Though Napa and Sonoma may be California’s claims to fame, there’s a whole state of wine just waiting to be discovered. With over 480,000 acres under vine, supplying nearly 90 percent of America’s wine production, there’s more to the Golden State than just the North Coast. Today, we’re heading south to California’s Central Coast, specifically San Luis Obispo County, to discover the wines of the ‘Pass of the Oak Trees’: Paso Robles.
Although the United States is relatively ‘new’ to the winemaking world, grapes for viticulture sprouted up in Paso as early as the late 1700s. Vines were planted and tended by local missionaries, though wine wasn’t actually sold as a marketable product until the late 19th century. Just 30 years ago, less than 20 wineries existed in the Paso Robles area; however, since the region’s potential has become widely known, numbers have skyrocketed.
Today, over 200 wineries exist within the region’s boundaries!
The Paso Robles area is divided into 11 sub-regions, encompassing a total of 40,000 acres under vines. The area receives approximately 15 inches of rain per year, which is significantly lower than the national average. Abundant sunshine and warm climates allow grapes to reach plump, juicy ripeness. The area is known for its signature grape, Zinfandel, Bordeaux blends, and Rhône varieties, both white and red. In fact, Paso Robles was home to California’s first plantings of Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne. Today, over 40 grape varieties are grown within this versatile region’s boundaries.
As prices rise within California’s North Coast, many winemakers have been looking to the state’s Central Coast for quality grape growing areas for a fraction of the cost. With the continuing rise in the number of Paso Robles-based wineries, an influx of tourism has also come to the area, too. Numerous wine-focused events, such as Vintage Paso, Paso Robles Wine Festival and Harvest Wine Weekend are put on annually, luring California wine lovers to discover the region’s locally produced wines against the area’s breathtaking scenery.
For California wine lovers looking to switch up their Golden State game, reach for the wines of Paso Robles, perfect for chilly nights, steak dinners and all things comfort food.