Monday, June 27, 2011

True Grit: The Dirt on Paso Robles

Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles, California
Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles, California
(Revisited 02/18/2013)

Just over a decade ago – when only 35 wineries existed in the undeveloped farming community – Paso Robles barely registered on wine drinkers’ radars. While the dusty, down home atmosphere has remained relatively unchanged, today over 200 wineries stretch across 26,000 acres of this Central Coast wine region.

Named El Paso de Robles – The Pass of the Oaks – for its wide canopies of oak trees, the newly fashionable wine region actually has a rich, storied history in grape growing and winemaking. The fathers of the Mission San Miguel planted Paso’s first communion wine grapes in 1815. Thirty-five years later, Europeans began migrating to the area and planting their own vineyards with imported Zinfandel and Muscat grapes, and in the 1880s, rancher Andrew York introduced commercial winemaking to the region when he founded Ascension Winery.

While it officially received its AVA status in 1983, it wasn’t until the turn of the 21st century that Paso Robles experienced its wine renaissance. Seduced by the semi-arid climate, low humidity and low rainfall, not to mention the abundance of open space and (relatively) affordable land prices, winemakers from France, Australia, South Africa and even the Napa Valley have flooded this charming farming community; since 2000, the number of boutique wineries dotting Paso’s winding hills has more than tripled.

Rich with shallow, decomposed shale and limestone as well as mixtures of clay, sand and silt, Paso’s rolling hillsides have proven to be a goldmine for hardy red grapes like Syrah, Grenache, Zinfandel and even Cabernet Sauvignon. Thanks to the cool, coastal breezes flowing over and around the Coastal Ranges each evening, Paso also boasts some of the greatest day to night temperature fluctuations in California (sometimes as great as 50 degrees), which allows fruit to ripen without sacrificing its acidity. For a fantastic overview of the varietals produced in Paso Robles (as well as a hilarious and entertaining video), watch "Paso Man":

Wineries like Justin Winery, Terry Hoage Vineyards and Tablas Creek consistently turn out award-winning wines from these complex soils. We’ve long been fans of Tablas Creek’s biodynamically farmed Rhône style blends as well as Justin’s famous ISOSCELES, a Bordeaux-inspired blend that in 2000 was named one of the top 10 wines in the world by the Wine Spectator.

To purchase these wines and more, click here to view our current Paso Robles wines.

Side Note: Thinking of visiting Paso Robles? Check out the JUST Inn, a luxurious four-suite B&B located on the Justin Vineyards and Winery property. There are no words for how spoiled the staff will make you feel. There are also no words for the local tomato and burrata sandwich found on the menu at downtown Paso Robles’ Artisan. The creamy-crispy-butter sandwich is served with razor thin onion rings and is best enjoyed with a glass of Grenache Blanc from one of the local wineries. Tommy Oldre of Tablas Creek calls it a downtown gem. We call it the feather in Paso’s culinary cap.

No comments:

Post a Comment