There’s so much to do outdoors on the Central Coast. Now that spring is here and summer is right around the corner, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and starry nights.
Here are a few outings that we really enjoy, and a wine or two that makes the experience even better.
What about you?
(And as you plan your outing, please observe local and state open container laws and always drink responsibly.)
Pack a Picnic
Oh, so many options abound. Of course, we have to include beach picnics since the ocean’s close by. Moonstone Beach in Cambria is a favorite, and you can wander far down the coast and pick out a quiet stretch of sand. Shell Beach is small but pretty and secluded. Oso Flaco Lake trail to the ocean is a lovely spot for a picnic if it’s not too windy.
Wine picks: The sea air can be brisk even in the summer, so we tend toward more substantial whites, like Grenache Blanc. For a mid-range red, we like a nice Rhone-style GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre ) blend.
Hike to the Top of a Mountain
Bishop Peak is the quintessential must-climb mountain in San Luis Obispo. The boulders near the top are great fun to scramble over and around as you reach the top. And the view of the valley below is worth the effort. After you take in the sights, climb down a bit so others can climb to the top, and then find yourself a comfy rock and kick back for a bit.
If you want a hike with fewer people and more space to spread out, try Johnson Ranch Trail.
Wine picks: After a good hike, we like a wine on the lighter side. For a white, we like a crisp Albariño. Our choice for a red is a medium-bodied Pinot Noir. And take a look in your local wine store for the ever-growing selection of canned wine. These are a great choice for a hike.
If you’re a meteor-shower or astronomy lover, head inland to Atascadero or Paso Robles to avoid the marine layer that often obscures the sky along the coast. Even better is Santa Margarita, which has very little light pollution.
Wine picks: Sparkling, of course! Match the brilliance of the stars with bubbles. Several local wineries make sparkling wines, including from the traditional method, charmat method, or pétillant naturel (pét-nat) processes. Or go global and look for Prosecco or Franciacorta from Italy, Cava from Spain. And, of course, Champagne from France. Crémant is a French alternative
Campfire and Cookout
Nothing says summer like a campfire and cooking over an open flame. We believe life is just better with the sound of crackling wood in the background and sitting in a circle of lawn chairs with people you enjoy. And any kind of food tastes better when cooked over the fire.
Wine picks: This setting calls for fun, laid-back wines that can pair with camp food from hot dogs and potato salad to shrimp skewers and gazpacho. For whites, we go for Sauvignon Blanc. For reds, we like some Tempranillo with a nice blend of flavors and a little Spanish influence.
Dinner Party on the Patio
Whether it’s formal or casual, having friends and family over for dinner outside is a no- brainer for a fun evening.
Wine picks: We go for classics here. Chardonnay for the white to pair with salads and lighter food, and Cabernet Sauvignon as a companion to burgers or BBQ. The different styles of these wines can please everyone.
And we think the wine growler at Talley Vineyards might just be the perfect dinner party wine. It’s 2.5 bottles of nice wine, with rotating varietals available. And how fun it is to open up a growler and let the party begin.
Pitch a Tent or Stay at a Cabin
Beach camping near the Oceano Dunes or renting a cabin in the hills? Best things ever. When life gets crazy, nature is the best medicine.
Wine picks: For us, a white wine for camping needs to be substantial, so we’ll pick Roussanne. For red, Zinfandel fits well with camping out. It just tastes like relaxing should taste, kicking back in a camp chair and taking in the views.
Since it’s possible to garden year-round on the Central Coast, it’s rewarding any day of the year. When the weeds are pulled, the bushes are trimmed, and the flowers are tucked into vases, it’s time to relax and enjoy the serenity.
Wine picks: A chilled glass of Rosé is darned tasty, especially on a warm afternoon. For reds, we like cold-climate Syrah. If the sun’s setting and it’s time to really relax, a little bit of late-harvest wine or tawny port hits the spot.
Warmer Days and Perfect Wine
The warmer days of spring and summer along the Central Coast lure us all outside. Whether you’re drawn more to hiking one of the Seven Sisters or sitting in your garden, enjoy the moment with the perfect wine.