Paso Robles Wine Country, History and Fast Facts
Old historical and gnarly vineyards in Paso Robles Wine Country

In 1828 - 22 years before California Statehood - El Paso de Robles ("The Pass of the Oaks") became an officially recorded place. Over the generations the name shortened to Paso Robles.

The region has an interesting and varied past. Blessed with mineral-laden hot springs that are said to have powerful healing effects on the human body, Paso Robles became a destination in the early 1900's for wealthy spa-goers including many celebrities. Jack Dempsey, President Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas Fairbanks, Boris Karloff, Bob Hope, and Clark Gable were among those who stayed in Paso Robles. In 1954, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio spent the first night of their honeymoon at Paso Robles' Clifton motel.

Winemaking began in 1790 at the "Asistencia" on the Santa Margarita Ranch. Credit the Franciscan Friars, who are the pioneers of wine production all along the California coast, usually at one of the 21 missions they established. The Asistencia was an outpost they used to extend the influence of the mission system. In 1882, one of the earliest known ventures into commercial winemaking was the founding of Ascension Winery, later known as York Mountain Winery and recently renamed Epoch Estate Wines.

Some fast facts about Paso Robles Wine:

  • The Paso wine region is home to more than 200 wineries and more than 40,000 wine grape acres under cultivation.
  • The Paso Robles American Viticultural Area was established in 1983 with 565,765 acres. In 2014, 11 sub-AVA's were named.
  • Paso Robles has the greatest diurnal temperature variation - the difference between the overnight low and the daytime high - of any California wine region. It can vary by more than 40 degrees.The extreme temperature shift helps produce complexity and character in Paso Wines.
  • Cardinal Zin: The heritage varietal for Paso Robles is Zinfandel, and Paso has a well-deserved reputation for producing exceptional Zins.
  • Red wines are dominant. The most prominent varietal grown is Cabernet Sauvignon, at 39% of total acreage. The most prevalent white grape is Chardonnay, at just 5% of total acres.
  • Wine Spectator named five Paso Robles wines to its 2017 Top 100 list. Notably, this is not a ranking of California wines or even American wines, but of wines produced throughout the entire world. The wines were: 2014 Booker Obilie Paso Robles (ranked #10), Turley Zinfandel Paso Robles Ueberroth Vineyards (#16), Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles Willow Creek District (#22), Justin Justification Paso Robles (#24), and Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc Paso Robles (#26).

I'll close this blog with a wine aphorism that is apropos after every one of my many Paso Robles wine outings: "Forgive me, for I have Zinned."

~ Kay Syrah

Wine Country Guru Gal

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