Two things we love about California's central coast are the wineries and the beaches. We managed to spend some time at both. Our first stop was Lodi.
Lodi is known for their red wines, especially their old vine zinfandels. Old zinfandel vines are prized for several reasons. The twisted, gnarled plants produce naturally low yields of grapes that are concentrated, intense and flavorful. The old vines are also more integrated with their surroundings and exhibit a consistent behavior which results in better wine.
Many of the vines in Lodi are over 140 years old, the one below is 118 years old. Although it's no longer producing grapes, we saw others that were close to this size. There is no regulation regarding what zinfandel may be labeled old vine, so we find that it's best to visit wineries where we can speak to the experts and so far we haven't been disappointed.
From Lodi we proceeded to Paso Robles, another highly regarded wine area. There are more than 200 wineries, most of which are family owned and operated businesses, as well as more than 32,000 acres of vineyards. The area around Paso has varying micro-climates and topography which result in some very interesting wines and blends. Too many wineries to visit them all, but we're working on it.
We made a return visit to Calcareous Vineyard which has a beautiful facility, friendly people, good wine and fabulous views.
We stayed in Atascadero,which is about 10 miles south of Paso Robles. From there it was only about 18 miles to the coast. Our first stop was at our very favorite dog beach between Morro Bay and Cayucos. It has a great view of Morro Rock.
The beach is an off-leash area and Tilly was delighted to be back. Lots of fun running (slowly) on the beach, dipping in the ocean, and trying to keep up with the other dogs.
We saw lots of very strange but beautiful jellyfish that we hadn't seen before. We weren't sure if they were the stinging kind so we didn't pick them up, and Tilly seemed to know enough to stay away from them.
We always love spending time in this area- wineries and beaches are a pretty good combination.
Our routes... Carmichael to Lodi, 40 miles, Lodi to Atascadero, 240 miles.
The beach loop from Atascadero, including a stop in Cambria for incredible tri-tip sandwiches, 64 miles