AronHill Vineyards in Templeton uncorks a lot of great tastes, and not just with its wines. Since 2012, the winery’s tasting room has also been home to AronHill Bistro.
Lunch is available daily at the bistro until 3:30 p.m. with the purchase of a wine tasting, a glass of wine or a bottle. This is a place to really soak in the ambiance, so pick a serene day to relax on the cozy outdoor deck, sip some wine and enjoy the expansive view of the surrounding vineyards. There’s also a fireplace outside for chilly afternoons.
“We’re not a full-on restaurant,” said owner Judy Aron, “but we definitely offer more than just a cheese plate. We’re a winery that serves food.” Of course, all the menu items pair with the lineup of AronHill wines, most of which are estate bottlings of Cabernet and Zinfandel. Those vineyards were planted in 1996 and 1997 and have been dry-farmed since 2000.
The fruit was sold to Gary Eberle until the AronHill label was launched in 2004. A Morro Bay tasting room operated from 2007 to 2010 until the current facility opened at the vineyard in 2011 on Wine Festival Weekend. Although the location was originally built with a commercial kitchen, the bistro didn’t come until a year later because “I wanted to be sure to get the wine part right first,” Aron said.
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The AronHill Bistro menu typically offers six panini, a handful of salads and two or three decadent desserts. Seasonally, the bistro will also offer daily specials such as ahi poke or lamb pops with an apple-fennel salad.
Among the panini — served with your choice of pasta or green salad — are the Pony with grilled chicken breast and Manchego cheese, the Stallion with Italian salami and sun-dried tomato pesto, and the Colt with a grilled portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper and grilled onion. (Yes, there is a horse theme galloping throughout AronHill; Aron’s other passions are horses and mules. She used to breed champion steeds, and, she said, “our daughter competed quite heavily in the jumper world. Currently, we are showing our mules with trainer Lou Moore and having a ‘kickass’ time.”)
Salads range from roasted beet and goat cheese on organic greens to a Caesar with grilled Romaine hearts topped with dressing and shaved Parmesan cheese. The portions are generous, but if you have room for dessert, tuck into a chocolate lava cake or some port brownies still warm from the oven.
“Everything is housemade daily, nothing’s pre-made, and we try to do organic whenever we can,” Aron said. That approach not only includes all the dressings and sauces, but also extends to such items as beets, which are roasted daily, and the grilled chicken, which is marinated and cooked to order for the sandwiches and salads. Freshly baked breads are delivered from nearby La Migliore Italian Bakery, a top-notch wholesale facility.
“For as small as we are, lots of hours go into preparation in the kitchen,” Aron said. “It’s important, though, to keep the balance — we’re first and foremost a winery. We’re very proud of our wines and we want to educate people about them.”
AronHill Bistro at AronHill Vineyards
3745 West Highway 46, Templeton (entrance is around the corner on Vineyard Drive | 434-3066 | aronhillvineyards.com
Hours: Daily, bistro 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., tasting room 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
The scene: A small, family-owned and –operated tasting room with bistro seating on the cozy outdoor deck.
The cuisine: The bistro offers panini, salads, desserts and specials, all from scratch daily; lunch is only available with purchase of wine, either a tasting, glass or bottle.
Expect to spend: About $13-15 for panini and salads; $10 tasting fee, waived with purchase of two or more bottles.