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Wine Country Road Trip

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If you've lived in L.A. for more than two years and haven't experienced wine country, it's time to take the trip. We finally did, making the three-hour trek to Paso Robles, and now can't believe we'd put it off this long.

Paso Robles, known for fabulous reds, has over 170 wineries and is the most spacious wine region in California (610,000 acres). Sounds overwhelming, but the town is really easy to get around, even for the navigationally-challenged. Many of the wineries are bunched together, making it possible to get in a lot of delicious tasting. The wineries are divided east and west of town, so sticking to one side maximizes sipping time.

On the east side, we took advantage of free tastings at Wild Horse, EOS and Tobin James, and were happy to pay the usual $5 fee to keep our glasses at Firestone and Four Vines. Most hotels offer free tasting coupons at the front desk.

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Taking a shuttle tour isn't necessary, but the Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle was a great time. Their $85 evening tasting tour included stops at two wineries, a tasty, three-course dinner and the opportunity to retire the car keys and guzzle back a bottle we'd purchased earlier. The local bars looked sleepy, so we called it a night after dinner, but late-night revelers beware: there's only one cab company in town, and a local said it can be very slow, especially on holiday weekends.

And speaking of, Opolo Vineyards is having a BBQ and winetasting this Saturday and Sunday. For anyone desperate for a last-minute trip.

Other recommendations:
The Adelaide Inn, which was conveniantly located between the east and west side wineries.

Falcon Nest Vineyard, a small family-owned vineyard with great red wines and a short menu of homemade food.
5185 Union Rd. Paso Robles, CA 9346

Herrmann's Chocolate Lab and Ice Cream Parlor, for yummy homemade sweets.
422 S. Main St. Templeton, CA 93465

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