Tag Archives: Paso Robles

Campground Review: Vines RV Resort, Paso Robles, CA

IMG_3352Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Vines RV Resort
  • Dates of stay: April 8 – 22, 2018
  • Location:  88 Wellsona Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446
  • Type of campground: Private / Sun RV Resorts
  • Cost:  $50.70/night, with PA discount
  • Additional fees: None
  • Stay limit: None
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes
  • Cell reception:  good (AT&T)
  • Website: https://www.sunrvresorts.com/resorts/west/california/vines/
  • Pros: Beautiful resort with great amenities, in the heart of wine country
  • Cons: moderately pricey

Full Review

This is, officially, our favorite RV resort yet. It is like staying in a hotel, except that you bring your own cottage with you! The sites are stamped concrete pads, surrounded by immaculately kept landscapinIMG_3348g.

The pool area includes two heated swimming pools plus a beautiful spa. There is a laundry facility, a work out room, several ballrooms (for guest functions) and a small general store. And the bathrooms, my goodness …. seriously it was just like a hotel bathroom, complete with chandeliers and individual shower rooms. I liked it so much, I took my showers there instead of in my own bathroom, and that’s saying something! They were absolutely the nicest RV bathrooms I have seen yet.

The resort also offers cabin rentals, making it a great place for non-RV-ers to stay on property with their RV-ing friends and family. Just sayin’. According to their website, 1 bedroom cottages (sleeps 6) start at about $155/night.

IMG_3354We had the usual full hookup site with 50 amp electrical service, water, and sewer. Cable TV hookup was provided, but there were so many over the air channels available plus our Direct TV satellite feed – we just didn’t bother. Wifi was available, but our AT&T hotspot signal worked just fine. Site length was just right to accommodate the truck in the back and motorcycle in front. We also had a small patio with a picnic table.

The gate rate for the resort is not cheap – $75/night for our pull through site. However, they accept Passport America for weekdays, which brought our overall cost to a little over $50/night. I didn’t investigate long term (monthly) stays, which may be cheaper.

We only had one glitch while here – a water main break. Although the resort is relatively new (4-ish years old), the water main on the property broke because it wasn’t installed properly.  We did receive one email about the problem – while we were out adventuring – which didn’t give us time to fill our tanks to prepare for an extended outage. The water supply went on and off unpredictably for a day or so while they worked the problem, then went out entirely (without warning) and stayed off for a couple of days. The problem was finally fixed, and we managed, but the communication could have been better. It looks like they fixed the water line properly, so there shouldn’t be a repeat problem.

Paso Robles is located in the heart of wine country, there are over 200 wineries within a few miles. Downtown Paso Robles with its dining and shopping is only about 15 minutes from the RV park.  The Pacific Ocean and Pacific Coast Highway is about 20 miles away. Hearst Castle is less than an hour away. The Vines RV resort is a great home base for exploring this area. Starting later in May, the RV resort offers planned activities and an onsite bar/lounge (open on weekends). I could definitely see it as a spot for a family gathering for a long wine country weekend.

Bottom Line: Favorite spot yet! Loaded with amenities, the price is worth it.

Paso Robles, Part 2

IMG_3362A short way up the Pacific Coast Highway from Hearst Castle, you will find literally thousands of elephant seals lying on the beach in sandy coves. The rookery area is so popular, a boardwalk viewing area was constructed to accommodate all of the elephant seal fans without disturbing the creatures. According to signage posted at the viewing area, the colony was first noted around 1995 with a few dozen breeding females. Since then, the colony has exploded to over 15,000 (estimated) members, spread out over 6 miles of coastline.

IMG_3793The elephant seal spends most of its time at sea, but returns to the shore twice per year for birthing, breeding, molting and rest. Since the males, females and juveniles do this on different timetables, there is nearly always something to see in this area.

When we visited, we saw thousands of seals piled all over each other, jostling for position like cranky puppies. We watched, fascinated, as they flipped sand over themselves to protect from the warm sun. This was molting season for females and juveniles and, for the  most part, they pretty much just lay there. We were so fascinated by it all, we went there twice.

IMG_3782Continuing up the Pacific Coast Highway from the rookery area, the road rises and the cliffs become higher and steeper. This is the verge of Big Sur, some of the most spectacular seaside scenery anywhere. Unfortunately for us, a landslide closed the road just north of the entrance to the Big Sur Park. We got the merest taste of what it could be, but will have to save it for another time.

Paso Robles is best known as an up-and-coming wine region, with over 200 wineries in the area. We couldn’t possibly make it to all, but we gave it our best effort! The Paso area climate is highly varied, with large temperature variations from day to night (40 degrees) and many microclimates scattered through the hilly area. As a result, a tremendous variety of grape types can be grown within a fairly small region. You’ll find your usual Zinfandels, Cabernets, and Syrah alongside the less usual Grenache, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera. I tasted grape varietals I had never heard of before. Some were grown with irrigation, others used dry farming techniques. It was quite an education!

IMG_3377Tasting fees ranged from free to $40 per tasting flight ($10 seemed average), and we found red wine pricing from a moderate $18 to $100 or more. After a day of paid wine tasting, I discovered that our RV park office had a bunch of cards/flyers for free tastings! Score! I really need to check that FIRST next time!

IMG_3372A few winery standouts:  Eberle Winery offers free wine tastings (no coupon needed) as well as a free wine cave tour. They were the first in the area to apply for a mining permit to drill their own wine cave under their facility. The cave offers year-round cool temperatures naturally as well as higher humidity for their casks. The winery saved a bundle on warehouse fees and electric bills! They also have a dining area, for event rental. Very, very cool.

IMG_3816Another fun winery is Tobin James Cellars. They also offer free tastings every day (no coupon needed) and are known as the “party winery”. The pours are generous, the people friendly, and you can taste anything and everything you want! Their wines are also on the affordable end, with many less than $20.

One winery that was recommended that we didn’t go to was DAOU Vinyards. It is  situated on a hilltop with a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. Why didn’t we go?  Well, first off, they charge $40 per tasting flight, which is pretty steep. I mean, dang, I can buy at least one bottle of wine for that! Also, their wine runs upwards of $150 or more. So, if I really love one of their wines, then what? I’m not going to pay that much, I don’t care how much I like it! On “Say Yes to the Dress”, one rule is don’t try on a wedding dress that is over budget. I’m going to extend that rule to “don’t taste a wine you can’t afford”.

Words to live by.

IMG_3364One parting note — only in California. This is an actual sign seen on a bathroom door (it was a one-seater). Now, really, wouldn’t this be more efficient?

Paso Robles was awesome!  Beautiful scenery, great wineries, and super nice people. Now, on to Sequoia National Park!


Paso Robles, Part 1

IMG_3369And now – to catch you up! After weeks in a desert environment, emerging over desert hills into green pastures was like descending into a bit of paradise. It seemed as though God had drawn a line on the Earth – one side brown, the other side a lush green. The hills were carpeted with emerald green grasses and clouds of bright wildflowers while trees stood proudly dressed in their spring green finest.

IMG_3380Living in South Florida for so many years, I had missed the season of Spring. We had two seasons, pleasant and beastly hot and humid. During our two weeks here, I saw Spring! Lilacs and fruit trees bloomed, buds sprouted from the ends of barren twigs, and green leaves uncoiled from dormant grape vines. IMG_3345We were told that we “just happened” to stay here during the loveliest time – the green hills fade to a golden brown later in the summer. I love serendipity!


IMG_3788One of the main tourist attractions near Paso Robles (about a half hour away) is the magnificent Hearst Castle. As enormous and detailed as it is, when William Randolph Hearst died, he considered it to be only half completed (even though it was under construction for 20 years!). Hearst was an avid (compulsive?) collector of antiquities and he envisioned the castle as a way to bring a little of Europe home to those who may never make it overseas. He also kept coming up with new, grander ideas for the castle – resulting in constant change orders. I suspect if he had lived to 100, he would still have been building on.

IMG_3787I have been to other grand houses – Vizcaya, the Biltmore – but I am always still staggered by the scale of the European acquisitions incorporated into the mansions. How in the world do you purchase, disassemble, ship, and reassemble entire ceilings?! And huge gates, and sculpture, and on and on. It speaks to a wealth that I can’t even imagine. It is wonderful to experience though, and I’m glad they’ve preserved it for new generations.

The castle is a California State Park. You start at the visitor’s center located just off of the Pacific Coast Highway in San Simeon and buy tour tickets there (there are several to choose from). Depending on your tour, you board buses at designated times to take you up the winding road to the hilltop castle. Once your tour is over, you can enjoy the gardens as long as you like before boarding a return bus. The visitor center offers a 40 minute film documentary “Building the Dream”, which is best viewed before the tour. The Center also has a café and additional exhibits. It takes most of the day to see everything.

We experienced two tours during our visit; the “grand rooms” tour that is recommended for the first time visitor and the “Cottages and Kitchen” tour which allowed us to see two of the three guest “cottages”, the kitchen and the wine cellar! The “cottages” were built first, so the family had somewhere to stay when they visited. As they were built, one by one, they got grander and larger. The third cottage is over 5000 square feet and a work of art in itself. It was almost overwhelming, but absolutely a must-see if in the area.

Next up – Elephant Seals, Big Sur, and wine!