Paso Robles Wine Country is centrally located between San Francisco and Los Angeles along California's Central Coast. As California's fastest growing wine region and largest geographic appellation, the 24 square mile territory encompasses more than 26,000 vineyard acres and nearly 200 wineries.
With a greater day-to-night temperature swing than any other appellation in California, distinct microclimates, diverse soils and a long growing season, Paso Robles is a unique wine region blessed with optimal growing conditions for producing premium and ultra premium wines. More than 40 wine grape varieties are grown in Paso Robles, ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne, to Zinfandel, the area's heritage wine varietal. Learn more about the Paso Robles wine region from the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.
About Paso Robles Rhone Varietals: The Rhone region in southern France on the Rhone River was first cultivated in grapes in 600B.C. The origins of Syrah and Viognier may be due to the Greeks bringing the Syrah grape from the Persian city of Shiraz, or as some say from the Sicilian city of Syracuse in by the Romans. The Rhone varietals got a tremendous boost by a group called the Rhone Rangers in California. Gary Eberle of the Estrella River Winery planted Syrah, and made the clones available to the grape growers of the Paso Robles appellation. A second wave of plantings began in the 1990s by grape vine cuttings of Chateuneuf-du-Pape varietals imported from the Rhone region by Tablas Creek Vineyard. Chateuneuf-du-Pape (also known as GSM), contain various proportions of Grenache (for fruit and acidity), Syrah (for dark color, spice and mineral), and Mourvedre (for tannin and structure). The Paso Robles terroir has turned out to be, ideal for Rhone wines and Rhone blends.
Paso Robles winemakers and wine grape growers are in accord when they say "Quality wine begins in the vineyard." Paso Robles wines tend to be deeply colored and rich due to the intensity of the sun, with fairly bright acidity due to the cool nights. However, beyond these generalizations, the region’s diversity prevents easy characterization of its wines.
California’s Central Coast is geologically different from other California wine growing regions. Unlike others with deep, rich fertile valley soils, there are four general soil types in the Paso Robles AVA primarily formed from weathering granite, serpentine, shale and limestone, with shale and limestone being the most predominant bedrock types. Soil diversity is the norm and a vineyard block may commonly contain several different soil types.
One distinguishing factor of the Paso Robles AVA is the abundance of highly desirable limestone and calcareous-rich soils found throughout the region. Due to geologic uplift, chalky limestone shale is plentiful in Paso Robles’ west-side hills, where dense clay-based soils combine with relatively plentiful rainfall to make it possible for some vines to be dry-farmed without supplemental irrigation. East of the Salinas River, gently rolling hills, many of which are also rich in limestone, are covered with sandy, loamy soils. In the watershed areas, particularly the Estrella River plain, loam and clay are overlain with sand.
The western boundary is just six miles from the Pacific Ocean. The appellation lies on the inland side of the Santa Lucia coastal mountains in San Luis Obispo County, and roughly forms a rectangle 35 miles from east to west, and 25 miles from north to south. It extends from the Monterey County border to the north, to the Cuesta Grade below Santa Margarita to the south, and from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the west, to the Cholame Hills to the east.
The Paso Robles appellation comprises 614,000 acres of which more than 26,000 acres are in wine grape vines. It is the fastest growing and largest by far of three AVAs in San Luis Obispo County, and the main reason that the county ranks behind only Napa, Sonoma and Monterey counties in planted acreage among the state’s coastal growing areas.
San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties make up the southernmost district of the Central Coast AVA. There are 26,400 acres of wine grapes planted in San Luis Obispo County and 17,900 acres planted in Santa Barbara County, totaling more than 44,000 acres. Together they make up 6.3 percent of the total state winegrape crush. The number one wine grape variety in San Luis Obispo County is Cabernet Sauvignon with 8,600 acres. Merlot is second with 4,000 acres. There are about 110 wineries in the County. In Santa Barbara County, Chardonnay is the predominant grape with 8,000 acres, and Pinot Noir follows with 2,900 acres. There are almost 90 wineries.