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Between Sky and Sea: Paso Robles Wine Country

Paso Robles Wine CountryHalfway between Monterey and Santa Barbara, Paso Robles is suddenly the focus of new found attention. Since the release of the movie Sideways and its Pinot-craving characters found themselves wandering through the wineries of California’s Central Coast, interest has been shifting Southward toward the incredible Syrahs, Cabernets, Burgundian blends—and even a few Merlots—being produced in Central California.

But Paso Robles is no overnight success story. Some rootstock dates back to the late 1800’s, though like most of California, prohibition all but ended grape growing until the 1960’s and 70’s. Until the mid-90’s, much of Paso Robles' high-yield production went to commercially blended bulk wines that laid the foundation for the growth of their premium wine industry. In the last decade small production wines, especially in the hillier wineries West of Highway 101, are winning accolades in this agricultural region often compared to the French Rhone. Many vintners prize Paso Robles for its unique terroir. The Paso Robles wine region has warmer nights than the north, a longer growing season (it typically doesn’t rain before November), special mineral qualities in the soil and a combination of intense heat and oceanic influences.

For visitors, the charm of Paso Robles is in the unspoiled, off-the-beaten path qualities of its wineries and restaurants. With a mix of large, tourist-friendly commercial wineries and artisinal, family-run operations, Paso Robles bridges as many tastes as it has varietals—making this area an increasingly popular wine destination.

Touring Paso Robles Wineries:

Robert Hall WineryThe wineries of Paso Robles on both sides of Highway 101 are generally divided by both topography and, to some degree, personality. To the east are some of the largest estates, EOS and Meridian Vineyards, in addition to Robert Hall Winery, which is known for its extensive 19,000 square-foot cave system. Wineries like Tobin James Cellars and Eberle Winery are both popular attractions and have a rowdy, fun approach to wine that is often associated with the east side of Paso Robles.

To the west are primarily smaller wineries like York Mountain, which has been in continuous operation since the late 1800’s.  It boasts having its own unique appellation. Also notable are Turley, Midnight Cellars, Peachy Canyon and L’Aventure. Further a field, and grouping themselves as the “Far Out Wineries” of Paso Robles are where some of the most critically-acclaimed wines are coming from: French co-owned Tablas Creek, a partnership with the famed Perrin family who own one of the most famous wineries in Chateauneuf-de-Pape in the Rhone Valley; the historic Adelaida Cellars, Le Cuvier and Justin Winery, which has a restaurant and inn on the grounds.

Learning More about Paso Robles Wine Country:

Spend three days with your nose in a glass learning what makes Paso Robles wine, vintners and growing region so unique. Paso Robles Wine University, “From Terroir to Taste” is being offered September 9-11 in downtown Paso Robles. Featuring many of the area’s winemakers and wines, guests may choose either the “101” (introduction) or “201” (advanced) course in order to learn about the tools, techniques, and ultimately the tastes that have put Paso Robles on the map.

For other events in the Paso Robles wine region, go to the San Luis Obispo Events Calendar!


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