The Backyard on Thirteenth, a family and dog-friendly outdoor wine and beer garden located in downtown Paso Robles, celebrates their 2 year anniversary on Feb. 14. After more than three years of planning and development, the business held its grand opening on Valentine’s Day in 2020, only to close less than one month later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, it has endured constantly changing mandates, restrictions, and requirements.
“We had a very thorough business plan and thought we had considered pretty much every scenario we would face; however, a global pandemic was not one of them,” said Russell Baker, owner. “Being an outdoor venue was a huge advantage and allowed us to survive. We have learned so much during the past two years and are hoping that we are on our way to some sense of normalcy again.”
To celebrate the occasion they will have live music all weekend, will be showing the Super Bowl on the big screen on the patio on Sunday, and will be offering discounts on merchandise and beverages. Roots on Railroad, the independently operated onsite restaurant, also celebrates its 2 year anniversary and is planning to have special menu offerings throughout the weekend.
“We are extremely thankful for our wonderful Backyard team and amazing, faithful customers who have helped us survive this craziness,” says Amy Baker, owner, “We are excited that we have created a venue that welcomes all and are hopeful for the future.”
To celebrate the anniversary and for Valentine’s Day, The Backyard on Thirteenth will have 2 for 1 draft drinks all day on Monday, Feb. 14. In addition, they have booked soul singer and bass guitarist Shaun Munday https://www.instagram.com/shaun_munday/ to play from 5-7 p.m.
via: Paso Robles Daily News
If you speak with many of the winemakers in Paso Robles, Calif., they’ll often describe the region as what Napa was 50 years ago. It has all of the high-quality, award-winning winemaking you’ll find a few hours north—without the crowds, exorbitant prices, and increasing sense of formality.
If you want casual, you need to head south. And Paso Robles is the epitome of California cool and casual. While the region has a strong winemaking tradition and a growing international profile, local winemakers still have the freedom and ability to experiment with a number of techniques and grapes without the pressure. There’s also a vast diversity in the grapes grown around the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA); the region is known for producing blends and is especially ideal for lovers of Grenache and Syrah. (As one winemaker told me, “If you can’t make a good Syrah in Paso Robles, you need to get out.”) And many white wine blends often feature Roussanne and Clairette Blanche grapes, which also thrive in the area.
Getting to Paso Robles does take some planning. Along the Pacific Coast Highway on U.S. Route 101, the closest airport is San Luis Obispo County Regional (SBP), about 45 minutes away. But if you have the time, you can make a road trip out of it from either San Jose International Airport (SJC) to the north or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to the south.
Before departure, note that Paso Robles is extremely hot during the summer days but very cold at night, thanks to a cool front that rides in from the Pacific coast over the Santa Lucia Mountains. (Yes, it is a “dry heat,” but it is a lot of heat.) And you should always pack layers when visiting wineries as tasting rooms and cellars can also be very cool inside as well.
Also—and this was a pre-pandemic pro tip, too—remember to make reservations for tastings. Most tasting rooms are reservation-only, even more so these days as some sites are continuing to maintain social distancing and contact tracing measures.
The Backyard: After a few days (especially hot, dehydrating days), perhaps you’re tired of wine and would like an alternative. The Backyard is a family- and dog-friendly outdoor beer garden with 24 rotating craft beers and ciders on tap (and four wines) as well as an assortment of cans and bottles plus nonalcoholic beverages. Promising something for everyone, the Backyard showcases local craft breweries as well as harder-to-find ales from around the country. As an open-air venue, it’s an ideal location for a leisurely, casual gathering—for small and large groups alike.
Read the full article on Fortune
There are more than 200 tasting rooms in Paso Robles, many of those can be found within walking distance of one another and centrally located in the heart of downtown. From highly acclaimed brands opening second locations to family-owned and operated micro-wineries to edgy renegades whose style fits best tucked away in an industrial locale. The downtown wine landscape has been growing by not only the number of tasting rooms but also by the type of wine experiences offered. On your next trip to Paso, spend your days exploring the diversity and flavors of downtown.
Known for bold blends and their lively after-hours music scene is Asuncion Ridge Vineyards. One of the first wineries to call downtown Paso home, they are set directly across from the iconic downtown ark, pet friendly, and offer wines sure to please any pallet. Just up the street is the contemporary tasting lounge of Bushong Vintage Company. Eclectic varietals showcase the depth of talent and creativity that is offered at Bushong. Savor the small-lot wines, play some pinball, or choose a favorite record from the collection of over 1,000 vinyl records to play. Cruise over to Hoyt Family Vineyards for a cool beach shack vibe and outstanding wines. With vineyards in Malibu and west Paso, the estate wines offer big flavors. Do not miss the Tempranillo or Petit Verdot!
The spacious outdoor/indoor setting of CaliPaso Winery offers an open-air feel with warm hospitality and outstanding value. You can often find fun events like Sip & Paints happening at CaliPaso along with live music, plus they are the go-to spot for after-dinner wine (they stay open late)! Red-only lovers listen up! Next door at Pianetta Winery you’ll find all reds all the time with a vibrant vibe. This father/daughter winemaking team carefully craft wines that showcase the vineyard and quality farming practices. When you visit be sure to order the cheese and wine pairing flight….and ask about the jug wine. Just across the street, you’ll find the tasting rooms of Copia and Sea Shell Cellars. The 20-acre estate, Copia Vineyards & Winery, is nestled in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles but showcases their highly acclaimed Rhône inspired blends in an elegantly warm space on Thirteenth Street. Adjacent to Copia, discover the first-class wines of Sea Shell Cellars. The bright-tasting space is adorned with a beach mural for an Instagram-worthy selfie or group photo. Taste through the estate wines that showcase balance, vivid fruit, and personality, just like Sea Shell Cellars. As their motto reads, just as every seashell on the beach has a story of its creation so does every bottle of Sea Shell wine.
Mix wine and history at Cloak & Dagger and Derby. Overlooking the park located in the Historic Municipal Bath House is the new kid on the block Cloak & Dagger Wines. The bathhouse was built in 1888 over sulfur springs, included a plunge, and 37 bathrooms! The limited production wines are extraordinary, and all have a conspiracy theory theme with unique labels and names Freemasons, Illuminati, Skull and Bones Society, the Trilateral Commission, the Deep State, and even Area 51. Nearby in the Paso Robles Almond Growers Building is home to Derby Wine Estates. This spectacular 11,000 square feet building was once a warehouse and processing plant Paso’s biggest crop, almonds. Taste the diverse wines in the art deco tasting room, tour the historic facility and spend some time in their outdoor lounge.
Tucked away in some really unique spaces are three brands who’ve made a big splash in the Paso wine region: Hayseed and Housdon, Indigené, and Ranchero Cellars. On Railroad Street, you’ll find the super hip collective tasting room, Paso Under Ground, and maverick winemaker Amy Butler. Amy who is a consulting winemaker for a few elite boutique Paso brands has her own solo project, Ranchero Cellars. Using uncommon and tried-and-true Paso rhônes varietals, she crafts small production wines that will blow you away. Across the way is the tasting garage of Hayseed and Housdon. Their philanthropic business model will make you feel good about drinking wine! Not only are the Hayseed wines created with sustainably sources grapes, most importantly they split the profits 50/50 with several local non-profits like Wine4Paws, CASA, and Operation Surf to name a few. Located in the alley between Park and Pine Street and next to local hot spot Jeffery’s Wine Country BBQ is Indigené Cellars. Rock star winemaker Raymond Smith is dedicated to winemaking in its highest form creating noteworthy blends with big flavors. Indigenè is a true hidden gem not to be missed.
Two rebel winemakers that are full of personality and are always pushing the limits of creativity are Straight out of Paso and Herman Story. Nestled in an industrial block is the cellar and tasting room of Herman Story Wines. This boisterous brand colors outside the lines with no-nonsense opulent wines sourcing grapes from the best vineyards on the Central Coast. You’ll find the labels are as rambunctious as the renegade winemaker and his crew, don’t miss these highly acclaimed wines. One of the newest tasting rooms downtown is the second brand of Bodega de Edgar, Straight out of Paso. This new project was started to showcase the varietals that have made Paso Robles into the wine country it is today. The cool tasting room has a great high-energy outdoor space where you can always find local bands jamming.
Perfectly situated across from the downtown park on Thirteenth Street is the second location of the world-renowned JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, JUSTIN Downtown. Enjoy wines by the glass or bottle in the modern space and enjoy lunch in the cozy dining area that features indulgent cuisine from their onsite chef. Be sure to ‘look down’ when you are visiting to see the underground wine cellar. JUSTIN helped put Paso wines on the map back in the 80s and you’ll see why in their downtown location.
Bonus! Add these two hot spots to your list of must-visits in downtown Paso Robles: The Backyard and Paso Wine Merchant. The family-friendly outdoor beer garden, The Backyard on Thirteenth, offers 28 rotating taps showcasing local craft beer, cider, and wine. This cool spot was built out of shipping containers and is the perfect place to relax after a day of wine tasting. The Paso Robles Wine Merchant is located inside the Paso Market Walk on Spring Street. This hip wine bar is also the go-to place to taste and buy wine from boutique wineries that do not yet have tasting rooms. The perfect place to find the newest up-and-coming winemakers.
On your next trip to Paso, explore downtown, you’ll be sure to discover hidden gems and new favorites.
Via Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
We had the good fortune of connecting with Russell Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Russell, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
I feel that “the customer is always right” is an antiquated notion that can be toxic, particularly for our employees who have to bear the brunt of it. Social media and online reviews in particular have provided a platform for narcissists who thrive on the power trip of entitlement that hiding behind anonymity seems to impart.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
“I’m inspired by people who make bold bets with their time and resources to improve the world around them.”
I’ve enjoyed a successful 20+ year career in the computer software industry having worked for some of the most innovative software companies in the world. During that time, I’ve gained invaluable skills and experience serving in various sales and sales management roles, and currently hold the position of Director of Worldwide Sales for a multinational software and IT company.
I grew up in San Luis Obispo’s North County and have deep roots in this community. I spent 15 years away from the Central Coast during which time I lived in some amazing cities including Boston, San Francisco, Cupertino, and Raleigh, before moving back to Paso Robles in 2007 to start a family. I volunteer my time as a member of the Board of Directors for a local non-profit focused on providing free after-school arts classes to area youth. Having grown up here, it’s been exciting to bear witness to how much Paso Robles has grown and changed over the years while still maintaining its small-town charm and appeal. I am proud to be a part of this growth and to invest in my hometown, incorporating many of the places I’ve visited and experiences I’ve had into building The Backyard for all to enjoy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Day 1: Coffee at AMSTRDM (www.amstrdmpaso.com)
Breakfast at The Neighborhood (www.neighborhoodacai.com)
Rent bikes or scooters to explore downtown
Watch local artists at work and buy art at Studios on the Park (www.studiosonthepark.org)
Lunch at Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ (www.jeffryswinecountrybbq.com)
Beer tasting at Silva Brewing (www.silvabrewing.com)
Shopping at General Store Paso Robles (www.generalstorepr.com) and Spice of Life (www.pasospices.com)
Drinks and dinner at The Backyard (www.thebackyardpaso.com)
Stay at Piccolo Hotel (www.thepiccolo.com) or Hotel Cheval (www.hotelcheval.com)
Morning walk around downtown
Coffee at Spearhead Coffee (www.spearheadcoffee.com)
Breakfast at Brunch (www.brunchpaso.com)
Visit Estrella Warbirds Museum (www.ewarbirds.org)
Wine Tasting on the East Side:
– Paris Valley Road Estate Winery (www.parisvalleyroad.com)
– Pear Valley Vineyards (www.pearvalley.com)
– Cass Vineyards (www.casswines.com) for winetasting, horseback riding and lunch
– Head back to town, on the way stop and check out the sculpture garden at Sculpterra Winery & Sculpture Garden (www.sculpterra.com)
Dinner at Les Petites Canailles (www.lpcrestaurant.com)
Cocktail at Tetto Rooftop Bar at the Piccolo (www.thepiccolo.com/tetto)
Stay at Piccolo Hotel (www.thepiccolo.com) or Hotel Cheval (www.hotelcheval.com)
Walk to Paso Market Walk (www.pasomarketwalk.com); Coffee at JoeBella Coffee Roasters with breakfast from Just Baked; Lunch to-go from Finca (www.fincapasorobles.com) and cheese board from The Wine Merchant (to enjoy later while wine tasting)Wine Tasting on the West Side:
– Zenaida Cellars (www.zenaidacellars.com)
– Clos Solene (www.clossolene.com)
– Tablas Creek Vineyard (www.tablascreek.com)
– Thacher Winery (www.thacherwinery.com)
Dinner at The Hatch (www.hatchpasorobles.com)
Cocktails at Eleven Twenty-Two speakeasy (www.eleven-twentytwo.com)
Stay at Piccolo Hotel (www.thepiccolo.com) or Hotel Cheval (www.hotelcheval.com)
Breakfast at Paso Robles Inn (www.pasoroblesinn.com)
Take HWY 46 West to the coast. Look for sea glass or moonstones on Moonstone Beach and explore downtown Cambria; head further north to watch the sea lions and take a tour of Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
Head back inland. Stop in Tin City (www.tincitypasorobles.com) where you can find anything from ice cream, to beer, wine, cider and distilled spirits, to restaurants.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to thank my friends and family for always supporting and encouraging me; my step-father for inspiring me to become an entrepreneur; and my wife, Amy, my daughter, Amelia, and my mother for being my biggest fans.
Oak and Barrel Photography
Via Shoutout LA
Venturing out into the world once more is surreal to begin with. But at Sensorio, the Paso Robles performance space hosting Bruce Munro’s latest Field of Light installation, the light at the end of the tunnel is apparently filled with … ethereal fairy dust. Lights glimmer across the rolling fields, miles of optic fiber shimmer like blossoms in the gloaming.
Munro’s illuminated art installations at sites as far flung as Australia’s Uluru and Saratoga’s Montalvo Arts Center are always fantastical. But the 15-acre walk-through in the heart of Paso’s wine country is his largest installation ever. Some 58,800 stemmed, illuminated bulbs sway gently in the evening breeze, creating twinkling fields of color.
It felt like a fever dream before. Now, the already fantastical Field of Light, which reopened in April, has been joined by Munro’s new Light Towers installation: 69 huge, glowing structures created from 17,000 light-filled wine bottles.
At the end of this endless year, the magic is not only back, it’s been multiplied. Paso’s wineries have reopened, restaurants are bustling and two sleek new hotels — The Piccolo and Stables Inn — have joined the offerings for day trippers too smitten to leave.
Whether you spend a day or a weekend exploring the region’s winding country lanes or strolling downtown, you’ll find plenty to do — not only light-strewn meadows, but new dining options, too, from a sunny beer garden with lobster rolls to a Baja taco spot with Napa cred.
The Backyard on Thirteenth, a vibrant, beer garden-esque expanse, opened on Valentine’s Day 2020. Its repurposed shipping containers, sunny yellow awnings and alfresco seating would have been irresistible at any time, but they’re a perfect fit for the pandemic era. The tasty menu mixes local beer, beachy fare and global inspiration. The lobster roll ($19) is wonderful. The fried chicken sandwich ($13) addictive. And the French fry lineup includes Pad Thai inspired and Tinga topped versions ($13-$14), too.
Prefer to mix wine tasting and stories with your noshing? You’ll find a great new pairing out on Highway 46 West at Wines of the West, which opened in late 2019. The barn-inspired tasting room offers wines from four labels, including Alloy Wine Works — you’ve likely seen their varietals in picnic-ready cans — and Purple Cowboy, which pays homage to winemaking, rodeo-riding cowboys. (They’ve tasted so much red wine, their teeth are purple — or so the story goes.)
How Stetson and lasso-themed is all this? Very. Purple Cowboy is the official wine of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. And it’s home, too, to the Heirloom Kitchen & Eatery popup started by former Hatch exec chef Mateo Rogers and baker Brittney Yracheta. Order one of the wonderful sandwiches — the Decoco ($16), perhaps, with porchetta, Italian salsa verde, pickled red onions and arugula on housemade ciabatta — to enjoy outdoors with a glass of wine and a little sunshine.
Breathe deep. The light at the end of the tunnel may be pixie dust — or it might be rosé.
If You Go
Bruce Munro: Light at Sensoria runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday (until 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday) through September at Sensoria, 4380 Highway 46 East in Paso Robles. Tickets start at $37.50; https://sensoriopaso.com.
The Backyard on Thirteenth: This casual, year-old beer garden and eatery is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and until 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday at 1300 Railroad St.; www.thebackyardpaso.com.
Finca Paso Robles: This Paso Market Walk eatery opened in May. Grab a taco, salad or wood-grilled seafood between 11 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 1803 Spring St.; www.pasomarketwalk.com.
Wines of the West: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 3750 Highway 46 West in Templeton. Book a tasting appointment at the barn or do a virtual tasting from home. www.pasowinesofthewest.com
Heirloom: Open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday-Sunday at Wines of the West, 3750 Highway 46 West. Check out the menu and order ahead at www.heirloomkitchenandeatery.com.
via The Mercury News
There’s certainly no shortage of excellent California wine regions within driving distance of San Francisco or Los Angeles. But Paso Robles is different in its sense of down home hospitality, where you’re just as likely to belly up to the bar with the winemaker as you are to end a night with whiskey shots at the local cowboy saloon. Paso holds tight to the small town charm of a working agricultural community and all the camaraderie that comes along with it.
That’s not to say that you’ll be roughing it during your stay, though. There are plenty of architecturally impressive tasting rooms and well-appointed boutique hotels to be found. You just won’t be burdened with as many high ticket pours, or the wine snobbery that comes along with them.
While California was hit particularly hard in the past year, there actually has never been a better time to try wine here; most wineries require a reservation these days, and as a result, guests get a more curated experience. Rather than having to share a tasting room associate with a gaggle of boisterous bachelorettes, you’ll be one-on-one and feeling like a VIP, learning about what’s become one of the country’s quickest growing wine regions.
What to Eat in Paso Robles
Start your day off strong with a Oaxacan mocha and solid breakfast sando from AMSTRDM, and while you’re at it, consider coming back for an evening piano performance from their proprietor, perhaps a nod to Polish concert pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who once soaked in the El Paso Hotel’s hot springs to cure his ailments. (There’s a festival in his honor each November, for all you music buffs.)
For lunch, book in at at Niner, with its picturesque patio overlooking a heart-shaped grove of old growth oak trees lovingly called Heart Hill. (Lovebirds take note: not shockingly this is one of the most popular engagement spots on the Central Coast.) Sip a flight of their sustainably produced wines while enjoying a meal that integrates produce from their sprawling chef’s garden and prepare to be wowed.
If your palate is feeling fatigued after a day of wine tasting, grab a pint of local craft beer and a lobster roll at The Backyard on Thirteenth, where laid back locals and their pooches perch on the outdoor patio, giving the space some serious Denver energy.
If Southern comfort food and cocktails sound more your speed, hit up Hatch Rotisserie and Bar, whose owners also will be opening a wood fired pizza joint inspired by LA’s famous Jon + Vinny’s in the months to come.
If you can catch a reservation at Les Petites Cannailles, don’t hesitate. Chef Julien Asseo has worked with some of the top French toques around the globe including Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon, and it’s abundantly obvious in his beautiful take on bistro cuisine, including his perfect rendition of the iconic Robuchon pomme purée. The well-edited wine list is full of gems—you’d be remiss not to open up a bottle of L’Aventure, crafted by Asseo’s father, a pioneer of winemaking in the area.
Chef Patrick Aguirre, who worked with Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Suzanne Goin of AOC, is opening Finca this summer alongside his wife, whose family started the famed Siete Mares mariscos chain in LA back in the 70s. The team pristinely restored a historical Victorian home at Paso Market Walk to serve their take on regional cuisines from all over Mexico, and it’s likely to be one of the area’s most exciting openings.
Read the rest of the article at Condé Nest Traveler