Route 46 and Tin City
Heading east on Route 46 (Green Valley Road) is a spectacular journey. As you drive inland the landscape opens up, especially towards the coast. The peaks and troughs of the valley creating a dramatic panorama and you can see for miles, all the way to the sea. At the moment the hills are lush and green, black cows looking like the little plastic farm animals I had when I was younger. It's a steep drop either side of the road which adds to the effect, although on days when the fog is heavy (it can be like driving through a thick cloud), the road feels pretty perilous.
The route leads to Paso Robles (north) and to Atascadero via Templeton. Brooks has started working at a distillery called Calwise in Tin City, between Templeton and Paso, so we have been making the journey fairly frequently. As the name suggests, Tin City is made up of industrial warehouses. It is home to innovative producers of craft wine, beer and spirits.
We first visited Tin City when we went for a tasting at Nelle and Cordant winery. Here we met Tyler who put us in touch with Spencer of Danior Kitchen, who has given us opportunities work at some beautiful locations in Paso and SLO.
Paso is famous as wine country. Beyond the steep section of the highway, the landscape is taken over by vineyards of all kinds of style and scale (several have the appearance of mini castles and haciendas). Training stakes carve across the hillside, with gnarled vines wrapping around them.
Atascadero and Templeton are to the south. When there is time, we try and fit a walk in round there, before Brooks heads to work in Tin City. Three Bridges Oak preserve has some sweet, short hikes. It is about a 3 mile loop with and elevation gain of 900. The path winds back and forth up the sides of the valley giving great views through the trees, up or down. The path was shut the first time we tried, possibly as it was too early for the season, but currently it's open and the woodland is full of spring flowers. In the dappled light of the old oaks, it feels like a magical grove.