March, 2016 Edition

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Find your own ‘La Dolce Vida’ at Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Worldly art, vineyards, and Italian eats come together for a European-style staycation to remember

There’s a good reason why Allegretto Vineyard Resort Owner Doug Ayres calls himself “the gardener.” He’s put a lot of heart and soul into the hotel since opening its grand doors this past fall, and we’re not just talking about a few bushes and statues. Twenty acres of sprawling vineyards surround the luxury destination. Stately olive and fruit trees dot the lush landscape. Fabulous statues, columns, and pathways ignite the imagination.
“This is a large agricultural project, from the trees to the vines, and I love to get involved with all the landscape design,” Ayres said. “I plant seeds, and those seeds can come in many forms. I help things to grow.”
Ayres began his search for land in Paso Robles about 15 years ago; his desire was always to build a hotel on a vineyard. The seed, so to speak, was planted at 2700 Buena Vista Drive in Paso Robles, a stone’s throw from countless Eastside tasting rooms. A family owned company, Ayres Hotels operates a string of European-style boutique hotels throughout Southern California. Allegretto is the company’s 21st to date, and stands as the family’s first full-service resort.
A world traveler, Ayres is enchanted by Italian, French, and Spanish architecture. As evidenced at Allegretto, the hotelier has a knack for bringing these cultures together with astounding harmony. Although the Allegretto Resort is decidedly “contemporary-meets-Tuscan: at first glance, worldly flourishes and flashes of color beckon around every corner. Asian and Indian touches can be found throughout the grounds, if only you look closely.
“All the art pieces are fun, because they all have their own little stories,” Ayres said of the collection. “We have art dating back to the Great Wall of China, 2 14 B.C. These touches really add an interesting perspective of time and speak to how small we are.”
It’s hard to deny the great grandeur of history as you stroll through the hotel’s relaxing Piazza del Magico, a 12,000-square-foot courtyard that takes its architectural cues from several different sources, including the symmetry of Italian villas, Renaissance palaces, and the cloisters of Benedictine monasteries across Europe.
There is a peace here that attracts both tourists and locals. Perhaps this is why staycations abound at Allegretto, where you can chill out with a massage, enjoy the detox sauna, take part in wellness fitness classes or frolic in a vast swimming pool flanked with breezy,

Allegretto Vineyard Resort is a European-style refuge that brings local wine together with worldly accommodations and vineyard views.

sun dappled cabanas.
“People in SLO County are coming for weekends or even the week,” Ayres said. “I love to come in and greet them and let them know, ‘this is your home, too.’”
Locals are invited to meet at the bar and watch the game on two flat screen TVs, enjoy a coktail the heated outdoor patio, sip artisanal hot chocolate by the giant outdoor fire bowls, or play a friendly round of bocce ball.
Similarly, guests and non-guests welcome to dig into fresh flavors at Cello Ristorante, the hotel’s onsite restaurant. Headed by Chef Eric Olsen, many ingredients are sourced from a flourishing edible garden just steps away from the kitchen. Most recently of the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and Centrally Grown in Cambria, Olsen is serving up Italian-inspired eats paired alongside an extensive wine list. That includes Allegretto’s own label, of course. The hotel-specific wines are sourced from Ayre’s Westside vineyard and other local growing grounds. The unique offering stands a testament to the region’s ever-expanding reputation as a world class wine destination.
Currently, you can sample four different Allegretto wines, each with its own charm: A 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2013 Zinfandel, a 2013 Tannat, and a 2013 Viognier. Ayres and his team are in the process of crafting an estate wine too: those grapes are currently in barrel awaiting the magical transformation that is winemaking.
“Why would I be so crazy as to build a hotel and do wine, too? It’s always been a dream of mine to have a vineyard and make wine, so I thought I’d go for it,” Ayres said with a chuckle. “It has a way of taking us back to the ancient traditions. We have avilla, a vineyard, and wine in which people can partake in. They truly get the whole experience.”
As for the name, “Allegretto” is a musical term describing a moderate tempo, 112-120 beats per minute, neither too fast nor too slow. It’s light, graceful, and comfortable — just how Ayres envisioned the resort to be.
“When people step in, they are removed from what they were doing, and transported to another place,” Ayres said. “My hope is that, away from daily routine, our guests can relax and focus on creative ideas that will guide them of their own journey through life.”
For more information on Allegretto Vineyard Resort, go to allegrettovineyardresort.com or call 369-2500.