The state of California has made a reputation for itself as a powerhouse in the global wine community, and of course, we know the key regions that are the popular part of that success: Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and the Central Coast. However, California is a pretty huge state and there are other smaller American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) that are making names for themselves amongst the wine community.
One such region is Paso Robles, a city in San Luis Obispo, which is known for the production of olive oil, almond orchards, and of course wineries. The area is right in the middle of the state between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is made of beautiful rolling hills and foothill peaks. In fact, Paso Robles is the largest AVA in all of California with over 614,000 acres- 32,000 of which are planted with vineyards.
Climates here can range between hot and dry and cool and breezy, depending on the season. The rainy winters and hot summers allow for a lovely grape growing environment, as it’s the perfect combination of Los Angeles heat and San Francisco rain.
The wines of Paso Robles are typically reds and red blends, including Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon (and Bordeaux blends), and Merlot. Throughout these varietals, you’ll find plush, fruit-forward wines that are acidic and bright. The hot days in the summer help the grapes to get sweeter and full of sugar but the cool nights help to keep that precious acidic quality.
The heritage grape of Paso Robles is Zinfandel, with the first plantings back in 1914, but currently, the majority of grapes grown in the area are Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties.
The heavy hitters of California- Napa, Sonoma, etc.- are definitely worth your time and will always produce delicious wines, but it’s the slight underdogs like Paso Robles that will delight and surprise you.
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