Where winemakers dine ... and conduct business

Road Journals Blog—In Paso Robles, one of the most beautiful and fastest growing wine regions in the country, the business of wine-making sometimes occurs in the unlikeliest of places.

Just ask Amy Butler, winemaker at Ranchero Cellars, who sheepishly admits to having conducted business transactions in the most intimate spot at Villa Creek Restaurant.

“I’ve actually made deals to buy grapes in the ladies room there,” she said with a chuckle.

It’s not all that surprising, considering the bar at this popular restaurant is winemaker central. “The gossip all begins and ends there,” said Butler.

Paso Robles | Phil Price/Flickr

The place serves rustic Rancho Mission cuisine, and really gets hopping on “Taco Tuesday,” when it draws crowds for its carnitas, roast chicken, and chorizo and potato stuffed inside soft corn tortillas.

That Villa Creek is such a hangout for winemakers is fitting; owners Cris and JoAnn Cherry also have their own winery, Villa Creek Cellars, known for its Rhone-style blends.

The couple also raises dairy goats, egg-laying chickens, and Berkshire pigs, and cultivates a variety of lush fruit trees and vegetables on their 60-acre Paso Robles ranch, the products of which are often incorporated into dishes at the restaurant.

Chefs from other restaurants also flock to Villa Creek on their days off. After all, the winemakers don’t mind sharing their favorite turf.

Carolyn Jung wrote about winemakers' favorite restaurants in the May/June 2011 issue of VIA.

This blog post was first published in September 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.