It recently came to my attention that many people near me who like wine only know about Napa and Sonoma as far as California wine is concerned. Of course Napa is a powerhouse for the most consumed wines in America (Cab Sauv, Merlot, Chardonnay) and Sonoma has amazing Zinfandels, Syrahs, Pinots, and some Cabs in Alexander Valley. So when you live here in the San Francisco Bay Area it is easy to stick with what you know and what is close. So I've decided to dedicate several blogs to San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County. The original plan was one blog entry, but then I typed too much. :)
Part 1: An introduction to San Luis Obispo County
SLO makes great three day weekend trips if you are coming from the SF Bay Area, LA Area or the central valley. If you have the time, a week in summer or fall is wonderful! Beautiful rolling oak and vineyard covered hills, hot springs, great beaches, four wheeling at Oceano Dunes, Hearst Castle, great restaurants, and most importantly enchanting wines. If you visit Hearst Castle I highly recommend stopping at Hoppe's Garden Bistro in the sleepy beach community of Cayucos.
There are several major wine festivals every year in San Luis Obispo County. There are several in Paso Robles, a few in San Luis Obispo, and the Cal Poly Wine Fest from my Alma Mater's Vines to Wines Club. They also have wine industry related events like the World of Pinot and Hospice du Rhone. The latter of which I had some amazing experiences volunteering for when I was studying at Cal Poly.
While in SLO, I suggest dining at Red Luna. It is a tapas style restaurant, but also has entrees. If you are in Morro Bay, then Windows on the Water has the best seafood. The best steaks and ribs are just outside Pismo Beach at F. McLintocks (they have a location in downtown slo, but the atmosphere and food isn't as good). There are tons of great restaurants, but these are a spread of the best.
Part 4 will be Santa Barbara Wineries