A Dusk Light Show at Sensorio
Maybe you've heard of Napa Valley, where vino-lovers and elites travel for a romantic (and boozy) getaway. That northern hotspot is but one of California's blossoming wine destinations, followed closely by Paso Robles, its up-and-coming little sister on the Central Coast, 26 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Straddling the distance between Napa and Los Angeles, the golden, rolling foothills of Paso Robles frame endless rows of grapevines, soaking up the sun to create plump and juicy wine grapes. Vintners of all skills levels have wineries sprinkled among the gentle elevations; some full-time operators, some mere hobbyists bottling the dark liquid for their friends, complete with custom labels sporting gold leaf and the family crest.
On our travels south from San Juan Bautista, headed toward San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara for a weekend vacation, we often stop in Paso for good food and unique libations.
It was here, at the edge of town, that we discovered Bruce Munro's fantastical art installation, hidden in the hillside - Sensorio.
After launching similar outdoor light exhibits around the globe, Bruce brought his vision for Field of Light to California's Central Coast to inspire hundreds of visitors every night, allowing the setting sun to reveal nearly 60,000 stemmed spheres lit by fiber optics, snaking along the ground like a network of mushroom cities aglow.
Strolling through 15-acres of lit pathways, we marveled at the shimmering color transitions, ebbing and flowing through the rainbow, pulsing to invisible music.
As the skyline sank from orange to gray to dark blue, and finally black, the orbs grew stronger, overtaking the landscape with an alien brilliance, at once a solid carpet of color and individual points of light.
It turned out, the Field of Light was only the first portion of the Sensorio experience.
Walking down a grassy corridor, we turned to discover these 6-foot-tall Light Towers, a second installment honoring the wine country heritage with 17,000 slender bottles lit by thin bands of LED lights. As night fell, so did the simple white countenance of these glass towers, exposing solid columns of rich pinks, blues, and greens.
The silhouettes of onlookers provided another layer to the exhibition, creating a new work of art that only lives for a moment in time.
Sensorio is a stunning experience on its own, and is even better as part of a road trip to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, just a few hours down the coast.
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