I was fortunate enough to be invited to try out the new Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXT on a recent trip, but this was no ordinary ride and drive, rather more of a full experience. The adventure began early as I boarded a small puddle jumper (possibly the smallest plane I have ever been in) from LAX to San Luis Obispo and this was just the beginning of what would be an amazing trip. Our destination – Paso Robles, nestled between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and known for its abundance of wineries, olive oil, hot springs and more.

The adventure continued that evening with a dinner and tasting at J. Dusi winery. We sampled their family owned and operated wines with the highlight being for me their Syrah and Fiorento. The beauty of wine tasting is not only the chance to sample new wines, but also the chance to meet new friends. Kawasaki brought together an eclectic group of people that I may have never had the chance to meet before this trip. One even being a wine writer for LA Weekly. Needless to say I picked his brain about wine throughout the trip as I have always appreciated wine, but am not educated enough about it. Why are wine coolers so popular? As I get older I appreciate subtle things such as wine, craft beer, coffee and more.

The dinner was set beautifully in the back amongst wine vats and barrels. It really started to feel a bit like the holidays especially considering Southern California is having an endless summer and as I write this it is still 80 degrees.

Prime rib, salmon, and fresh salad was served. The food in Paso Robles is some of the best I have had the opportunity to experience. Of course wine was served to pair with the meal. It’s an amazing thing to find how wine can bring out additional flavor when paired properly with the food.

The next day is when we really began our adventure. Breakfast at the Paso Robles Inn (next time I’ll be sure to try the Paso Robles Steakhouse within the hotel to try Chef Paul‘s cuisine). We then made our way to see the new Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXT.

This would be transportation for the day. The new side by side is Kawasaki’s latest and most powerful offering. A versatile vehicle that can be configured to fit up to six passengers. With the ability to not only roam wherever you need, but also with the power to tow and haul making it the perfect utility vehicle.

The interior of the vehicle provides all the amenities you could want and is also customizable. Our version had the premium feel and comfort and convenience that helps elevate the entire experience. There was plenty of space and room in both the front and back bench seat. The doors helped debris and such stay on the outside while trekking through the brush. There is plenty of space for storage including a glove box, multiple cup holders (fits the Scosche Boom Bottle nicely) and dashboard center pocket. The multi-function LCD instrument cluster was a nice touch and made it easy to read information from speed, odometer, 2WD/4WD indicator, clock and more.

I felt safe in the vehicle even while taking sharp turns at speed thanks to the Roll Over Protection Structure (ROPS), doors as mentioned before, and the three-point harnesses. The PRO-FXT also comes equipped with a roof to further protect from the elements such as sunlight and rain, which came in handy on this trip.

The cargo space in the back was ample enough to haul personal belongings and even hay bales (used later to feed the cows). My Think Tank photo bag easily fit and luckily I placed the protecting cover on it as we went through an array of elements from rain to dust and debris. The ability to haul and dump make this a very practical vehicle for all-types of applications including working environments. I could see farmers getting a lot of use from one of these. I would rather use this than a golf cart any day.

Using the cargo capacity of the Mule we were able to bring hay bales to the cows on the land to feed them. Hundreds of cows came to the area and it was a unique sight and smell.

There are of course other conveniences such as two 12V power outlets in the front with a couple of the models also having an additional two outlets in the rear to help keep your devices such as smart phones plugged in while on the go. We didn’t really have a need for the headlights on our excursion, but they have both hi/low halogen or equipped on the higher-end models LED headlights for more illumination.

Driving the Mule PRO-FXT is just plain fun. We took to the trails through farm land and backroads of the winery. We braved through various environments and the elements that only wine country could provide. Not only do the varied elements help to add stress to the vines to produce great wine, but also gave us a chance to put the Mules to the test.

Through paved roads the Mule PRO-FXT handled as you would want with speed and control and through the dirt back roads and various inclines and elevation changes the handling was exceptional. The tires gripped nicely on the soft dirt. On steep inclines a simple adjustment to 4WD and locking rear differential provided maximum traction through the terrain. We even took the Mules through mud and water albeit just enough to get wet and make a splash that covered our faces and goggles.

We made a stop for lunch at Fort Smith and were given some lessons in the history of the area and local animals. Our chef provided an amazing meal, true farm to table, complete with freshly picked vegetables for the salad and tasty sandwiches.

Further adding to the adventure was a chance to go zip line through the countryside. Thanks to Margarita Adventures for the opportunity. I’ve been zip lining before and each time provides enjoyment. This time was no different. I must say my favorite part was not only being able to snap a few photos while soaring above the vineyards, but also making the bean bag provided into the bulleye trash bin target.

Ending the journey we were greeted by Ancient Peaks wine, charcuterie, and a chance to talk amongst ourselves about the experience. The Renegade by Ancient Peaks has become one of my favorite blends, full of flavor. Not a bad way to end the day watching the sun come down while sipping on a glass of wine. I could get used to that life.

The only way to truly experience wine country is to actually see where the wine is grown and with the Mules and the right amount of approved access we were able to see exactly where the grapes are born. There was so much beauty in the farm lands that you really felt one with nature. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Paso Robles, I highly suggest it. It wasn’t my first and it certainly won’t be my last trip here. I enjoy this area even more than Napa Valley and to top it off its a lot closer of a drive.