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California Week: Paso Robles

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This week, Living‘s executive editor (and resident travel expert), Yolanda Edwards, is hosting California Week on her blog, Travels With Clara. Check back here every day for Yolanda’s favorite spots along the California coast, and head over to her blog for even more photos.

Paso Robles is inland from Cayucos about 35-40 minutes, through some of the prettiest landscape ever…windy roads through golden hills, dense cypress trees, vineyards…Before we got to the actual town of Paso Robles, we met up with our friend Joeli who owns the General Store in Paso (they abbreviate it), who wanted us to meet her friends Alex and Monica who own the Villicana Winery and Re:Find Distillery. They started making wines in this area back when there were only 17 vineyards, and now there are over 300 (and that’s just in the last 15 years). Their wines are amazing, as are the vodka and gin they are producing. They are the nicest people, so if you’re driving up or down the 101, it is worth making a quick detour to come to their tasting room.

While we were super pressed for time in Paso Robles, we do know the one place you have to go, the General Store. Besides it having the best edit of everything from cookbooks to food to kitchen pantry items to beauty products, it’s just a community hub. Joeli and her partners that own it are not just the nicest people, they are also the most enthusiastic. I told her she should go into real estate, and then also be in job placement, because she certainly made me want to move there. Since we didn’t have the time to do anything but stop in her store, and the neighboring store called Firefly that is run by a mother and daughter, my only suggestion for this area is that you 1. need to stop here–it’s 5 minutes off the highway 101, and 2. ask Joeli where to eat, where to stay, what to do.  If you’re in a hurry like we were, you can call ahead and have them prep a picnic for you, which you can just bring along on the road. It’s certainly going to have some local products that are made with love, by some great artisan with a fantastic back story–that I can guarantee.

The best pickles we have ever had. Seriously.

Below is from the store Firefly, which is just two doors down from the General Store.

Yolanda Edwards is the executive editor of Martha Stewart Living and loves a road trip to anywhere. She is the author of Travels With Clara and a cofounder of Momfilter.

Comments (8)

  • Paso Robles is a little piece of heaven that we have enjoyed living in for 4 years now. Too bad you couldn’t have stayed longer to enjoy the incredible restaurants here. You would have loved Artisan (right next door to The General Store) and there are themed festival in the park almost every Saturday celebrating everything from olives to sidecars. C’mon back when you’re ready to SLO down! (San Luis Obispo county)

  • Love The General Store & the Vilacanas! Joeli, Julian & Erin (Owners of The General Store) have the BEST taste ever. It is an absolute Must to visit. And Monica & Alex Vilacana make the BEST wine & hooch! Thank you for writing about them. Martha should visit them the next time she is in California!

  • I’m drinking some Villacana wine as we speak! We had Villacana wine at our rehearsal dinner and make sure to stop by to say hi to to Monica and Alex (and Buddy the dog!) whenever we’re in Paso! We always look forward to a wine shipment from them. When you stop by, tell them I sent you! Also, check out their website for a schedule of their Burger Sundays … yum x2!

  • SLO County in general is wonderful and Paso has seen a great metamorphosis in the past decade. Another local treat you *MUST* try are the delectable treats being whipped up by Bombshell Brownie Co. out of Cambria. They just started earlier this year but are quickly becoming a favorite of locals and visitors alike. They utilize many local ingredients and have unique and amazing flavors. You will not be disappointed. They even have a variety of gluten-free options and ship orders around the country for a taste of the Central Coast no matter where you call home. (And no, I am not the owner or an employee – just a really satisfied brownie fan who loves supporting our local small businesses!)

  • We’ve been going to Villacana for over a decade and are proud members. Alex and Monica are the best. You must visit if you love great wine, great people and want to have a great time!!

    Jolyn Henson

  • Villicana,s Winery, has and is a favorite of ours..
    when the idea to become wine makers hit Alex Jr.s
    idea of what he wanted to do, his parents reconstructed their entire back acreage to plant
    vines from the first seed to the huge sloping grounds
    and watch each grow to its fullest! Thus, the wines
    villicana was born.. One of the first fans was
    Robert Balzer ie:spell? who was a whos who in the
    world of wines.. nothing stopped the progress made
    with Alex and Monica at the helm.. Today Villicana
    winery I a must visit place in Paso, taking home the
    intimate, family oriented, one of the best, winery,s
    anywhere, whether here or everywhere…
    Hats off to those who are lucky enough to find it….
    Francine L.Maroney
    long time friend and admirer of the entire family,
    one of the best I have the privilege of knowing..

  • We absolutely LOVE Villacana. Their limoncello is devine.

  • I have lived in Paso Robles for 30 years and have watched it grow by leaps and bounds. Check out the Pasolivo Olive Farm. Tours are offered in the art of olive oil making and they have a great tasting room.
    This little country town gets better and better!!

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