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Paso Robles: not just bulk wine

 

 

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Paso Robles is located almost equidistant between the two major gateways to California – San Francisco and Los Angeles – and as such is ideally suited to wine trips. It is one of the country’s largest wine regions, with more than 26,000 acres under vine, and hundreds of wineries growing more than 40 varietals. If you want a wide selection of wines, offered by wineries ranging from tiny family operations to massive producers, Paso Robles is the perfect fit.


The area is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in California – grapes were first planted in 1797. York Mountain Winery – historically known as Ascension Winery – is the oldest continuously running winery in Paso Robles, founded in 1882. Things really took off in the 1920s and 1930s, as Italian families settled in the area and began planting large amounts of zinfandel. Many of the head-trained zinfandel vines in the region today date back to the 1920s. As in most of the country, wine production dropped off seriously during Prohibition, and didn’t truly recover until the 1960s. At that time a new generation of winemakers settled in the region, putting their focus on cabernet sauvignon – today the most widely-planted grape in Paso Robles.

 

Paso Robles is perhaps best known for its larger wineries – massive producers such as Meridian Vineyards, J. Lohr, Wild Horse, Treana, and others producing between 100,000 and 500,000 cases annually. But in the past decade, smaller boutique wineries have begun to make a huge showing in the area, and it has again attracted the attention of wine lovers as a world-class destination.


pasorobles02Many of these younger, smaller wineries focus on blends – specifically formulated to take full advantage of the region’s nearly-perfect climate.


The great grapes of Bordeaux and the Rhône, along with zinfandel, make up the bulk of these wines. Although it is possible to find formulations that mirror their counterparts in France, many of the winemakers are going their own way, creating innovative new blends that seek to tailor themselves to the unique soil and climate of Paso Robles.


With more than 180 wineries in a relatively-small geographic area, Paso Robles is a taster’s paradise. The tourism infrastructure is very advanced, so not only are there world-class tasting rooms, but also correspondingly-luxury hotels and restaurants. Some tasting rooms worth a special visit include: Villa Creek Cellars, Turley, Whalebone, Denner, and Caparone.

 

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