Monthly Newsletter | September 2023

Welcome to the September 2023 edition of our newsletter!

In San Luis Obispo County, fall paints a special kind of magic. As the vineyards transform with hues of gold and deep purple, and the coastal breeze carries a hint of crispness, we’re reminded of the splendors of our region. This month, we delve into the unique autumnal experiences that SLO County has to offer. Whether you’re exploring our harvest festivals, embarking on a scenic hike, or sipping on a local wine beneath the turning leaves, we’ve got you covered. Grab your favorite sweater, and join us in celebrating the Central Coast’s autumnal charm. 🍇🍁🌊

HIKE OF THE MONTH

San Simeon Bay Trail

Nestled along the rugged coastline of Central California, the San Simeon Bay Trail in San Simeon offers a picturesque escape for those who seek to revel in the beauty of nature. As part of California’s magnificent Highway 1, San Simeon is primarily known for the iconic Hearst Castle, but its landscapes, consisting of undulating terrains, shimmering waters, and rich biodiversity, make the region a treasure trove of natural wonders. The San Simeon Bay Trail acts as a captivating window to these enchanting panoramas.

One of the distinguishing features of the San Simeon Bay Trail is its accessibility to people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a serene trail or a family with kids eager to explore, this trail has something for everyone. Stretching for about 3.3 miles round trip, the trail is relatively flat, making it a pleasant experience for those who aren’t inclined to steeper ascents.

Beginning near the W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach, the trail meanders along the coastline, offering unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean. The rhythmic sound of waves crashing against the rocks combined with the salty tang in the air provides an immediate sense of tranquility. As you walk, you transition through a delightful blend of terrains, from sandy shores to wooded areas rich with Monterey Pines and Coastal Live Oaks.

Beyond its scenic charm, the San Simeon Bay Trail is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. It’s not uncommon to spot sea otters playfully rolling in the kelp forests offshore or harbor seals basking on the distant rocks. The skies above often feature an array of bird species. Keen birdwatchers might spot ospreys, cormorants, and the graceful pelicans soaring overhead. The winter months occasionally bring forth the majestic sight of migrating gray whales, making the trail a strategic viewpoint for whale watching.

The trail isn’t just about natural beauty; it is also steeped in history. The pier at San Simeon Bay has been a landmark since the late 1800s and played a pivotal role in shipping goods during the construction of the nearby Hearst Castle. Pausing by the pier and gazing out at the endless expanse of water, one can almost hear the echoes of the past – of ships docking and goods being unloaded, of a time when San Simeon was bustling with activity.

The San Simeon Bay Trail stands as a testament to the timeless beauty of California’s Central Coast. It offers a unique blend of natural wonder, diverse ecosystems, and a touch of history. A hike here is more than just a physical journey; it’s an immersion into a world where nature’s grandeur remains untouched and unspoiled. Whether you are a local or a visitor, a single walk along this trail will create memories that last a lifetime.


RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH

Ember

Tucked in the heart of California’s Central Coast, Arroyo Grande offers a beautiful blend of vintage charm and contemporary dynamism. Among its many attractions, one that consistently stands out is Ember Restaurant, which has gained an almost cult-like following since its inception.

Ember is housed in a building that effortlessly combines rustic charm with modern elegance. Its architecture mirrors the culinary philosophy of the restaurant – a deep respect for tradition, with a bold step towards the future. The dim lighting, wooden elements, and the open kitchen setup make the dining experience both intimate and theatrical.

The restaurant’s name, Ember, offers a hint at its core culinary philosophy. The use of a wood-fired oven, which is central to many of their dishes, not only adds a unique flavor but also a touch of authenticity to each preparation. This method of cooking, rooted in age-old traditions, produces flavors that are both nostalgic and distinctive.

Chef Brian Collins, the visionary behind Ember, stresses the importance of seasonality and locality in his dishes. This emphasis on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients ensures that the menu remains dynamic, changing with the seasons to reflect the best produce the Central Coast has to offer. As a result, guests can expect a novel experience with every visit.

Ember’s menu is a tantalizing mosaic of Italian-inspired California cuisine. From wood-fired pizzas with toppings that range from the classic to the inventive, to house-made pastas that melt in the mouth, the offerings are diverse yet cohesively themed. Appetizers often feature fresh seafood, vegetables in their prime, and rich, savory meats. Main courses are hearty and beautifully plated, paying homage to both the ingredients and the culinary craftsmanship that goes into each dish.

Their desserts, too, deserve a special mention. They are not just an afterthought but a perfect culmination to the Ember experience, whether it’s a creamy panna cotta or a rich tiramisu.

No dining experience in California’s wine country would be complete without an exemplary wine list, and Ember doesn’t disappoint. Their wine selection showcases the best of local vineyards, emphasizing the region’s reputation as a top wine producer. For those who prefer other beverages, the restaurant also offers a variety of craft beers and expertly mixed cocktails.

What sets Ember apart, even more, is its commitment to the community. The restaurant frequently collaborates with local farmers, wineries, and artisans, ensuring that the community thrives together. This sense of collective growth and mutual respect has endeared Ember to locals and visitors alike.

Ember Restaurant is more than just a place to eat; it’s an experience, a journey through the flavors and essence of the Central Coast. It encapsulates the spirit of Arroyo Grande, a town that values its roots while looking confidently towards the future. Whether you’re a resident seeking a taste of home or a traveler searching for a memorable meal, Ember promises to stoke the culinary fires of your heart.

HOURS


Wednesday – Sunday:
4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Reservations:
https://www.exploretock.com/emberwoodfire?tock_medium=search_nav&tock_source=tock

CONTACT


1200 E Grand Avenue
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Phone:
(805) 474-7700

Email: 
info@emberwoodfire.com


BAR OF THE MONTH

Barrelhouse Brewery

Paso Robles, California, is widely recognized for its burgeoning wine industry, where sprawling vineyards and prestigious wineries stretch as far as the eye can see. But amid the grapevines and tasting rooms, one particular establishment stands out not for its wine, but for its beer: BarrelHouse Brewery.

Founded in 2013 by Jason Carvalho and Kevin Nickell, BarrelHouse Brewery quickly made a name for itself in the craft beer community. Their ethos is simple but compelling: “Good people, good times, and great beer.” It’s this combination of community spirit, relaxed atmosphere, and commitment to brewing excellence that has endeared them to both locals and visitors alike.

The brewery is nestled in the rolling hills of Paso Robles, providing a picturesque backdrop that’s as refreshing as the beers they serve. The grounds are not just about beer, though. The garden area, complete with its own waterfall and sitting areas, serves as a testament to the brewery’s commitment to creating a holistic experience. Many visitors find themselves sipping their chosen brew, surrounded by the natural beauty of the area, listening to live music, and feeling worlds away from the daily grind.

What truly sets BarrelHouse apart is their innovative and wide-ranging beer selection. They consistently roll out diverse varieties, ensuring there’s something for every palate. Whether you’re seeking a hop-heavy IPA, a smooth and light blonde, or something a bit more experimental, like a sour or a barrel-aged concoction, you’re bound to find a brew that resonates. Their commitment to quality is evident in every sip: clean, crisp, and full of flavor.

Their barrel-aging program is particularly noteworthy. By taking already impressive beers and aging them in whiskey, bourbon, or wine barrels, BarrelHouse adds an additional layer of complexity and depth to the flavors. Each barrel-aged beer tells a story, and you can taste the time and care that went into its creation.

But BarrelHouse isn’t just about the beer. The owners and staff have cultivated an environment where everyone feels welcome. From the laid-back events they host, like yoga sessions and live music nights, to their commitment to community outreach and charity work, they’ve ensured that the brewery is not just a place to drink, but a genuine community hub.

This is particularly evident in their community initiatives. BarrelHouse doesn’t just see itself as a business in Paso Robles; they see themselves as part of the community fabric. They often host fundraisers, collaborate with local businesses, and are always looking for ways to give back, be it through time, resources, or their delicious brews.

For those keen on diving deeper into the brewing process, the brewery offers tours. Guided by knowledgeable staff members, visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at where the magic happens. From the mashing process to fermentation and the final bottling, the journey of beer-making comes alive.

In a region where wine often takes center stage, BarrelHouse Brewery shines bright, proving that Paso Robles has more to offer than just vino. It represents the new wave of American craft brewing: establishments that are not just satisfied with producing excellent beer, but are also deeply invested in their communities, ensuring that patrons walk away with not just a great drink in hand, but also cherished memories.

In essence, BarrelHouse Brewery in Paso Robles is more than just a brewery; it’s an experience. One where good beer, good times, and good people seamlessly come together. And for those lucky enough to visit, it’s an experience that lingers long after the last sip.

Paso Robles Taproom


Open Daily
11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

San Luis Obispo Taproom


Sunday
12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Monday – Thursday
1:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Friday – Saturday
12:00 p.m. – Midnight


WINERY OF THE MONTH

VILLA SAN JULIETTE

Located in the picturesque heart of San Miguel, California, Villa San Juliette Winery stands as a testament to both the elegance of fine wine and the inherent beauty of California’s Central Coast. With its exquisite landscape, which boasts of rolling hills and expansive vineyards, this estate evokes a feeling of tranquility that’s hard to match.

Villa San Juliette Winery is more than just another winemaking facility; it’s a realization of a dream held by two great minds in the entertainment industry, Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe.

While they’re best known for their contributions to hit television programs like American Idol, it’s clear that their passions extend well beyond the TV screen.

Their shared vision for a premier vineyard was realized with the creation of Villa San Juliette Winery, a destination where guests are invited to partake in the finest wines while enveloped in an environment of unparalleled luxury and beauty.

The wines produced here stand out not just because of their high-quality grapes, but due to the expert hands that nurture them from vine to bottle. Villa San Juliette’s winemaking philosophy is rooted in a commitment to expressing the unique terroir of the Paso Robles AVA (American Viticultural Area). The area’s combination of warm days and cool nights, along with its varied soil types, make it an ideal location for producing a diverse array of varietals. Here, you will find everything from robust Cabernet Sauvignons to delicate and aromatic Viogniers, all echoing the uniqueness of their origin.

Visitors to Villa San Juliette are treated to more than just outstanding wines. The estate itself, reminiscent of a Tuscan villa, is surrounded by 130 acres of meticulously maintained vineyards. As you traverse its premises, you’ll stumble upon picturesque gardens, serene koi ponds, and even a chapel. Every nook and corner seem to tell its own story, encouraging visitors to take a moment, breathe, and truly savor their surroundings.

Perhaps one of the most delightful aspects of a visit to Villa San Juliette is the opportunity to indulge in wine tasting sessions. Guided by knowledgeable staff, you can explore the myriad of flavors and aromas each wine has to offer. For those eager to deepen their understanding, the winery often hosts tours detailing the winemaking process, from the cultivation of vines to the fermentation and barrel-aging processes.

Yet, what makes Villa San Juliette truly memorable isn’t just the wine or even the mesmerizing surroundings; it’s the feeling of community and warmth that permeates the atmosphere. The staff here display an earnest passion for their craft, and it’s evident in the way they interact with guests, sharing stories and insights about each bottle’s creation.

To complement the wines, the winery also has a culinary team that crafts gourmet dishes, each designed to enhance the wine-tasting experience. Fresh, local ingredients are transformed into delectable offerings that, when paired with the estate’s wines, create a symphony of flavors that’s hard to forget.

In conclusion, Villa San Juliette Winery isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience. It invites you on a journey where every sense is awakened, from the sight of sun-dappled vineyards to the taste of its exceptional wines. For wine aficionados and casual enthusiasts alike, a trip to this gem in San Miguel promises memories that will linger long after the last drop is savored.

HOURS


Thursday – Monday
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Reservations:
(Recommended by Not Required)
https://www.cellarpass.com/profile/villa-san-juliette-vineyard-and-winery?eventId=21700&book=true

Tasting Flight
$25 Per Person

CONTACT


6385 Cross Canyons Road
San Miguel, CA 93451

Phone:
(805) 467-0014 EXT. 101

Email: 
info@villasanjuliette.com


CHEF’S CORNER

Apple Butter Rolls

By Chef Candice Custodio

This is a super easy and versatile recipe for any occasion. Use your favorite apple butter and caramel drizzle to make this quick delicious treat. You can also get a little creative and change up the recipe! Substitute the Apple Butter with your favorite jam or chocolate spread. You can also substitute the caramel with your favorite cream cheese frosting, chocolate drizzle, or even maple syrup! Don’t want to bake it off right away? You can keep the cut rolls in the freezer and bake them off at your leisure. 

Chef Candice Custodio

A Cal Poly Alumni, Chef Candice Custodio is a Los Angeles native now permanently residing on the Central Coast. She has held various positions as an Executive Chef, Restaurant/Menu Consultant, Private Chef, and has been featured on the Food Network’s Chopped. She is currently the Chef and owner of Club SupSup.


SPECIAL EVENT SPOTLIGHT

Whale Rock Music Festival

Nestled amidst the sprawling vineyards and golden hills of Paso Robles, California, lies an annual celebration of music, wine, and community spirit: the Whale Rock Music Festival. This vibrant gathering, previously known as the “Beaverstock Festival,” has rapidly gained renown over the years, evolving from a modest local attraction to a must-attend event for music and wine enthusiasts from far and wide.

The enchanting backdrop of Paso Robles, renowned for its exquisite wines and scenic landscapes, plays a significant role in the festival’s charm. But beyond the natural beauty, it’s the soulful harmony between attendees, musicians, and nature that sets Whale Rock apart. The festival is an embodiment of what Paso Robles represents: a confluence of cultures, tastes, and experiences, all converging in a spectacular display of celebration.

Each year, the festival showcases an eclectic mix of musical talents. From indie rock bands to folk singers, jazz ensembles to reggae groups, Whale Rock offers a tantalizing array of genres. It’s not just the diversity of music that captivates the audience, but the passionate performances delivered on stage. Each artist, whether internationally recognized or a local favorite, brings their unique energy, transforming the vineyard setting into a pulsating arena of rhythm and melodies.

However, as captivating as the music is, it would be an oversight to not mention the other star of the show: the wine. The festival grounds are situated within the Castoro Cellars, a family-owned vineyard with a rich history of wine-making. Attendees have the delightful opportunity to indulge in wine tasting sessions, offering them a taste of the region’s best vintages. The festival masterfully merges the sensory experience of savoring a fine wine with the immersive power of live music, creating an atmosphere that’s nothing short of magical.

But Whale Rock’s allure extends beyond just music and wine. The festival is a true celebration of arts and community. Local artisans display their crafts, ranging from hand-crafted jewelry to intricate woodwork. Food stalls with a variety of mouth-watering options ensure that attendees are never short of culinary delights. For those seeking a more interactive experience, there are yoga sessions, dance workshops, and even a dedicated play area for children, ensuring the festival is inclusive for attendees of all ages.

Sustainability is another core value of the Whale Rock Music Festival. The organizers have taken commendable steps to minimize the festival’s environmental footprint. From encouraging carpooling to offering free water refilling stations to reduce plastic waste, every aspect of the festival reflects a deep-rooted commitment to preserving the planet.

The Whale Rock Music Festival, at its heart, is more than just an event; it’s a collective experience. It’s about community members coming together to celebrate their shared love for music, wine, art, and nature. The spirit of camaraderie that permeates the festival is palpable. It’s an experience where strangers become friends, dancing under the vast Californian sky, their spirits uplifted by the melodies echoing across the vineyards.

In conclusion, the Whale Rock Music Festival is a testament to the transformative power of music and community. It exemplifies how, when we come together, we can create moments that resonate deeply within our souls. Amidst the vineyards of Paso Robles, Whale Rock beckons as a sanctuary for all who seek the joyous union of sound, taste, and human connection.

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NEXT MONTH

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading our newsletter! ❤️

We’ll be back next month with even more ideas to hike around SLO County; a new bar, restaurant, and winery of the month; another extra special recipe from Chef Candice Custodio; and more special events you don’t want to miss! 

See you next month!

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We love San Luis Obispo County, and San Luis Obispo Guide was started as a way for us to share why we love living here and why tourists love coming here to visit. There are so many wonderful people, amazing places, and incredible products to share (not to mention all the fantastic food, drink, and wine!), and we want to promote that through our website, social channels, and podcast so everyone can discover what makes SLO County so special.