SLO wine country on the move


La Bodega, a tapas restaurant in Pismo Beach, had a line out the door the evening we visited. After finishing several savory small plate dishes, paired with a Qupe Syrah, we understood the line. I called the small plates “SLO Tapas” because (1) they were quite generous and (2) they relied on local meat purveyors, creameries, wineries, bakeries and farms. We shared the empanadas de chorizo, grilled octopus, short ribs, a winter salad and finished with the pumpkin brulee tart. The Navigator had just two words, “Oh my.” I had three, “We will return.” On the drive back to the condo the Navigator said I should mention La Bodega in Wine Line. I agreed. In one word, “Go.”

Wine Walking in Arroyo Grande

The quaint village of Arroyo Grande has a main street of cafes, bakeries and boutiques. They now have a short wine walk with four tasting sites, all on West Branch Road. Timbre Winery occupies an old bungalow and specializes in chardonnay and pinot noir sourced from the Edna Valley AVA. Practically next door is Phantom Rivers which refers to the streams of misty fog that roll in each night. Their red blends have received many gold medals. A three-minute stroll will lead you to Verdad and Qupe Wineries. The owners and winemakers are Louisa and Bob Lindquist. Louisa produces excellent Spanish varietals and was one of the first to release albarino. Bob shares the tasting room and pours wines from the iconic Qupe Winery of Santa Maria. He is well known for being a pioneer of cold weather syrahs. The winery is named “Qupe” in honor of the Chumash, the indigenous people of the Central Coast. If you get hungry while walking, try the Mason Bar and Grill and order lobster corn dogs. They were so good, we fought over the last one.

Edna Valley Vineyards and Croma Vera Winery

In 2011, Gallo purchased Edna Valley Winery. They did an amazing makeover of the tasting room with floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the lush grape vines of Islay Hill. We opted for their “Perfect Pairing” tasting experience and afterward had a picnic on their beautiful patio. A visit here is mandatory. Our last stop was the new Croma Vera tasting room on Broad Street in San Luis Obispo. Producing Spanish varieties with high quality grapes and minimal intervention allows each vineyard to express its true self. I’m not sure why the SLO Wine Region is so under appreciated. They have more than 30 wineries, all within five miles of the Pacific Ocean, super restaurants and wonderful people. Again, all I can say is, “Go.” Cheers!

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