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Where are the great wines of California? If your thoughts immediately jump to Northern California’s Napa/Sonoma region, then you’re missing the wines of Paso Robles in Central California.

Paso Robles boasts over 200 wineries nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of San Luis Obispo County. Not only is it much closer to San Diego than Napa and Sonoma, it is also much less commercialized. My husband Jack and I, avid wine lovers, travel up there at least twice a year. We have our favorites that we always visit, but we make a point to try a new winery each time.

During our last trip we discovered Croad Vineyards, a picturesque, mission-style winery perched on a hilltop with a 360-degree view of the countryside. The owner, Martin Croad from New Zealand, specializes in Rhone-style wines. He eagerly shared his wine and story, along with some sausages right from the “barbie.”

As we winded our way along the twisty mountain road, we couldn’t help but admire the uninterrupted vistas of rolling hills covered in vineyards, live oaks and wild mustard. Paso was experiencing their version of June gloom, but it was much prettier than San Diego’s. The Paso clouds were big puffy stacks as opposed to our flat grey blanket covering, and plenty of sun broke through in the afternoons. It was a fun, relaxing trip.

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