundwater agency will impose requirements that likely will control water usage not unlike the temporary ordinance that will expire in six months.

Rain & conservation

With that said, the California drought is still bad and although fall offered hope with more than normal rains, winter hasn’t been so cooperative. Yet, currently there is a storm heading our way this weekend and should dump a decent amount of showers over the region.

The Governor, Jerry Brown, recently announced that Californians were reducing their use of water as per a report card of sorts (source: Capital Press). The State Water Resources Control Board had instituted water restrictions last year and although Brown wanted to see more cuts than actually occurred, the state is now taking more actions to manage the water situation. In short, this doesn’t look good for farmers, jobs or Californians in general – go here for more.

The drought isn’t as bad as its been during the past three years; and, a forecast for a wet second half of winter is certainly being looked on with bated breath.

So the news is mixed. Law will finally be restored for property rights even if the water district will likely take that all away in the future. The rain totals so far aren’t earth-shattering, however, rains in February are usually the heaviest of the entire year and March can also be quite wet … we can only hope so as the wet stuff is still foremost on everyone’s mind in wine country.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Gang-Related Shooting A Cold Reminder

I don’t want to alarm anyone and the fact remains that Paso Robles – for the most part – is somewhat isolated by what goes on in the big cities a couple hundred miles away. However, the truth is, we do have crime on the Central Coast. And in case folks think we’re just a sleepy little town, we had a gang-related shooting. Yes, even in the cold of winter, the idyllic town of Paso in wine country has a little nastiness of big city life pop up here on an occasion.

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I’m one of the first to expound on living in bucolic Paso Robles as just about life in paradise. Having lived a majority of my life in the Los Angeles area, I know of what I speak. On one hand, it’s not naive to think we can have a quiet life in charming Paso Robles. Heck, you can go almost anywhere in San Luis Obispo County and find the finer pleasures of a great and relatively calm lifestyle. Yet, it’s inconceivable to believe crime doesn’t live amongst the rolling countryside of North County.

Monsters to the north and south

We like to mention often how we sit in a much less populated region between two giant metropolises: Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, that’s part of the problem. Less than four hours south lies roughly 20 million people in the Greater L.A. area and just over three hours north is the Bay Area and nearly 10 million congregate there. Obviously, there will be some influence even though we have large expanses between these two behemoths.

With urban monsters like these comes crime and gangs, which is part-and-parcel to what could be happening here on the Central Coast. The Golden State has a natural rivalry between Southern and Northern California. In sports, there’s nothing as big as the antagonistic battle between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. Nevertheless, a lesser known but more violent rivalry is between gangs from these two regions. This isn’t Westside Story.

West Side Story

In the south, Southerners or Surenos, have a stronghold in Los Angeles and actually can now be found throughout the nation. They are essentially tied to the Mexico mob and the mafioso-type organizations there. Still, when they try to move north though, they run into the Northerners or Nortenos. Yeah, I know, not very original.

The Nortenos are based in more rural towns and otherwise were formed in the Salinas area (some say Folsom, near Sacramento) but are spread out through the northern half of the state and into the Pacific Northwest. The two gangs are run from the prisons of California and have a deep-seated hatred for the other.

Who controls what?

The dividing line for these gangs has been noted as Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley, but since the coastal area of Central California (i.e. San Luis Obispo County) is sparsely populated, the lines blur and are potentially an area of concern though the North County is considered Surenos influenced. Note Monterey County is controlled by Northerners and the two counties butt-up just 10 miles away from Paso Robles.

Having said all this, the crime reports here in Paso Robles can be laughable. There are certain days that go by with basically no crimes reported. Yet, that wasn’t the case on a cool early Tuesday morning that otherwise was a quiet and very nice part of southeastern Paso Robles. Gunfire erupted on Sycamore Canyon Road (source: KSBY).

The police say it’s gang-related and while there were multiple shots fired by the assailant, luckily no one was shot – there were some cars damaged. It’s not known if this is a turf war or not, so my elongated description above may or may not be applicable. Still, gangs are a problem and this instance reminds us that we as a city need to be attentive to any perceived escalation.

Chivas

Gangs such as Chivas are common in the Greater L.A. region.

Denial? 

I remember reading an article a few years back and it noted how a solid majority of Paso Robles officials felt there wasn’t a gang problem in the town. That was shortly after a drive-by shooting that summer with county sheriffs talking about dramatic increases overall in crime. During that same period, a huge brawl in a bar in San Miguel – a small town just north of Paso – was caused by drugs and gangs. Purportedly law enforcement is in control and the city does an excellent job of fighting graffiti, while keeping distance between the gangs and the citizenry. Ah, but let’s face it, this isn’t L.A.

I owned a classic car restoration business in Norwalk and for a time, the city was known as having more gangs members per capita than anywhere else in the country. The gangs around our shop were rivals with the notorious Chivas’ who were always a worry. It was a war zone. Don’t believe me? Look it up – here’s just one of many stories written about the infamous area (L.A. Times). From personal experience, during the middle of a work week, I heard a big bang and went out to the edge of the street to see what was going on. I guess God had something else in mind because a bullet whizzed by head, just missing me. That’s life in the big city. That’s not Paso Robles.

Paso Robles AVA

Regardless, Paso is a fast-growing town and likely will become the largest in the county within the next couple decades. With growth comes growing pains and certainly gangs will be sniffing around with shootings like the one yesterday popping up every once in awhile. This will continue to remind us we must be vigilant.

Okay, that’s it. No more to see here. Don’t want to be a Debbie Downer – just living life realistically with my eyes wide open. Now back to your regularly scheduled glass of wine, as most of us wait for winter to be done with.

Additional sources: Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern CaliforniaThe Detective’s Guide: California Prisons, Prison Gangs, and Parolees

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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