Paso Robles was named for its local oak trees, El Paso de Robles: The Pass of the Oaks. The name was shortened to Paso Robles when California gained its independence from Mexico in the mid 1800s.
Paso Robles Wine Country is centrally located between San Francisco and Los Angeles along California's Central Coast. As California's fastest growing wine region and largest geographic appellation, the 24 square mile territory encompasses more than 26,000 vineyard acres and nearly 170 wineries. With a greater day-to-night temperature swing than any other appellation in California, distinct micro-climates, diverse soils and a long growing season, Paso Robles is a unique wine region blessed with optimal growing conditions for producing premium and ultra premium wines. More than 40 wine grape varieties are grown in Paso Robles, ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne, to Zinfandel, the area's heritage wine varietal.
Paso Robles Wine Country is situated along U.S. Highway 101 in the center of California's Central Coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Paso Robles Viticultural Area
Established in 1983, and expanded in 1997, the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a large, diverse appellation located within northern San Luis Obispo County, comprised of a number of distinctive grape growing regions generally characterized by rolling hills east of the Salinas River and steeper hillsides, cut by small canyons, west of the River.
The Paso Robles AVA's western boundary is just six miles from the Pacific Ocean. The appellation lies on the inland side of the Santa Lucia coastal mountains in San Luis Obispo County, and roughly forms a rectangle 35 miles from east to west, and 25 miles from north to south. It extends from the Monterey County border to the north, to the Cuesta Grade below Santa Margarita to the south, and from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the west, to the Cholame Hills to the east.
The appellation comprises 614,000 acres of which more than 26,000 acres are in wine grape vines. It is the fastest growing and largest by far of three AVAs in San Luis Obispo County, and the main reason that the county ranks behind only Napa, Sonoma and Monterey counties in planted acreage among the state's coastal growing areas.
The Paso Robles AVA is a land of diversity and contrasts that encompasses river bottoms to rolling hills and flat lands to mountains. The major geographical features of the area are the Santa Lucia Range, the Salinas River Valley and the Templeton Gap.
California's Central Coast is geologically different from other California wine growing regions. Unlike others with deep, rich fertile valley soils, over 45 soil series are found in the Paso Robles AVA. These are primarily bedrock derived soils from weathered granite, older marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and younger marine sedimentary rocks of the Miocene age Monterey Formation featuring calcareous shales, sandstone or mudstone. Soil diversity is the norm and a vineyard block may commonly contain several different soil types.
What is really unique about Paso Robles AVA soils is the predominance of desirable calcareous soils found throughout the region and the high soil pH values of 7.4 to 8.6 that are not typical of California's other viticultural areas. Due to geologic uplift, calcareous shale is plentiful in Paso Robles' west-side hills, where dense clay-based soils combine with relatively plentiful rainfall to make it possible for some vines to be dry-farmed without supplemental irrigation. On both sides of the Salinas River, gently rolling hills are covered with sandy, loamy soils. In the watershed areas, particularly the Estrella River plain, loam and clay are overlain with sand.