california, here we come {again}: paso robles wine country & the pch

after a relaxing night, we got up fairly early. if there’s one thing we learned from northern california wine country, it’s that the tastings start early. like 10am early.

we packed up & hit the road, winding through the countryside until we hit justin winery. the wineries are pretty spread out in this area, but the drive out to justin is well worth it.  they focus on mainly bordeaux varietals, some with names that invoke memories of high school geometry, like isosceles & obtuse.

our next stop was the beautiful tasting room at tablas creek.

here, we tasted through their rhone style wines & grabbed a few bottles to bring home, including their delicious rosé.

driving back towards the highway, we saw plenty of signs for familiar wineries, though most of them were open for tastings thursday-sunday & we happened to be passing through on a wednesday. noted.

our final wine stop was at turley, whose wines we’ve enjoyed ever since tom was allowed a semiannual allocation a few years ago. we scooped a bottle of their pesenti red velvet zin, a secondary label that’s only available for purchase at the tasting room…if you happen to be there, grab a few bottles.  it’s insanely good for just $12.

after coming all this way, we would have been insane to NOT drive along the coast, so we headed west to highway 1.  we had dinner reservations in san francisco & a lot of ground to cover to get there!

the weather up in the mountains was absolutely gorgeous, in the 80s with no humidity , something that you truly appreciate when you’re visiting from north carolina in august.

{look! no frizz!}

we crossed over the mountains, to the oceanfront highway & pulled into the tiny town of cambria just in time for lunch.  perfect, because nicole mentioned enjoying a pretty memorable bowl of clam chowder there at moonstone beach bar & grill.  we sat on their deck, overlooking the ocean, & just watched the waves & the birds boldly grabbing fries from diners’ plates.{these birds know no boundaries in their quest for fried potatoes.}

now, i’m not typically a clam chowder lover, but when something comes so highly recommended, i’m willing to give it a shot.  & nicole was right.  this chowder is memorable… rich & creamy, with a warm garlic undertone, studded with bacon & clams & served in a perfectly toasted sourdough boule…it’s without a doubt, the best clam chowder i’ve ever had, one of the best soups, even.  bon appétit, you will be hearing from me soon.  people need this recipe.

after lunch we headed down the road just a bit to the actual moonstone beach, where we changed in the car because the temperature had dropped about 30° by the water & the fog set in.  but i was still going to dip a toe in the pacific, which is all i did because it was fah-reezing.

the rest of the afternoon was spent in the car, soaking in the beautiful scenery

of big sur, carmel, monterey & the rest of the rocky coastline all the way to san francisco.

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3 Responses to california, here we come {again}: paso robles wine country & the pch

  1. LauraC says:

    Every post of your trip makes me want to go back to Cali! I went to college in Pasadena then lived in SF for four years after college.

    During college, we made the drive from LA to SF via US1. Amazing. Planning to take the kids one days. Unfortunately we were poor college students so we camped our way up. Fortunately we scored a camp site right under the north base of Golden Gate Bridge. But no delicious wine since we were poor.

  2. Jason Haas says:

    Thanks for the nice comments about Tablas Creek! I was wondering if there was any way we might get the photo you took looking in our front gate… we’ve been trying to get that shot for months and haven’t been able to get the light right, no cars, good sky. The photo you took is better than anything we’ve managed! If it’s possible for us to use it (with credit, of course) can you send it to us at

    Thanks again!

  3. Tina Jones says:

    Oh, man! The photo of the chowdah made my mouth water. I had a sour dough chowder bowl in Maine and it was soooo very good. But I did not have the wine to go with it. 🙁
    I want a trip to Cali… someone, please, ask Santa to give me a trip to Cali…
    Thanks for letting the rest of us live vicariously through your adventure.

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