Rotta Winery – Morro Bay & Cambria – 8/25/2012

Saturday August 25th 8:00 a.m. sharp was the start of one of MidCal MINIs favorite runs; the Morro Bay / Paso Robles Run.   This year like last, the group of MINIs (twelve) headed over to the coast by taking Highway 41 to the twisties on Highway 46.  Also like last year, the band of Merry MINIs stopped for a very enjoyable lunch and afternoon at Rotta Winery (virtual tour).


Rotta Winery, in Templeton California is located west of Hwy 101, just south of Hwy 46, at 250 Winery Road. The event included a Winery Tour, wine tasting and a catered box lunch for all participants. Upon arriving at the winery the MINIs were greeted by host and winery owner Mike Guibbini who led a tour of the operations.  After a great afternoon, several of the MINIs headed over to Cambria, Morro Bay and other nearby locations for the night and to take in some local sites and events.

Rotta Winery, founded in 1908 by the Rotta Family, is the only remaining family owned “original” winery in San Luis Obispo County. Mike Giubbini, grandson to the Rotta Family and Mark Caporale of Napa, combined their talents to “bring back to life” the historic and rustic winery. Today, Rotta Winery, just as in days of old, specializes in premium red and white wines along with flavorful and distinct dessert wines.  The 20-acre Rotta estate vineyard has 15 acres in Zinfandel and five in Cabernet Sauvignon. For now the Rotta label is focusing on red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, and Black Monukka– a dessert wine and Zinfandel Port. All of the fruit for the label is being sourced from local vineyards, especially those from the Westside.


Morro Bay, a favorite of the MINI group, provided the much needed cooler weather for those from Fresno who had endured 21 consecutive days of temps over 100 degrees.  Now predominately a tourist town, Morro Bay was founded by Franklin Riley in 1870 as a port for the export of dairy and ranch products. He was instrumental in the building of a wharf which has now become the Embarcadero. During the 1870s, schooners could often be seen at the Embarcadero picking up wool, potatoes, barley, and dairy products.  Since the beginning of the 20th century, the town has been a center for beach holidays. Tourism is the city’s largest industry. The most popular beach is on the north side of Morro Rock, north of the harbor. There are also excellent beaches north and south of the town which are now owned by the State of California.

In the 1940s, Morro Bay developed an abalone fishing industry. Having peaked in 1957, stocks of abalone have now declined significantly due to overfishing, it remains a fishing port for halibut, sole, rockfish, albacore, and many other species for both commercial and sport vessels. The town now combines the fishing industry with coastal tourism. In addition, oysters are farmed artificially in the shallow back bay.


Another coastal area popular with folks living inland is Cambria.  Early settlers were drawn to the area by its fertile lands, streams, and lumber. Additionally, miners were attracted to the area by the 1862 discovery of cinnabar, the mineral in which quicksilver is found. For awhile, Cambria was a boomtown, with $280,000 worth of quicksilver shipped out of San Simeon between 1867-70.

Originally an American settlement called Slab Town, it was centered at Leffingwell cove of today’s north Moonstone Beach, which also housed a wharf. As lumber, ranching and Quicksilver (mercury) mining increased in the area, the village adopted the more dignified name of Cambria, influence by a local transplant surveyor from Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

Other notable locations in the town include the historical Old Santa Rosa Chapel which was built in 1870, and as one of the oldest churches in the county of San Luis Obispo, held Catholic mass until May 26, 1963.  The church fell into neglect until 1978, when the chapel and cemetery were restored.

The primary economic activity of Cambria is tourism. Located on the Pacific Ocean the area has rocky cliffs and beaches. There are many hotels and bed & breakfasts, especially along Moonstone Beach Drive.  Cambria is home to the Cambria Historical Museum in the historic East Village and Hearst Castle is located approximately six miles north of Cambria with the Northern Elephant Seal rookery at Piedras Blancas just fifteen miles north.

A favorite spot for visitors to Cambria is the J. Patrick House.  J. Patrick House Bed & Breakfast Inn is an authentic Early American-style log home decorated in country decor and features a garden tucked in the forest, and a charming carriage house with eight guest rooms with fireplaces and private baths offered.  A full breakfast and evening wine and hors d’ouvres are included, and if  you are lucky enough, you might even have the Stuffed French toast with Pure Maple syrup!

Thank you Jon and Tina for another great MidCal Run and the much needed relief from the Valley heat.

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