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There are multiple quiet corners for contemplating the meaning of life and a good glass of wine throughout the 20-acre Allegretto Vineyard Resort. Four varietals are grown on the property. Photo by Jerry Ondash
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A museum-quality resort in Paso Robles wine country

The late-afternoon November air begins to cool as we get comfortable on the wine-tasting patio at Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles. The town of 32,000 and its 200 wineries are scattered across the hills and valleys in the heart of the scenic Central Coast.

As we sample several Allegretto Wines and enjoy the generous charcuterie board, our host educates us on the finer points of winemaking. It’s a bit difficult, though, to keep my eyes off a most astounding object in the corner of the patio. It is a gigantic geode — a 1,653-pound, half-sphere-ish rock holding a treasure of smokey, volcanic crystals in its center.

This astounding natural wonder evokes a gasp with each new arrival to the patio. Later, we are delighted to discover other sizable geodes on display throughout the hotel, but none rival the patio behemoth.

These geological wonders are but a few of the many pieces of art — sculptures, ceramics, hand-carved furniture and paintings — that are on display both inside and outside this unique property that could easily have added the word “museum” to its title.

A 1,653-pound geode on the patio at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles competes for attention with the wine-tasting. Hotel owner Doug Ayres has the other half of this gem at his home. Other large geodes, vaguely spherical rocks that contain minerals that are often exquisite crystals, are situated throughout the interior of the hotel. Photo by E’Louise Ondash

We are headquartered at the Allegretto (open in 2015) for three nights as we explore some of the wineries within the 11 American Viticultural Areas of Paso Robles. Even if you’re not an oenophile, this Central Coast countryside and the Allegretto are reasons to visit. Uncrowded two-lane roads meander through rolling hills, and picture-perfect vineyards sit against dynamic mountain backdrops, and there is much more to the Allegretto than its 171 rooms.

If you visit during the winter’s short days, plan to explore the 20 acres of vineyards (cabernet, viognier, tannat and vermentino), olive trees and fruit trees in the morning. The lawns, walkways, meditation spots, lookout points, and 12,000-square-foot Piazza Magica are dotted with sculptures, antiques, artifacts and artistic signage. The Sonic Labyrinth provides a quiet spot where the tones of wind instruments are meant to sooth, and Allegretto’s grounds are one place where politics and religion cohabitate without consequence.

Outdoors, an obelisk stands in the East Garden as a reminder of the world’s seats of power. Indoors in the Via Verona hallway, a floor-to-ceiling mirror that stands behind a statue of Siddhartha Gautama creates the illusion that the hallway continues into infinity. In the same hallway: a carving of the Virgin of Guadalupe from San Miguel de Allende.

This accent table made from a cross-section of a tree is just one of many pieces of furniture that double as art within the Allegretto Vineyard Resort. Owner Douglas Ayres has designed the hotel as a place to display his extensive art collection. Photo by E’Louise Ondash

The Allegretto was named for the Italian musical term that denotes a lively tempo because the resort’s environment promotes “a life lived joyfully, playfully, in harmony, and with intention,” according to hotel owner, world traveler and art collector Douglas Ayres.

The intention of Allegretto is to “celebrate what’s common between us: the desire to thrive, make a connection, and take pleasure in the abundance of life.”

For excellent dining: Allegretto’s Cello Ristorante and Bar where Executive Chef Jeremy Fike can beautifully tailor entrees to special needs. The focus is on local and luscious, especially the Shrimp & Risotto, Duck Duetto and Key lime pie.

In downtown Paso Robles: Della’s Wood-Fired Pizza. Offers gluten-free pizza, creative cocktails and a hip vibe. Talk to manager Tai Loporto, Paso’s chief cheerleader and a wealth of information.

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