Is it possible that a simple country road can pull you back in time? John Denver thought so, but that was before email, Instagram, and endless texting ruined everything.
Today, I intend to find out.
Rolling through the winding, private dirt path that leads behind Paso Robles’ Alta Colina Winery tasting room, I am struck by the rugged beauty of wildflower blooms set against rows of green vines.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF TINKER TIN
- PARK IT HERE: The Adelaida District of Paso Robles is home to Alta Colina Vineyard—and now the Tinker Tin Trailer Pond, which features a unique wine country stay surrounded by the winery’s 130 organically farmed acres.
Oak trees, tall grasses, and ancient limestone formations rise and fall in my rear view mirror as I climb higher, higher—even higher still. From this precious vantage point, Paso’s famed Adelaida District unfurls all around in a tapestry of greens, browns, and yellows.
From up here, trucks look like ants—farmworkers, a lot like mites that might live on those ants. After admiring the view, I pass the winery’s barn-like event space, where wine tastings and conversations are known to overflow.
Ground squirrels dart across the rocky path while turkey buzzards slice across the endless blue. Today I’m digging on the warm, spring breeze and the promise of an oasis tucked away among wild sage and poppies.
I’d be unsure if I was even heading in the right direction, save for the perky “Tinker Tin Trailer Pond” signs placed here and there, guiding my slightly unequipped Kia Soul over dust and rock.
Soon enough, I descend a final slope, and the postcard perfect scene is revealed: A glittering pond crowned by five candy-colored vintage trailers. There is also Mr. Carl Holm, one half of Tinker Tin Trailer Co.’s laid-back duo, which includes his wife, Jaime.
The whole fantastic view—which includes a lounge area jutting out onto the lake complete with deck chairs, cozy fireplace, ample community table, and Alta Colina’s surrounding vines—feels a lot like a mirage at this moment.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF TINKER TIN
- WINE MEETS ADVENTURE: Each trailer at the Tinker Tin Trailer Pond has its own story. This 1959 Terry features a small kitchen, comfy Tempur-Pedic mattress, and original 1950s icebox with block ice—just like they had back in 'the old days.'
Carl shows me the lay of the land—a main feature of the stay. I mean, you can get WiFi up at the tasting room or barn, but why would you want to?
“This road stretches all the way out to Templeton, and over that ridge, you can see Lake Nacimento,” he says. “This valley, this whole wine region, is extremely unique, and this location is private to our guests who stay out here.”
Of course, the Trailer Pond is only 10 minutes from town (it feels like another world). A ride-sharing service can easily whisk you away to nearby wineries and farms, but I would personally want to stay put. This is the kind of place that requires nothing but the sunshine on your back, good wine in your glass, and the company of excellent people.
Country road, take me home!
Father-daughter team and Alta Colina owners Bob and Maggie Tillman understand the appeal. The small, family-owned winery believes in the importance of sustainable farming and is a natural partner for Tinker Tin’s new business, which first started off with trailer rentals and has grown to encompass teepees, tents, and bar trailers equipped with herb-muddling mixologists.
As surfers, campers, and horseback riders, the Holms believe that you always leave the land better than you found it. A nearby deck perched over a dramatic ledge not only provides a keen place for yoga and wine-and-cheese pairings, it showcases 130 acres of oaks, organically farmed vineyards, and native wildlife. Guests are encouraged to explore this entire property, if they want to. Hike, birdwatch, just unplug.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF TINKER TIN
- TRAILER ROYALTY: Tinker Tin Trailer Co. Founders Carl and Jaime Holm have a deep respect for true craftsmanship, as shown through their unique fleet of vintage trailers. The duo recently opened the Trailer Pond, located at Adelaida Winery in Paso Robles.
Up for a swim? The lake is deep and, thanks to recent rains, full, although there is a pump that does brings in fresh water from the tasting room when needed.
“I love to tell the guests to take the canoe for a spin and dip their toes in with your glass of wine,” Jaime says.
This wine retreat is romantic, yes—but it’s also a good place to make new friends. A communal cooking space and table make this opportunity built-in.
“We like this size we’re at now, with 10 to 12 people able to rent at once. It’s neat because if there’s five different couples in each of the trailers, you get this cool opportunity to meet your neighbors and have that sense of community,” Carl says.
Larger groups—including corporate clients—have also been known to rent out the whole shebang. Now, I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about “team building,” but Mother Nature sure has her way of helping push people to reconnect.
It’s awe-inspiring, really.
“There’s a pair of owls that live right here and come out every night. The frogs are absolutely insane. We put earplugs in the trailers, but a lot of people really like the sound. It’s like an orchestra,” Carl says with a laugh. “You aren’t bothered by any lights out here, so you can really see the stars.”
A string of twinkle lights runs along the trailer path and the crackle of a fire pit makes for stories told around the flame. I can hear you asking now, “But what about when nature calls?”
- OLD IS MODERN AT TINKER TIN TRAILER POND: The Tinker Tin Trailer Pond is located at Alta Colina Winery, 2825 Adelaida Road in Paso Robles. Group rentals, wine tasting/education packages, vineyard massages, and catered meals courtesy of Heirloom Catering are also offered. For availability, go to thetrailerpond.com. The company also offers event trailers, bar trailers, rental trailers for outdoor adventures, as well as teepees and tents. The annual Tinker Tin Trailer Prom, a celebration of vintage trailers, community, and country music, will kick off on Oct. 14, 2017, at BarrelHouse Brewing Company in Paso Robles. For updates, go to tinkertin.com.
The barn I noted earlier features a modern bathroom and shower for those who need a full body soap-up. Campers can also use a more nearby eco-friendly compostable toilet fitted inside of a small vintage horse trailer (Carl calls it “the Cadillac of waterless toilets”).
“This is really all you need. The experience is just real simple and minimal and in touch with what’s important; being in nature and being part of the vineyard,” Carl says.
That’s no understatement. As you lounge on a deck chair looking out over the pond, you are surrounded on one side by vivacious vines. Want to learn about terroir? This is the way to do it.
“There’s so much to soak in here. I feel like the Adelaida area is the place to be in the wine industry, but it’s also this hidden jewel,” Jaime says.
Speaking of “jewels,” that’s exactly the name of the couple’s 1956 canned ham trailer, which just begs to be oohed and ahhed over. Found in SoCal and lovingly polished to life, “The Jewel” features a striking diamond window, a feature the manufacturer made for just one year way back when.
Inside, the trailer is all original, from the flooring to the dinette seats to the counter tops, backsplash, and original birch wood interior. You’ll also find a comfortable Tempur-Pedic mattress and outlets for 12 volt electrical, but you wouldn’t know it from looking on the outside.
“We really try to preserve these trailers and keep their true integrity in tact,” Jaime says, adding that only one cosmetic change—a fresh coat of cheery yellow paint—has enhanced the relic’s beauty.
“We are purists in a sense. When we find trailers that are in good original condition, we want to showcase that charm,” she adds, running her hand over her handiwork. “After all, they’re only old once.”
Hayley Thomas Cain was proudly named 2015 Tinker Tin Trailer Prom Queen and is not really a fan of John Denver. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.