Did you ever hear about the picnic without beverages? It was soda pressing. Paso Robles has plenty of inspiring places to host the ultimate wine country picnic.
Celebrated throughout history, art, film, television and literature picnicking is depicted over and over again as a favorite pastime for families, sweethearts and travelers. There is nothing that depicts an iconic American summer more than a picnic out in the country. With the sun shining brightly, gather your friends or family and a basket full of delights to recreate this favorite pastime for yourself. It’s not hard and it will no doubt leave a lasting memory for all those that join!
There are a few different ways to have a picnic and it can range from very simple to an elaborate array of detail. I suppose the beauty in it, is that no matter what you choose to do on a picnic, its usually unforgettable (hopefully in a good way). One of my favorite films, The Hundred Foot Journey has a charming scene where two young aspiring chefs meet on the banks of a river in France. One chef is French and the other is Indian. Both are passionate about their cooking, flirting and very talented. In this scene, the young Indian Chef, Hassan Kadem is trying to impress the female French Chef and prepares the five sauces of French cuisine. It’s really very charming. Do people do such a thing in real life? I know, I would immediately fall in love with anyone who went through so much trouble for me!
Paso Robles Wine Country in many ways, reminds me of the French countryside. With the rolling hills and endless miles of vineyards, there are countless places to enjoy a picnic near and deep into the region’s wine country. As you read through, you will discover some of my favorite places and wineries in Paso Robles, where you can enjoy a picnic – simple or impress your friends with the extraordinary.
Places to Pick Up the Picnic Provisions
If you are not a celebrity-inspired chef or don’t have the time to prepare your picnic fare at home, you will need to find a great place to pick out some goodies. You can go simple and stop in at the local grocery store and get deli sandwiches and potato salad, or you can try one of these adorable markets. Lucky for you, there’s plenty of options in Paso Robles in town or out at the wineries as some with some pre-planning can provide you everything you need for hosting the ultimate wine country picnic.
1. The Red Scooter Deli has an array of delicious sandwiches and more. It’s an above average deli where you can get take out or enjoy eating on site. Everything is great at the Red Scooter and its well loved by locals and visitors alike. Added bonus - they can deliver right to your picnic site. https://redscooterdeli.com/
2. The General Store is one of my favorite markets in all of California. I am sure that you will find any and everything that you need here. The set up is adorable and everyone is incredibly helpful. I am a regular at the General Store because they always have something new and original that I have never seen before. You can find all the right condiments, salamis, cheeses and gadgets to make your picnic pop. http://www.generalstorepr.com/
3. Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar - Thomas Hill is actually a fully organic farm-to-table restaurant. Everything is made by local purveyors and incredibly delicious. I only mention this place as a couple of my male friends have ordered take out from Thomas Hill with great success. In fact, it may have been the delightful selections that drove their fiancés to say yes, while picnicking in Paso Robles. It’s a little pricy, but totally worth it! http://www.thomashillorganics.com/
4. Di Raimondo’s Italian Market - For such a small shop they have a fairly wide array of common and unusual cheeses, to include blues, cows and goat. My favorites are the salt bread, pepperoni sticks, and double Brie cheeses. Everyone who works at Di Raimondo’s is very friendly and helpful. The prices are pretty reasonable and much better than if you went somewhere else. Just a short walk from the Paso Robles Inn, it’s easy to find. They don’t have a website but the telephone number is (805) 238-1268.
5. Brown Butter Cookie Company – Because every picnic needs a sweet ending. Brown Butter Cookies are the latest and greatest in the cookie craze. I regularly have the Brown Butter Original and Brown Butter Cocoa Cookies sent to friends and myself. There is also a limited edition Bourbon cookie that is killer! I don’t know what their secret is, but there is nothing else like these cookies in the world. http://www.brownbuttercookies.com/
The list is long, as most wineries will allow outside food if you buy a bottle of wine. I am sharing my top ten favorite places, but there is much more to discover, so don’t be afraid to make some discoveries of your own.
Disclaimer: Always be sure to call the winery and confirm before assuming that they will allow outside food. Policies and local laws do change from time to time and I’d hate to have you bring in your own food, only to find that you will have to have a tailgate picnic (unless that was your intention).
10. Paso Robles Downtown Park is a great place to picnic if you want to be in the center of town and people watch. There is always a lot going on at the square. If you have ever been to the Sonoma square of Healdsburg, you will feel right at home at the Paso Robles Downtown Park. There is limited seating at tables and lots of grass to spread out a blanket or two. Alcohol is only allowed at the park with a permit. https://www.prcity.com/804/Downtown-City-Park
9. DAOU Vineyards is the place to go for the ultimate luxury in the picnic world. Designed for 2-4 guests, this elaborate food and wine experience hits every note. For $195 per person it's a steep price, but you don’t have to do a thing. Here, in private Adirondack chairs with panoramic above-the-clouds views, you will savor a picnic basket filled to the brim with local artisan cheeses, charcuterie, fresh fruit, salad and a French baguette—all paired with a refreshing bottle of DAOU wine. A DAOU educator will be at your beck and call, but you will otherwise enjoy an uninterrupted escape that is all your own.
8. Calcareous Vineyards is mentioned as the best place to picnic in every digital resource I saw. Having never been there, I was compelled to check it out. I can see why so many people love this place. Right outside the tasting room (otherwise known as Lloyd’s Lookout) there are a dozen or so umbrellas and tables for you to host your picnic. The surrounding landscape is grassy with a ring of trees to get a break from the typical hot weather Paso endures in the summer. The landscape is well manicured and makes for the picture-perfect picnic setting. The winery has food and wine experiences, but also allows outside food. It’s a bit isolated, but what’s great is that you can challenge your friends to a game of corn hole and a fire pit to make for the perfect center piece to gather around in the cooler fall season weather.
7. Still Waters Vineyards is one-of-a kind gem. From their exquisite gardens, the estate’s 100-year old olive grove, breathtaking vineyard views, and knowledgeable staff, Still Waters Vineyards will go above and beyond to ensure a perfect experience. A much-loved place to picnic by everyone, you can bring in your own food or purchase one of their made-to-order cheese plates to pair with your wine tasting or ad hoc picnic. Be careful, you just might fall in love or better yet, be inspired to write the next great American novel.
6. Halter Ranch is one of my favorite places to visit. Every time I go there, it’s hard to leave. When I finally do leave, thinking about Halter Ranch always puts a smile on my face. If I were a man and wanted to propose to my fiancé, I would probably pick this magical place to ‘pop the question.’ Maybe it’s the great wine and elevation, but I swear Halter Ranch has my heart. Probably the most romantic picnic spot, Halter Ranch has it all. They also have great picnic-like food onsite that you can enjoy indoors or outdoors on their patio that overlooks the stunning estate. On Sundays, they fire up the wood burning pizza oven, so grab a bottle of their estate Zinfandel and make it an elevated pizza party!
5. Opolo Vineyards is perched on the rolling hills of Paso Robles and is just one of the magical places you smile once you arrive. The views go on forever in every direction. It’s impossible to be anything but relaxed at this estate. It might be a stretch, but you could go to Opolo for the Pairings on the Patio and call it a picnic. After all, sitting on the deck, eating foods suitable for a wine country picnic, surrounded by voluptuous vineyards, with a bottle of Rosé and your sweetheart is a picnic, right? They also have a wood-burning pizza oven with fresh selections just about every day of the week. Now that I think about it more, the only thing missing here is a picnic basket, but heck, who’s to judge?! It doesn’t require a picnic basket to make it official, so enjoy to your heart’s delight. Because its an epic destination, Opolo Vineyards can get crowded and they don’t allow outside food or pets, but it’s amazing and worth keeping high on the list.
4. Adelaida Vineyards makes my heart sing. Almost feels like you’ve just arrived on an old western movie set- I should have arrived by horse, not by car! The tasting room sits within a Walnut Tree and invites you to sink into its open arms. With plenty of space to enjoy an outdoor picnic, you will have a delightful time in this ethereal space. The wide-open vineyard views make a nice back drop. Every now and then, I had to double check to make sure my back was clear from some notorious villain- got my six-shooter at my side just in case- just kidding! Adelaida Vineyards is simply stunning and speaks volumes of history and is a Paso wine country legacy. There is food available on site. If you prefer to bring in your own, you may need to tailgate.
3. Justin Vineyards has a great outdoor area where you can enjoy a picnic and really appreciate the natural beauty that is Paso Robles. If you have never been to Justin, it takes longer than you think to get there, so give yourself some extra driving time, but it’s so worth it. It’s a part of Paso Robles not many travelers venture off to, but will reward you with aces. After you enjoy your picnic, you can go inside and taste through an array of their fantastic, award-winning wines. There is so much to do at Justin that it almost feels like a mini-resort all to its own. It’s a gem of a destination that will do everything it can to make you feel right at home. You can even book a room at their estate bed & breakfast and make it your home for the weekend!
2. Tablas Creek Vineyard has a very pleasant shady patio where you can bring a picnic and forget time exists. Very popular by visitors and locals, getting a coveted spot on the deck is a prize that you can enjoy for hours. No matter how long you might have to wait, your experience at this historical vineyard will be worth it. Not only will you absorb some important history (just by being there), you will also have a great opportunity to drink some fabulous wine by a family that is dedicated to cultivating the best vineyards, sustainably, in Paso Robles that ultimately produce the best wines you’ve ever had. Watch out for the Alpacas and Guard Donkeys as they might just ask to see your ID!
1. Lone Madrone is a place I stumbled upon through a recommendation of a local friend. It’s nice when locals decide to share some of their favorite out of the way places just as I do with friends visiting Napa Valley. Often these places are just a touch more authentic and undiscovered. As I drove up the driveway, I wasn’t sure what to expect. By the time I walked outside to the picnic tables, I knew my friend had shared a very special place with me. It brought a big smile to my face and felt like home. Full of hustle and bustle, the cheerful chatter of mostly locals at the tasting room was refreshing. At last, I was surrounded by people who were talking about things going on in town, local gossip and everyday vineyard life in Paso Robles. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop and see if I might overhear some insider tips of where else to go. I did and will share those in a future article. At Lone Madrone, I really enjoyed the laid-back vibe and darn good wine. Sundays are Burger Sunday and the burgers make my mouth water just thinking about. Burgers are picnic food! Next time I am in town, I will definitely go back.
Other Popular Wineries to Picnic:
Chateau Morgene http://www.chateaumargene.com/
Cass Wines - https://www.casswines.com/
Zenaida Cellars https://www.zenaidacellars.com/
Eberle Winery https://www.eberlewinery.com/
Le Cavier http://www.lcwine.com/
Castoro Cellars https://castorocellars.com/
EOS Estate - https://www.eosvintage.com/
Austin Hope - https://www.hopefamilywines.com/
J Dusi Wines - https://www.jdusiwines.com/