Paso Robles Wineries and Wine Country
Paso Robles wineries run the gamut in this robust wine region. There are large resort style wineries making dozens of wines. There are also small family run places that may make just a couple of wines from their own estate grapes. Wearing a cowboy hat doesn’t seem out of place here...+ More
Paso Robles Wineries and Wine Country
Paso Robles wineries run the gamut in this robust wine region. There are large resort style wineries making dozens of wines. There are also small family run places that may make just a couple of wines from their own estate grapes. Wearing a cowboy hat doesn’t seem out of place here. The region is more relaxed, rural and unpretentious than other wine areas.
There are more than 40 different grape varieties grown in Paso Robles. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel make up 72% of the regions 26,000 acres of vineyards.
The Salinas River Valley splits the area into the “West Side” and the “East Side”. There are over 200 wineries that share the appellation. The “West Side” is cooler and wetter. It has wooded hillsides with narrow valleys and chalky, limestone and calcareous-rich soils. The vineyards and wineries are generally smaller here. Most are located on country roads tucked back into the hills or along Highway 46 West. This is a great place to discover small boutique wineries. You will find some with richly priced wines and reputations. Others are family run wineries. The winemaker may even be the one pouring in the tasting room. Still others are small resort style places with grassy picnic areas and weekend entertainment.
On the “East Side” you find the largest Paso Robles wineries. Highway 46 East runs perpendicular to US 101 and is home to many of these great wine tasting stops. A few of them have grand visitor centers, wine caves, and entertainment. Off the main road (highway 46) you can still find some small wineries making less than 5000 cases a year. We featured a few of these in our Paso Robles https://californiawineryadvisor.com/top-10-wineries-visit-paso-robles/ feature.
Paso Robles AVAs
Currently there are eleven AVAs in the region. Paso Robles is the main AVA. It was founded in 1983. There are 11 sub appellations that range from cool coastal growing areas to hotter inland districts.
Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA)is large and diverse region covering 614,000 acres, growing a range of grape varieties including the noble Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot and Syrah. Vineyards planted to Rhone varietals are being developed as well as vines with Spanish and Italian ancestry.
The Santa Lucia mountain range blocks the marine fog from reaching very far east into the vineyards. This creates the distinct difference in climate between the eastern and western portions of the AVA. The AVAs are clearly distinguished by topography, vegetation and the length of the growing season. The western end has chilly ocean breezes in the evenings that cool the vines. The eastern portion is warmer and more arid.
Wines produced from eastern vineyards are usually full bodied. They are fruit forward and display soft tannins and lower acidity than those from the west. You can generalize and say the wineries from the east side of Paso Robles make more approachable wines. While the western Paso Robles wines are generally more age worthy and complex.
York Mountain AVA is one of the smallest in the state located on the far western side of the region straddling Highway 46. The area is part of the Templeton Gap and covers about 9,300 acres. The ocean is only seven miles away. This influences the grapes with cooling evening fogs and breezes. There are six separate vineyards and one winery in the AVA. These wineries produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
Wine Tasting Ideas for Paso Robles Wineries
If you are looking to visit a mix of the big classic Paso wineries and some excellent newer wineries: Top 10 wineries to visit in Paso
Looking for a full two day itinerary in Paso Robles: A weekend visiting tasting tour of Paso Robles
For some small producers or unique experiences: Six “off the beaten path wineries” in Paso Robles↑ Less