Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the Central Coast lies Paso Robles, the sleepy and homey southern sister to northern California’s Napa and Sonoma more lavish wine destinations. But this charming and authentic wine region is about to change in a big way thanks to the emergence of its first true luxury resort: the Allegretto Vineyard Resort.
Allegretto is a musical term describing a moderate tempo, 112-120 beats per minute: it is light, graceful and comfortable. The word is an accurate description of what Ayres Hotel Group scion Douglas Ayres (who often can be found roaming the property dressed as a gardener) seeks every guest to take away from his first effort as a bonafide hotelier.
The resort is bigger, bolder and more luxe than anything the area has seen before—which will, in turn, be a draw for luxury travelers who are looking for a new wine experience amid California’s more than plentiful offerings. You’ll seriously be spoiled for choice: there are more than 200 wineries and 32,000 vineyard acres located in the area, which focuses on varietals from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Viognier and Roussanne to Zinfandel and Syrah.Neighboring Paso Robles along the coast are the towns of San Simeon, home to Hearst Castle on the north, and the fishing village of Morro Bay to the south. Here is what you should expect from a visit to this new crowning jewel of the Central Coast.
Allegretto’s appearance is pretty unexpected for a low-key wine country locale: it stands out distinctively thanks to its grand Italian architecture, rambling Mediterranean-style gardens and plethora of unusual artifacts from around the world that dot its grounds. Ayres has peppered his property with rare and fine antiques from his travels that include a five-foot stone polished to a beautiful sheen after tumbling in a river in India for 5,000 years; a towering Siddhartha statue from India; and a massive cross-section from a Sequoia tree whose rings date back to before the building of the Great Wall of China and the birth of Christ. To add to the timeless aesthetic, Ayres also built several historically “inspired spaces” into the resort, including the resort’s Romeo and Juliet Tunnel, scaled to accommodate a horse and rider, and named after the underground web of tunnels leading to the Arena di Verona, the city in which Shakespeare’s classic story of star-crossed lovers takes place; and the Abbey, a small non-denominational, French-inspired building modeled after the rustic chapels of Europe. There’s also an on-site “piazza” that enhances the old-world Italian feel in Piazza Magica, a 12-000-square-foot courtyard dotted with majestic fountains, stone sculptures, fireplaces and plenty of comfortable settees to sit back and relax with a bottle of wine. Each of the 171 European-inspired guestrooms and suites—many of which feature balconies or patios—open to lush gardens. Rooms include details such as 14′ European-height ceilings, Dream Sleeper pillow-top mattresses, Keurig coffee machines and Allegretto-crafted amenities. In keeping with the Italian theme, you’ll also find a variety of bocce courts throughout the property.
With 200+ wineries in the area and no other luxury hotels, the Allegretto is able to capitalize in one very big way: it is not only the sole luxury hotel, but it is, therefore, the only luxury hotel to offer its own wine and olive oil labels. The resort lies on 20 acres of vineyards and fruit-bearing orchards, and is easily able to produce its own varietals, of which includes a Viognier and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Said wines will soon be served in the property’s on-site tasting room where a variety of guest wineries currently serve their wares in the late afternoon for host tastings.
Allegretto’s on-site eatery, Cello Ristorante & Bar, is an upscale yet casual Mediterranean-inspired restaurant which offers creative dishes made from regionally foraged and seasonal ingredients. Executive Chef Eric Olson, formerly of the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, has created an awesome menu that will make everyone from carnivores to vegans happy with a wine list of local favorites, craft cocktails and artisanal beers that should more than wet your whistle. Olson, a former Army chef who also recently spent time learning to prepare organic meals on a commune (which is why his eatery has its own garden), is at his finest preparing vegan dishes such as raw vegan zucchini noodles, which are heaven in your mouth thanks to a preparation with purslane, vegan cheese, pea tendrils and Loo Loo Farms shoots. There is indoor and outdoor seating alike at Cello; in the summertime, we recommend taking advantage of the beautiful sunsets by requesting an outdoor table.
The Spa at Allegretto is small, but mighty. In addition to wine-entric treatments that utilize Caudelie products…a fit given that said products are made on a vineyard from the skin of grapes. The offers facials and massages along with cool and unusual touches like zero-gravity chairs and an infrared detox sauna. Additionally, the spa offers Chära, a mind-body class that focuses on movement through meditation, as well as sunrise yoga. Bliss. There is also a pool with cabanas available for purchase.
THE WINERIES OF PASO ROBLES
It would be an almost impossible undertaking to visit every single winery in Paso Robles (hello, as we’ve mentioned, there are 200+!) but that there are many centrally located downtown and the others are a stone’s throw away should make this task much more manageable. A few of our favorites include Niner, which is known for its beautiful Cabernets, an Instagram-worthy piece of heart-shaped land and its terrific, seasonally-focused restaurant, helmed by Executive Chef Maegen Loring. Make sure not to miss Parrish Family Vineyard‘s downtown tasting room, which offers a slew of award-winning wines; vintner David Parrish also happens to grow for Francis Ford Coppola’s Coppola Wines, which is a big bonus. Deovlet Wines has a great sparkling situation that you can’t miss, while many flock to Tobin James‘-award-winning winery for a strong finish to their time in Paso Robles’ Norman Rockwell-esque wine country.
Allegretto Vineyard Resort is located at 2700 Buena Vista Drive in Paso Robles, California, 93446. For more information, visit AllegrettoResort.com, or call 805.369.2500.