Some pretty wineries

December 6, 2006 

Here are a few wineries that offer stunning views and a fantastic place to wile away the afternoon.

A lake of lilies and lotuses. A 130-year-old farmhouse. Bounteous blooms. Vine-covered hills stretching out toward Nacimiento Lake and Cambria. Olive groves. Art. That -- and wine – is what you’ll find at the end of the winding, scenic road to Carmody McKnight (11240 Chimney Rock Road, 805-238-9392), run by actor-turned-artist-and-vintner Gary Conway. Get there by heading west out of Paso on 24th Street, which turns into Nacimiento Lake Drive. Seven miles out, turn left on Chimney Rock Road for several more miles.

Just next door is the venerable Justin Vineyards (11680 Chimney Rock Road, 805-238-6932) — the favorite SLO County winery of "Sideways" author Rex Pickett. The setting is idyllic, and so are the wines. The French country tasting room looks out onto a pool and lovely patio surrounded by vineyards. You can even dine at Deborah’s Room or stay for the night at the Just Inn, lauded by Wine Spectator for its luxury accommodations.

Make your way to Vineyard Drive (by way of Klau Mine and Adelaida roads), where a rustic road takes you past grapevines, oak trees and a meandering creek to Opolo (7110 Vineyard Drive, 805-238-9593). On weekends, there’s a barbecue on the patio. Tasting is in the cool, no-frills cellar, where you’ll be surrounded by barrels that make for easy barrel-tasting.

While a drive on 46 East may not be as scenic as Westside’s winding roads, some of the wineries are on fine spreads. At Robert Hall Winery (3443 Mill Road, 805-239-1616), a walkway leads from the new Mediterranean-style hospitality center – with a tasting room, dining room, full kitchen and underground caves -- past a fountain and through a courtyard overlooking reflecting pools to the open-air amphitheater.

Off the highway further east is the new home of Bianchi Winery (3380 Branch Road, 805-226-9922), another inviting spot. The striking modern take on mission-style building edges the waterfall-fed lake with a patio peninsula, stone wall and sweeping views.

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