The Santa Margarita Hills lured gold miners. Today, it's wine and cheese lovers. By: Jenn Garbee
Credit: Courtesy of Lucas and Lewellan Vineyards

You'll want to hit the hay early at Windrose Farm: Roosters replace alarm clocks on Bill and Barbara Spencer's 70-acre Paso Robles farm and organic apple orchard. After the noisy sunrise, tag along on Barbara's herb-harvesting rounds, bite into a just-plucked Red Dragon carrot, or take a hillside stroll with the couple's pasture-raised sheep. For dinner, head downtown to taste the fruits of your labor at Artisan, where chef Chris Kobayashi's menu features Windrose's organic produce and lamb.

For the softer side of the farm-stay experience, head 25 miles south to Rinconada Dairy in Santa Margarita. There you'll find a cozy guest room in Jim and Christine Maguire's Spanish ranch-style home, or a private apartment in the barn. During milking season (spring through summer), more than 100 ewes and goats will be standing by in the morning. Breakfast is prepared by Christine, who attended Manhattan's Natural Gourmet culinary school, with henhouse eggs, garden produce, and homemade jam. Even the bacon is sourced from ranch-raised pigs.

In the afternoon, nearby hiking trails, more than a dozen Santa Ynez Valley wineries, and the Maguires' favorite locavore restaurant, The Range, await.

Windrose: $20/tent site (15 max); $80/RV (sleeps four); Rinconada: Starting at $175 (two-night minimum).