Wine & Travel Update

October 7, 2011

We Ask:

What makes these wines unique?

How can I travel to the places where these wines are made?

Where can I buy these wines locally?

The Wines of the Paso Robles AVA

“Paso Robles is the wild west of California wine.”

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Paso Robles is a wine region for the wild-hearted. The town El Paso de Robles (which means Pass of the oak trees) was co-founded by Kentucky outlaws Frank and Jesse James’ uncle Drury around 1869. Today, Paso Robles is still considered by many as the wine industry’s wild west, characterized by that same rule breaking diversity and innovative spirit in which the town was founded.

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Depending on who you ask, Paso Robles is both California’s largest geographic wine region and it is the fastest growing, with over 200 wineries, mostly small family-owned producers.

Established in 1983, the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a diverse appellation located in the northern half of San Luis Obispo County.

The AVA’s western boundary is approximately six miles from the Pacific Ocean. Because of the diversity of terroir in such a large AVA, the Paso Robles AVA was 11 sub-AVAs. Paso Robles has a long history of producing quality wines made from Zinfandel. In recent years, growers began to plant Bordeaux varieties, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Rhône varieties, including the first Syrah planted in California.

What makes these wines unique?

Paso Robles Wine Country is a land of diversity and contrasts that encompass river bottoms to rolling hills and flatlands to mountains. The region’s prolonged growing season that’s full of warm days and cooler nights leads to big wines with vibrant and concentrated fruit. Paso Robles' Calcareous-based soil formation is a clay-based soil with high lime content, producecing higher pH levels, which allow for flavor concentration and retention of acidity in wine. The climate and soil of the Paso Robles AVA are a perfect match.

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Zinfandel is known as "California’s Heritage Grape.” Brought to this country by European immigrants in the mid-1800s, the grape prospered in California. Many of the originally planted Zinfandel vines were ripped out during Prohibition, but a few remained, and even more were planted relatively soon Prohibition ended in 1933.

Paso Robles AVA has perhaps one of the highest concentrations of Old Vine Zinfandel vineyards, including vines which produce some of the most coveted Zinfandel wines in the world.

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Cabernet Sauvignon makes up almost half of all grapes grown across the Paso Robles AVA. Temperate days, cool nights and well-drained soil echo the growing conditions of Bordeaux, France, which inspires local winemakers to produce world class Cabernet Sauvignon. Paso Robles' Cabernet Sauvignon has a rich mouth feel, deep complexity, and a velvety finish. Elegant, robust and age-worthy, award-winning Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon has garnered extensive acclaim across the region and around the world.

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The term “Rhone-Zone” was given to Paso Robles because it hosts the largest acreage of Syrah in California. The Rhone is a region in France that lies along the mighty Rhone river. Red Rhone wines are traditionally blends dominated by Grenache, then Syrah, Mourvedre amongst 10 others. These wines have flavors of both red and black fruits (strawberry and blackberry), licorice, herbs, a full body and soft plush tannins.

How Can I Tour the Paso Robles Wine Region?

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A copse of trees forms a heart shape on the scenic hills near Paso Robles, CA. on scenic Highway 46.

Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s picturesque Central Coast, a trip to Paso Robles offers the opportunity to discover the craftsmanship of world-class wines, the unique flavors of gourmet restaurants, the charm of the historic downtown square, and the beauty of the vast views. Experience the diversity of wines and meet the personalities behind the label. Relax in a full-service resort or a vineyard estate. Indulge in a gourmet experience as local chefs pair award-wining wines with farm-fresh culinary creations. Explore the wide-open spaces, shop on the historic downtown square, soak up arts and culture, go to the beach, take a hike, ride a bike, play golf or visit the iconic Hearst Castle nearby.

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Coggin Travels offers private Paso Robles tours with a wine guide, tastings, luxury accommodations and transportation

Call us at 800-912-9701

Where can I buy these wines locally?

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Paso Robles wines are widely available at wine retailers. At Total Wine, a search for Paso Robles wine turns up some 213 choices. 90% of the wines are red, about half are Cabernet Sauvignon.

My suggestion is to get a bottle each of the Zinfandel, the Syrah or Rhone blend, and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. There should be plenty of choices of each in your price range. Ask the store wine manager for a suggestion and send me an email telling me which is your favorite.

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See Previous Editions of the Wine & Travel Update

The Valpolicella Wine Region of Italy

The Istria Wine Region of Croatia

The Dalmatia Wine Region of Croatia

Chenin Blanc in South Africa

The Ribera del Duero Wines of Spain

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