I’m back with the second part of our Central Coast adventure. After spending our first day and night in Avila Beach we ventured out to San Luis Obispo. Let’s go!
Although wine was not the focus of our trip this time around, San Luis Obispo is widely known as a distinguished wine region. It also happens to be a quick 15 minute drive from Avila Beach, so of course were obliged to do a little tasting. The wineries of SLO reside an average distance of just five miles from the Pacific Ocean and are located in two main areas – the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley.
Because of the unique marine conditions, the region is best known for cool-climate varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There are also plenty of really nice aromatic whites available at many of the wineries (yum!) so if you’re are a fan of Pinot Gris, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer, you’ll be happy with the selection of wines available for tasting. In the outlying, warmer mountainous areas, you will also find more hearty reds like Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot; although, as a fan of big, bold reds, I have to say that you can’t beat Napa, Sonoma, and Healdsburg in Northern California wine country when it comes to those varietals.
I wanted to give mention to a couple of the places we stopped to taste. Chamisal Vineyards is a very nice choice.
It was a glorious, sunny, Central California day so we chose to do the Estate wine tasting on their outdoor deck overlooking the gorgeous vineyards. Chamisal features five grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah and Pinot Gris. Most wineries in SLO charge a tasting fee so check each wineries’ website for tasting fee details and hours of operation.
We had a really good experience at the charming and historic Independence Schoolhouse, home to all of the wines from the Niven Family Wine Estates, including True Myth, Baileyana, Tangent, Zocker, Trenza and Cadre. You’ll find a great number of varietals from Sauvignon Blanc, to Pinot Noir, and even some nice red blends, all being poured under one roof.
Many of the tasting rooms are staffed by college students from nearby Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I absolutely loved this! They were are all intelligent, energetic, enthusiastic young people and it added a little heart to the whole situation. Since our excuse for travelling to this area is to carry our own college student back and forth to school in Santa Barbara, it just added a nice element for me.
After our day in wine country, we headed back to our hotel in Avila Beach and then we were off to experience one more activity definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. The natural mineral springs. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa resides on 100 gorgeous acres of forest and is within walking distance of our hotel, the Avila Village Inn (check out Part 1 of this post for more information on this incredible hotel). I called ahead to make a reservation and when we arrived we were escorted up a set of stairs to our tub.
Although outdoor, each tub is screened and quite private and the views are spectacular. The water that supplies all of the tubs comes directly from natural water sources underground and contains naturally occurring minerals, the most obvious being sulphur. It has a distinctive smell but it was not overpowering at all. This was my first experience with naturally heated mineral spring water and I gotta say, it was really nice. Some believe the water has restorative or therapeutic properties. I’m not sure about that but I can say that after our hour-long soak, I was feeling pretty loosey, goosey but also quite energized and ready to head to San Luis Obispo for dinner. I would absolutely do this again.
There are 23 tubs total in different sizes to accommodate up to 8 people and they are available 365 days a year (amazing!) from 8am to midnight every day. The rates run from $13.50 to $17.50 per person, per hour, depending on the day of the week. Towels are available for rental as well. If you plan to bring the kids, they must be 6 years or older. Please check the resort’s website for more information including precautions and more information on the tub rentals.
How about a bite to eat?
After a quick scan of Yelp, Paul chose a downtown SLO restaurant as our dinner destination. Novo describes their menu as local, wholesome, and global, taking advantage of fresh Central Coast produce and seafood. They serve food that is “simple and approachable”. This works for me.
We were seated on their large, creekside patio behind the restaurant. If you go when the weather is mild, which is most of the year, I highly recommend you request to be seated outside.
The menu was fabulous and featured a great selection of appetizers. So many looked good to us that we ended up making a meal out of them. Tapas style! My favorite way to eat dinner, lots of yummy little bites. We started with this incredible Salmon Bisque and I’ll make this short…get it! This is the stuff that dreams are made of.
My husband’s choice, and a great one, the Sausage Trio. The plate included a selection of high quality and uniquely flavored sausages, manchego cheese, mustards, pickled fennel, and toasted bread. This is happiness on a plate for pretty much all of the men in my life.
The Novo Lettuce Wraps were a fresh, crisp choice after the bisque and sausage. You have a choice of shrimp, flat iron steak, or tofu if you’re going veggie. On the plate – shrimp, butter lettuce, julienned vegetables, fresh mint & cilantro, nuoc nam (a Vietnamese dipping sauce), chilli sauce, and roasted peanuts. I loved this dish with all of my heart and soul and will order it again next time.
You would think we should be finished but, no, let’s keep going. There’s wine to finish.
What’s better with a nice
glass bottle of red wine then warm, baked goat cheese served with tomato jam and baguette toasts? Nothing! It was heavenly and I was inspired. Expect a post coming for something similar over the holidays.
They have a huge wine list featuring an assortment of wines from the Central Coast region but also some interesting European varietals from Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. If you don’t want to commit to an entire bottle, they offer a good number of wines by the half bottle. Love this.
I can’t attest to the entree portion of the menu because we literally could not get past the appetizers but everything coming out of the kitchen looked wonderful. Along with some very tasty looking steaks and seafood, there are lots of globally inspired items like Moroccan Fried Chicken, Tandoori Prawns, and an assortment of delicious sounding curries.
The wait staff, again mostly made up of Cal Poly students, was happy to accommodate us and actually recommended we go the tasting menu route. It was a fun, relaxed, incredibly delicious meal.
We took a walk after dinner to get a better view of the creek behind the restaurant and then strolled around charming downtown SLO.
And, that caps off our most recent visit to the Central Coast. Wine tasting, a little mineral spring spa action, and a truly incredible meal. This was a good day.
Chamisal Vineyards is located at 7525 Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo.
Niven Family Wine Estates is located at 5828 Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo.
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa is located at 1215 Avila Beach Drive in San Luis Obispo.
Novo Restaurant is located at 726 Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo.
You’ll find Part 1 of our trip here – Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo – Part 1.
I was not compensated in any way by any of the businesses mentioned in this post. The opinions expressed here are completely my own.