After two years of living in San Francisco, I became cynical about the California wine country experience. It was gorgeous, but always crowded. The wine was delicious, but always expensive. The food was fantastic, but I always ended up waiting an hour in the heat for a table. It took a trip down south to the Central Coast to understand that Napa and Sonoma represent just a small slice of the state’s viticultural experiences. The small city of Paso Robles offers an entirely different vibe, free of crowds or pretention. It also has one of the most dreamy vineyard accommodations: The Trailer Pond at Alta Colina.
The Trailer Pond is a set of five beautifully restored vintage trailers clustered around a small pond in the Alta Colina vineyards. It’s a glamping experience, but with the canvas tents swapped out for candy-colored trailers that date from between 1957 and 1962.
While I was having a low-key stay with my mother in late November, the immediate impression upon setting foot in The Trailer Pond is that it’s meant for a trip with your girlfriends. Swinging on a hanging chair overlooking the pond and the rolling vineyard hills, I daydreamed about coming here for my bachelorette party, posing with my bridesmaids on the dock, and clinking wine glasses.
Rather than spend a ton of money on the usual spots for a big group getaway, consider making a Paso Robles vacation your newest squad goal. From snapping endless pictures of your darling digs to soaking in natural hot springs, here’s why a trip to The Trailer Pond at Alta Colina is the perfect base for your next epic girl getaway.
Move into your new home at The Trailer Pond
The Trailer Pond is tucked in a private area of the 130-acre vineyard, well up the road from the main tasting room. Smaller parties are welcome to book individual trailers (each trailer sleeps two), but if you book out the whole pond, you’ll get some perks. Group bookings include a bottle of Alta Colina wine in each trailer and a complimentary group wine tasting during your trip. The Trailer Pond is Instagram gold, with pastel trailer exteriors, twinkle lights lining the walkway, cutesy lawn decor, and lounge chairs on the dock overlooking the pond.
On the far side of the pond are a basic communal kitchen, a large gas fire pit, cozy chairs, and a picnic table. Rustic bathrooms are located nearby, but more fancy bathrooms are accessible elsewhere on the property. If you request it in advance, the Trailer Pond is happy to coordinate a wide variety of experiences your group will love, such as a lesson in crafting the perfect cheese plate, art classes, and full farm-to-table meals at the Pond.
Enjoy as many tastings as possible
Alta Colina, owned and operated by the Tillman family, has been growing Rhône-style wines, most notably syrah and grenache, since 2003. The winery is almost 1,800 feet above sea level and is influenced by intense sun exposure and air from the nearby Pacific ocean. While most of the wine is affordable, one standout splurge is the Sun Worshiper, an intense mourvèdre-based blend with deep, dark notes of black fruits.
You’d be remiss not to take advantage of the many other nearby wineries in the Paso Robles viticultural area. Some of Matador Network’s food and drink editors’ favorites include DAOU Vineyards, ONX Wines, and Halter Ranch. Should you get wine-d out, Paso Robles is not lacking in breweries and distilleries. Tin City is an industrial market in the warehouse district that houses BarrelHouse Brewing Co., Tin City Cider Co,. Wine Shine distillery, and in case you’re not yet sated, more wineries. Across the region, you’ll also find a number of distilleries that focus on brandy and grappa made from Paso grapes, like Pendray’s, Calwise, and Azeo.
Take in all the views the Central Coast has to offer
Alta Colina is Spanish for “high hill,” which you can experience on the trailer park’s Sundowner Deck. The deck is perched on the top of, well, a very high hill, and is a must-see view, whether you take your coffee at sunrise or sip wine at sunset. Large groups at the Trailer Pond also have the opportunity to book a private tasting at the Sundowner Deck and perhaps, even a yoga class.
Paso Robles is rife with opportunities to explore those hills further. Traverse more wineries and private farms on horseback with Central Coast Trailrides. Go on an Off-the-Grid jeep tour through small production wineries you won’t find in any liquor store back home. Or just get out and hike the gentle rolling hills of the region for free. If you’re down for an epic excursion, drive over to the iconic coastal Highway 1 and head all the way up to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive one-way with nonstop jaw-dropping ocean views the whole way.
Hit downtown for food, shopping, and more booze
Alta Colina doesn’t typically offer on-site food, but that’s fine because you want to experience the downtown Paso Robles dining scene anyway. One solid option is The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar, which serves up decadent wood-fired food, like brown-butter skillet cornbread and pork shoulder with white cheddar grits, and craft cocktails utilizing seasonal ingredients. For those classic California wine country, farm-to-table vibes, Thomas Hill Organics has upscale plates like duck confit, chicken liver pâté, and local burrata with stone fruit. For a rowdier late-night scene, Pine Street Saloon is the local dive bar with super cheap drinks and, apparently, a few resident ghosts.
If you love a little retail therapy, there will still be a few shops open for the evening crowd, but you’ll mostly find yourself peeking into closed windows wishing you could browse inside. So try to dedicate some time during the day to explore the eclectic shops, art galleries, antique stores, and fashion boutiques. If you only have time to hit one store before you leave, make it the General Store, which stocks local crafts from artisans, snacks and sweets, and quirky gifts for every age.
Relax in natural mineral hot springs
If you’re staying at a winery with your best friends, surrounded by even more wineries, breweries, distilleries and great bars, there’s a more than likely chance you’re going to wake up one morning with a slight hangover. Rather than call the whole day a wash, treat yourself to doing nothing at one of Paso Robles spas. Many of the wineries will mention Paso Robles’s mineral spring water as an attribute to the overall soil quality at the vineyards, and visitors can soak in some of the mineral hot springs. For a luxury experience, visit the River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, which offers various treatments in plush surroundings, like hot stone massages, hydrating facials, and a private session in the mineral hot tub. For an ultra-rustic dip, head to Franklin Hot Springs. Entrance is only $7 a person on the honor system — just deposit it in a can out front. We can’t think of a better way to end a trip than a quiet, steamy 100-degree soak in nature.
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