A Few Things First:
Wow. What a day in the making! With many pivots, obstacles and learning on my feet, we are here - launch. This is our first offer day and it will be a little different than our normal route through a region.
The first two weeks are dedicated to a few of the wineries that I am greatly appreciative for helping me refine the beautiful wine club we have today. These wineries include Derby Wine Estates, Caliza Winery, Four Sisters Ranch, and P.S. Cellars.
While the above wineries are different in scale and focus, they all fit into the prestigious Paso Robles AVA. Now that thanks have been made, let's dive into the review of Paso Robles' viticultural diversity.
Paso Robles AVA Summary:
Intro: A link to wine folly with a great summary.
Driving through Paso Robles thirty years ago would have been quite a different scene than it is today. Imagine the development and boom that needs to occur to expand the region's wine acreage of about 5,000 acres in 1983 to approximately 35,000 acres in the AVA today. While the region has quite the history of trying to find out which agricultural product best fits the area, much of the land has always been golden rolling hills. This is still the case, even with 35,000 acres of green half of the year.
History: A link to Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
>Let's talk wine history: ever since the missions of California spanned from north to south, there has been the cultivation of predominantly Zinfandel grapes. Paso Robles has a generally warm climate making it perfect for >Zin, which is still is a large contributor to the wine heritage of the region.
The 1920s and 30s were ruled by the Zinfandel varietal. A little research into Prohibition could give some context into that varietal's link to thriving during the time by bypassing law under exemption made for religious use of wine, table grapes and, in some cases, moonshine.
>Later the 1960s came along and with the decade, the new star of the area, Cabernet Sauvignon. Just as Zinfandel was built for the Paso Robles' warm climate, so too was Cab. Cabernet took the area by storm with many large plantings, almost single handily getting to that ~5,000 acres by the 1980s.
>The 1990s brought Paso wealth, making it the "next big thing." I say this because of the interest that was taken in the region by old international wine families, particularly those with a connection to the Bordeaux and Rhone regions in France. This international investment and interest built excitement for the region, and some would say it was this interest from Old World wine regions that contributed greatly to the 30-year boom the region experienced in addition to it simply being a great place to grow grapes.
>Of late, the biggest hurdle facing the region is water supply. Even in non-drought years, some hard choices will have to be made. The last thirty years have been golden years where groundwater was used for nearly all irrigation. It is only the recent drought that has made this form of irrigation a public issue, pitting large farms against homeowners regarding wells that can't reach water. Only time will tell what lies in the future of Paso Robles.
The Wine: A link to Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
Cabernet Sauvignon is still the largest player in Paso Robles and for good reason. It has been one of the most popular varietals every year for a while now. While this may be a cornerstone grape of the region, I would like to focus on the 16-17% that is "Other Red." These other red varietals come from the Rhone and Bordeaux influence on the region.
It is these other reds that round off the edges of blends, giving variety to single vintages across the region. If you are trying a Rhone style for the first time, I will almost always recommend a Paso Robles - they tend to be wines with good value and true blend characteristics.
A great resource for Rhone-style blends in Paso is the Rhone Rangers who feature content throughout the state and even offer food pairings to try with these wines.
Thanks for reading. We highly suggest using the links above for additional research so that you can become an expert on the region! Our links will never be ads and are provided purely for your enjoyment and education.
-Garrison T. Yeandle