LVK to PRB: Getaway to ‘The Pass of the Oaks’ [The Flying Gourmet]

Jim Jellison - The Flying Gourmet

Paso Robles, CAEl Paso de Robles, CA

A good friend of mine has a son who is a vintner, wow; I wish I had a relative in the wine business!
I actually knew the son before I met and became friends with his parents. He was the vintner at a local Livermore winery before they were bought out by a large corporation and began making bulk wine. So, the vintner moved to a small winery in the Paso Robles area and began making wine in a smaller boutique fashion, which better utilizes his talent. The vintner, Tom, is our personal connection to the Paso area.

Paso is about 200 miles by car and about 130 miles direct route by aircraft. The way I flew it, it was about 140 miles and about 1 hour 20 minutes flight time. The direct route from Livermore would take me over some pretty rough terrain and if that single engine should give up, the ghost the chances of walking away from a force landing would not be in my favor. There is an old saying “there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” Well, let’s just say that I’m old and leave it at that!

El Paso de Robles, what is the English translation? The pass of the oaks! At one time there were plenty of oak trees in the area, hence the name, many of which have been replaced by vineyards and almond orchards. I thought we had a lot of wineries in the Livermore Valley, Paso has over three hundred!

There are plenty of places to stay and plenty of places to eat in Paso and lots to see and do. I’m an airplane buff, so naturally, I stopped at the Estrella Warbirds Museum. It isn’t just aircraft, but armament and automotive are on display too. In fact, I found the auto display just as interesting as the aircraft on display.

Well, we stayed at the Paso Robles Inn, which was very nice and rooms are available with a spa. A word of warning, the hot springs water contains hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. One sniff and both my wife and I lost interest in climbing into the spa.

The Inn is located on Spring Street and just a block or two to the east is the center of town with wine tasting and restaurants galore. So, if you stay at the Inn you can park your car and walk to all the downtown locations, I found this handy since I had more than my share of the taste of wine!

Buona Tavola on UrbanspoonWe had eaten in several restaurants and none of them were less than four stars in my book. One that seemed to be exceptional was the Buna Tavola. It is just a little place in a very narrow, long building, but the Italian food and service was out of this world. As luck would have it, the restaurant is located just a block down Spring Street from the Inn.

If you need a weekend away to refresh, I highly recommend the Paso Robles area.

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