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Coastal fog rolling in just north of Pismo Beach in late afternoon cools down the wineries off the Central Coast, enhancing the quality of their grapes. Photo by Frank Mangio
CommunityTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: The natural beauty of California is along the Central Coast

I’ve tasted wines of the Central Coast for some time without much knowledge of the place where they came from and why the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays were so good from this part of California.

This part seemed an obscure treasure and I hadn’t yet put all the pieces together with any clarity. It turns out that San Luis Obispo County is systemically the heart of the Central Coast, situated between Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties.

Within the county, Paso Robles boasts 220 wineries, while the Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys just south of San Luis Obispo has 30 wineries, with all of them just three to five miles from the rugged, breathtaking beaches, some 80 miles long.

Names like Grover, Pismo, Avila, Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria and San Simeon are fantastic early California coastal communities.  Many have piers and in some, you can park your car on the beach.

Tolosa Winery paints a beautiful portrait of the vineyard landscape just south of the city of San Luis Obispo, along the Central Coast of California. Photo courtesy Tolosa Winery
Tolosa Winery paints a beautiful portrait of the vineyard landscape just south of the city of San Luis Obispo, along the Central Coast of California. Photo courtesy Tolosa Winery

All contribute to the luscious quality of the wines with their cooler, coastal late afternoon and evening fog, giving structure, plumpness and extensive ripening to the grapes, along with a longer growing season.

Chuck Davison may have the best travel, tourism and hospitality job in the state.  For nearly two years he has been the president and CEO of Visit San Luis Obispo County, after years of visiting and vacationing along the Central Coast.

“We have 18 communities, all contributing a lot of what makes this the best county to live in,” Davison said. “For the example of who we are, SLO it down and enjoy the county’s hub of San Luis Obispo. It’s a home-style downtown, including a leading state university, the famous Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and more wine bars and restaurants than you can count.

“We’ve created a major display that has hit the road called, ‘SAVOR, a San Luis Obispo Country Experience’ with restaurants, wineries, breweries and activity partners at major events like the recent San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.  We’re encouraging people to plan a trip to encounter our destination first-hand.”

I have had the great pleasure of meeting and greeting wineries in Paso Robles wine country and love to roam the Highway 46 West properties that lead up to Highway 1, San Simeon and the mighty Hearst Castle.

In my next column, I will take you with me on my first journey to

the southern wine country in and around the city of San Luis Obispo, a visitor experience they call “the SLO Life.”

If you would like a preview of this experience, visit


Wine Bytes

Enjoy the Holiday Wine Trail in the Ramona Valley Dec.10 and Dec. 11 from noon to 5 p.m. Downtown Main Street is the start point, featuring 16 wineries are decked out for the holidays and for $25 you get six wine tasting tickets and a commemorative glass. Get your passport in advance by visiting, or calling (760) 788-4932.

La Costa Wine in Carlsbad is offering a Bubbly Tasting Dec. 16 from 4 to 6 p.m.  Cost is $25 for five examples of the traditional Methode Champenoise.  Details at (760) 431-8455.

The historic French Hotel, The Westgate in downtown San Diego, will celebrate an epic New Year’s Eve with a “Return to Versailles Palace” Masquerade Ball. Indulge in French royalty with a five-course Moet and Chandon Champagne Pairing Dinner, with live music and dance. Luxurious guest rooms are available to sleep in late. Check in begins at 7 p.m., Dec. 31. Masked revelers will welcome in 2017 with a champagne toast. Tickets are limited and early registration is encouraged, at (619) 238-1818.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View his columns at and reach him at [email protected].  Follow him on Facebook.