Traveling from coast to coast tasting the wines of the world is the stuff dreams are made of! Though traveling to every beautiful vineyard under the sun takes some time, thankfully we have wine enthusiasts and experts such as Hayley Stroh (@hayleyscellar) to be our guide and share with us the splendor of each location. Read more below about her recent trip to Paso Robles, California, and her recommendations for your next vineyard trip!
When thinking about California, it’s easy to forget that there is a whole bunch of state between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nestled just inland of San Luis Obispo in Central California lies Paso Robles, one of the fastest growing wine regions in the state. Affectionately known as the “Wild West” of wine regions, in Paso Robles, anything is possible.
With over 40,000 acres of vines planted in the AVA and more than 200 wineries, not only is Paso a must visit for any fan of California wine, but offers over 15 different varietals making it an ideal spot for those visiting hoping to please everyone’s tastes in their party. While Zinfandel was the first varietal planted in the region, Cabernet Sauvignon takes the lead with the most plantings followed by other Rhone varietals such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre. Bordeaux varietals Merlot and Cab Franc can be found readily throughout the region as well.
Unlike other central coast regions, Paso Robles is hot. During peak growing season, the temperatures can surpass 100 degrees on any given day. How is it possible that such well-received wines are coming out of a region where the grapes should become large, plump and diluted in flavor? The key is in what is called diurnal shifts; That 100-degree heat will drop as much as 50 degrees as soon as the sun goes down giving the grapes a necessary break from the heat and helping preserve their acidity.
What makes Paso Robles so unique? While the AVA was founded in 1983, in 2014, 11 Sub-AVAs were formed to specify the unique microclimates the area has to offer. Framed by rolling hills on the west and open plains to the east, you’ll find that the diversity of wines grown 10 minutes down the road is going to offer a flavor profile completely different than its neighbor.
Because of the distinct difference in climate and terrain between the west and east side of the region, the terrior is very prominently reflected when comparing side by side. Ask any winery in Paso and they will have something to say about which side their wine comes from. The west side which boasts one of Paso Robles’ most popular Sub-AVA, Adelaida, is comprised mostly of limestone-based calcareous soil which has a high pH level that helps maintain acidity in the fruit. The east side of Paso while also calcareous is mixed sandy loam and clay components which is great for bold reds such as Cabernet and Syrah.
From major award-winning wineries such as Justin and DAOU Vineyards, to hip, funky spots like Chronic Cellars, Paso Robles hits the mark making excellent wines on all fronts. Next time you are passing through California, or if you are looking for a spot that has the quality of wine without the hustle and bustle of Napa for your next wine tasting getaway, be sure to stop by California wine country’s hotspot.
Check back for more regional snapshots from other wine experts highlighting beautiful locations and fabulous vineyards around the globe! Have a favorite region of yours you’d like to share? Tag us (@Coravin) on all social channels!