Pismo Beach is a place for great wine, surfing and
small town charm
Wine, Waves and
In Pismo Beach
Story and photos by Greg Aragon
ismo Beach is a gem on Californias rich central coast. With small,
beach town charm, legendary surfing waves, and a burgeoning local wine
industry, the city has grown into an exciting, eclectic destination
for the discerning traveler.
A friend and I began a recent getaway to Pismo
Beach at the ocean-front Cliffs
Resort, where we checked into a modern and comfortable 4th floor
suite. Overlooking the ocean, the spacious room came with a balcony
pointed at the water, a soft king bed, large flat screen TV, tub and
shower, small fridge, couch and lounge chair, MP3 player, and an office
area with desk, chair and free wireless internet.
The Cliffs Resort sits on rocky cliffs, overlooking
the Pacific Ocean
and pristine Shell Beach.
Beyond its 160 rooms and suites, the Cliffs Resort also
boasts a state-of-the art fitness center, big heated pool, gift shop,
business center, huge fake shark in lobby, more than 10,000 sq-ft of
meeting space, a full-service spa, and the delicious Marisol Restaurant
and Bar. The latter is where we enjoyed a scrumptious buffet breakfast
each morning during our stay.
But the hotels best feature is its picturesque
location on the rocky cliffs of Pismo Beach, overlooking the Pacific
Ocean and pristine Shell Beach. To help take advantage of this, the
hotel created a nature trail leading down to the beach and surrounding
caves and tide pools.
When not relaxing at the Cliffs Resort, we explored
the city. Renowned for its surfing, Pismo has now also become a hot
spot for wine-lovers and connoisseurs. With a unique Mediterranean
climate, helped by ocean-front hills that channel the right amount of
wind and sunlight into its vineyards, the region is perfect for year-round
wine tasting and wine making tours.
With a unique Mediterranean climate, Pismos
vineyards are perfect
for wine growing.
Pismo Beachs lush backyard includes the historic
wine regions of Edna Valley, Arroyo
Grande, and Avila Valley, where varietals such as Pinot Noirs, rich
Chardonnays, Zinfandels, Cabernets, and velvety-smooth Merlots are produced
by some of the most respected winemakers in California.
What we found engaging about the region is the intimate
setting in which many of the wineries are set. Many of the facilities
are family-run, with owners waiting to great guests at the front door.
This is in contrast to Napa
Valley, where giant wineries and crowded tours are common.
Center of Effort winery in western Edna Valley is
known for its distinguished Chardonnay.
One such intimate vineyard that we visited was Center
of Effort, a beautiful estate pitched along south-facing slopes
in the western Edna Valley, just 4.5 miles from the Pacific. The vineyard
unfolds along an uplifted ancient dune, with rocky and sandy soil, allowing
the vines to achieve natural balance in the ground.
The winemaking at this operation is led by Mike Sinor
and Nathan Carlson, both veteran Edna Valley winemakers and long-time
friends. Over the past 15 years, Mike has dedicated himself to the mastery
of Burgundian varietals, and Nathans winemaking experience in
the Edna Valley spans more than 12 years, during which time he has made
Pinot Noirs among other varietals.
The Lido Restaurant and Lounge at exclusive
Dolphin Bay Resort offers mesmerizing ocean views and great California
While touring Center of Effort, Mike and Nathan told
us about their handcrafted process of premium French oak barrels for
aging and native fermentations. We also learned about their latest Chardonnay
From Center of Effort, we drove back to Shell Beach
for lunch at the Lido Restaurant and Lounge, located at the exclusive
Bay Resort. Here, against a mesmerizing ocean-front backdrop, we
dined on Morro Bay oysters, shrimp cocktails, and curried shrimp with
rice and veggies. While eating we met Chef, Brian
Collins, who spoke of the inspiration behind his California Coastal
After lunch we lounged by the pool at The Cliffs Resort
and then walked down the nature path to the ocean, where we studied
vibrant tide pools and strolled along the sandy beach. From here we
drove to downtown Pismo Beach and walked along the citys historic
1200-ft-long wooden pier and then enjoyed a wine tasting at Tastes
of the Valleys, a quaint shop with more than 600 wines by the glass.
The tasting was led by owner Ash Mehta.
The Cliffs Resort boasts a nature path leading to
the ocean, vibrant tide pools and a sandy beach.
For dinner we discovered Sea
Venture Restaurant, located on the 3rd floor inside the Sea Venture
Resort, on the beach. With a memorable sunset view, we devoured Oysters
Rockefeller with melted spinach and bacon on half shell, Cesar salad,
baked salmon, and a Sea Venture signature trio of shrimp, scallops,
crab cake and tossed with pancetta and a roasted red pepper sauce. The
meal was complimented by local Edna Valley wine, cheese cake, and a
live Jazz band.
The Sea Venture Restaurant at the Sea Venture Resort,
features memorable ocean views, along with creative seafood dishes and
Besides all of its great attractions, Pismo Beach also
hosts numerous festivals throughout the year. One of these is the upcoming
Wine, Waves & Beyond held May 31 - June 3. This classic 4-day surf
and wine event features a Movie Premiere, a "Barrel to Barrel"
food and wine tasting event at The Cliffs Resort, a "Brew Masters
Dinner," and a Surf Contest. For more information, visit www.winewavesandbeyond.com.
Shell Beach is Pismos rocky, sandy paradise
The Cliffs Resort is located at 2757 Shell Beach Road,
Pismo Beach, CA 93449. For reservations, call (805)773-5000 or visit
www.cliffsresort.com. For more information on visiting Pismo Beach,
and about upcoming festivals and activities, visit: www.classiccalifornia.com.
County Oceanfront, San
Luis Obispo, Central
California Coast, Catalina
del Coronado, San