My friend Steve and I decided to view the Paso Robles Wine country from a new perspective, 2 wheels instead of 4! We left my Paso Robles home around 2pm and set out on our predetermined 30mi loop which covered parts or highway 46 west, Vineyard Drive and returning to civilization via Adelaida road. I typically don’t ride these roads on weekends as they can be very dangerous, especially in the afternoons after a day of wine tasting. My friend was only in town for the day and he was excited about this route because it passed by his favorite winery, Opolo Vineyards, so we braved the winding back roads of west side Paso Robles!
Now, my friends know when I ride I typically make several pit stops along the way. This ride was no exception. Our first stop was to fuel up at Cider Creek Bakery 0n east Side Paso Robles. Many of you may remember, Cider Creek Bakery was located on highway 46 west next to Four Vines (now Cypher Winery), they have some amazing pastries, muffins and great coffee. They moved a year or two ago to a larger and more accessible east side location off Niblick and South River Road. With full bellies we head out to highway 46 west, our pace somewhat slowed by our over indulgence at Cyder Creek but let’s face it, we aren’t racing anyone but the Sun (more on that later…). Its a beautiful day as usual on the central coast, temperature was around 70 degrees and clear, perfect day to be riding a bike through this epic wine country. At about mile 10 we turn up Vineyard Road and Steve is already talking about Opolo Winery! We pass some of my favorites on the way including Linne Calodo, Denner Vineyards and Per Cazo Cellars, but time was not on our side today so we press on to our one and only stop along the way, Opolo.
At about the 13 mile mark we reached are destination! For those that have never been to Opolo Vineyards, its on a pristine piece of property about a quarter mile off vineyard drive. Its usually pretty busy on weekends but with their strategic layout they can accommodate a surprisingly large number of people inside the tasting room. As we dismount our trusty steeds, the smell of fresh pizza and sausage permeates the air. Each weekend Opolo will offer a food and wine pairing which typically consists of made to order gourmet pizza, Opolo’s signature Cevapcici (this is a topic all on its own!) and of course WINE. Unfortunately we had to skip the pairing as the sun was moving quickly and we, well, we were drinking… We tasted the entire list and then some! What I love about Opolo is they are pretty generous when it comes to “off the list” wines. If they are open they will pour them if you ask. We obviously were not purchasing any wine as storage would have been an issue, but they offered several off the list varietals anyway. I enjoyed almost all the wine that we tasted, for me the standouts were the Sangiovese, the Mountain Zinfandel (Signature Zin), and the Opolo Rhapsody (Signature meritage). I am not a Zin fan typically, but the Mountain Zin was quite nice. Honorable mention was the only white on the list, the Albariño. We probably sampled about 8 wines total, and really only one or two that I would pass on purchasing. Overall great showing and a testament to the Quality of Paso Robles Wine and the Opolo wine makers.
Slightly buzzed and feeling great we step outside and sample the Cevapcici and summer sausages they are serving. We both down some water and eat a couple Cliff Blocks (energy gels) and its back to reality for us. We saddle up and about this time I curse the lack of cell reception in this area. I would have loved to stay for a pizza and wine pairing but I can’t call for a ride! We left Cider Creek around 3pm, arrived at Opolo around 4:10 pm. It’s now 5pm and we are just getting back on the road to finish the other half of the ride… just over 16 miles! At this point I realize we will not be making it home under natural light. Good thing I planned ahead and stowed a headlamp in my jersey.
We continue to climb out of the Templeton gap (another 800′ or so in elevation) and finally make it to Adelaida Road. The sun is now well beyond the horizon, I attach my headlamp and we proceed cautiously to the summit. Adelaida Cellars sits at the summit of Adelaida road, with thighs burning this is definitely a welcome sight. We stop at the top and Steve takes a couple pictures while I choke down a couple more energy snacks. Heading downhill now, averaging around 30mph with only a headlamp and some scarce ambient sunlight, my fear changes from oncoming traffic to deer and other critters that may be crossing the road. As we reach lower elevations the terrain opens up and more ambient light is available to guide us home. Tired yet unscathed, we make it to back Paso Robles and reach our final destination, Amsterdam Cafe! We relax, sipping our Mexican Mocha’s at one of the outdoor tables and all we can say is “When can we do this again!”
As you might guess, I have driven this route 100′s of times. It’s a beautiful drive no matter what time of year it is. I will say, on a bike, I gained a new appreciation for this area. Besides feeling that the hills never seemed to end (1200′ of total elevation gain), its an really enjoyable ride. Next round we will definitely leave earlier and plan for one or two more winery stops. If you don’t have the time or inclination to ride this epic route, but would like to experience the awesomeness of the Templeton gap and its bounty of fine wines, then call Bay Limousine to book your wine tour. You will not be disappointed in the wines or the best Limousine service on the central coast!