Regions and Appellations USA California Central Coast San Luis Obispo County Paso Robles

Paso Robles Wine

Paso Robles is a large winegrowing area at the southern end of California's Central Coast region. At 666,500 acres (270,000ha) the official Paso Robles AVA is among California's very largest; it effectively covers the northern half of San Luis Obispo County. Paso Robles wines are typified by rich, ripe reds based on warm-climate varieties such as ZinfandelCabernet SauvignonMerlot and the Rhone Valley trio GrenacheSyrah and Mourvedre.

In 2013, proposals to create specific sub-AVAs in Paso Robles were ratified and the region was divided into 11 new designated appellations. Previously, Paso Robles had been the largest AVA in California to remain un-subdivided; in contrast, it is three times the size of the Napa Valley viticultural area, which has 16 individual designated sub-appellations. The sub-division recognizes the diverse growing regions in Paso Robles, with altitudes ranging from 700 to 2,400 feet (213-730m), a range of soils, and varying degrees of regional influence of the marine effects of the Pacific Ocean.

Daou Vineyards, Paso Robles
© Wikimedia/SD Dirk

Viticulture here dates back to the late 18th Century, when the first wine grapes (most likely of the Mission variety) were planted by Spanish missionaries. The first commercial winery was established in 1882, incorporating the region's earlist Zinfandel vines. Today, wine from Paso Robles are made from a wide range of grapes. The majority are made from the warm-climate varieties mentioned above, but varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also found, mostly in the very coolest vineyards of the region.

The AVA's northern limit is marked by the county line with Monterey County, from where it stretches southwards along the Salinas river valley for about 35 miles (55km). It stops just short of San Luis Obispo city, just on the other side of which lies the Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley AVAs. Its western edge is defined by the Santa Lucia coastal mountains, beyond which lies the Pacific coastline.

Despite its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Paso Robles' climate is remarkably warm and continental. This is due largely to to the hills that lie between the main vineyard areas and the coast. These shield the area from climate-moderating coastal influences, meaning hot days and cool nights almost everywhere within the AVA. The region is not entirely bereft of refreshing coastal breezes, however, thanks to the "Templeton Gap". This is not a single gap per se, but a series of narrow river valleys that bisect the Santa Lucia range, collectively allowing Paso Robles to "breathe" cool, coastal air in the afternoon and early evening. Regions vary in climate largely due to their proximity to the Templeton Gap and their relationship to the shielding effects of the Santa Lucia range and the Temblor Range to the east. 

The scale of soil diversity throughout Paso Robles is tremendous and it is not unusual to have several types within one vineyard site. Primarily, bedrock is composed of weathered granite, volcanic and marine sedimentary rocks overlayed with shallow combinations of sandstone, mudstone or calcareous shales. This is a stark comparison to the deep, fertile soils predominately found elsewhere in California. 

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Most Popular Paso Robles Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Austin Hope Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 295th 91 $52
Justin Vineyards & Winery Isosceles, Paso Robles, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 660th 91 $75
Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 1,023rd 90 $25
My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 1,052nd 93 $77
Justin Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 1,170th 88 $26
J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 1,183rd 88 $16
Saxum Vineyards James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles Willow Creek District, USA Southern Rhone Red Blend 1,603rd 95 $174
Daou Vineyards Estate Soul of a Lion Red, Paso Robles, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 1,811th 94 $149
Justin Vineyards & Winery Isosceles Reserve, Paso Robles, USA Bordeaux Blend Red 1,842nd 91 $144
Caymus Vineyards Paso Robles 1858 Cabernet Sauvignon, California, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 2,098th 87 $36
Saxum Vineyards Broken Stones, Paso Robles, USA Southern Rhone Red Blend 2,137th 94 $152
Daou Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 2,224th 91 $53
L'Aventure Estate Cuvee, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet - Syrah/Shiraz 2,960th 94 $116
Treana Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 3,023rd 90 $31
Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 3,341st 87 $15
Daou Vineyards 'Pessimist' Red, Paso Robles, USA Rare Red Blend 3,378th 89 $22
Daou Vineyards Patrimony Cabernet Sauvignon, Adelaida District, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 3,726th 95 $355
Justin Vineyards & Winery 'Justification', Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Franc - Merlot 4,084th 90 $60
Brady Vineyard Zinfandel, Paso Robles, USA Zinfandel 4,095th 87 $19
Tablas Creek Vineyards Esprit de Tablas - Esprit de Beaucastel, Paso Robles, USA Southern Rhone Red Blend 4,549th 92 $59
Austin Hope Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 4,580th $119
Vina Robles 'The Arborist' Estate Red Blend, Paso Robles, USA Rare Red Blend 4,730th 88 $16
J. Lohr Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 5,123rd 89 $29
L'Aventure Optimus, Paso Robles, USA Cabernet - Syrah - Zinfandel 5,317th 92 $62
My Favourite Neighbour 'Harvey & Harriet', Paso Robles, USA Cabernet Sauvignon 5,349th 91 $34
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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