Earlier this February, I took a road trip on Highway 1 Discovery Route, through San Luis Obispo County, a 100-mile stretch of topographically stunning, coastal California, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. From Los Angeles, I drove north as far as San Simeon, where I revisited the wondrous Hearst Castle; en route back, I spent six nights discovering a myriad of tasting rooms for which most of the vintners grow or source grapes from vineyards in nearby Paso Robles.
I extended my stay to visit Paso Robles and spent two nights at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort by Ayres, which had just opened in late 2015. Douglas Ayres, its visionary owner, fell in love with the rolling ranches in Paso Robles and decided to build a Tuscan-style inn here. The villa — complete with hundreds of antiques, a chapel, Mediterranean-style gardens, a bocce court and vineyard — sits on a 20-acre site near Route 101, just a few minutes from downtown Paso.
From the portico, I entered a soaring lobby where a huge glass chandelier changes color and the fireplace warms the seating area. The wide galley is lined with paintings by Russian Impressionists and landscapes by local artists, statuary and sculptures, antiques from India and family photographs. It leads to the central courtyard, an intrinsic part of the villa lifestyle, which can also be reached from the small, non-denominational, French-inspired Abbey through a Romeo and Juliet Tunnel, scaled to accommodate a horse and rider (or small carriage). There’s even a fountain and a double staircase, ideal for a bride and groom. Inside, there are small private dining rooms and boardrooms, plus a trio of meeting rooms that expand to a ballroom.
Off the lobby, Cello dining room serves freshly foraged and locally sourced, Italian-inspired fare prepared by Chef Eric Olson, formerly of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, and local wines including at least one made by Allegretto. The restaurant opens to an open-air, covered terrace on one side of the portico, while the spa opens to a private outdoor lounge on the other. The six-treatment room spa offers a tiny boutique, a lounge, wide corridors, high ceilings, a sauna and a couple’s suite. I received my Caudalie vinotherapy facial from Ashley, the aesthetician with a golden touch.
There are 171 accommodations in the mostly two-story structure, of which mine was a large, ground-floor room with 14-foot ceilings. The entryway held an armoire closet (with safe) and a piece housing a fridge and Keurig coffee pot. Farther inside the room included a king-sized bed, a sitting area with a couch and desk and French doors leading out to a terrace abutting the central courtyard. In the bathroom were a large glass shower (the 16 suites have bath tubs), double sinks, a monogrammed black washcloth for makeup removal and the perfect makeup light.
The resort is a 30-mile drive across Route 46 from Cambria on the coast, a beautiful drive that cuts through the hillsides and is worth it for those accustomed to a touch of luxury, even while visiting wine country.
Read more Global Traveler