Grapes were planted here in the 18th century by monks to make altar wine.San Luis Obispo, the largest town in the region, is one of the oldest cities in California, founded in 1772 by the Spanish, who were bent on expanding their empire in America and spreading the Catholic faith.
A wave in the Pacific Ocean pitches forward as the sun peeks above coastal mountains in Central California. The average ocean temperature in July is 57 degrees. In, say, Laguna Beach, this property, with those majestic views, would be littered with Mc Mansions, hot tubs and Kardashians. “The Central Coast isn’t really much of a beach culture.” Not encumbered with overdevelopment, or much development at all, the area easily accommodates those wonderfully Californian pursuits of self actualization and awareness.
Dotted with small towns and family-owned vineyards, the region is an oft-overlooked cove of quiet, natural beauty. And I did just that, taking the leap on an impossibly bright June morning. In Newport Beach, more than 200 miles south, it’s about 70. For instance, at my hotel, free Wi Fi and HBO simply weren’t enough.
The entire beachfront is less than half a mile and contains a few restaurants and shops.
Early mornings, particularly in June, are shrouded with fog.
“Most winemakers around here are farmers, not celebrities.
We work the soil, the tractors, we’re from this land.” Napa and Sonoma draw about 10 million tourists a year, the SLO region about 1.2 million.
Avila and the surrounding towns of Shell and Pismo Beach sit on some of the most beautiful coastline in all of California. The aesthetic feel of the area draws people such as Michael Laboon, a celebrated local tile artist who bought a house in Shell Beach 17 years ago.
The coast here is pretty raw and relatively undeveloped. Just north of Avila is a beautiful strip of land overlooking the Pacific. Cattle hang out in the bright sun, munch on grass, gaze into the ocean. Details: California’s Central Coast “We have beautiful beaches here, but they’re more of a backdrop,” says Jason Haas, the owner of Tablas Creek Vineyard in nearby Paso Robles.
The next town south is Pismo Beach, just a ways down the road but miles apart in atmosphere. Guiseppe’s serves great Italian food, and the locals meet at the small but jumping bar.
Pismo is to Avila what Dewey might be to Bethany Beach. But the town is far more congested; lots of traffic lights, loads of surf shops, and if you have the sudden urge to get a tattoo, you’re covered. If you’re meeting your buddies and want to bop around town for a few beers, Pismo’s the place.
There are about 280 wineries in San Luis Obispo County, and wine accounts for about 8,000 jobs.