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Will Run for Wine

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By Chelsea Modlin

“Running is alone time that lets the brain unspool the tangles that build up over the days.”

Editor’s note: Chelsea Modlin’s visit with several members of the Paso Robles wine and spirits community was prepared to reach readers just before National Runners Day on June 6. Our timing is a bit late, but we know many of our readers are regular runners, too. We think they’ll enjoy hearing about some ways these folks enjoy the beauties of Paso Robles wine country.

 

We checked in with some of Paso Wine Country’s biggest runners and learned about their background in running, and the running hot spots in wine country.

 

Soren Christensen, Hearst Ranch Winery

 soren 375x500Soren Christensen

It takes special commitment to run a marathon, how many marathons have you run and why?

I have run 12 marathons in the last 9 years. The wine business can be so fun and decadent I like to have one on the calendar to keep me honest. The 9 years coincides with the birth of our oldest child, when I’m out running, it’s daddy’s quiet time.

 

What marathon city was your favorite to run and why?

San Francisco is just so picturesque, it’s a great distraction from your legs and mind. It’s far from flat but not as hilly as you might think.

 

What is your pre and post marathon meal, and if you could pair a wine with it, what would it be?

Pre-run is peanut butter, honey, and banana on sourdough and lots of water. Post run whine is far more common than actual wine.

 

What wine did you celebrate your first completed marathon with?

I cannot tell a lie, it was tequila and beer in the hotel hot tub in Santa Barbara! I used to be a boy scout for weeks prior to races but now that I’m a bit of a marathon veteran, I’ll relax and have a glass of wine with dinner the night before.

 

Do you prefer to run solo or in a group?

I love running with friends when we can coordinate on the weekends but log most of my miles solo. I’m a bit of a chatterbox when running with friends so they might be avoiding me.

 

Where is your favorite place in Paso Robles Wine Country to run?

I have a predawn 10k route that I run 2 mornings a week around downtown Paso Robles. Seeing our town so peaceful and quiet with no cars or activity is a nice change from the bustling activity the rest of the time.

 

How does running as a sport play into your winemaking style?

Patience comes to mind. Making wine is a long process as is training for a full marathon. Don’t worry about hitting a wall at mile 20 if you’re only at mile 10. Much like a race, wine evolves over time, and I like to react to it in the moment.

 

What trails/routes would you recommend in San Luis Obispo County to people wanting to get outside?

The ridge trail on the east side of Cuesta Grade is spectacular! It’s some serious climbing right out of the gate but the view from the radio towers up top is amazing. It’s a 10 mile total out and back and one of my favorite spots to run.

 

Are you still running during harvest, or is harvest running you?

I make a strong effort to keep running during harvest to blow off steam. I’ve run 3 marathons in the months of November / December to try and force the issue but I’ve had mixed results. We have a super hilly 5k trail that meanders around the winery property. If I’m itching to get out I can sneak in a quick run while the press is doing its thing

 

 

Janis Denner, Pelletiere Estate Vineyard & Winery

 Janis Denner 333x500Janis Denner

It takes special commitment to run a marathon, how many marathons have you run and why?

I’ve run 5 marathons. Why? It’s a challenging test of mental and physical stamina, not to mention great “think” time.

 

What marathon city was your favorite to run and why?

San Antonio, Texas. I ran it with my daughter.

 

What is your pre and post marathon meal, and if you could pair a wine with it, what would it be?

I don’t recall any pre-meal or post meals, in particular. I eat anything I want and drink a crisp rosé!

 

What wine did you celebrate your first completed marathon with?

I don’t recall but it was from Paso!

 

Do you prefer to run solo or in a group?

Always solo!

 

Where is your favorite place in Paso Robles wine country to run?

Downtown neighborhoods because it’s flat.

 

Are you still running during harvest, or is harvest running you?

I run regularly, and our winemaker makes the wines…Lucky me!

 

 

Alex Villicana, RE:FIND Distillery

Alex VillicanaAlex Villicana 

It takes special commitment to run a marathon, how many marathons have you run and why?

I have always enjoyed running partly because I enjoy eating and drinking and running helps me stay in shape. Also, it is a great way to explore. But, most importantly, it is my thinking time. I run without music – just me and the road. It gives me the chance to solve problems and be creative. My best ideas have come to me when I was running. I have run 10 marathons. It started out as a way to celebrate my 40th birthday and it quickly became a bit of an obsession. I will try another this year for my 50th and then will probably stick with shorter runs.

 

What marathon city was your favorite to run and why?

Definitely New York. Running through the different parts of the city and the energy that the fans brought was incredible. At one point, at about mile 17-18, I hit a wall and started walking. A woman jumped out from the crowd, slapped me on the butt and said, “You can do this, get going!” How could I stop after that?

 

What is your pre and post marathon meal, and if you could pair a cocktail/spirit with it, what would it be?

Bland food before, usually fruit and pasta and a couple glasses of red wine. After the race, I love to celebrate by going to a really nice restaurant and eating everything in sight.

 

What wine did you celebrate your first completed marathon with?

After finishing a marathon you feel similar to what you feel like after a long day of harvest so it is definitely beer after the marathon.

 

Do you prefer to run solo or in a group?

I enjoy both. I always run with my dog Buddy, that is a given. It is great to run with my wife, Monica, or with friends to catch up without the distractions of work. On occasion, it is nice to just be out by yourself and enjoy the solitude.

 

Where is your favorite place in Paso Robles wine country to run?

Oak Flat Road is my go-to run 3-4 days a week. It is a 4-mile run with beautiful vineyard views where my dog can run off leash.

 

How does running as a sport play into your spirit-making style?

Running helps my brain slow down and it is where I come up with my most creative ideas about the winery, distillery, and life in general.

 

What trails/routes would you recommend in San Luis Obispo County to people wanting to get outside?

Santa Rita Creek or Moss Lane, both in Templeton are great runs and a little longer that don’t have a lot of traffic.

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