Atascadero Art and Wine Stroll and Holiday Lighting Ceremony

Last Friday the City of Atascadero had their annual "Light Up the Downtown" Holiday Ceremony, and combined it with the quarterly Art and Wine Stroll event. It was cold, but not raining, so I decided to go after work. The Community Band played traditional Christmas carols at the City Hall, and a choir group from one of the local schools performed as well. There was a hot cocoa/coffree station set up for the kids and those who did not wish to partake in the Wine tasting. I was pleased to see TONS of people out exploring the quaint little downtown, and I got to check out some of the new businesses.

The wine tasting was $20.00 that included the wine glass, and they gave out a map showing which downtown businesses had wineries pouring, and/or art displayed, or if they just had water or snacks. I was really surprised to see it was a REAL glass, not the plastic ones they've handed out at the past couple of wine tours. It's really nice, but it was big, bulky, and heavy, and was difficult to carry around while trying to take pictures because it didn't fit in the wine glass holder I'd bought a few years ago specifically for these events. Luckily I was able to find places to set my glass down periodically! Unluckily I have tossed the map, so I don't remember some of the wines I tried (there were a LOT!). For example, this one in the picture below I recall as really enjoying, and I can see from a failed attempt at making a video of the event that is was Opolo Winery, but I can't recall exactly which wine it was. I also can't recall the name of the lady who made the cookies, but they were good, too! She paired different types of cookies, such as the chocolate peppermint one picture below, with the different wines being poured. Very unique indeed!


This group, Sharine and the Moonlighters, was so good! I think I remember seeing them at an event just recently (Taco Day on Traffic Way, maybe?), and thought they were really good then. I stayed and listed to them play several songs, and they lead singer even played the flute! I really enjoyed them, and hope to see them at a future event (The Sweetheart Stroll is coming up!). 


Ha! I love this lighted WINE sign! 


And this law firm's letter board is very fun and festive, too!


Fossil Wine Bar is new to the downtown, and I really loved the funky atmosphere inside! I'm looking forward to stopping in there sometime to just sit and enjoy a glass of wine!


DiGiovanna is a new winery to this event, I believe, and this Siciliani Rosso was really good! I hope they'll come back again!


I made back down to the City Hall in time for the countdown to the lighting ceremony. It's really pretty now that all the lights are lit on the Rotunda Building and around the light posts surrounding the Sunken Gardens! It's super festive and really feels like Christmastime!


Justin Winery is one of my all-time faves, and this was the first time North County Pilates has participated in this event, so it was fun to see inside the studio. 


This cute little vintage/antique shop wasn't open this time, but I really like their window display! This was really about as far as I made it - I never even crossed Traffic Way to check out the wineries set up over there! Honestly there were close to 20 wineries pouring, I think, and only a few of them had the 1 ounce pouring spout attached to the bottles, so I got a LOT of wine for my twenty bucks! It was, as always, a really fun event, and I'm SO glad there was nice weather for it! I really feel in the Holiday Spirit now! Bring on Christmas! Cheers! 


Atascadero Art and Wine Tour June 2015

So last Friday night was the quarterly Art and Wine Tour in downtown Atascadero. My mom and I look forward to these events, as they're smaller and less crazy than the Paso Wine Festival, Atascadero Wine Festival, and the Harbour Festival in Morro Bay have all grown to be. This one was okay, but didn't really measure up to the two previous Tours. There was very little food, and the pours were hit or miss - the first few wineries we tried did either the traditional one ounce pour, or less than that (barely a sip!), whereas the last few we tried toward the end of the evening ended up pouring about half a glass, which considering how big these glasses are was quite a bit of wine! And, speaking of the glasses, I already mentioned they are really too big and awkward for a tasting experience where you're walking around, but also just the fact that you are required to purchase a glass is a bit annoying. They'd do better to have a $10.00 BYOG entrance fee, and keep the $15.00 fee for those who want or need a glass. (Just a suggestion!!)

I mean, seriously, check out the size difference between the glass on the left, that we received at Friday's Stroll, to the normal-sized glass on the right that we got at the Atascadero Wine Festival we attended probably six or so years ago, which also includes the 1 ounce pour line for reference.


Anyway, I didn't mean to go into such a rant right at the start, but it's getting a bit outrageous, I think. We don't need giant glasses at these events (but we could use some more food!). We really did have a great time and got to try some delicious wines, some of which were new to us, and check out a couple new stores that just opened - the Socrates Coffee Shop and Book Odyssey used book store.


One of the new wineries we tried was Sea Shell Cellars who were set up in the 805 Boardshop (where I totally planned to purchase a pair of earrings I'd seen at a previous event, but, alas, they were gone!). We tried the Grenache Blonde (not pictured) and really liked it! Super light and perfect for sipping on a hot summer afternoon! Another pretty tasty new wine came from Paso Port Wine Company


Some old favourites were there like August Ridge, Opolo, St. Hilaire, and Pomar Junction, Tablas Creek, and Tarrica.





When we stopped at Arlene's Flowers (and tried the delicious Gewürztraminer from Tarrica), we were each given a lovely yellow rose. I was quite surprised they were giving roses away to everyone, as they're pretty expensive! Still, they're awesome and we put them in a lovely blue vase when we got home!


We also got to see their new landscaping, which is very similar to our backyard with a dry creek bed, bark, and drought-resistant plants.  I don't know who did the actually landscaping, but they did a great job! I even found a couple plants I really like the looks of, and plan to keep and eye on to see how they do this summer.



As we were walking around, I found a drinking board game that sounded fun (Darlene?) ...


... and also came across this awesome throw rug made entirely from jeans pockets! So clever!


And, finally, our last stop of the evening was Violette's Wings and Gifty Things where we sipped some Tablas Creek, and I ended up buying two awesome rings from Raea Gemstone Jewelry.


So, all-in-all, the evening was fun. The weather was perfect, the people were pleasant, and despite a few shortcomings, it was a really enjoyable way to spend a Friday evening in Atascadero! What did you guys do last Friday? Whatever it was I hope you all had a great time, and I'll see you next week! Cheers!

W is for Wine

You knew it was coming: W is for WINE! I do love to sip a good wine, and recently I did a red wine flight at the Grape Encounters EmPOURium in Atascadero, CA. This is one of the reds I tried, which I liked very much. I'm not 100% on this, but I believe it was the Satori Amarone from Italy. I didn't use any filters or effects on this one, so all you see is the gorgeous, real-life colour of the wine! Cheers!

R is for Red

This past Saturday my mom and I went down to the Grape Encounters EmPOURium in downtown Atascadero and I had a One Way Red Flight. It was a lot of fun, and I got to try some delicious new-to-me red wines. I'll be posting a more detailed entry about this adventure soon, so stay tuned! I turned to PicMonkey once again to enhance this picture by first cropping it, then using the Urbane filter to soften it. Cheers!

Art and Wine Tour March 2015

Last Friday was the Quarterly Atascadero Art and Wine Tour downtown Atascadero. My mom and I went, and had a really good time! The weather was fantastic, and it stayed light until almost 8:00 PM. There were actually quite a few people there (I saw about 25 - 30 people, but I haven't seen an official count yet), and there were a few new wineries as well. Unfortunately I didn't take any notes, so I'll just have to try to remember what we tasted.


I don't recall if August Ridge Vineyards has been on the Tour before. They're located out towards The Yellow Rose Inn where my Grandpa stayed for a time. Mom and I kept saying we should stop there when we'd go out to visit him, but we never got around to it, and now there's no reason to go out that way, so we probably never will. So, it was nice to be able to try one of their wines. I want to say it was a Viognier. Whatever it was, it was delicious! 


One of the new shops to open up downtown is Maui Teeth Whitening. They didn't have a winery, but did have an artist, Daniel Hernandez, who made this lovley, beachy sidewalk chalk drawing.


Pomar Junction is one of our favourite wineries! Sadly they didn't have their Picnic Chardonnay this time, which we love, so we tried something else. I believe it was their Viognier and we loved it as well.


There was an artist set up by the Pomar Junction table with what looked like watercolour prints and postcards, as well as a table of small BBQ chicken sliders, which were delicious! I'm not sure who the chef or restaurant was who made them, though.


Mondo is a new-to-us winery which was set up in the 805 Boardshop along with a woodworking artist named Janine Stone, who had some really cool stuff! Check out her Etsy shop: If You Give a Girl a Saw.


Stellar Vapes had Ruby Cellars pouring, again. I can't find a link to that winery, though, but I believe I tried a really good Zinfandel and my mom had either a Sav Blanc or Chardonnay, because she's not really a fan of reds.  


Indigene Cellars was pouring at the newly redecorated EmPOURium. They've got a bank of wines for sale, as well as a tasting counter in the back, and several tables where customers can sit and sip. The other section had wine-themed gifts and trinkets as well as a cooler with cheeses and meats.




Burbank Ranch was pouring at Arlyne's Flowers and Gifts, and I think it was the Grenache Blanc we tried. It was delicious, and will be one I keep an eye out to purchase! 


Lone Madrone was set up in a brand new clothing store called Farron Elizabeth   It was an aesthetically fantastic store - minimalistic and very much like a boutique store or art gallery you'd see in a big city, or even a small one like San Luis. Her stuff appeared to be all for teeny tiny people, though, but I did see a couple gorgeous scarves I might go back for. As for the wine, Lone Madrone is one of our favourites, so naturally we loved our tasting (whatever it was)!



Another new-to-us winery, Felten Cellars, was set up in Violette's Wings and Gifty Things, and their selection was quite good, too!



J&J Cellars seems familiar, so I believe they've participated in this event before. I believe I tried their Autumn Flight Barbara red wine and really liked it. (Of course, by this time we've pretty much hit every winery, so I would probably like ANYthing!)


I don't know who this guy is who was singing outside Eden's Attic, but he was pretty good. We sat and listened to him for a few moments before going inside. Hidden Oaks was supposed to be there, but apparently they didn't make it. Bummer, because we always like their wine!

Finally, we stopped into the little antique store next door, and discovered an olive oil tasting taking place with the Legacy Olive Company. I tried a Chipotle which was yummy and had just a little kick at the end, then tried the Garlic infused, and loved that one so much I bought a small bottle! I can't wait to cook something with it!


And, my TGIF/Vino Tasting Outfit of the Day: Floral printed jeans by Lane Bryant, back lace top and statement necklace by Torrid, and one of the newly purchased wine glass holders mom and I just bought Friday night at a booth set up in 805 Vintage and Thrift (a newly opened thrift shop which appeared to have a "For Lease" sign in the window! I swear they just opened a couple weeks ago! Hopefully they just haven't taken the sign down, yet!). I believe her name was Traci Decastro (because I have her business card and don't know why else I would've picked it up), but I don't see anything up at her Etsy shop right now, so don't quote me on that.

So, anyway, it was a super fun evening, and I'm looking forward to the next Art and Wine Tour coming up in June! Do you guys like to go wine tasting? If so, I highly recommend San Luis Obispo county, particularly the Paso Robles area. There are tons of wineries as well as shopping, hiking, parks, and beaches. It's a pretty cool place to live!


Art and Wine Tour September 2014

Last Friday my mom and I attended one of our favourite local events: The Art and Wine Tour in downtown Atascadero. This was one of the better Tours they've had with a total of 17 wineries representing their best wines, as well as some flavoured olive oils and vinegars, lots of yummy hors d'oeuvres, singers, dancers, various artists like photographers and painters, belly dancers, a country band, and even the drama department from Atascadero High School! To be different, we started on Traffic Way instead of Entrada and paced ourselves this time, so we didn't get to taste at every winery, and didn't get to see all the artists (particularly bummed about missing the drama department!), but we did manage to try some different wines, and got to browse some different as well as newly opened downtown shops and businesses. And we broke out of our rut! Yay, us!

Frolicking frog

Frolicking Frog inside Olive Tree Gallery.


Model posing outside Olive Tree Gallery - pull up an easle and draw a picture!

Our one big regret was not thoroughly perusing the map showing the business and their artist and winery before we started because Envisions Gallery had as their artist, executive chef Shannon McDuffie who prepared a food and wine pairing with Eberle winery which looked amazingly delicious! However, we had already been to six places before that and they all had lots of really good food (Wilwand Tea basically put out a full meal!), so we were already full by the time we reached Envisions and only tried the wine and looked longingly at the amazing food. That was a bummer!

EberleEberle winery inside Envisions Gallery. 

The food thing is kind-of hit or miss as this event; you really can't count on there being any food at all. At one of the first-ever Art and Wine Tours, every business that was hosting a winery had a variety of  hors d'oeuvres, fruit, or desserts, so we snacked the whole way around as we drank. We didn't even need to have dinner afterwards, or worry about The $20.00 Rule. The next time we went, only a couple places had anything at all, and they were crumbly little cookies, and dried up mini cheese and crackers. It was not enough, let me tell you! So, from then on we decided  to play it safe and have at least a small snack before going down there, so we weren't drinking a lot of wine on an empty stomach if no one was offering food.  Still, if we'd checked the map, we would've gone to Envisions first, and tried their food and wine pairing. I'm hoping they'll do that again next time!

St hilaireSt. Hilaire inside Grape Enounters Empourium

Still waters

Still Waters Vineyards inside Wilwand Tea Co. & Healing Arts

Robbins family olive oil
Robbins Family Olive Oil and Vinegar outside the Empourium 

Several businesses who participated in this event before weren't open this time, which was disappointing because I always enjoy browsing those shops, and a couple new businesses joined in. It's always nice to see new faces downtown, and I wish them all the best of luck!

 Demeter Winery at the Atascadero Family Chiropractic.

Ancient peaks 2

Ancient Peaks at 805 Board Shop.

Trader joes red

Trader Joe's Coastal Zinfandel inside Back on the Racks Consignment.

Pomar junction

Pomar Junction's fantastic Picnic Chardonnay inside the Historic Carlton Hotel.


All in all it was a great event - good job, Downtown Atascadero Association! Looking forward to the next big event!

Atascadero Art and Wine Tour June 2014


Recently mom and I attended the quarterly Art and Wine Tour in downtown Atascadero. It was such a fun evening tasting a variety of locally produced wine, meeting local merchants, checking out new little shops, and perusing the talents of local artists.

There were 20 wineries pouring, but unfortunately we didn't get to all of them before the Tour concluded at 8:30 (it really should just go to nine; it's Friday night after all!), but we managed to hit  a little more than half of them. There were some of our old favourites:  Pomar Junction (with their delicious Picnic Chardonnay!), Hidden Oaks, Eberle, and Castoro Cellars; a few we've tried before and liked:  Whalebone, St. Hilaire, and Lone Madrone; and some new ones I'm pretty sure we've never tried before: Pear Valley, Calcareous, Bianchi, and Tolo Cellars.



The weather was perfect for the Tour: sunny and warm, but just starting to cool off, and little to no wind! There were tons of people there, I think more than I've ever seen at one of these events. It was so nice to see so many people come out. Our downtown is struggling, to be sure, but it's quaint, friendly, and hosts several really nice, unique, fun shops! 

During the last Tour back in March, I think it was, this little store appeared to be closed. I was very sad because it's one of my favourite little shops in town. I'm not sure if they were just on vacation, changing hands, updating inventory, or what, but Times Since Remembered was back and filled with delightful things!!!



Rhonda's Relics is a brand new little shop that has lots of unique, vintage items as well as quaint gifty things. I really hope it does well! 





I've never been to the patio area behind The Spa Central Coast and  Avian and Claw (formerly Haven Wine Bistro), but it was quite lovely! Lots of seating and there were two wineries pouring there: Whalebone and Nobelle Wines.






When I first saw this paper-wrapped bench outside Envisions Gallery, I assumed it was a newly installed bench that hadn't been unwrapped yet. But when Iw ent around the corner and saw a wrapped up bicycle parked by the building and a small car wrapped up in front I realized it must be an art display! It was called Wrapture by Chris O'Mahony, and I thought it was quite clever!








Garth Wilwand  played some great tunes in the atrium between Wilwand Tea Co. and Healing Arts and Grape Encounters Empourium.  I tried to post a video of him singing "Message in a Bottle" to my Instagram, but I screwed it up, so you'll have to check out his music on his website linked above. 






So, it was a super fun night, but wow, that was a lot of wine! When we got home we noticed that the glasses we'd been given were even bigger than the Big Wine Glasses we got at another wine tasting event (though not quite as big as the Ginormous glasses we got at the last Atascadero Wine Festival we went to several years ago).  Just for fun I did some photo comparisons. The newest glass is the one on the left.



The first picture has the glass from a few years ago on the right (don't remember if it was the Art and WIne Tour or Sweetheart Stroll). This is the one we consider the Big Glass and is also our Friday Glass, because by Friday I really need a nice big glass of wine! The Ginormous glass is in the second picture, and I think breaks some kind of world record for the largest wine glass ever! Oh, and that teeny tiny glass in the third picture is the original size of wine glass we used to get at wine festivals/tasting events. Why they ever changed is beyond me! The bigger ones are so cumbersome when you're walking around trying to drink wine, eat food, take pictures and look at stuff.  Maybe next time we'll just remember to take some of our own glasses!

So, yeah, it was fun. Too much fun! I was planning to go to the Central Coast Oyster Festival in Avila Beach on Saturday, but woke up late in the morning just exhausted from what was really a busy, busy week that actually started the Friday before, and decided to not bother. Just the thought of spending hours fighting my way through throngs of people in the sun and heat for a few oysters and a couple cocktails just didn't sound as fun as it had on Thursday! Oh, well. Maybe next year!


Friday Five: Weekend Recap

Earlier this week I meant to write up a comprehensive recap of last weekend's adventure in Morro Bay, but this week has been crazy busy for me, and I just didn't get it done. Therefore I'll be recapping briefly in five bullet points:

  • Morro Bay was beautiful! We had sunshine and blue sky Friday and Saturday, then a return to the usual overcast skies on Sunday, which was fine. The only problem was the wind, which was outrageously brisk!
  • Mom and I planned to just have dinner in our room Friday night, but with Bella Vino's Wine Bar and Bistro just down the street, we couldn't resist going for a glass of the delicious Green Eye Chardonnay and their amazing bruschetta!

  • Saturday was the Morro Bay High School Bands on the Run 5k/10k/Half Marathon. I walked the 5k in a little over an hour (I think; honestly I'm not sure how to read the sheet below. I thought I walked it in 1 hour 16 minutes, according to the timer by the finish line, but the sheet looks like it was 1 hour 32 minutes. I don't know. All I know is I FINISHED!!), and despite the pain in my shins and feet, had a good time. That deep sand is a bugger to walk through - I don't know how the runners did it!  Later, mom and I wandered around the quaint little shops along the Embarcadero and had lunch at Stax Wine Bar. I can't remember the Chardonnay we had there, but it was good, as was their Caesar Salad special with steak (although to be honest, the steak might've been better if it'd been cut in strips, rather than 1/4" cubes). Unfortunately, I ended up with some rather uncomfortable issues (which I've mentioned before), and spent the rest of the day just relaxing in the room as much as possible.

  • Sunday I felt much better (why? who knows? I don't even know why I felt miserable in the first place!), and we were able to do some more shopping along the Embarcadero where I ordered a silver ring with an etched floral design at an gallery shop in Marina Square and bought a darling bird nest garden stake (photo coming soon!) at another gifty shop,  and a summer-weight white sweater at Poppy's. I probably could've shopped more - Poppy's had some awesome jewelry as did Fiona Bleu gallery - but I really should clear out some old jewelry first, and also I ordered tons of stuff online recently, so there will be another closet purge coming soon, too!
  • Later we had lunch at Off the Hook where I had a delicious soft-shell crab sandwich and tried their Cosmo martini which was made from Sochu instead of vodka. It was pretty good, but I could tell it wasn't as strong as a vodka Cosmo would've been. After that we wandered around a little more then headed home to get ready for the week. We had to mow and water the lawn, and I had to prep for a full week of work as well as after-work activities every night this past week, including tonight which is the Art and Wine Tour downtown Atascadero - always a fun time - and tomorrow, Saturday, which is the Central Coast Oyster Festival in Avila Beach. Can. Not. Wait!

  • Bonus Bullet Point: Wow, reading this back it sounds like all I do is eat out, and drink wine and martinis! Really, my life is not always this much fun! Cheers!