Tobin James is not only a winemaker, he’s the ringleader of one of California’s most memorable wine tasting experiences. Located in the ascendant Paso Robles wine country on the Central Coast, Tobin James Cellars is decked out in Wild West décor with a complement of aerospace photography (apparently, the winery has made a lot of friends at nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base). Toby, as he is known locally, is often on hand to personally pour his wines, and he is joined by a staff that is always upbeat and friendly. The result? A raucously packed tasting room with high energy and good vibes. Tobin James wines are consistently and affordably delicious, offering considerable bang for your buck. The 2005 Zinfandel “Ballistic” from Paso Robles ($16) is no exception, boasting bright juicy flavors, an easygoing texture and a hint of spice on the finish. Keep an eye out for it at your local wine shop.
If you make the trek to Tobin James Cellars, don’t forget to bring your sticks. About four miles west of the winery, you will find Hunter Ranch Golf Course adjacent to Highway 46 East. Hunter Ranch, like Tobin James, offers a lot of bang for your buck, with fees topping out at $78. Unfolding along undulating terrain with occasionally panoramic views of the surrounding wine country, Hunter Ranch has been hailed as “the best course on the Central Coast” by Golf Digest. It also features three separate practice putting greens, so it’s a great place to give your putter a serious workout.
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