Paso Robles, the town and viticultural region four hours south of Marin on Highway 101, has always had a certain disregard for rules. Co-founded by outlaw Jesse James’ uncle Drury James, who came to California looking for gold in the late 1800s, the wine industry’s “Wild West” (and the state’s fast-growing AVA), is unbound by the tradition found in more rigid regions like Bordeaux and Napa. Independent winemakers have planted a dizzying array of grapes — from jammy zinfandel to acidic albariño — on the golden rolling hillsides dotted with twisty oak trees. (Rhône varietals and innovative blends are also hallmarks.)
Lately, it appears this ingrained experimental spirit is influencing local design. Acclaimed architects and designers from places like San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles have been commissioned to design hotels inspired by environmental awareness and the region’s rustic landscape. Guests at these properties can enjoy everything from a stay in sleek industrial upcycled shipping containers to an equestrian-inspired getaway.