Many CISL San Diego and San Francisco students choose to take a road trip while they are studying English in California, and for good reason: the California coastline is gorgeous (and ever-changing) scenery!

If you only stop for gas and snacks, a drive from San Francisco to San Diego can take about nine hours. But why wouldn’t you stop? From beautiful Monterey and Santa Cruz to stunning Santa Barbara, there are countless places on the drive that are worth seeing! This is why many students choose to extend the drive over several days. During a road trip down the California coast, we highly recommend stopping in a charming (and more laid-back) wine region: Paso Robles.

Photo by Trish Hartmann.
Photo by Trish Hartmann.

California wine is typically associated with Napa and Sonoma, and for good reason: the wines are incredible! But wine is made throughout California, and the Paso Robles region produces award-winning, rich wines that impress. Book a tour with one of the many tour companies (there is even one that gives you a tour on a horse-drawn carriage!) or have a designated driver take you around the vineyards.

Wine tasting isn’t your only option when visiting “Paso” (as it’s often called). Paso has an incredible golf course, several museums (including a museum that has many old war planes, and another about the pioneers in California!), camp grounds, and excellent shopping in its charming downtown.

Paso Robles means “The Pass of the Oaks” in English, which is a great name for this region since oak wine barrels are used to age the area’s great wines! The word “barrel” is used in MANY English expressions: here are just a few that we commonly use in daily speech.

Sonoma Valley Winery

Idioms with “barrel”

The bottom of the barrel 

Definition: the worst of the least members of a group.

Example: The richest team buys the top athletes, and the other teams are left with the bottom of the barrel. 

To be more fun than a barrel of monkeys 

Definition: to be very fun or enjoyable.

Example: That show was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. 

It’s like shooting fish in a barrel

Definition: ridiculously easy

Example: That test was like shooting fish in a barrel. 

Before you head out on your trip, make sure to check out post on Vocabulary for Wine Tasting to prepare you for the experience of wine tasting in English. If you’re interested in other road trip locations, check out our posts on road trips to Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Palm Springs.