The first night of our stay, we slept with the windows wide open to get the full experience of sleeping near the ocean. Funny enough, as exhausted as we both were, neither of us could sleep because of the sheer ENERGY bursting through our windows from the ocean. It was the strangest sensation: a delightful insomnia. I've read that the ocean emits a ton of positive-ionic energy, particularly along beaches where the waves crash in. I don't know about all that, but I know what I experienced that night, and it was pure, blissful, positive ENERGY. I don't know how else to describe it. We didn't sleep much that night, but the second night we drew the curtains over partially-opened windows, and we slept through the night like content kittens to the sound of gently rolling waves.
Cambria is an immediate neighbor to the town of San Simeon, the home of Hearst Castle, the ridiculously sprawling estate of the late newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. We didn't stop by the Castle on this visit as we have toured it before, but if you're ever planning a trip to the area, it's definitely a don't-miss attraction.
Because it's much warmer than other California wine regions, the wines in Paso Robles are typically heavier, red Rhone-style wines (like Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah), but sophisticated winemakers in the region also turn out some great Bordeaux varietals and blends (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec). We took a day to visit several wineries and found that there are two halves to Paso Robles wine country: the west side and the east side. We found the wineries on the west side (closer to the ocean) to be more sophisticated and concerned with quality rather than just getting tasters drunk, as on the east side.
We visited Denner Vineyards, Tablas Creek, Justin Vineyards & Winery, and Tobin James, with a stop in San Luis Obispo for lunch and some olive oil tasting. Olives, artichokes, citrus fruit, and avocados grow rampant in the area, so farmers' markets and olive oil tasting are among the region's attractions. I've never tasted oils like wine (smelling aroma, tasting, and evaluating in a designated tasting room) and it was a pleasant surprise. My favorites were the high-quality extra virgin olive oils, and oils infused with local citrus oils, such as lemon and mandarin orange. Needless to say, we took home a bottle of local olive oil to enjoy on our salads and countless other dishes.
Cambria was among the most relaxing and enjoyable memories I'll entertain from this sabbatical. What a hidden gem!