Kids at Heart
May 25, 2017
Ziplines, kayaking, disc golf, fishing and concerts?! Paso Wine Country has it all!
Karl Wittstrom, Ancient Peaks Winery & Margarita Adventures, Niels Udsen, Castoro Cellars, and Rob and Paula Campbell-Taylor, Graveyard Vineyards give you an inside look at their winery’s kid at heart activities and the ideas that sparked it all!
Karl Wittstrom, Ancient Peaks Winery & Margarita Adventures
What is your kid at heart attraction? It’s our Margarita Adventures zipline tour, which is known as “the biggest thrill in wine country.” The Margarita Adventures zipline tour spans six distinct ziplines, including the new Double Barrel tandem line, our 300-foot suspension bridge and the Pinot Express—an 1,800-foot thrill ride that flies right over the Pinot Noir vines of our estate Margarita Vineyard. After your tour, you can opt to walk across the street to our tasting room and taste wines from the vines you just zipped over! Needless to say, it’s a distinctive outing that appeals to small kids and big kids alike, and we’ve been named a finalist in Sunset Magazine’s Travel Awards for the past two years.
What sparked the idea to add this attraction to your vineyard? We were already doing ranch and vineyard tours, and it was obvious that people really felt connected to our wine once they saw where it came from. This is a really special land, with its own unique growing conditions and scenery, and the resulting wines have a strong sense of place.
I had enjoyed a zipline tour in Costa Rica, and one day I was out on the ranch and the light bulb went on. I saw ziplines as a way of welcoming even more people to the ranch, and as a way to further share our passion for wine, nature, history and adventure.
Santa Margarita Ranch has a long tradition of what we call early rancho California hospitality, dating back to the 19th century. The winery and the ziplines are just the latest part of this legacy.
What is the funniest/wackiest personal or customer experience/story at your attraction? How about the most endearing? We had a gentleman who ziplined with us to celebrate his 98th birthday! He was a true kid at heart, and three generations of his family ziplined that day. That’s what is so great about a zipline tour—it’s something all ages can enjoy, and it becomes a lifelong memory.
Being featured on the Bravo television show “Manzo’d with Children” was also a kick.
If your attraction was a wine variety, what would it be and why? It wouldn’t be a wine variety, but rather a wine blend—specifically, an unconventional blend like our Renegade, which marries both Rhône and Bordeaux grapes. Santa Margarita Ranch has seen its share of cowboys, outlaws and entrepreneurs over the last 200 years. There’s an adventurous spirit to this place, and you could say that’s what inspires us to stick our necks out with things like unconventional wine blends and zipline tours.
What is your ideal “kid at heart” day in Paso Robles Wine Country? Breakfast at the local truck stop with the grandkids, squirrel hunting, selling a bunch of wine, seeing the faces of happy customers on the ziplines, team roping with my kids and grandkids, then a family bonfire on the ranch with some Ancient Peaks wine (I’m kind of a pyromaniac!).
Niels Udsen, Castoro Cellars
What is your kid at heart attraction? Whale Rock Disc Golf Course, our professional quality 18-hole disc golf course, set amongst vines and rolling hills.
What sparked the idea to add this attraction to your vineyard? Our son, Max, has been a disc golf enthusiast for years and played Ultimate Frisbee for Chico State. Building his own course was something he’d always wanted to do, a lifelong goal, even though he knew it was pretty much a pipedream. But when we cleared out an overgrown meadow in the vineyard for our first Beaverstock music festival, Max’s mind saw landscape with perfect potential to be a great course. The realization of his dream allows him to play anytime he wants for sure, but it also presents a really cool way to get people into the vineyard.
If your attraction was a wine variety, what would it be and why? A yet-to-be-discovered, incomparable, extraordinary, exceptionally rare variety representing an indescribably enjoyable journey to be remembered forever. It has no name, but it’s delicious!
What is your ideal “kid at heart” day in Paso Robles Wine Country? Early morning round of disc golf. Yoga. Champagne brunch. Nap. Repeat.
How do you balance your big dreams with reality? Never found reality, what is it?
Rob and Paula Campbell-Taylor, Graveyard Vineyards
What is your kid at heart attraction?
Rob– I’m not a real fisherman but I love to watch our guests, young and old, catch fish from our 1½ acre tasting room pond.
Paula-On the romantic side, it’s been wonderful to see so many couples propose on the dock, in the boat and get engagement and wedding photos with it. Never saw that coming!
What sparked the idea to add this attraction to your vineyard?
Rob– A bass pond was on my bucket list of things we were looking for when we bought our property.
Paula-It seemed natural to have a pond here with the park like setting. But that thought was way before we ever realized we’d have a tasting room!
What is the funniest/wackiest personal or customer experience/story at your attraction?
Rob– When the bachelorette parties decide that it would be a good idea to jump into the pond after a full day of wine tasting.
Paula– He forgot to add…”in the buff.”
To most, owning a winery is a dream come true, but you weren’t satisfied with just that. How have you made your big dreams/imagination come to life? Tips to inspire others?
Rob– For us, it’s our wine club members and the relationships that we have developed. It’s like a big extended family.
Paula– Creativity comes in all directions, including listening to what your customers think would be great to have too! And, most importantly, failure is NEVER an option.
If regulations and money were no obstacles, what dream experience/attraction would you add?
Rob– I’d love to have a 9 hole golf course out back.
Paula-I’d love to have a floating stage off the dock where we could have concerts for all to enjoy while they sit on their blankets around the pond and enjoy during a starry night and drink Graveyard Vineyards wines. Wine to Die For!