For wine-loving RVers, Harvest Hosts memberships make great sense. No need to limit yourself, or designate a driver. Just sip your wine, enjoy the day, take in the scenery, then retire to the comfort of your rig.
Harvest Hosts offers plenty of winery hosts in California’s popular Paso Robles wine region. In fact, you could visit winery after winery and just move a few miles down the road each night.
On a recent trip to Northern California, I checked out several of these hosts.
Unlike some of the more remote wineries, none of the places featured in this article are far off Hwy. 101, so they make convenient overnight stops en route to other destinations.
Rio Seco Vineyard & Winery
Set on 43 scenic and serene acres, the tasting room and RV parking are situated next to a picture-perfect garden and gazebo. They even have fresh produce to purchase in season.
If the kids are along there are swings and a park-like play area. There’s also a beautiful picnic area with a wood-fired grill and acres and acres for walks.
Once away from the buildings you will find yourself in a scenic vista of vineyards and olive tree groves, set against rolling hills that cast shadows over the land while birds of prey soar overhead.
A walk here makes you feel as though you have been immersed in a quintessential California landscape painting. The Paso Robles wine region offers many such breathtaking vistas.
The wines at Rio Seco have names that reflect the late owner’s past career as a professional baseball scout. Baseball memorabilia also adorn the cozy tasting room. They make some terrific reds, my favorite being “Squeeze Play.”
According to the owner, Squeeze Play is a classic “spaghetti red,” because the blend changes each year. The one I tasted and was so fond of was comprised of 25 percent Syrah, 25 percent Zinfandel, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25 percent Cab Franc and Merlot. The result was a blend far more sophisticated than any of its individual parts, and one that you might think would be costlier than its actual $18 price tag.
Now would be a good time to make some Italian pasta with a nice marinara or meat sauce for dinner.
The hosts were friendly. The parking was level and easy to pull through, and everything was super quiet at night. Not even road noise will disturb your slumber.
I gather from recent Harvest Hosts reviews that the winery has been sold and the owner is retiring, but that Rio Seco will remain part of the Harvest Hosts program.
Tobin James Cellars
This Paso Robles wine region winery was not quite as scenic as Rio Seco, but they have a HUGE level parking lot across the street from the tasting room that offers easy in and out parking for lots of RVs.
When I visited, four huge Class A diesel pushers that were traveling together fashioned themselves into their own little camping circle. There was still TONS of space for others to park and nobody needed to be close to each other.
The Western-themed winery features an impressive antique wooden bar in the center of its tasting room that Jesse James and his gang used to drink at. Winery owner Tobin James purchased the bar at auction in Missouri years ago and had it shipped to California.
Too bad Jesse and pals had to miss out on fabulous wines currently served there.
Known for its reds, my favorite wine at Tobin James was surprisingly a white wine. Even more surprising for me, a chardonnay!
Caitlyn behind the bar was super friendly and super knowledgeable about both the wine and the history of the winery.
We had a great time conversing and she made excellent suggestions for what to try according to my tastes. She is who turned me on to Tobin James’ “Radiance” chardonnay.
I was reluctant and told her I don’t usually like chards. That’s when she insisted I HAD to try this one. She was right!
“Radiance” chardonnay is a crisp, refreshing, heavy on the minerals, white wine, more in the French style of winemaking.
I left with two bottles.
43 Ranch Olive Oil
Once you’ve had enough wine, venture about 35 miles north on Highway 101 to 43 Ranch. Part of Monterey County, perhaps 43 Ranch isn’t technically part of the Paso Robles wine region, but it is geographically close enough that I thought I would include it here.
This is a small, family owned artisanal olive oil producer, situated right off the highway.
When I visited in late September, they were gearing up for the harvest and new season, which runs from mid-October through Christmas. The ranch is closed for visitors during that busy period, so plan to visit before or after.
Owner Greg Traynor is so knowledgeable and passionate about the subject you will come away from a visit at 43 Ranch knowing how to evaluate and shop for quality olive oil no matter where you roam.
As a long-time food writer, I thought I knew a lot about olive oil. I was wrong. But after tasting 43 Ranch’s oils and conversing with Greg during the fascinating tour, I now have a much broader and deeper understanding of this important culinary staple.
For instance, quality oils are no longer pressed (that’s outdated technology), but rather are extracted by centrifugal force from freshly picked olives.
When professional industry tasters are evaluating and grading olive oils, they are testing for levels of fermentation. Extra virgin olive oil has the least amount, under 1 percent, with virgin olive oil being under 3 percent fermented. They are also grading for the number of “flaws” the oil has. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the only kind sold at 43 Ranch, has zero “flaws.”
The ranch offers three varieties for sale. My favorite was Picual, a Spanish-style olive oil with a bright, fresh, almost grassy flavor. Picual makes a great choice to drizzle over fresh tomatoes, or simply cooked fish, or even for bread dipping. Everyone I have shared this oil with since has raved about the quality, and I know it has resulted in some mail-order sales for 43 Ranch.
More Paso Robles wine region Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts has many more locations, mostly wineries, to visit in the Paso Robles wine region. I hope to do a Part II to this article next time I visit.
When I looked at the prices of the local Paso Robles wine region RV resorts I almost gasped. Not to mention they all seemed filled to capacity with trailers and motorhomes packed in like sardines on top of one another.
To my thinking, the Harvest Hosts plan provides much better value, and a far more memorable overall experience.
I shook my head and smiled a knowing smile as I motored past one of these resorts on my way to my next outstanding Harvests Hosts winery. If only they knew…
If you have visited other Harvest Hosts in this area, please drop your thoughts in the comments.
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