The afternoon sun warms the soil beneath Cindy Newkirk’s dusty
boots as she gestures toward the faded black-and-white photos of
her family tacked up on the barn wall, otherwise known as the
WineYard. She’s already been out in the vineyard for eight hours,
checking on the water levels and worrying over the weather. It is
almost harvesting time and you can hear the pride in her voice as
she describes each step of the seedling-to-grape process.
Unlike most traditional wine tours that come with the requisite
showing of a temperature controlled barrel of a 95’ Cab Cindy walks
clients through a step-by-step journey from an empty plot of land
to a fruit-laden vineyard. The tour begins in the WineYard with an
in-depth lecture on soil ripping, plotting and root stock. The
vineyard has been in Cindy’s family for over a hundred years and
she is steeped in the wine culture. From the intricacies of pruning
to pesticides, Cindy is a wellspring of knowledge and explains
things easily, without relying on too much wine jargon. After the
lesson Cindy takes guests on a tractor tour through the Steinbeck
vineyard (no relation to the famous Steinbecks), pointing out the
differences in plots and plucking varietals for clients to
“What’s your favorite type of wine?” she asks as the tractor bumps
over the dirt swaths between vines. Soon there are clusters of
merlot, cabernet and zinfandel grapes scattered about the tractor.
We stop on a hill to survey her land and marvel at the view. You
can see her parent’s house from here, on an adjacent hill. She says
that when her parents were just married they used to sit on that
hill and dream of the house they would build there. And now Cindy
sits on this hill and muses about the future of the WineYard.
Located half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the
WineYard is in Paso Robles known as “Paso” to the locals and it is
an ideal spot for those craving an intimate wine-tasting
Paso, and nearby San Luis Obispo are both burgeoning cities with
plenty to attract tourists. In addition to wine tasting
(www.pasowine.com) and vineyard touring you can visit Hearst
Castle, take long walks on the beach, and if the season is right
(from October through February), you can see the migrating Monarch
butterflies at Pismo Beach.
Places to stay include The Carlton in Atascadero and The Villa
Toscana in Paso.
The Carlton offers excellent fine dining at their restaurant
diVine. The best item on the menu: the prosciutto-wrapped petit
filet. If you are an adventurer go ahead and order the wasabi creme
brule it comes highly recommended from the dessert chef, and it’s
The Villa Toscana looks like it’s been plucked from a village in
Tuscany, complete with intricate ironwork throughout the property.
A popular spot for weddings, the Villa fills up quickly from May to
September if only for the grand entrance the brides can make down
the spiraling staircase onto the lawn.
The Carlton and the Villa Toscana offer a 10 percent commission to
Cindy at the WineYard offers a 10 percent commission on any
bookings you make through her (www.thewineyard.com). Currently her
prices are $35 a person, which includes an educational presentation
and a jeep ride through the vineyard small groups (no more than
six) only. She is also willing to customize packages and can add in
a sunset picnic in the vineyard, or coordinate tastings with nearby
wineries, for example.
The Carlton Hotel
The super comfortable bed
The Carlton Bakery
The light on the alarm clock is very bright. Bring an eye mask if
you like it dark
Wi-Fi, easy access through a password supplied by the front
The Villa Toscana
The eggs benedict for breakfast
Resorts & Great Hotels 2005
Retracting televisions in the suitesthey literally disappear into
Only has eight suites and one villabooks up fast