Midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco there’s a wine country without attitude and pretension.It’s the farming area of Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast, where property costs are well below the sky-high valuations found in the Sonoma and Napa valleys — and where many industryites have found their second-home desination. Major buys by deep-pocketed outsiders are indicative of the region’s investment appeal. In 2010, Roll Intl. (part of Beverly Hills-based Stewart and Lynda Resnick’s empire of food-related concerns) bought Justin Vineyards and Winery. Since then, they’ve doubled the winery’s acreage by purchasing an adjacent agricultural spread. The Limoneria Company is developing Windfall Farms, a 724-acre, former Kentucky-style Thoroughbred farm built without any expense spared, and later bought-and-sold by Alex Trebek, into 10-acre residential parcels and equestrian estates aimed at gentleman farmers. And in May, Chinese investors bought the former Weyrich Winery production facility, 114 acres of vineyards and the now-closed upscale Villa Toscana Inn for $7.9 million. Paso’s charms provide an escape valve for industryites seeking a more rural, less populated area. “There’s a different of quality of life,” says Carole MacDonald, a TV producer whose credits include “The Biggest Loser.” She and chef/husband Santos opened downtown’s well-reviewed Il Cortile eatery in 2009. “There are a lot of people who come up for the weekend who are slowly making the transition to permanent residents up here,” she adds. One area in demand is downtown’s quiet residential side streets, close to the leafy city park, as well as Paso’s many wine tasting rooms and restaurants, per real estate agent Jim Irving. A recently listed, $410,000 historic cottage sold within four days. Outside town, a 118-acre property with 21 acres of prime planted vineyards and a 2,900-sq.-ft. home with valley views recently sold for $1.9 million. “Paso Robles is a small, still evolving cow town,” Irving says. Ranchers, grain farmers, viticulturists, winery owners and their clients create an interesting mix, he notes. And those interested in sightings might just spot native son Josh Brolin when he visits nearby Templeton, his hometown.
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